Emily Deschanel & Madeleine Arthur on Devil In Ohio, broken characters, and unwinding between takes

by W. Andrew Powell

Netflix’s Devil In Ohio is a dark thriller in middle America, and it’s a perfect segue into spooky season, with Emily Deschanel starring as Suzanne, a conflicted psychiatrist trying to help one very troubled young woman.

Madeleine Arthur plays Mae, the sometimes scary, broken woman, and when we meet her, she’s recovering in a hospital from abuse at the hands of a cult.

As Suzanne tries to unravel Mae’s case, she brings her home, causing a lot of tension with her family who don’t even know Mae’s connection to a cult.

“It’s a real ethical breach for a psychiatrist to bring a patient home,” Deschanel said. “When I talked to a psychiatrist preparing for the role, she said if this wasn’t inspired by true events, I would say this would never happen because it’s just a huge ethical breach.”

So what motivates Suzanne to bring Mae home?

Emily Deschanel and Madeleine Arthur
Emily Deschanel and Madeleine Arthur

“As this show goes on, you’ll learn more about Suzanne’s background and there’s some clues there about why she is so determined to save Mae… it’s [also] revealed more about Suzanne’s past and where she might have some blindspots…”

For Arthur, playing this bold, broken, and scary character came down to understanding what she wanted.

“Connecting with that kind of brokenness and just really figuring out what makes her tick, why she’s doing what she’s doing,” Arthur said, ” “I think ultimately she’s a survivalist. As the series goes on, we start to understand what the motivation is behind everything that she does.”

“For me, I love playing someone who’s dark and moody and who you are not sure what is happening because that gives me so many different layers to play with and bring out at different times, which the writing also helped to do. And then, having a great scene partner like Emily to go on the journey with was really cool and it was fun to do research and get to explore such a unique character.”

As far as the mood on set, the series may look spooky, but off camera it was completely different.

“I feel like we were laughing in between takes,” Arthur said. “I mean, there were some moments where it was definitely very, very emotional… but I think ultimately, it was pretty chill.”

“My experience has been, a lot of times you laugh more doing dramas,” Deschanel said. “Sometimes when you go visit certain comedies–I haven’t done a ton of comedy in my life–but sometimes they are so serious off camera… getting those jokes right.”

“So this one lined up with that theory; we were having fun.”

Watch the full interview to hear more about the series, and the mood on and off camera, as well as details about how Emily Deschanel researched the role.

Devil In Ohio premieres on Netflix Friday, September 2.

Images courtesy of Netflix.

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