TCA: ‘ER's' Innes Takes on A Man's Role in ‘The Event' -- Literally

Actress-director Laura Innes, best known for her Emmy-nominated work as the abrasive Dr. Kerry Weaver on ER, is returning to NBC in a role originally written as a man, she tells B&C.

Given the roles she typically sees available to women in primetime today, perhaps it’s no surprise her mysterious character Sophia Maguire on NBC’s upcoming conspiracy drama The Event was at first conceived for a male actor.

“As women, you are often offered roles that are sort of the victim or the long-suffering wife, or the full-on bitch, or especially in my age range, this sort of really severe boss,” Innes said after a TCA press tour panel discussion of The Event. According to her birthdate on IMDB she’s just shy of 53. “As a woman it’s not really that interesting to me to put that out there.”

But her character Sophia Maguire on The Event, “is very interesting, very powerful physically, emotionally and really takes the high moral ground,” she says.

NBC describes Sophia Maguire as the leader of a mysterious group of detainees being held at a top-secret facility. She becomes a critical liaison to President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) amidst a huge government cover up.

Innes first saw the script for The Event for a different role, which didn’t interest her. When NBC casting execs came back to her with the idea of the Sophia Maguire role she changed her mind about getting involved with the show.

“I actually saw the script for a different role. It was a little bit of ‘Would you be interested in this?’ They talked to me about the vice president or something and I said, well there’s not too much there,” Innes says. “They said what if we change this character to a woman? I thought that was very cool. I also think that for the balance of the show it’s nice that they turned her into a woman, it would have been a lot of guys.”

In addition to her work as an actor, Innes is a seasoned TV director, having garnered an Emmy nomination for directing The West Wing. She has also directed several episodes of ER as well as episodes of Brothers & Sisters and House. She said she would like to direct on The Event. “It would be fun to direct in this genre,” she says, but that won’t likely happen until the show is more fully underway. “When you have the job and it’s your day job you don’t want to go direct and have a bad experience. You want a great experience and then you go back to work and everyone is, ‘Oh, great.’ You don’t want to rock the boat.”