January 16, 2012 9:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'Alcatraz' Will 'Be Equally Frustrating and Intriguing,' Says Parminder Nagra
J.J. Abrams returns to television, this time with mysterious drama Alcatraz.
Toplined by Lost veteran Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill and Sarah Jones, the hourlong TV series – premiering Monday on Fox with a two-hour event – centers on San Francisco Det. Rebecca Madsen (Jones), who discovers that the original prisoners on Alcatraz Island from 1963 are resurfacing in present day. To hear co-star Parminder Nagra tell it, Alcatraz is a welcome challenge.
“Generally, you really get to have a look at who you’re playing and you flush it out quickly. Here, we’re in a situation where you know a little bit. Sometimes you have to go with it and that’s what I feel like with this show,” Nagra, who plays technician Lucy Banerjee, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I think it’ll be equally frustrating and intriguing for everybody watching.”
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Alcatraz marks the ER alum’s first true foray into a heavily serialized genre drama and to add another wrinkle, Nagra’s alter-ego may not be who she seems. (“That’s going to happen with a lot of characters, where they’re not really who they seem to be,” she says.)
“[Executive producer] Daniel Pyne described it as Lucy will probably be one of the keys to Alctraz. That intrigues me because I don’t know where that’s going,” Nagra admits, adding that once that moment comes it “opens up another world.”
Lucky attendees at Comic-Con last year were treated to a preview of the pilot, but since then, several changes to the episode have been made – including more screen time for Nagra.
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“I was only in a couple of scenes in the early pilot and now they’re doing the two hours and there’s stuff that they’ve added. They went back and did some tweaking,” Nagra says.
In November, THR reported that series co-creator Liz Sarnoff stepped down as showrunner with Pyne and Jennifer Johnson tapped to co-run the midseason entry. Nagra insists that the behind-the-scenes shift didn’t affect production in any significant way.
“We just want to make the best possible show. People were just like this is what’s happened and to a certain extent, it is what it is. It’s onwards and upwards, just trying to make the best thing. I don’t think it affected things to be honest with you,” she says.
With the pedigree behind the Warner Bros. TV and Bad Robot-produced drama, Alcatraz received notice for being similar to other Abrams projects, like Alias and Fringe. But Abrams, who is an executive producer, tried to distance the show from its predecessors.
"This show was designed as episodic with an overarching large mythology we get to over time," Abrams told reporters at the winter Television Critics Assoc. press tour earlier this month.
Alcatraz premieres Monday with a two-hour event at 8 p.m. on Fox before settling into its 9 p.m. home on Jan. 23.