In The Dark returns for its season two premiere tonight at 9/8C on The CW. In The Dark stars Perry Mattfeld as Murphy Mason, a blind woman navigating her way through her twenties. In season one viewers saw Murphy attempt to unravel the mystery of her murdered friend, Tyson, and left off with her in the hospital following a vicious car crash.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke with Mattfeld ahead of tonight’s season premiere to discuss the challenges of playing a blind woman and the escape from reality In The Dark seeks to deliver for its fans.
MW: Good morning Perry! In The Dark, season two, kicking off tonight, congratulations. What was it about the show that made you want to get involved in the first place?
PM: Hey Matt, thanks, you know I’ve said before I usually kind of judge how I feel about a script based on how quickly I’m able to get through it. You know when you’re reading a book sometimes you feel like you read the same page over and over again; if I have to go back a ton of times and ask who said what or what so and so did that’s not great, but I flew through that pilot of In The Dark, I laughed out loud. I remember it got me choked up, I felt so much in 45 pages, I flew through it.
I just felt like it was written in such a natural conversational way and tt was so easy to connect to. I don’t think anyone knew it was going to be as funny as it turned out. I don’t think anyone would have predicted we’d be where we are now, I don’t think I could have ever guessed what the show was going to be about. It’s awesome.
MW: Your character, Murphy Mason, is blind of course. What kind of preparation did you have to do in order to play this role?
PM: Well luckily for me, and for everyone, the show is inspired by a real person named Lori. Lori is not only involved in the writing process but is my right hand through all of this. I spent a couple weeks with her before we even started filming just obsessing over her, obsessing over her day-to-day, I spent hours with her. Not only did I need to learn how she uses her guide dog, but watching her get ready for bed, watching her make a snack in her kitchen, watching her go through her closet, watching her do her morning routine all that kind of stuff. I just had to obsess over the physicality because Murphy as a whole is such a handful besides the physical so I needed to make sure that I could at least try.
I’ll never fully understand being in her shoes but I had to at least try to educate myself as much as possible about the physical so that when I went to go try to deal with the emotional and mental part of Murphy, I felt a little more prepared about the physical. Now I’m able to talk to Lori all the way through when she’s there on set. I’m able to watch her go through the blocking. So, if the director says roll out of bed go grab a beer from the fridge, I can watch her do it and then mimic her. It’s helpful as an actor to be able to replicate a real person. I’m literally copying the person that is supposed to be Murphy.
MW: Yeah, that sounds like an incredible asset for you. What’s been the most challenging part for you?
PM: I’ve said before when I read some of these scenes for the first time and every line of Murphy’s is ‘shut up, no, idiot, shut up, shut up stupid.’ The hard part for me is it’s my job to find the moments in between her lines, in between when she’s talking, to find the moments that make her lovable, that make people want to root for her. I have to find the in between or the little underlying piece of Murphy that is human. It’s about the goodness of her, the kindness of her that make people still want her to come out on top.
Chloe is a huge part of seeing that, her relationship with Chloe. Tyson was a huge part of that in season one. Her relationship with Pretzel, there’s some affection that you see there as well. It’s definitely hard for me to find a balance sometimes just as an actor. Murphy’s strength is obviously one of her best qualities.
MW: I can imagine it can be hard to pull off sympathetic while telling people to shut up at the same time.
PM: [Laughs] Even if the other characters around me don’t see it the audience has to see it. What is it that I can do whether it’s with my facial expressions or some sort of physical movement just so the audience sees at least she thought about it or at least she felt it. Even if she didn’t say that she felt bad; she feels it. Always trying to find those moments.
MW: Last season ended with the big car crash and then Nia came to tell Murphy that she is actually on the hook for the money that Felix and Jess took. Where do we pick up tonight?
PM: Exactly where we left off, all the same bruises. That was fun to come back and have to replicate exactly where I was at the end of season one. I love that at the end of season one you get some closure in terms of the whole Tyson arc, but it didn’t bring him back. Now she’s in a bigger hole than she ever was. It sets up a really interesting season. It’s shocking where it goes.
MW: We were talking about it a little bit before, but what does it mean to be able to provide people with entertainment at this time when everyone is locked indoors?
PM: I’ve always said that’s part of why I enjoy playing characters is I’ve always considered myself a character actor. It’s fun to bring characters that are like yourself but I enjoy even more so creating a character that is so far from who I am because of that escape; it’s pretend. It’s a chance to completely pretend you’re in another world that either doesn’t exist or that you’ve never been a part of. I think that’s one of the great things about In The Dark is that it does have a very genuine raw kind of grounding to it.
People right now are feeling especially vulnerable. I think they’ll actually get to know some vulnerable characters watching our show and even a little laugh with it. There’s definitely going to be an opportunity to completely escape. I think people will enjoy the season and will be able to escape with these characters.
MW: Last question before I let you go, put you on the spot little bit. If you could describe the new season in three words, what would they be?
PM: Ooh, does breaking bad count as one or two?
MW: Let’s go with one.
PM: OK breakingbad, thrilling, and deceit.
MW: Thank you so much for the time today Perry, all the best and stay safe!
PM: Thanks, Matt! Same to you!
In The Dark returns tonight at 9/8 C on The CW. Check your local listings for more information.