Actress Sarah Wynter is best known for her work on “24” and “American Odyssey.” Currently, she brings Gina Larson to life in the legal drama “Goliath” alongside William Hurt, Billy Bob Thornton, and Maria Bello. I recently had the opportunity to interview her, if you’re curious about what we spoke about, please keep reading!
As a mom and actress, how do you handle balancing work with your family life?
I always thought it would be harder than it is. Only because I expected it would be harder to manage, you know, how am I going to work with three kids? I live in New York, mostly shoot in Los Angeles. The reality is, it makes it very easy when your kids are more important. Obviously, my work is very important to me, and I love doing that. I feel good when I work, and I’m happy when I work. I think ultimately my kids like to see that. It’s healthy for them. It’s good for them to see mommy have a job and the job that makes her happy. It’s not just a job for me; it’s my art. It’s the thing I love to do more than anything.
No, I understand what you’re saying. You get to do what you love.
Yeah. The reality is I work less than I used to. For several years, I didn’t work at all. I was really just a full-time mother, and that’s what I wanted to do. When I got back into it, I couldn’t, nor did I want to work the crazy hours that I used to work. I was quite happy to take more supporting roles. Do series that were shorter or more guest-starring arcs. It wasn’t so important to me to work every day and carry a show.
I’m quite happy the way things are. I feel like I have struck a good balance. Obviously, I can’t work in Alaska for six months to do a movie. I can’t do things like that, but I’ve managed to do just enough to keep me really happy and satisfied. I feel really lucky.
That’s great because so many people I know, they work jobs to pay bills. To be able to do something you love while balancing your family is nice. That sounds fantastic.
Aw, thank you. I’m incredibly fortunate.
How has your role on Goliath been different than any of the other roles that you’ve done? What sets it apart for you?
I think the biggest difference is this is a show that’s on Amazon Prime. I’ve always done, as far as television, network or cable shows that unfold week by week and you build an audience. You wait for reviews, and you wait for the Nielsen ratings. I’ve never quite been on a show that just streams all eight episodes immediately. So, anyone could watch one through eight, if you have a day, right away. That is entirely different. It’s been a different way of doing press. It’s been a different way of promoting a show and that’s been really interesting.
I think the other thing about doing an Amazon Prime show is there’re no commercials. So, we’re not having to…the writers don’t have to write for commercials. You know, winding down the dialog cause they have to make room for all this advertising. You can just tell a story without there being any pauses. We also weren’t confined by advertisers requiring that we don’t swear. We were much more free with the content, is what I’m trying to say. That was very liberating.
We could, sort of, improvise a little bit. We could bring our own ideas to the script. We could play around with the scenes when we’re on set, when we’re working. That was just creatively so interesting and so unlike most of the television experiences I’ve had over the years. That was quite amazing.
Do you think you prefer doing work like that compared to your other standard cable television work, or is it just a different experience?
It was just a different experience. I think television is changing a lot. When I first started out, you did network TV and nothing else. If you did cable, you weren’t that successful. (laughs) Now things have changed. HBO happened, all the premium channels. Now there’s Netflix and Amazon; you know all these streaming productions. I think there’s just more variety now.
To answer your question, I really mostly am drawn to a story. I’m attracted to a character that maybe sort of resonates with me. If I feel like I can bring something to it, then that’s the most important thing. Rather than the medium, whether it’s network, cable, HBO, etc.
So, did you like the story on Goliath? I watched the first four episodes last night, and I would’ve watched more, but I had to go to bed and come to work.
Oh wow. Yes, that’s the thing with these shows, isn’t it? The binge effect. When I first read it, I only read the first episode. What I read actually changed. It changed quite a bit from the first script to what we were shooting when we were in production. I thought it was incredibly well written. Obviously, David E. Kelley is just such a master of the legal drama. Jonathon Shapiro, he’s incredibly talented. Billy Bob Thornton was attached and Maria Bello, William Hurt.
I mean, there was nothing about this that didn’t appeal to me. It was just one surprising aspect after another. I would’ve paid to get on it! (laughs) It was a very high end, amazing show. The kind that I just wouldn’t have expected to get on because they’re so far and few between. You know, it’s very competitive out there. You just don’t even dare to dream to land a job like that. I was pretty thrilled when I got to be a part of it.
