Lucy Liu, whose turn as the fiercely funny Ling Woo on Ally McBeal earned her a supporting actress Emmy, exercises her finesse for deadpan and one-liners again in Marc Cherry’s CBS All Access series Women Who Kill in the character of Simone Grave.
A well-to-do art gallery owner who is all about image, Simone is one of the three women on the anthology series about three different generations of females who’ve lived in the same house and have their lives impacted by the murder of a loved one. Simone, though, has an intriguing arc in the 1980s portion of the show; she may come off as being all into herself (she’s unafraid to have an affair when she learns her husband is cheating), but she’s more tender than that. Her husband, Karl (Jack Davenport), has been cheating with a man, and it’s an infidelity she develops a great sympathy toward as Why Women Kill explores the issues gay men faced at that time when living an out life.
When it comes to working with Cherry, Liu said during her panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event that he’s a master of timing. “You have to come prepared ready to improvise, and not off a script, but the physicality,” she said. “It was important to play her much straighter even though she’s colorful, or what other people say is ‘broad,’ but in her world, she’s normal.
“It’s not a send-up,” says Liu about playing the more dramatic side of Simone. “The more relatable (she is), the funnier because she’s in her own microcosm.”
Liu also returned to episodic TV directing on Why Women Kill, helming the eighth episode “Marriages Don’t Break Up on Account of Murder — It’s Just a Symptom That Something Else Is Wrong.” She’s directed herself seven times before during her starring role on CBS’ Elementary, and the fact that she shared the screen with other protagonists in the series, i.e., Ginnifer Goodwin and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, whose characters are set respectively in the eras of the 1960s and current day, made it feasible for Liu to wear several hats.
On directing, Liu says, “I don’t want to take any credit for it, because a lot of it is in the script and the actors were so brilliant.”
“You trust they’ll bring something to the table and they always do.”
While there’s no word whether Liu will play a different character in season of Why Women Kill, she says, “I’ve been invited back to direct.”
Check out the panel video above.