Constance Zimmer On Her ‘UnREAL’ Beginnings: “I Never Watched Reality Shows”

UnREAL–Lifetime’s take on the inner workings of a dating reality show called Everlasting–could so easily have been a piece of lightweight fluff. Instead, its lead, Constance Zimmer, has helped to bring power and depth to the show’s highly-skilled writing, earning herself an Emmy nom in the role of cutthroat TV producer Quinn.

From the start, Zimmer was reluctant to take on the job. “I didn’t even read the script,” she says. “I was like, nothing about this is interesting to me.” But then a chance run-in with Nina Lederman, the then head of Lifetime, led to another meeting–this time with creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Shapiro–which changed Zimmer’s mind immediately. “If you could imagine being an actor in a room after the years that I have been around and meeting with two incredibly strong, intelligent women and them talking to me, saying, ‘We’re all in this together.’ That, to me, was one of the most exciting reasons to join a project.”

Zimmer talked to AwardsLine about the show’s upcoming new season, Quinn and Rachel’s future and the aftermath of that car crash.

Before you took on this role, had you ever watched The Bachelor or The Bachelorette?

I never watched reality shows. I was obviously very aware of them because they’re everywhere, but I was not somebody who watched them. I obviously had to watch more of them when I got the part because I was reading the scripts and they were so unbelievable to me and so farfetched, some of the ideas, until I actually watched some of the reality shows and I was like, “Oh, this stuff is actually happening.”

As far as Quinn goes, I never read a script when they came to me for the part. I wasn’t even interested because it was shooting in Atlanta and I didn’t want to leave my daughter. Then I met Nina Lederman, who was the head of Lifetime at the time, and she approached me at a school fundraiser and just said, “I need you to just give this a chance because this is a part that I really don’t see anybody else being able to do as well as you can.” And I was like, “Wow, no pressure.” But she was also like, “Listen, we want this to be a show that is unlike anything Lifetime has done, so please don’t judge it. Please meet with Marti Noxon and Sarah Shapiro.” So I did everything she told me to do because I was so impressed with her and her passion for the project. I think it’s why all of this has been so exciting and so surprising and so incredible because it really feels like a show that has been nurtured by women, for women, about women, you know, and not about perfect women, which is even better. It’s about complicated messed-up women. I never anticipated that this show was going to be that.

We see vulnerability with Quinn in her breakup with Booth and not being able to have a baby. How important did that feel to the character?

It was very important to me because I didn’t want it to be loose. It needed to be very specific, and for me, the specificity lied in the specific words, which were, “I just wanted a choice.” I kind of liked being the voice of the fact that not everybody needs to have kids or should have kids, and not making women feel like they’re less than because they make that choice was very, very important for me.

“I don’t know if it’s in her to necessarily give up because I think she’s a fighter,” Zimmer says of her character Quinn

Getting the season three renewal so early before season two had aired must have felt pretty good?

It felt like Lifetime and A&E had given us a giant hug. You know, you very rarely get to work with a network that is so behind you every step of the way, and them picking us up before our second season even aired was the biggest, biggest vote of confidence and support that I think we could’ve ever been given, and because we were on the set and we were still shooting the second season when the call came in, we were able to share it with the crew. Everybody was cheering and we all just were like, “Oh, my gosh, they believe in us.”

For Season 3, will Quinn and Rachel still be at odds? Will there be payback for the car wreck?

I believe that Quinn and Rachel will be a team again because I think we all noticed how it did more harm, them not being a team. I do think with this new entity of Jeremy and what he has possibly done, I think that is going to create a new trifecta of emotions and situations which should be interesting. I do know also that they’re going to mix up the Everlasting world a little bit as well.

Has Quinn has given up on love?

I don’t know if it’s in her to necessarily give up because I think she’s a fighter, but I definitely think she may have started back at ground zero again. I think she went so far with Chet in the first season and then got kind of kicked back on her butt, and then she tried again with him and then got kicked back on her butt, and then John Booth was kind of this, “Whoa, what’s this? This is new.” I think that even though she was hesitant she was still diving in pretty quickly, so that to me makes me feel like I don’t think she’s given up. I just think it’s given her another layer to her armor that I just think every layer that she puts on is just going to be another layer that somebody else has to get through.

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