Make no mistake — NBC’s “Prime Suspect” is not a remake of the classic British crime thriller starring Helen Mirren. Aside from the title, what it borrows from its overseas counterpart is a strong yet flawed central character determined to prove she’s a damn good homicide detective, no matter what the men in her squad think of her. On the eve of the big premiere, we caught up with star Maria Bello, who plays Detective Jane Timoney with an absorbing wit and attitude — thanks in part to her very own addition to the costume.
Does the title, “Prime Suspect,” help create buzz or draw criticism from fans of the British series?
You know, we’ve been so lucky in a way. People have recognized immediately that it’s a way different show. So then the comparisons stop.
Can you talk about making Jane Timoney your own? Details like her scarves and the hat and smoking — how much input did you have in those little things that are so much a part of her?
I have to say the clothes. The brilliant Amy Stofsky, the costume designer, she and I had the exact same idea for the clothing, which is an updated Katharine Hepburn. You know, that kind of male-female look. At first [the producers] were like, “Well, uh, I don’t know.” But I really fought for it and said, “Listen — she has her own style. I know great policewomen — as well as men — who have great style.” It’s not like every policewoman has to run around in a gray pantsuit and high heels and red lipstick.
How much does putting on that hat help in “becoming” Jane?
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The hat — my dearest friend Claire gave it to me a year ago. She took it off her head and put it on my head and said, “This belongs to you.” And as soon as I was reading the character of Jane I knew she was supposed to have that hat. And when I put it on, it’s like the publicity says, “Cop an attitude.” I feel like I have the biggest attitude in the world. It makes Jane, Jane.
Follow Amber Ray on Twitter @AmberatMetro.