During the CTV upfronts I was given the opportunity to interview Kerr Smith and Rebecca Mader, two stars of the new Fox drama Justice. If you have read the preview of Fox’s pilots Murtz Jaffer and I wrote a week ago you will know that both of us were very impressed with the pilot episode of Justice.
The fast-paced show follows a law firm that focuses on defending high-profile clients. Each episode features a different case, which generally will start with the arrest or someone being charged for the crime, and goes right through to the verdict. The lawyers use the same techniques police and crime labs use, but they try to prove their clients innocent.
Kerr Smith, best known from his role of Jack from Dawson’s Creek, plays Tom Nicholson. As the main trial lawyer for the firm Tom is the face the jury sees and must trust.
Rebecca Mader, who just recently stared in The Devil Wears Prada, plays Alden Tuller. Alden is a young lawyer who works closely with Tom in working out the arguments that should be put in front of the jury.
Justice also stars Victor Garber of Alias fame, who is the main driving force behind the law firm. Justice is set to premiere Wednesday, August 30, 9 p.m. on Fox and CTV.
Romo: It seems like a lot of popular shows these days are about cops and FBI agents going after bad guys. And your show is about lawyers getting these people off. Do you think the culture of North America has become more in favour of the prosecutors?
Rebecca: I think that’s why there hasn’t been like this (Justice) since L.A. Law. For ages it’s been all about the district attorney and getting rid of the bad guys. There hasn’t been a show like this for a very long time, so I’m happy to be playing for the other team. It’s more interesting.
Romo: Throughout the course of the show you are going to have cases where innocent people are put in jail and bad guys get off. Will the show look at the moral implications on your characters as lawyers?
Rebecca: Definitely. That is definitely where they are going, especially with him (Kerr’s character) because he is such a nice guy.
Kerr: I think Shapiro (Jonathan Shapiro, a writer for the show) was talking about taking my character down a darker road. A dark alley where he is not able to deal with the implications of defending someone who is guilty.
Romo: Kerr, everybody from my age group knows you as Jack from Dawson’s Creek. Do you think it will be hard for the Dawson’s fans to see you as something else?
Kerr: We shall see. I don’t know.
Rebecca: When did it finish?
Kerr: Four years ago. I’ve done a lot of stuff between then and now that has been very different. I just finished a show called E-Ring where I play this special operations guy who goes around the world killing terrorists. So stuff that like that is very, very different. I don’t think the public will have trouble adapting.
Romo: Did you feel people assumed you were gay because you played a gay character?
Kerr: All the time. I got it on a daily basis. It drives me f*cking crazy!
Kerr: And you can quote that…(laughs)
Romo: Back to Justice. Are all the cases going to revolve around big celebrity clients?
Kerr: I think, probably we will always handle high-profile clients.
Rebecca: It’s the whole media circus thing. I think the show relates well to how the media deals with cases. The show “American Crime” is a real big part of the show. How the media affects these big cases. And how the fascinated people are with these cases.
Romo: Where do you each see your character going over the first season? If you could tell the writers what to do with your characters what would you tell them?
Rebecca: I would tell them to make every episode about me…(laughs) I feel that (character growth) is just going to come to me over the course of the year. It will be an enjoyable process. The cast gets along well. We have a great relationship with the writers and producers.
Kerr: I just hope that with all of the characters they get into the lives outside of the courtroom and office. So the audience really gets to know these people. If the audience doesn’t feel for the characters then when they lose a case it won’t matter.
Rebecca: You need the people to care.
Romo: How did both of you end up on the show?
Rebecca: I auditioned in New York. The tape was sent to Jerry Bruckheimer. I was then flown out to L.A. and read for the studio, then the network. It was a real step-by-step process. I felt like a contestant on American Idol. I did a five-hour screen test and then finally they said “all right.”
Kerr: Five Hours?
Rebecca: Yup. The producers decided they wanted me, but they had to convince the studio.
Kerr: I was on E-Ring, another Bruckheimer show, and we knew it wasn’t going to last a second season. So he asked me if I wanted to this one. So I tested for the network. There was me another guy (going for the role) and they were split down the middle. Bruckheimer wanted me but the network wanted someone else.
Rebecca: But Bruckheimer won.
Kerr: Bruckheimer always wins. (laughs)
Romo: Bruckheimer’s shows for the most part are going to do well.
Kerr: And if it doesn’t do well he will bring you back for other work. He is very loyal.
Rebecca: Yeah. Once he likes you, you are in.
Romo: Kerr you did TV for five years with Dawson’s Creek. This could hypothetically be five plus years on another TV show. How do you feel about that?
Kerr: I keep trying to get over to the film but I need that TV show that will get me the recognition to get me the right roles. I don’t want to do those teenie-bop thrillers. I’m tired of it. So I will take a steady paycheck and if its coming from his (Bruckheimer) office I am in.
Kerr: So here I am again at Warner Brothers, here I am again Wednesdays at 9 p.m. I just can’t get away from it.
Romo: That is a tough time slot too.
Kerr: It is. For the second time I am up against Lost.
Rebecca: We get to start a few months before Lost comes on though.
Kerr: Hopefully we will have a good size audience before Lost starts. And we can use American Idol to boost the ratings. They (Fox) plan to get six episodes in before we get pre-empted for the World Series. And the longer the World Series lasts the more the promos we get.
Romo: Those promos really worked for House.
Kerr: Yeah they were huge and it’s the same structure for us as they (Fox) used with House.
Romo: Kerr when you appear on screen you still look like you are in your early twenties. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it could make it tough for viewers who think you are much younger than you actually are.
Kerr: I would like to look more my age, but I don’t. I mean I’m 34. When the right haircut I can look 30…with a mullet no problem. (laughs)
Rebecca: I have the opposite problem, people think I’m older. Maybe I need a new night cream. (laughs)
Romo: Kerr still has the babyface, maybe you should grow a beard or something.
Kerr: Well I did for E-Ring. I had long hair, beard and was greasy. I actually prefer that look. I had a beard recently but I just shaved yesterday. But it takes three weeks to grow…(laughs).
Romo: Overall how do you feel about Justice and being on Fox?
Kerr: The standard for dramas is becoming very, very high. Essentially we are making one-hour movies every 7 days. And for $2 Million on the average per show it’s got to look good these days. I think the show fits Fox’s template very well. It’s got that fast pace.
Rebecca: I’m really glad it’s one episode with a beginning middle and an end. That way if you miss an episode when you are on vacation you can just jump right back in without missing a beat.
Kerr: We are also really excited about CTV picking it up in Canada. It is the number one network in the country.
Rebecca: WE LOVE YOU CTV!!