Something special happened to Vanessa Ferlito when she walked onto the set of her current hit show, Graceland. The actress has had roles on popular series including 24 and CSI: NY, but on Graceland she has found a set of kindred spirits. In this exclusive interview, Ferlito talks about her character, her cast mates, and her hopes for a second season.
Q: How did you get involved with Graceland?
Ferlito: They sent me the script. I read it, I loved it, and I just went for it. They wanted to see me, so I flew out to LA. I tested with Alan and then I got it.
Q: What drew you to the character of Charlie?
Ferlito: You know, I loved the script, that was the first thing. I loved that they went into detail with the characters and that there was more to the show than just solving a crime. It felt like a reality show. I always compare it to Real World meets 24. It just felt really authentic to me and the fact that it was based on a true story always makes it more exciting. The role of Charlie, I loved it, she is undercover and is a crackhead. I am not afraid to go to those places and I loved that they wanted me to go there, so I was really excited about that.
Q: How do you prepare for that? How do you walk in and prep to play a character that is really multiple people because you are undercover?
Ferlito: It’s interesting. Maybe it says something about me; maybe I am a little crazy [laughs]. You know it depends on the day and what I have to shoot. I rile myself up without knowing it. When I have something intense to shoot, I tend to get anxious. I naturally go to that place. It just kind of happens when I am preparing in the morning. I get all worked up.
Q: At the start of the show, the audience she’s Charlie one way, but within five episodes she totally changes into a more in-depth character and ends up taking drugs…
Ferlito: Yeah, well, that is real life. These undercover FBI agents, do you know how many of them have needed treatment? Have had to retire, have been screwed up? Donnie Brasco? All of these true stories that you read about, that you see—that really happens. They get hooked. You are in a really, really bad position, your life is at stake. It’s like you are playing a role, so that’s not far fetched at all. From moment to moment you don’t know. I could have died if [my character] didn’t shoot those drugs.
Q: What does that mean now for the rest of the season? Is the consequence of her doing drugs going to be something she is battling with?
Ferlito: I know this is annoying, but I have to say it, we are going to have to see. She is definitely facing the consequences, whether we see it immediately or in the second season.
Q: Were you surprised when you read the scripts and saw what was going to happen?
Ferlito: Any time I get the scripts, I immediately sit down and text Daniel [Sunjata] and say, “Are you reading this? Are you seeing this?”
Q: One episode ends with Daniel’s character Paul admitting he was a heroin addict. As an audience member, that was surprising.
Ferlito: I know, you think, “This is crazy!” Well, wait until you see what happens. We would read these scripts and be like, “Oh my God.” It’s a really intense season for Charlie. [The cast] have a text thread, and I would immediately [message] the boys. We had no idea. We knew they wanted to go darker, but we didn’t know how dark.
Q: What is it like working with the cast?
Ferlito: I love them. I am in love with them. I am not kidding you. I can’t tell them enough. They must think I am crazy, but they are the same way with me. We are all very close and we have a really special relationship. We were texting last night. I really love them.
Q: Any word on a renewal for season two?
Ferlito: We are waiting to hear. Your guess is as good as mine. I can’t imagine it any other way, I would be really shocked [if the show is canceled]. I think that we should know soon. I am hoping. I think it’s in the bag, I’ve got to be honest with you. I hope to work with [the cast] for many years.