Rachael Leigh Cook
looks like such a sweet, charming, harmless sort that it is always
entertaining to see her play a tough character.
That is doubly so
in the case of her fascinating current series Perception.
Cook plays Kate, who is trying to be a hard-boiled FBI agent against
her own inner niceness. Kate has brought her friend Dr. Daniel
Pierce (played by Eric McCormack of Will & Grace) to the
Bureau as a specialist on mental disorders.
The problem is,
despite the fact that Dr. Pierce is a brilliant, world-renowned
authority on neurology, he also has his own mental issues, which
make him quite unpredictable. As a former student of Dr.
Pierce's, Kate feels a need to protect the man and yet she also
needs him for her own career advancement.
As if the politics
of the Bureau and fighting crime wasn't complicated enough, the
second season returns Kate's ex-husband Donnie (Scott Wolf) into her
professional life. Her intrinsic anger towards him is only
slightly tempered by the fact that she must grudgingly acknowledge
that he is something of a help in her job.
Soon before the
second season of Perception debuted, we had the opportunity
to have this exclusive chat with Cook about the return of the series.
Congrats on the
second season. This year the show went from ten episodes to
fourteen. Was it nice to see that TNT was so strongly behind the
show to let it stretch out more?
Absolutely. We thought we were making 13 this season,
which was going to be great. Then they bumped us up to 14. I don't
know how we got that little extra credit assignment, but I think
that the writers were definitely up to the challenge. I love our
finale. I [also] love the winter finale (episode 10 of the
season). I'm so glad that we're doing it.
In the season
premiere, Daniel notes that he is so happy he's no longer even
cynical. Can Daniel survive without his cynicism?
Oh, no way in hell! (laughs) He probably didn't
make it that way until the commercial break. Yeah, he is who he
is. That's his greatest asset and his Achilles heel as well, in
some aspects. His cynicism is going to keep him questioning
everything, which will hopefully continue to make for a great show
The first couple
of episodes look at Daniel's relationship with Caroline, who is of
course the real life inspiration for his hallucination of Nicole.
Do you think that there would ever be a chance that the real woman
could live up to the one in his head?
Oh, man. Can a fantasy ever [be] lived up to [by]
what someone can be
in reality? Probably not. That's probably the case for our heroes
as well. I don't know how she would be able to pull
that off. As irresistible as Miss Kelly Rowan is, it would be tough.
In last season's
finale, Daniel kissed Kate. It turned out to be one of his
hallucinations, but it was obviously on his mind and there have been hints of romantic tensions
previously as well. Do you think they will ever try a romantic
relationship or that there is too much to lose on a personal and
They both know there's a great synergy there
between the two of them. Whether or not it could ever turn into
something else is not something that I think either of them would
take exploring lightly. So, in that sense, and in the sense that we
want to have a job a few seasons from now, I don't see that
happening anytime soon. But you can definitely expect varying
levels of tension to appear throughout the season – with a serious
wedge thrown in the works played by Scott Wolf, who plays my
Scott Wolf as
Donnie is obviously pushing Kate's buttons. Do you think working
with her ex will mess up her career path in the agency?
Kate is pretty good at wrenching things, situations or
people who get in her way right out of the road. The problem
with Donnie is that he shows himself to be a professional asset
pretty early on. He gets to stick around under those
They seem to be
trying to make Kate a harder character in the first couple of
episodes. Like I noticed when she referred to an opposing lawyer
as a "lefty anti-death-penalty" type.
of the FBI can be conservative, but part of the dynamic that I found
interesting in the first season Kate respected and understood Dr.
Pierce's anti-government leanings. Do you think the two characters
will be more at odds in their beliefs this season?
I really didn't know what to do when I read that particular
line. I didn't want to seem like I was pushing my own agenda and
say something to the writers. I would have found it a little bit
more interesting if we could keep
where she stood politically neutral until it became a story point. But I didn't want to interfere
if what the writers were trying to do was lay groundwork for where
she stands, so I was really kind of in a tough spot there. Do they
want her to be more of a hard-line person? That's
possible. I think they, and I, see Kate as someone in law
enforcement. There can be a tendency to see people and situations
in a black and white way. As good or bad. As guilty or not
guilty. That's where her partnership with Eric's character, who is
a master at seeing the gray area in everything and everyone, can
really keep things interesting.
Will Dan Lauria
be coming back this season?
Yes. He's back. He's American's dad. We love Dan.
I was hoping he'd
have more to do last year, but I know he's also doing
Son. What's he like to work with?
He is just as lovely as you could ever imagine he is. He
will not hold back. If you want to talk about Wonder Years,
he will talk Wonder Years with you. He will talk
theater. He is just the warmest, kindest person. I didn't think we
were going to get him back at all this season. I guess someone on
Sullivan and Son got into a fight outside a bar (laughs)
and they can't shoot the show for a little while. We were lucky
to be able to scoop him up again.
You are pregnant.
Did that affect the filming of the new season?
Not for a while, but now, yeah. (Chuckles) Now
we've run into a bit of an issue, now that I'm almost six months and
it definitely shows. And I look stupid running. So, yeah, it's
been a little bit of an issue. But we're so close. We only have
two episodes to go.
How are they
working around it?
I carry a leather folio that my character has had since the
first season. I don't know how big this thing is,
maybe 12 by 15 inches. I just hold it as casually as possible over
my midsection. We call it "the folder of secrets." (laughs)
It's hard to
believe it's almost been 15 years since
She's All That was a big hit. What was that movie like
to be a part of and could you have imagined back then you'd still be
working years later?
Well, I'm relieved to know I'm still working this many
years later. Everything seemed pretty uncertain at that stage.
When we made that movie, it wasn't a big-budget film by any
stretch. Miramax had made its name in smaller films, but this was I
believe their most commercial venture so far. Nobody knew that it
was going to perform the way that it did. We didn't know what to
expect. The way that pop culture works is just that – it's a pop.
By the time you hear the gun go off, it's already passed. I was
already busy trying to make my way in the indie film world after
that happened, because I found actresses that I really started to
look up to, whose careers I wanted to mimic creatively. So I
started going in that direction pretty soon after.
You've done both
comedy and drama in your career. Do you find one or the other
easier or harder or more enjoyable?