Australia native Poppy Montgomery made a name for herself playing Marilyn Monroe on the CBS miniseries Blonde, but this actress says she was built for the one-hour drama schedule.
“I love working week after week,” she said. “I go nuts over hiatus.”
Ms. Montgomery was in Vancouver, British Columbia, shooting The WB’s struggling drama Glory Days and hoping to land a role on a lasting one-hour television drama when she received the telephone call about her current role on Without a Trace, the first-year CBS drama that quickly proved it has legs.
Without an audition, Ms. Montgomery was asked to join the cast of the missing-persons drama, which CBS launched against NBC’s powerhouse ER. By the end of its first season, Without a Trace finished as the second-highest-rated new drama. In the process Ms. Montgomery blossomed as few performers have been able as part of an ensemble cast in a procedural program, the show’s executive producer Ed Redlich said.
“We keep loading up her plate, but there is nothing we throw at her that she cannot handle,” Mr. Redlich said. In the last episode of the season Ms. Montgomery’s character, FBI agent Samantha Spade, was shot during a hostage crisis.
“I don’t know what work she did in connection with Samantha being shot, but Poppy showed the physicality of being shot. She wasn’t just lying there. She played it in such an interesting way,” Mr. Redlich said.
When Ms. Montgomery talks about Samantha, this character she so admires, the depth of feeling she puts into these performances fits. “She’s smart. She’s vulnerable. She’s struggles to be tough, but she’s so good at her job. And I’m affected by what happens to Samantha.”
In one episode based on the real-life story of two missing teenage girls who were killed by their kidnapper, “I was hit really hard. I have a 14-year old sister.”
By allowing herself, as Mr. Redlich observed, “to tap into her own humanity behind the stories, she becomes more exciting to watch.” Despite their telling on a procedural drama, the stories have not prevented Ms. Montgomery from blooming. “There is a tendency to turn actors into traffic cops on procedural shows, but Poppy is so talented that she gets beyond the FBI suit,” Mr. Redlich said. “She has an effervescence about herself that she transcends the role. She sparkles.”