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March 18, 2019

Fixing the System

In ABC’s The Fix, even the cast doesn’t know what will happen until it does.

Melissa Byers
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC

The central goal of procedurals and legal dramas is to keep the viewer guessing who committed the crime.

In the new ABC series The Fix, even the cast didn't know until the very end who was guilty.

Scott Cohen, who plays defense attorney Ezra Wolf, says, "The fun thing was that we really did not know who the killer was until the very last episode. There were constant twists in the show. So we never really knew. There were actually bets going on in the makeup trailer saying who people thought it was going to be.

Literally people were saying, 'Is it me? Is it me? Is it me? Is it me?' So everybody feels like it could be them. And so hopefully that will be what is really kind of a bullet train moving forward and people not knowing which way it's going to go, what track it's going to end up on."

Series creator and executive producer Marcia Clark understands that dynamic all too well. The case in question for this first season of the show concerns a movie star, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who was acquitted eight years before of brutally murdering his wife.

The female DA in the case, Maya Travis, played by Robin Tunney, who left her practice after the devastating loss, is brought back into the law fold when the same man is accused of a similar murder of his fiancé. While the subject matter may at first seem to be covering old ground, the series takes off from that premise in an entirely new direction.

Cohen says, "I don't think you could shy away from that. It is based on her story. Things that happen to Robin in the show didn't happen to Marcia, but you have to realize it is partly a revenge story.

"So it's partly a story about how is this person trying to remedy what happened to her? The destruction of her career, the destruction of her psyche, the destruction of her ego. She had to bounce back somehow and she did. And this is kind of the story of how that took place in a different way.

"And so, it really becomes about how far do you go in order to get what you want? And what are you willing to lose? What are you willing to sacrifice?

"Are you willing to sacrifice all the things that really made you the great lawyer that you were in the beginning? The great prosecutor that you were in the beginning? Everything you believe to be the truth and the oaths that you take?

"How willing are you to sacrifice those things in order for you to win something that maybe you shouldn't be winning in the first place, because maybe that's not the person that you really should be after - or is it?

"So that question is constantly being asked, which is really good for my character which is, how do you manipulate that? How do you get underneath that and drive her to the point of doing things that are absolutely not what she wants to be doing? So it's very complicated and interesting and I think dynamic and dramatic."

Clark was an invaluable asset to the actors on the set, as well. Cohen says, "This woman is phenomenally smart. She is not to be toyed with. She is generous and wonderful and accepts the ideas that you're coming up with. At the same time you ask her questions and she has a very serious, very clear opinion about what things mean and are.

"And she is very clear on how a story unfolds and she knows drama probably better than anybody. And she doesn't make believe that she is who she's not or is not who she is and she's just a straight laced human being that has been through an enormous amount and really understands the evolution of a story and knows how to inspire you to be part of it.

"I find it quite amazing. Her specific past about specific cases never came up. So it was all about the sense of being a prosecutor, the sense of being a defense lawyer, really protecting your client.

"She really understood my point of view in terms of protecting your client as opposed to there was no answer to what the case, what the verdict was. So she understood all the time that my point of view was always about defending my client. It was never about offending her.

"And so she understood that and she went with it and gave me free rein as to how I would approach different aspects of the story. But at the same time I was really respectful of her knowledge, obviously, and constantly asked her questions about what happens in these circumstances? Or how does one experience this particular circumstance?

"And how do you manipulate the truth? How do you create, how do you change a narrative? How do you spin the narrative?

"How do you adjust the narrative in order to make people believe that what you're telling them is the truth? And to do that, you can do that organically and naturally. People do do that, but I guess you call that lying, but in a greater sense it's like, 'How do you do that knowing that you're doing that?'

"And how do you create that world and stick to it and be aware that you have to stick to it so everything you do relates to your theme. Relates to your goal. Relates to your intention and it's a great acting exercise, it's really an amazing thing. So she was phenomenal. She was really the cement that kept it all together."

After numerous film roles and regular and recurring roles in television series, Cohen still wasn't sure if this role would come to him. He says, "I read for it months before it was going and it kind of went away.

"And I think that they were reaching out to different people, but the weird thing was that it was one of those things where the breakdowns were they were looking for a "Scott Cohen type." And so, that was kind of weird. It was like, 'Okay, well here I am. I'm available.'

"And then it just appeared out of nowhere. I read for it and never thought about it after I read for it, it went away and then all of a sudden it came back and I got a phone call saying, 'They're offering it to you.' And I was like, 'What? When did that happen?' There was no process, there was no testing involved which is glorious because I'd rather do one audition or no auditions at all and move through the process.

"But this just happened to be one of those lucky occasions. When I read it I definitely was like, 'I really want to do something like this.'

"The character's just really bigger than life and he's grand and he's wonderful and he's manipulative and he's sly and he's cunning and he's ruthless and he's both battle weary and battle ready and he puts everyone in really difficult awkward compromising positions, but he is relentless in his pursuit of what he believes is the truth.

"And so, you're lucky to have him behind you but you're not lucky if you happen to be on the other side of the table. He was a really wonderful guy to play. I was thrilled to get it."

Cohen is hoping that viewers will be thrilled with the show as well. With only 10 episodes, the story is fast-paced and packs a lot of story into a relatively short season.

He says, "I hope people watch it. I think it's a really solid, very interesting, fast paced show that doesn't take an enormous amount of commitment to watch. I love things that are minimum episodes that I can get through and that I'm going to be really satisfied in the end. So I want people to know that that's what's going to happen.

"So I'm hoping that people will watch it for that. And I think that the performances are just really, truly incredible. Every performance is just magical and amazing. I think Robin's performance is so solid and beautiful and complicated and nuanced. And we're in a show that is doing something a little bit different, and I hope that that comes across and gets people to tune in."

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