Abigail Spencer on Going from ‘Rectify’ to ‘Timeless’: “I had never been a lead of a network show before”

Actress Abigail spencer

“I saw Lucy differently than other people did. I didn’t want to play a hero; I wanted to play someone at the beginning of their journey.” – Abigail Spencer

It’s not often that an actor immediately jumps from one television series ending to the beginning of another one. But that’s what actress Abigail Spencer has done. She went from starring on SundanceTV’s Rectify to starring on the NBC time-traveling drama Timeless. In a conversation with Vulture, Spencer explains how she ended up finishing one series to starting another and why she decided to continue with television.

Spencer explains that what initially drew her to the project was the show’s creators. She says, “It was really [series creators] Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke. We were about to start our final season of Rectify and I had a month where, if I was going to do a pilot, I could.”

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Ryan had seen Spencer in a pilot for another series and was considering casting her in Timeless — and as it turned out, her competition for the role actually agreed that she was the right choice for the role. Spencer explains, “I guess he had kind of kept me in mind for stuff, because that pilot was from five years ago. So in this month where I was like, ‘Oh, am I going to do a pilot?’ my manager got the script from them. It was the only pilot that she sent me. I read that day, and then four other actresses who were auditioning for the role of Lucy texted me, ‘I just went in for this show. You have to play this part!’ I was like, ‘What? You could play the part.’ They were like, ‘No. When I read it, it’s you. That’s you.'”

When asked why others considered Spencer as the right actresses for the part, Spencer says, “I think it’s a mix of a few things. I saw Lucy differently than other people did. I didn’t want to play a hero; I wanted to play someone at the beginning of their journey. I wanted to play someone that leads with her intelligence, but also has a goofiness. If I could boil it down to one trait, I would just say she’s just a person of very deep convictions. I’m drawn to those characters.”

One of the reasons why Spencer was so interested in doing Timeless was because she had not been a lead on a network show previously, which gave her the opportunity to be the main focus of a major production. She explains, “I had never been a lead of a network show before. I felt like, well, that would be a really interesting challenge because that’s a whole other world and audience. I felt that, too, in comparison to a lot of the film roles. There were some scripts that I read that were wonderful and I would have loved to have been a part of, but the character that was available to me would not have been the center, the way into the world.”

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