Julianne Nicholson on ‘Digging Deep’ Into Her ‘Eyewitness’ Role

Julianne Nicholson stars as Helen Torrance, a small-town sheriff married to a veterinarian (Gil Bellows) in USA Network’s “Eyewitness.” Nicholson spoke with Variety about the love stories at the center of the show, which is based on a Norwegian series, as well as what she learned from another role, in Maggie Greenwald’s upcoming film “Sophie and the Rising Sun.”

What drew you to “Eyewitness”?

I loved the story. I thought Helen Torrance was a really fascinating and fleshed-out character. I loved digging deep into her life and her marriage. Plus, it’s paired with the story of two boys falling in love, which I thought was portrayed in a beautiful way that I hadn’t seen on television.

How is it different?

It begins more as a straight-up love story than necessarily a “gay love story,” and I liked that. It doesn’t have to do with sexuality, and I feel like that’s important.

How did you prepare for the exploration of Helen’s marriage?

I’ve been married for 12 years, and I recognize the act of coming together with someone in your mid- to late-30s, when you’ve had this whole life before you’ve met that person. The question comes up of how much do you share or reveal about what came before them. … I find that very interesting.

Is it true that you met your husband on the set of an unaired pilot called “Marriage”? 

It’s true. It seems like fate, but also at the time it felt like, No, you can’t meet your husband on a show called “Marriage” and have it actually work. But so far, so good.

A Variety reviewer compared the hostility of American-Japanese relations in “Sophie and the Rising Sun” to modern-day Islamophobia. 

Yes. We keep seeing it again and again with different races, and it’s tragic that this continues…. I didn’t know to what extent Japanese-American people were thrown into internment camps and the hard time they were having. I don’t remember learning that in school. So that was a shock to me as a grown woman.

“Eyewitness” is about small-town prejudices. “Sophie and the Rising Sun” touches on similar ideas. 

I have another film coming out in the beginning of next year called “From Nowhere,” which won an audience award at SXSW this year, and that’s about four undocumented high-school students in the Bronx, so there’s prejudice there as well. Prejudice is out there, and if I can be a part of shining a light on those stories, then that makes me feel good.

What you didn’t know about Julianne Nicholson
AGE: 45; Born: Medford, Mass.; Spouse: English actor Jonathan Cake; Best Audition: “The Love Letter”; Worst Audition: “The Love Letter”; Favorite Role: Sheriff Helen Torrance on “Eyewitness”

More TV

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    CBS Stations Go Dark on AT&T's DirecTV, U-verse Platforms Amid Contract Battle

    CBS’ 28 O&O stations are going dark for about 6.6 million subscribers of AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms as the Eye and AT&T battle over a new retransmission consent contract. The blackout affects CBS and CW-affiliated stations in 14 major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Also off the air are the CBS [...]

  • Orlando Bloom Comic Con Immigrant San

    Orlando Bloom Claims San Diego Mayor Ran From Comic-Con Exhibit Featuring Immigrant Characters

    Did an immigration storyline cause Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to run out of Amazon Prime Video’s Comic-Con activation this week? According to “Carnival Row” star Orlando Bloom, that’s exactly what happened. At Amazon’s “Carnival Row” panel, Bloom told the audience that Faulconer stopped by the Prime Video activation and chose the “Carnival Row” [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final

    'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final Season Backlash 'Media-Led Hate Campaign'

    What is life like now after “Game of Thrones?” That’s the question that fans have been asking themselves and that cast members had to answer at the show’s final Comic-Con panel. But first, Conleth Hill, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and several others cleared the air and addressed the perceived negative response to the final season. “I don’t [...]

  • SDCC Roundup: AMC Drops 'The Walking

    SDCC TV News Roundup: AMC Releases 'The Walking Dead' Season 10 Trailer (Watch)

    San Diego Comic-Con has become a hotbed of entertainment news in recent years, especially for the television industry. In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, AMC dropped a trailer for the 10th season of “The Walking Dead” and FX released a first look at “Mayans MC” Season 2. FIRST LOOKS AMC debuted the trailer for Season [...]

  • ARCHER: 1999 -- "Cubert" -- Season

    'Archer' Renewed for Season 11 at FXX

    “Archer” has been picked up for an eleventh season. The announcement was made Friday at San Diego Comic-Con. The news comes less than a week ahead of the Season 10 finale. Season 11 is slated to debut on FXX in 2020. While the show initially focused on the agents and support staff of a covert [...]

  • Carnival Row

    Amazon Debuts New 'Carnival Row' Footage at Comic-Con (Watch)

    San Diego Comic-Con attendees got an extended look at the upcoming Amazon drama “Carnival Row” during the show’s panel at the annual fanfest on Friday. Two new featurettes (see above and below) offer in-depth looks at the backstories of the two main characters — Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevigne) and Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom). Delevigne plays [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content