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Michelle Dockery Embraces ‘Poetic Noir’ of TNT’s ‘Good Behavior’ in Post-‘Downton Abbey’ Star Turn

Surely shrimp and grits were never on the menu at a “Downton Abbey” premiere party. And for Michelle Dockery, that’s the point.

The former “Downton Abbey” star returns to series TV tonight in TNT’s moody caper-of-the-week drama “Good Behavior.” She plays a con artist, Letty, with an extremely checkered past who is just out of jail and trying to reconnect with her moral center when fate draws her into the clutches of a handsome hitman, Javier, played by Juan Diego Botto.

At Monday’s premiere screening and party in New York, Dockery embraced the role that requires her to pull out a few American accents and more than a few wigs because it was so far removed from the steely grace of “Downton’s” Lady Mary.

“I was thrilled to go on to something like this,” Dockery told the crowd at the Roxy Hotel. She joked that first and foremost she was just “looking for another job.” The role of a complicated woman in contemporary America was too tempting to pass up. “I get to move around a bit more — I get to use my arms,” she said of the strenuous physical requirements of the role. In the pilot, Letty is seen in all manner of compromising positions, from barfing in the mud after a bender to smoking crack out of a makeshift light bulb pipe. Another big plus for Dockery, after so many seasons in long dresses, was “wearing jeans,” she said.

Good Behavior” sprang from the series of short stories penned by Blake Crouch. Crouch and Chad Hodge hatched the idea for a series while the two worked together on Fox’s “Wayward Pines.” Hodge credited pilot director Charlotte Sieling set the tone for the series with her insistence on rainy scenes and nighttime shoots in North Carolina to reflect the darkness of Letty’s world view. Hodge dubbed the look and feel “poetic noir.”

At the after-party, a four-piece jazz band enhanced the mood as guests dined on Southern favorites and took turns taking photos with Letty’s wigs. Dockery said she’s become so fond of her faux locks that she’s given them names: Betty, Annie, Veronica and Katya.

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