I want to finish it this weekend because I started watching and I was like, “AH!” It also caught me off guard because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I saw you and Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt. I was like, “How do I stop watching? I have to go to work in the morning.”
(laughs) Awww, thank you. Yeah. Then you don’t want to hear anything from other people. It’s not like we all have to wait a week till the next one comes on. Some people have watched everything. Other people haven’t started yet. It’s kind of this new way of watching television. With the internet and social media, it’s hard to keep secrets with these things and keep plot points a mystery.
I really enjoy it. I think what people like too; it’s not your typical legal drama. It is a story of power and control and these relationships. The darkness and the light of Los Angeles and the human spirit. Fighting for the right thing. All these characters are written so…they’ve got so many multilayers. The hero is incredibly flawed and almost could be unlikable. Billy Bob managed to portray this man so beautifully and so nuanced.
I completely agree.
I hope you enjoy it. I hope you like it because I certainly had fun making it and hearing the good things that people have to say.
So, if you had to pick, what was your dream role be?
My dream role? Gosh, it sounds cliché, but I think I’d like to play…there’s two things. I would love to play a very influential person. Whether it was a powerful historical figure or politician or world leader, I think that would be really fun.
I would also like to play someone who’s completely insane. Almost criminally insane in like a thriller. A psychological thriller. I think that would be fun. I feel like I could really sink my teeth into that and I love watching those kinds of movies. So, I think to make one, to be in one, to be part of one would just incredible.
I would have nothing to draw on. You know, someone criminally insane, a serial killer or something, I would have nothing in my life that I could draw on. (laughs) I would have to sort of work very hard to find something in this character to connect with. I think that would be a very exciting process.
What was it like working with Kiefer Sutherland and have you caught his new show?
I haven’t seen his new show. Only because I haven’t seen a lot of new shows since I’m so ridiculously busy. I have three young kids, and I just seem to never have enough time to watch the shows. Watch new shows, let alone the shows that I keep up with. He was a lot of fun to work with. It was a fantastic fun show, 24 to be on, when it came out. It was so different. It was so new. It was kind of the beginning of a crop of new shows that were really pushing the boundaries of one-hour television, one-hour network television.
It was a hit by the time I joined in season two. It was a critical hit. It was a ratings hit. It was fun, and it was easy to merge into that. He’s really talented and very funny. He’s very, like ridiculously funny to be around. He can just turn on a dime and be Jack Bower, very serious. Then you cut, and he’s like telling a dirty joke. (laughs) It’s hilarious to see someone who can do that.
What do you think would make you nerdy or what makes you nerd out?
What makes me nerd out? I like crossword puzzles. I like to comb the aisles of drug stores, Walgreens & Rite Aids and I get kind of excited by hardware sometimes. I like hardware stores, and I’m not a handy person. It’s not like I’m building furniture or anything. But you can find really interesting things in hardware stores. So, I geek out a little bit if there’s a hardware store I have to run into. I go see what kind of nails they have or rope. They always have cool accessories, but that’s just me. (laughs).
My last question I have for you is, how old will your kids have to be before you let them watch anything you’ve been in?
Oh gosh. (laughs) Well, I’ve shown them short little things. They’re young, so I haven’t been able to show…so they wouldn’t sit through an entire show that I was on. I think they get bored very quickly of something that’s not Sponge Bob or Ninja Turtles or something. Peppa Pig they’re really into. I’ve shown them little scenes of things, which are appropriate for them to see. Just so that they can see mommy on television.
My eldest son, when he was little, the first thing he said when he saw me on TV, he said, “Mommy, why aren’t you talking in your mommy voice?” I think what happened was I’m Australian. I grew up in Australia. I have an Australian accent, but on the TV show, I had an American accent. To him, that was not his mommy’s voice.
I thought it was sweet, but on the whole, they’re pretty bored by talking heads on television. (laughs) Unless I play a superhero one day or someone with magic powers. Unless I’m in Spider-Man or a Ninja Turtle movie, they’d rather watch a different show.