This fall, openly bisexual actor Saffron Burrows stars in a new NBC series, My Own Worst Enemy, a one-hour drama about a man with two identities — one is a suburban family man named Henry, the other is a government operative named Edward (both are played by Christian Slater). Burrows plays Dr. Norah Skinner, a psychologist who treats both identities.
Though Burrows is best known for her film work, including roles in Frida (2002), Troy (2004) and The Bank Job (2008), last year she played attorney Lorraine Weller on Boston Legal. She is also a stage actor, most recently starring opposite
David Schwimmer in Neil LaBute’s Some Girls in the West End. In 2002, she starred opposite Fiona Shaw, with whom she has been romantically linked, in a stage adaptation of Jeanette Winterson’s novel The Powerbook; the two played lovers.
“What drew me to this [role on My Own Worst Enemy],” she said at the Television Critics press tour, “was every aspect of the production. The writing I found to be astounding, the group of people who are creating the show, and then the cast they were assembling.
And there’s an energy to
it … which I love from
having done theater and having made films that shoot
quickly. I love working in a way that’s full of energy
and not about sitting around in a trailer."
The series is created and executive produced by Jason Smilovic (Karen Sisco, Kidnapped, Bionic Woman) and also stars Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives, Cross Creek) as the woman running the government organization that employs Slater’s character. After the press conference, Burrows spoke with AfterEllen.com and a few other reporters about her work in film and theater, what she thinks of her Boston Legal character, and the TV shows she watched growing up.
Question: Do you have a favorite role out of all of the roles that you’ve played?
Saffron Burrows: I’m very proud of the movie I made with Amy Redford [called The Guitar] that’s coming out here in November.
Q: And why are you so proud of that role?
SB: Well, you’ll see it’s a little challenging. [laughs] The character’s in every scene of the film, and it’s just really her and these two people who come into her life during the course of the story. A woman and a man, both whom she gets to know during the story. But it’s pretty much her, every frame of the movie, so it’s a little challenging. And I’m proud of The Bank Job because I think Roger Donaldson’s made a really good film.
Q: You said [during the press conference] that you had studied psychotherapists and talked to them. What did you learn from that research that’s helped you with the part?
SB: How intimate they are with their — you can call them their clients or their patients. But the degree of intimacy that they enjoy sometimes with the people they’re advising or healing, whatever you would call it. And how specific and personal they are in their approach, how different each person is, even down to the way they lay out their office and whether there are private things in the room that they work in or not.