Robin Tunney is all in on Marcia Clark-created TV revenge fantasy The Fix
|Toronto Star 16 Mar 2019 at 08:21|
“If he didn’t do it, who did it then?” asks the star of legal drama The Fix, looking me pointedly in the eye. “I know people who didn’t think he did it. But the evidence was overwhelming. Let’s all be honest with one another.”
Robin Tunney (seen with Adam Rayner) stars as district attorney Maya Travis in The Fix. (ERIC MCCANDLESS / ABC VIA BELL MEDIA)
Tunney turns to co-star Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash, Designated Survivor), who plays a district attorney in the show, waving both hands in the air with incredulity.
“So seriously, who?”
We are sitting in a boardroom in downtown Toronto talking about a case that happened a quarter-century ago – but still captures the public imagination.
Simpson, the former football superstar, was arrested in 1994 for the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. After a sensational trial he was acquitted.
The Fix though, is purely fictional, a decades-stewing revenge fantasy borne out of the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
It is created and produced by former prosecutor Marcia Clark , who lost the biggest case in a generation to a star team of overpriced and high-profile defence lawyers.
“How many of us wish we could write a revenge story where we could get our life back?” asks Tunney. “I think the case broke Marcia Clark. It made her retire from the law she loved.”
In The Fix, Tunney plays Maya Travis, who has left Los Angeles for a quiet life in Oregon after losing the biggest case of her career and being humiliated in the media.
The jury finds Oscar-winning actor Sevvy Johnson innocent of a double murder. But eight years later, Johnson’s girlfriend is murdered and Travis returns to Los Angeles to face her nemesis.
At the end of the premiere episode, when Johnson and Travis meet face to face, the former prosecutor looks him in the eye and asks Clint Eastwood-style: “Miss me?”
That’s obviously the fantasy part. In reality, Clark never really recovered from that fall from grace, although Sarah Paulson’s Emmy Award-winning performance as Clark in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson humanized the woman who had become a caricature.
The thoughtful, talented Tunney (The Mentalist, Prison Break) is entirely believable in the role as a disgraced, vulnerable lawyer trying to make a comeback.
She says she was attracted to the script because the Simpson trial was really a conversation about race, misogyny, domestic violence, the legal system and the role of celebrity.
“Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran were showmen. Marcia grudgingly became a media star. But times were different. I’m encouraged by how much better the world is to women,” says the 46-year old Chicago native.
“Marcia would tell stories where the judge would say Mr. Cochran or Mr. Shapiro, and then call Marcia by her first name and nobody would bat an eyelash. And then there was this intense coverage of what her hair looked like and whether her skirts were too short. Nobody talked about the men’s hair. A woman being a lead prosecutor was so rare back then.”
In something of a coincidence, Tunney and co-star Meyer were working on the same film together (the horror movie The Craft) at the time of the trial.
“For our generation the Bronco chase is our moon landing moment,” says Meyer. “I remember looking for apartments that time and the landlord had it on TV. And I remember going from apartment to apartment and every TV was tuned to that chase. I’ll never forget it.”
Meanwhile, O.J. may have won the trial, but his life wasn’t quite trouble free. The former football star was freed from prison in 2017 after serving nine years for armed robbery.
“It’s gotten worse and worse. He’s not really a free man. He has suffered, although for other things,” says Tunney.
One issue that writers will have to deal with if the show makes it to a second season is moving beyond Clark’s personal story.
“What happens in the future will likely have nothing to do with Marcia’s world,” says Tunney. “I think the hope is, the first season you deal with the trial. And in future seasons there are other twists. That’s the idea. Plus we have beautiful houses, lots of shenanigans and lots of hot men.”
Tunney points to Meyer. “Like, we’re not going to let him wear a shirt the whole season.”
“Yeah, just a Chippendales tie,” quips Meyer. “It is, after all, a revenge fantasy.”