'Rebel' is the latest comedy/drama series from creator Krista Vernoff. The 10-episode season is inspired by the life of well-known activist Erin Brockovich, following a woman who is juggling everyone else's life - and her own.
Katey Sagal is back on our screens. Known for her roles in 'Eight Simple Rules', 'Sons of Anarchy', 'Futurama', and of course 'Married... With Children', the actor shows no signs of stopping as she tackles this strong-willed, unstoppable force that is Annie "Rebel" Bello.
As Katey says herself, 2020 was "like the beginning of a sci-fi movie". 'Rebel' was due to begin filming in March of last year, but was rescheduled until December. Now, after a bumpy journey, the series has premiered its first episode on Disney+.
Here's what the actor had to say about the series, which also stars Andy García, John Corbett, Kevin Zegers, and Lex Scott Davis.
What was it that drew you to the series? Do you relate to the character of Rebel?
I think she's definitely closer to Erin than it is to me - but what initially drew me to the series was the script by Krista Vernoff. Krista is very enthusiastic and positive and gets stuff done. We had been old friends, and we met and she pitched the project. Then she gave me a script that I really, really loved.
I love that the show is a combination of somebody who does service in the name of social justice, and also balances this cooky family life that she's trying to juggle - like all women, at the one time. And it doesn't always work out. I liked that it wasn't perfect.
The challenging thing about playing her is that she's very aggressive. She doesn't take no for an answer and she gets in people's faces. She's very much impolite [laughs] at times! She's always "right" about her particular thing that she's fighting for, but she doesn't always use the most diplomatic means to get her point across. So that's been really fun and quite a bit different from me. I'm way more diplomatic than she is!
This role didn't land on you without you being a bit of a bad-ass, right?
Oh, absolutely. I think I'm more formidable about the characters that people hire me to play. It's so hard to say if you're a formidable person! But what I really liked about 'Rebel' too is that it's dramatic but it's also funny. I like to play both of those worlds. In the reality of the drama, she's also funny in her approach - she doesn't mean to be, but she just sort of is.
Yeah, there's definitely my energy in there, it's what happens whenever you play a role. It's like Andy García always says, "There's miscasting, and then there's typecasting", so I definitely feel like I'm in the right role.
Katey, you've appeared in so many TV shows over the years - are there projects that you say no to?
This is the big misconception. As an actor, I feel like I'm a real working actor. And so, it's not so much that I choose the roles, it's a combination that they are offered to me - and if it's right, it all melds together. I don't have a big plan about which parts I'll take and which ones I won't. Most times I'm just grateful to be offered the job.
For this job, I was in the rare position of having ABC actively trying to find a project for me to do. I had done a pilot for them the previous year, and they liked me but not the pilot. So I was offered quite a few different opportunities and different scripts, and this was the one that jumped out at me. But I have to say - that is the rare time that that happens! As a working actor, it's the luck of the draw.
Also, as a woman of a certain age, there are fewer roles for us. And so I feel so grateful and lucky that this landed in my lap. It's been a combination of a lot of years of hard work.
What was it like for you to work with the actual Erin Brockovich on 'Rebel'?
Erin wasn't involved in the day-to-day and was more in touch with Krista the creator. I met with her a couple of times and we got on immediately! She's really a gal's gal. Her energy is around. When you meet Erin, just like when you meet Krista, she has this energy that is full of life. She believes in what she believes in. So that energy is around all of us.
But it was made to me clearly - we don't have her life rights. I'm not playing "Erin Brockovich", I'm playing a woman inspired by Erin. My first impulse when I met her was to find out the history of her, and what was her upbringing like - build up a character that an actor has to do. But I was very quickly told "We are not using that", so I came up with Rebel's own little backstory myself.
Could you expand on Rebel's relationship with Andy García's character Julian?
She has known him for probably 20 years. She's worked with him, and they were best friends, and she was best friends with his wife. She drives him insane [laughs] but he is righteous too. He's trying to fight the good fight, is a pro-bono lawyer, and so I believe he admires her and her work. But it's the ways and the means that she does things that can be very irritating.
It's been great to work with Andy! He is such a soulful actor. He is so deep and he grounds things. Not only is he great in the part, but he's also such a fun guy to be around. he's got these great stories, and he's worked with everyone! He's so fun to listen to.
'Rebel' episode one starring Katey Sagal is available on Disney+ right now, with a new episode arriving every Friday.