'Rectify' Star Abigail Spencer on Season 2, and Returning to 'Mad Men'
"Mad Men" Episode 309
Sundance Channel's "Rectify," the haunting six-episode drama about a man who's released from prison after spending nearly 20 years locked up for a crime he may not have committed, was initially conceived for a limited-series run. But before even half of those episodes had aired, Sundance Channel execs ordered a second season, which is great news for viewers left wondering what became of newly freed Daniel Holden (Aden Young), his fiercely supportive sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer), and the rest of his family.
Spencer, previously best known for her role as one of Don Draper's (many) loves on "Mad Men," has already received a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for her role on the series, and her name is being mentioned on many lists as a potential Emmy nominee for "Rectify." Spencer talked to Yahoo! TV about what attracted her to the series, her character's unusual name, the possibility of returning to Don Draper's world, and her acting hero, with whom she's co-starring in an upcoming movie.
What drew you to the role, first of all?
Well, it was a really interesting circumstance with how the script came into my life. I actually overheard another actor talking about the piece, and he was trying to get in on it. I was like, "What is it about?" And there was something about how he was describing it. … It stuck with me, and I called my agent, and said, "What's 'Rectify?'" I was, like, "It's the best script of the year. Send it over right now."
I read the first five pages and by page five, I had to just go back to the title page. Who is Ray McKinnon? Were we separated at birth? Why have we not met before? I could just hear the way Amantha talked, the way she walked, [her] sense of humor. It stuck with me, and I just had to play her. It was like a deep passion overtook me. That was kind of what got me, the writing and Ray McKinnon. I really responded to his storytelling and his point of view.
There are a lot of ways you could describe Amantha, but above all, she is the person you would most want on your side in any tough situation.
Luke Kirby, who plays Jon Stern, called her "the warrior" — "Amantha the warrior." I love that. I'm really inspired because it's overwhelming to play, to be someone who is so dogged and unrelenting, with her fervor and her support. I look up to her in that way. It's just unabashed. It's clear. You do want someone like that on your side, but I think the circumstance and part of the drama of the show is, what if that person that you are doing all that for doesn't want it anymore? It's a bit crushing, and that's what I thought was so heartbreaking about Amantha. She really has to find her own identity. Even though she's strong and powerful and very self-assured, she's totally vulnerable in the same breath.
The other thing that is sad about the character is that she is so powerful and confident and smart and outspoken, you think about how, if she had been able to channel all of that into her own life, she'd be running the world right now.
It's interesting because some of the backstory is that she's been living in Atlanta, living near the prison, and just working at an electrical company, a gas and electric company, doing a desk job so she can devote all of her energy into [her brother]. It's like, "Oh, now, what if she had gone to college?" What if she had really pursued her own endeavors? That's what's so interesting, and what I'm so excited about for Season 2, that we get to explore those what if"s or what are those hopes and dreams that haven't been realized? What will her life really look like now, and what will her relationship with Jon Stern and her brother be like now? I'm really interested in seeing Amantha try to deal with her own life.