'Reign': Amy Brenneman Previews 'Badass' Arc

The "Private Practice" alum, who next stars in HBO's "The Leftovers," debuts as Mary's mother Marie de Guise in the March 6 episode.
The CW; AP Images

Private Practice alum Amy Brenneman is going back to the past on The CW's Reign.

Brenneman joins The CW period drama as Mary's mother, Marie de Guise, in the March 6 episode. Her guest-star turn came by way of her connection to executive producer Brad Silberling, to whom she is married. "It was a little bit of nepotism," Brenneman jokes in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Though Reign takes some poetic license in telling the story of Mary, this iteration of Marie de Guise stays intact -- for the most part.

"She's consistent with the historical figure, which was fun and interesting for me to know," she says. "She's a very strong woman, a very unusual woman for that time. Honestly her only similar peer is Catherine de Medici (Megan Follows). In addition to the rivalry, there's also real camaraderie and understanding."

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After leaving a young Mary about a decade earlier, the reunion between mother and daughter is tense at best.

"It's rich. Adelaide [Kane]'s [Mary] feels a real longing for a mother. It's not like anybody shuts down what they need," Brenneman says. "On Marie's side, there's the formality: 'We all have to do what we have to do here.' But then, there's a wonderful switch in the first scene where Marie says, 'I wish I could have been with you too, but there were personal problems at home.' So it's these women balancing their personal needs; they're the only people who can do what they're doing."

In a tweet late last year, Brenneman described Marie as "a badass" and she's sticking with that characterization. "She's extremely unsentimental. She doesn't give a shit what people think. In that way, she's a badass," she says. "She's not dissimilar from Catherine. That's why they understand each other so well."

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When Marie comes into the fray, she's meant to restore some semblance of order. "The big thing is that she feels that Catherine has fallen into this medieval mentality where she is literally making decisions based on Nostradamus' predictions, which is ridiculous to Marie. It's almost like [Marie] is from the future, the Age of Enlightenment, where we have intellect and sermons," Brenneman says, adding that Marie's "directness" is appealing.

Brenneman next appears in HBO's The Leftovers, an adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name, playing a woman in stark contrast from Marie.

"It's totally different. The look of it, the feel of it," she says of the summer drama. "I play a woman who doesn't speak, who has a soulful presence. If Marie de Guise is all about the intellect and really encouraging Mary not to be so emotional, this woman is awash in feeling. She's like this big open wound. And it's silent. It's like diving into a whole other thing."

Reign airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.

Editor's note: The original article incorrectly stated that Brenneman's first appearance was in the Feb. 6 episode.

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