Aurora Perrineau is Dani Powell in PRODIGAL SON - Season 1 | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Mark Seliger

Aurora Perrineau is Dani Powell in PRODIGAL SON – Season 1 | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Mark Seliger

In Fox’s new Monday-night dramatic thriller PRODIGAL SON, former FBI agent-turned-NYPD profiler Malcolm Bright (Thomas Payne) has special insight into the minds of serial killers. This is at least partly because his father is incarcerated serial killer Martin Whitley (Michael Sheen).

Aurora Perrineau plays NYPD homicide detective Dani Powell, who frequently winds up working with Bright, even though she is initially skeptical of his abilities and motives.

Perrineau can currently be seen in the Emmy-winning miniseries WHEN THEY SEE US. Some of her other credits include the films EQUALS, JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, PASSENGERS, and TRUTH OR DARE, and two separate installments of Hulu’s horror anthology film series INTO THE DARK.

ASSIGNMENT X: What did they tell you about the character when you auditioned for her?

AURORA PERRINEAU: That she is a recovering drug addict, which will be shown throughout the show. She gets hooked undercover, so that’s kind of what she and Bright have in common, is that kind of trauma, and how they react to things. She’s very tough, and she’s very good at her job. She’s also got a very soft center.

AX: Did she become a drug addict because of being undercover, like in THE FRENCH CONNECTION II?

PERRINEAU: Yes, exactly. That’s a good reference.

ASSIGNMENT X: How long has Dani Powell been a homicide detective?

PERRINEAU: We haven’t actually discussed that, because originally, she was meant to be a very high-up detective, but I’m very young, and so it got rewritten when my age came into it. But it’s been long enough for her to have been in the department, been undercover, and then she has a lapse in something that happens during an undercover raid, and then she comes back to the force. So she’s been there for a long enough time for that.

AX: Is she partnered with anybody?

PERRINEAU: I’m partnered with Frank Harts, who plays JT, but you’ll see throughout the show, I mainly work with Bright, because me and Bright have a similar, not upbringing, but an energy between us, with PTSD and those kinds of things.

Frank Harts, Keiko Agena, Aurora Perrineau, Lou Diamond Phillips, Michael Sheen, Tom Payne, Bellamy Young and Halston Sage in PRODIGAL SON - Season 1 | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Mark Seliger

Frank Harts, Keiko Agena, Aurora Perrineau, Lou Diamond Phillips, Michael Sheen, Tom Payne, Bellamy Young and Halston Sage in PRODIGAL SON – Season 1 | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Mark Seliger

AX: So she had a trauma that isn’t the same trauma, but …

PERRINEAU: Not the same trauma, but yes. It kind of bonds us together, and we work together a lot.

AX: What is Powell’s impression of Martin Whitley?

PERRINEAU: I think she doesn’t have much an impression of Martin in the beginning, because she knows who he was, but she’s not involved in that. To her, he’s just another not-great person who’s a serial killer, and someone that she wants to put in jail. He’s already there. Her impression of Malcolm, I think, was tarnished by that slightly, and then she realizes that he’s someone who’s also a victim of Martin, so that’s kind of where that goes.

AX: Did you do any kind of research for the part into being a homicide detective, policing, carrying a gun …?

PERRINEAU: Yes. There’s a homicide detective that I know. She now works in Special Victims Unit. So I talked to her, and I kind of based my character off of her in the way that I talk and dress and walk and all of the things. We [also] have a homicide detective who’s on set with us, who also taught me gun training, and how to clear a room and all those things, and then I’ve obviously worked with the detective who I’ve known prior. She had nothing to do with the show, but she was a great resource.

AX: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your research in terms of playing the character?

PERRINEAU: I think it’s to never shy away from the fact that I’m a woman in this industry, that that has nothing to do with how well I can do my job, and how well I can get things done, and that it’s the same for all of us, and so I think there’s never shying away, and never being fearful of, “Oh, will people think that this is not a thing I should be doing?”

AX: Does Powell have a style of interrogating people? Does she kind of hang back, does she get in their face …?

PERRINEAU: There’s no specific style, but I’d like to say that she’s very upfront. She’s not trying to catch anyone, she’s not trying to manipulate anyone. She’s asking the questions she wants to have answered, and it’s very earnest and honest, so I think people end up answering properly.

Aurora Perrineau in PRODIGAL SON - Season 1 - "Fear Response" | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Eric Liebowitz

Aurora Perrineau in PRODIGAL SON – Season 1 – “Fear Response” | ©2019 Fox Media LLC/Eric Liebowitz

AX: Do you have discussions about your character with PRODIGAL SON’s two creators, Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver?

PERRINEAU: One hundred percent. I just talked to Chris on the phone the other day. We were shooting ideas back and forth. That’s what’s great about them. Most creators are like, “This is what it is,” and you have to stick to that, but they’re very open to, “Oh, that’s your idea, okay, how can we incorporate that?” So they’re very open to having dialogue, and I wanted more gun training, so they’re getting me that as well. They’re very, very good about those kinds of things.

AX: How is shooting PRODIGAL SON in New York?

PERRINEAU: I love shooting in New York. I’m from there originally, so it’s like going back home. It’s nice. You can’t fake anything for New York. No amount of sets will ever look like New York.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about PRODIGAL SON?

PERRINEAU: I want them to know that underneath it being a procedural, it is really rooted in relationships, and family, and that it’s going to be a really fun ride.

This interview was conducted at Fox Networks’ party for the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

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Article: Exclusive Interview with PRODIGAL SON star on Aurora Perrineau on new cop profiler seriess


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