'UnReal' Star Constance Zimmer on Betrayal, Princess Fantasies and Quinn's Revenge

Unreal Still - H 2015
James Dittiger

Unreal Still - H 2015

Fool Quinn (Constance Zimmer) once, shame on her — but she won’t let you fool her twice.

As Lifetime's dark and twisty summer critical darling UnREAL barrels toward its freshman season finale, the relationship drama has reached a fever pitch. As Adam (Freddie Stroma) deals with choosing a potential wife/fiancee/contracted one-year spinoff partner and Rachel (Shiri Appleby) chooses between flirty Adam and ex-beau Jeremy (Josh Kelly), Quinn is dealing with the aftermath of finally being the chosen one.

After years in an on-again/off-again affair with executive producer Chet (Craig Bierko), the pragmatic Quinn was filled with pleasant surprise during last week’s hour as he announced he was not only leaving his wife, but also wanted to marry Quinn. A less pleasant surprise? Finding out that merely days after becoming Chet’s fiancee, he was back to his cheating ways with Everlasting PA Madison (Genevieve Buechner).

For a character who usually thrives in an emotional detachment from the contestants and producers of her show (which Zimmer notes wouldn’t be given a second thought if she was a man), Chet’s betrayal is a shocking turn of events, both for Quinn and for her portrayer.

"When I read [that scene in] the script, I was floored," the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I thought, ‘What? He just asked me to marry him and now? No. What? […] Why would he do that? How is that possible?' "

Of course, Quinn is not going to take this betrayal lying down. So where does she go from here? And what’s in that mysterious USB drive in Quinn’s safe? THR caught up with Zimmer to discuss last week’s bombshell(s) and preview Quinn’s payback.

What initially drew you to the role of Quinn?

It was [actually] what scared me the most about her — as they say, what scares you most is what you should always run toward, not run away from — I didn’t know her story. The challenge was trying to make her a character that people were going to be able to relate to even though the way that she conducts business, the way the she treats people just felt so other worldly to me. [It] felt like such an incredible challenge. 

Quinn is very driven when it comes to her work, almost to a pathological degree. Were you concerned with her being likeable or was it a relief to play someone who might be unlikable?

Yes, to all of the above. I would call co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Lifetime senior vp scripted series Nina Lederman, all the time and say, "How am I coming across? Am I too mean?" Everyone was [telling me just to] trust it and know that people are going to love her because of her honesty. As long as I kept Quinn in a world where somebody could relate to some part of her struggle, then hopefully she would be a character that you would love to hate or hate to love.

Chet left his wife and proposed to Quinn. After all this time, was marriage the endgame that Quinn really wanted out of that relationship?

Definitely! Her first reaction is yes. It’s been seven or eight years in this horrible, abusive relationship. I don’t think she knew it was what she wanted, but when [that] is put in front of her — a giant diamond representing "You will be mine, and I will be yours" — even though it’s coming from someone who was a cheater, [Quinn didn’t] see all of that. She was so blinded by the set up — the candles, the dinner, he got dressed up — all of it was part of the fantasy we sell on the show, this princess fantasy. It’s doing to her what it does to all of us. You’re in it and you’re just like, "Yes! Yes!"

Why has Quinn stayed in this relationship for so long?

She does have a deep, profound love for him because they did come up together. She became powerful when she was in the relationship with him, but she’s married to her work. She’s so into her work because it forces her to not look at her real life and, instead, try and manipulate everybody else’s lives. It’s why her career will always be her life. She’s got a lot of vulnerabilities and a lot of insecurities. If she didn’t have that job, she wouldn’t still be with Chet because she would have been able to see that the relationship was not a good relationship.

Do you think part of her preferred the status quo that had been set as opposed to actually being Chet’s fiancée?

To be honest, she doesn’t have the time to think about it. She should be married, [but] with somebody who loves her and somebody who thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread. [On the other hand,] she’s not in that kind of relationship and she doesn’t actually know the difference. You see that [with Quinn’s ex in episode four], she couldn’t handle someone who was so in love with her and so enamored with her. It was almost harder to upkeep that than to upkeep [the convenience of being with Chet]. Her greater love, and that’s what makes her story so sad, is her career. She loves the game.

Knowing Chet’s faults, was Quinn genuinely surprised that he cheated on her?

She was. It’s our whole princess fantasy. When we’ve read those books as little kids, your prince swings in and gives you a giant diamond ring and promises you the world and builds you houses and says, "This is it. This is going to be our life together," and you want to believe it. [Chet] changed overnight — he left his wife, he started drinking healthy, he stopped doing drugs. You have to believe that it’s real until it’s not, right? I can depend on my show, but I can’t depend on love.

Immediately, Quinn grabbed that USB drive. What’s Quinn’s game plan now?

What Quinn has planned is not going to be pretty. She wanted to believe that the love was real and when she realizes it’s not? She does not hold back. She is going to get him where it hurts, and she does it in a way where even he’s surprised.

What do you think will be on that USB drive? Sound off in the comments below and come back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for more from Zimmer. UnREAL airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.

Twitter: @NotPhelan