Transitioning from Marvel’s Agent Peggy Carter to playing former First Daughter Hayes Morrison in ABC’s Conviction was easy, Hayley Atwell insisted at TCA this afternoon, despite the lack of source material.

Hayley Atwell
Rex/Shutterstock

The only thing people are privy to are the “public persona” of First Daughters, she said, noting we rarely get to know the “ins and outs” of the First Family’s unresolved issues. “I looked at watching people in positions of power and the faces they choose to put on, and how they choose to work a room,” including not just politicians but celebrities. Her Hayes character, she said, “has been trained. It’s in her DNA, to do that. What makes this interesting is to find out where the chinks in the armor are, and where she might mess it up.”

In the series, from Mark Gordon’s new-ish indie Mark Gordon Co., lawyer and former First Daughter Hayes accepts a job offer from NY District Attorney Conner Wallis, to avoid jail time for cocaine possession and avoid hurting her mother’s Senate campaign. Working with his team at the new Conviction Integrity Unit will let her work on cases where there may have been a wrongful conviction, and a chance to turn things around with her family.

Eddie Cahill’s DA Wallace is politically ambitious and wants to align himself with her high-profile political family, and Hayes represents “everything he wants,” the actor said. “They give each other mental orgasms.”

But he “overestimates his ability to control, and resist her,” EP Liz Friedman added happily.

Gordon, meanwhile,  insisted Conviction is Howard Hawks-ian, but also painted a picture of a modern day Adams Rib, George Cukor’s late 40’s courtroom-set Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy comedy. Conviction, he smiled, is a “wonderful hybrid of character drama with great humor” that’s “the perfect ABC procedural.”