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THE SINNER: Cast and Crew Chat About the Limited Series [USA Network, Tribeca 2017]

The Sinner Tribeca Panel

The Sinner Holds Panel Discussion at Tribeca After Premiere 

The first episode of The Sinner left a lot of questions for audiences during the premiere of the upcoming summer limited series at Tribeca last Tuesday. The panel discussion brought together it’s main stars Jessica Biel, Christopher Abbott, and Bill Pullman along with series creator Derek Simonds and director Antonio Campos to discuss the big mystery surrounding the series. The pilot episode left audiences shocked and a bit disturbed by the content shown as USA Network continues the trend of delivering dark dramas into their programming.

Both Jessica Biel and Christopher Abbott discussed how uncomfortable it was shooting the pivotal murder scene in the pilot. The new series marked a return for Biel to the television landscape, after her leaving her role as eldest daughter Mary Camden in the series 7th Heaven back in 2006. This time, she plays a young mother who commits a murder but can’t remember why she did it. This is definitely a different role from her innocent character on 7th Heaven.

Jessica Biel The Sinner Tribeca Panel

“[Cora] is terribly complex and complicated,” Biel explained about being drawn into the role. “The tracking of what she knows, what she remembers, what she thinks she remembers, what is a lie, what was told to her, and when she is lying was very complicated. We would constantly be [considering] if this is a moment where she was telling the truth or lying or is she telling the truth and it’s actually a lie? That was terribly interesting to me.”

The actress, who is also an executive producer on the series, had a chance to read the book, which the show is based on. She mentioned how stunned she was after reading the intense page-turner. “When I read the book, every step of the way for me was a shock. I feel like nothing can shock me anymore. There’s nothing too weird, nothing too dark. We’ve all seen it all in a sense, the way we’re exposed and have access to everything. But every time there was a surprise in the book, it was a genuine surprise for me. It just felt incredibly rare to find a piece of material where you didn’t expect every twist and turn along the way. That felt incredibly rare. I wanted to play (Cora) and be little nuts.”

Christopher Abbott The Sinner Tribeca Panel

With playing the husband of a murderer, Christopher Abbott described the experience of playing a traumatized man struggling with what his wife has done. Getting into character, Abbott mentioned how easy it came to bring out that emotion on screen. “If your significant other murders somebody, I’d also feel unequipped to deal with it. So that (part of the role) came very natural to me.”

Bill Pullman The Sinner Tribeca Panel

Actor Bill Pullman said how much he related to growing up in a small town. “In a small town, when something like this happens, there’s a lot of good reasons not to ask why,” Pullman said. He also described his take on playing the lead investigator who becomes obsessed with Cora’s case. “When a huge trauma lands in the middle of a small community, there are a lot of reasons to get over this with – and not to draw attention to ourselves. Not ask why. Let it go away. I thought – that’s what I remember happens in small towns. And it happens to all of us. That’s what attracted me.”

Antonio Campos The Sinner Tribeca Panel

Antonio Campos, known for his work on Christine, discussed directing the pilot episode, saying how excited he was in helming the first hour. “When I read this script I said I have to do it and I fought for it. I understood the psychology of Cora and for whatever reason, I don’t know why, I’ve always been drawn to characters like this. I try to understand why people do the things that they do.”

Derek Simonds The Sinner Tribeca Panel

The first episode utilizes a lot of flashbacks dealing with Cora’s background, something that will be featured prominently according to writer Derek Simonds. We only know very little about Cora in the pilot, but Simonds later added, “The flashbacks become a growing piece of the show. They tell a story we follow throughout, and they become more and more significant as the season continues.” In regards to this show being similar to other crime dramas on television, Simonds says that the only difference is that we already know who did the crime. “Most crime dramas are about catching a serial killer or a whodunit. In this case, we already know everything about the crime except why,” Simonds says. “So immediately that allows you as a storyteller to focus all on the psychology. It’s not about the minutiae of clues and chases and stuff. It’s really an opportunity to peel back the onion and really investigate this character. Cora’s journey prompts the same excavation in Mason and Ambrose too.”

Leave your thought on the panel discussion for The Sinner at the Tribeca Film Festival in the comments section below. Readers seeking more TV show reviews can visit our TV Show Review Page, our TV Show Review Twitter Page, our TV Show Review Facebook Page, and our TV Show Review Google+ Page. FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, “follow” us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook. The Sinner premieres on August 2nd, 2017 on USA Network.

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About the author

Mufsin Mahbub

Mufsin is a freelance writer from New York who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Long Island University. He has written for publications like HollywoodLife, Clubplanet, and Heavy. He is an avid lover for everything related to TV and film. He has gone to dozens of film screenings, press events, and loves to attend New York Comic Con every year. He gives an honest opinion on every TV show or film that people are going to be talking about.

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