Spencer Grammer burst onto the scene as the star of 2007's Greek but after four seasons of playing Casey Cartwright, the leading lady of ABC Family's college set rom-com, she took a pregnant professional pause to give birth to son Emmett Emmanual Hesketh in 2011, her first child with husband James Hesketh.
Now the new mom is back at work on Ironside, NBC's very loose remake of the iconic series that starred Raymond Burr (now Blair Underwood) as a wheelchair-bound detective and the team of special agents who back him up. Grammer, who plays the team's undercover lover Holly, recently rang up ETonline to talk about returning to work, why this role fits her like a glove and how a dark turn in Casey's post-college path could have potentially turned her into Holly!
ETonline: Holly is incredibly different from Casey, was taking on a 180 degree different role the point?
Spencer Grammer: Yeah, it actually was. A lot of things have gone on in my life and I wanted to do something more dramatic -- I also wanted to show people what I could do. I'm not just a bubbly sorority girl. I think that's what happens when your first big role is a bubbly sorority girl, that's what everyone thinks you are. And I have that side to me, but I'm a super physical, super-active tomboy, so this role is much more in my world than Casey was.
ETonline: I hear the training for this show is insane, does any part of you think, "Be Careful What You Wish For?"
Grammer: [laughs] Oh yeah. I'm a super competitive person, and since I'm the only girl on our show, I'm really focused on kicking butt. I've started boxing and it's totally changed my physique, which I thought was important for this role. I really wanted to build upper body strength and look like someone who could kick some ass. It's an artistic liberty Hollywood takes with these skinny girls taking big guys down. Plus I have a two-year-old and I'm running around all day after him, so I am in really good shape right now.
ETonline: Beyond her physicality, what are you excited for audiences to see as the season progresses?
Grammer: As the episodes go on, there's more revealed about all our characters. In the second episode you learn a lot about Holly. All the people Ironside has picked for his crew are transgressive in some way, we buck against the rules and he picked us for our strengths. Holly is similar to Ironside in that they share a background in crime families and the choice as to why they choice to pursue law enforcement is similar. Because of that, we have an innate ability to understand why a criminal or killer would make certain choices because we dealt with that our whole lives. You'll also see how badass she is, how she doesn't take crap from anybody and there's a wonderful internal struggle with her. The reasons she became a detective go far beyond just wanting to keep the world a safer place. It's about righting the wrongs that have happened in her own life.
ETonline: So, more than your average procedural?
Grammer: Oh yeah, this show is so edgy in that it marries cable and network; we get to do a little bit of both. There's nothing wrong with doing a procedural, you're lucky if you get to do that for years, but it's hard to keep that spirit alive in yourself as an actor. I respect people who can do that. I mean, props to Mariska Hargitay because I just watched the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU and her performance is so fantastic. I can't look up to someone more.
ETonline: So how creeped out were you by Pablo Schreiber, who co-stars on Ironside with you, after seeing him on SVU?
Greammer: [laughs] Dude, he's so creepy -- I was freaking out. Like, Pablo, whoa. He's such a phenomenal actor, I just feel so lucky to be working in a world where these are the people I'm bouncing ideas off of. I'm so creatively stimulated and feel so challenged by the people I work with to rise to a certain level. It's only season one, so you never know, but at this point, I think we've developed a really great family and I don't think you can fake chemistry.
ETonline: Awesome, well, I'm just so excited to have you back on TV.
Grammer: Thank you! I've missed it and I'm so grateful to be back and I'm so thankful to all my fans -- I hope they like this. I'm terrified actually.
Grammer: Because it's so different from Casey. It's a big risk.
ETonline: Hey, you never know, this could have been the path Casey took after leaving CRU!
Grammer: [laughs] It could have been! Things got really dark, Cappie was killed in an alley and she decided to fight crime. A darker, more Brooklyn-based Casey Cartwright coming to arrest ya!
Ironside premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC.