City On A Hill is currently airing its first season on SHOWTIME and features an all-star cast with heavy hitters like Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge and Jill Hennessy. The show is set in Boston in the 1990’s and revolves around fictional account of “The Boston Miracle.” The show was created by Ben Affleck and written by Chuck McClean.
Jill Hennessy plays Jenny Rohr, wife of Kevin Bacon’s character, who serves as the glue holding the Rohr family together while also striving to regain her independence and make a place for herself in the world. CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Hennessy ahead of this week’s episode to discuss her role on the show, working with her castmates and what to expect moving forward.
MW: Good morning Jill! How are you doing?
JH: I’m good, how are you doing Matt?
MW: Doing well! So nice to meet you.
JH: Nice to meet you too!
MW: I’m really excited about the show, I’ve caught every episode so far and I’m a big fan. I’m really excited to talk to you today.
JH: Thank you so much!
MW: What made you excited to latch on in the first place with this show? The idea came from Ben Affleck and it was created by Chuck McLean. Before this was “real” in a sense what made you excited to hop on board?
JH: Well obviously Kevin Bacon was attached who I’m a huge fan of. I heard the script was great, I mean there was already buzz going around, you know at least in New York where I am about how strong the script was. It was written by this new young writer named Chuck McLean and then I heard Michael Cuesta was directing the pilot and I worked with him on an independent film with Bobby Cannavale and Ron Eldard called Roadies and loved him. What a brilliant director, he’s tremendous.
I had to put my hat in the ring. As luck would have it my husband ran into Cuesta on the street because he’s not too far from us in Manhattan. I ended up getting the job, but it’s some of the best writing I’ve seen to be honest; in every single character. Especially roles for women too. At first glance it’s about some crime drama but I’ve never seen parts like this, particularly for women and kind of the men to be honest too because a lot of the characters you see are just not predictable in any way.
MW: Sounds like it was almost meant to be with your husband bumping into the guy on a chance encounter like that.
JH: I’m not sure if my husband shook him down in the street … ‘give my wife that part’ [Laughs].
MW: Now that you’ve been a part of it what’s your experience been like on the show working with the cast?
JH: Oh my gosh it’s amazing and it’s an emotionally intense show so you get very close very quickly. I’m doing things as an actor on this show that I just wouldn’t normally do in real life. We’ve got a nice safe environment of people who are, thank goodness, just lovely human beings and great actors to boot and wonderful producers and an amazing crew.
The crew really keeps this thing going beautifully, we’re having the best time. Sometimes you need to laugh a lot in between takes the subject matter is so intense.
MW: I’m sure it’s nice to have a little bit of levity especially when dealing with the topics you guys are handling.
JH: Yeah… oh yeah [Laughs].
MW: You mentioned earlier how the show does a really good job in creating roles for women. Your character’s name is Jenny Rohr, can you talk about waht Jenny means to you and how you’re bringing her to life?
JH: Oh yeah definitely. I love my character, her name is Jenny Rohr like you said and she’s married to Kevin Bacon. She sort of represents so many people I’ve known or even some aspects of me. She’s this walking wounded type of character. She’s just never really confronted a lot of things I think that have crippled her in her life and she blames herself for everything. “You know if I was just a better wife, if I go to church more, if I maybe change my hair, or if I do something you know my marriage will work out.” But she finally starts to realize no, her husband is incredibly dysfunctional and corrupt.
One thing I love about the writing is you see her sort of change, evolve and actually everybody does in this show. All through the series, all 10 episodes, it’s just beautiful writing and as a human being it’s nice to see somebody betray the ugliness of life and people confronting that and then try to move pass it.
MW: Another thing I love about this show is honestly is the titles of each episodes they’re so different and creative. This Sunday we have ‘From Injustice Came The Way To Describe Justice.’ Can you talk about this Sunday’s episode and preview a little bit of what we’re going to see.
JH: Oh man I haven’t even seen this Sunday’s episode, I just remember reading it. You know I try to watch each episode as it airs but it’s another intense one at least I can speak from my character. My character finally goes back to school against her husband’s wishes and boy, she’s getting the sense that he might be doing things outside the household that he shouldn’t be doing.
He starts to come at her a little harder to keep her from going back to school, keep her from creating an independent life for herself and by episode six things really come to a head. I’m not sure how much else I’m allowed to say [Laughs].
MW: Yeah don’t give away too much, I don’t want to get you in trouble [Laughs].
JH: I’m trying to keep it really cryptic as you can obviously tell.
MW: That’s what puts people in the seats. Thank you so much Jill, like I said I’m a big fan and I can’t wait to tune in Sunday night for the new episode. Good luck the rest of the way it’s been a pleasure talking to you!
JH: Thank you so much Matt!
City On A Hill is back with a brand new episode this Sunday night at 9:00 PM ET/PT only on SHOWTIME. Check your local listings for more information.