The Event's Laura Innes Talks About Ditching Kerry Weaver and Her Favorite Movie Scene

laurainnes225.jpgLaura Innes picked up two Emmy nominations for playing the no-nonsense, but deeply repressed Dr. Kerry Weaver on ER. Three years after leaving that series, she's back on NBC's new drama The Event as Sophia, "the leader of a mysterious group of detainees" who might know a bit more about the enigmatic "event" than she lets on. Just ahead of tonight's premiere, we spoke to Innes about typecasting, her action-genre aspirations, and her favorite film scene of all time.

You're known for your characters who display a very comfortable sense of authority. Will you be bucking that perception with your role on The Event?

You know what, I'm still very much a leader and an authority figure. But it's nice because she's very compassionate and vulnerable -- openly compassionate, unlike Kerry. But also openly kind of fierce. She's empathetic too, unlike Kerry sometimes. I mean, Kerry was sometimes that way, but she had more repression. This woman is more of a moral authority and doing what she needs to do to protect these people. It's really fun. Very strong, she's incredibly kind and she'll also do what she has to do.

ER and The Event both seem like shows where you have to pick up a lot of worldly knowledge -- like medical or legal jargon -- in order to play your part well. What have you had to pick up thus far on The Event?

So far I've had to pick up -- well, wow, it's hard to remember what I can and can't say! -- but I hope to learn more about the action genre. I'm looking forward to being the middle-aged action hero.

Are you pitching Salt 2 starring Laura Innes? Right here, right now?

Yes! Maybe for Lifetime or something like that.

Do you have aspirations for much different kinds of work on TV?

When I first started out, I did a lot more comedy. When I got cast on ER, I was seen as so serious, and this character's also quite serious. So it would be fun to do something completely goofy.

Do you find that people think you're as austere as Kerry Weaver?

It's a little bit weird and they think you'll be a certain way, or they're kind of intimidated. Or they're like, "Oh, she's kind of a bitch. I don't like her." I found myself spending my time initially on ER being extra nice to compensate. It is that funny actor thing that you can't help but think they're the character they play when I'm really quite different than both of these ladies.

Horrifyingly nerdy question: I know you were a tournament champion on Celebrity Jeopardy! in the late '90s. I was kind of excited to see if you'd join the recent celebrity mega-tournament they just had -- the one featuring a bunch of past champions. Why weren't you there showing Michael McKean and Jane Curtin who's boss?

I kind of wanted to end on top. I was afraid of going in there and completely tanking. But I was very proud of beating Beverly Sills and John Mahoney, who were smarty-pants people. Really, it was because my dad was really into Shakespeare, and they had this whole Shakespeare category and I just knocked those out.

Lastly, we do a feature on Movieline called 'My Favorite Scene.' We'd love to know what your favorite film scene ever is.

I'm so bad at this kind of thing! I don't really remember scenes. I guess one of my favorite scenes -- I worship Meryl, so I guess I'd say Meryl Streep when she was new to the scene in Kramer Vs. Kramer, when she's on the stand and she breaks down. It was one of those things when you discover an actress and you say, "Oh my God. She's amazing." It was such an organic, incredible performance.

(Start at 2:30 for Meryl power.)