Judith Light Talks Playing Richard Jewell’s Mother in ‘Manhunt: Deadly Games’

Judith Light has embodied a range of characters, from Shelly Pfefferman in “Transparent” to Marilyn Miglin in “American Crime Story” to Angela Bower in “Who’s the Boss?” Most recently, she played Bobi Jewell in “Manhunt: Deadly Games,” a 10-part series that focused on Richard Jewell’s story. Yes, last year’s “Richard Jewell,” directed by Clint Eastwood, also told the story, but the Spectrum series dives deeper into the pursuit of the real bomber.

“My husband wrote to me and said, ‘I didn’t recognize you,’” Light said while laughing.

The actor didn’t wear any makeup to play Bobi. Instead, she relied on her acting sensibilities and a great wig-maker.

“I did the same thing with ‘Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story,’ no makeup,” she said, pointing out that the best actors employ the same method. “Meryl Streep, Allison Janney and Glenn Close, they all do it, too.”

She also chose not to speak to Bobi in real life, nor did she speak to Miglin for “American Crime Story.”

“I feel for her in many ways. I did not contact her because I don’t think it works to do that. These are people who have suffered a great deal. I don’t think it helps to have them be a part of the research,” she said.

Instead, she read a comprehensive Vanity Fair piece on the Richard Jewell story and recalled hearing the news when it first broke.

“I remember feeling that the story was about someone who was vilified when they were the hero,” she said. “We need to blame someone quickly, and this was very much a case of, ‘We have to get these people back to Olympic Park and we need to tell them that we found the bomber.’ They wanted to make sure the public knew it was safe to go back to the park,” she said.

With the show shooting from May to October, Light and Cameron Britton, who played Richard, grew very close.

“When I did the table read, I went in wearing a wig and it was the first time Cameron and I had worked together, but there was such a connection and he was treating me like his mother,” she said.

Next up, Light will be seen in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick Tick Boom” alongside Andrew Garfield.

“I didn’t see the show on Broadway, but I met Lin years ago, and Tommy Kail directed me in a show years ago,” she said. “The cast is just remarkable and you will appreciate this version. It’s going to be very special and exciting.”

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