You’ve probably seen the TV commercials. Zebras and giraffes roaming the streets freely, and Stan from Mad Men looking particularly guilty. So, what the hell is BRIARPATCH?
Well, we were lucky enough to talk to the show’s star, Rosario Dawson, at the NBC TCA’s, where she shed some light on the mystery. “I play a woman called Allegra Dill, who has been called back to the border town that she was raised in because her sister’s been murdered,” Dawson told us. On the show’s timeline, it’s been three years since Allegra last saw her sister alive.
“She thinks she’s going to come back home and wrap it up within a week,” Dawson says, noting that it’s not going to be as easy as her character was hoping. “There are literally animals wildly on the loose, and there’s a lot of wild people in this town.”
This wild town was created by author Ross Thomas, and adapted by series creator Andy Greenwald. Both Dawson and Kim Dickens, who plays Chief of Police Eve Raytek, opted not to read the source material before filming.
“I just went straight with the scripts. I watched the pilot, ‘cause I’m not in the pilot. And then I just went right with his [Greenwald’s] scripts. It was all right there,” Dickens told us. And she – and Dawson – both credit that to Greenwald’s amazing writing.
“The writing was so beautiful,” Dickens said. “Andy Greenwald… had a real ear for the rhythm of the southern character, and he would write these monologues.” Dickens said they were probably the longest monologues she’d ever had to read. However, she was able to do it because of how seamless the writing was. “It just flowed. It was really natural, and it was very fun,” Dickens said.
Meanwhile, the book could have really muddled things for Dawson, as the main character in the book is Ben Dill, not Allegra Dill. It also takes place in New Mexico, rather than Texas, and, sadly, features no exotic animals.
That’s not the only reason Dawson decided not to read the book, though. This was a very calculated decision, specifically for Dawson, who usually does “quite a lot of research” when she takes on a new role.
“I wanted to really offer myself over to the world that Andy [Greenwald] created… Because even when we got to the 10th episode, we shot two scenes from it before I even finished reading it. Because I wanted to wait,” said Dawson, admitting that she, herself, loves solving puzzles.
Speaking about her character, Dawson told us, “It takes her a really long time to figure out what’s going on… I wanted to savor it as long as possible, and know it when she did, as opposed to playing it some other way.” Talk about self-control!
All that being said, it probably makes for more sincere reactions, and therefore, some good television. “It’s really genuine, really authentic,” Dawson said. “Because she’s [Allegra’s] really measured in that way. It’s not that she’s being compulsive all the time. She’s learning her emotionality as she goes along, ‘cause she starts off very reserved, and very cold.”
Of course, you can’t blame her. Allegra hasn’t been home in 12 years, and now she returns to absolute chaos – and the death of her sister. “The fact that she’s traumatized by her sister being killed starts to put cracks in the armor,” Dawson told us. “It was just really fun to explore that during and through the process, rather than premeditated in any kind of way.”
Dawson’s passion was more than evident as she chatted with us on the red carpet. “I’m just really grateful for how it all came together. I think people are going to be really entertained and really surprised,” the award-winning actress said.
BRIARPATCH is executive produced by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, Greenwald, and Chad Hamilton, who is a producer on the upcoming new Battlestar Galactica series. It also stars Alan Cumming, Jay R. Ferguson, and John Aylward. So, why else should you tune in to BRIARPATCH?
“It’s a really smart, really wild, really weird, and very entertaining show that will keep you guessing all the way to the last episode,” Dawson said. “And I really hope everyone checks it out.”
You wouldn’t want to let Rosario Dawson down, would you? BRIARPATCH premieres on USA on February 6.