'Forever': Hilarie Burton Talks Her Dominatrix Return & Why 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is 'For Kids'

by Leanne Aguilera 8:00 AM PST, February 24, 2015
Photo: ABC

Iona Payne will see you now.

Move over Mr. Grey because Hilarie Burton is stepping back into her ultra sexy role as a dominatrix therapist in tonight's all-new episode of Forever. ETonline had an exclusive chat with Burton to discuss Iona's unexpected return, her re-kindled connection with Henry (Iona Gruffudd), and why Fifty Shades of Grey is "for kids."

Plus, find out what One Tree Hill's Peyton Sawyer is up to today, and what would happen if all of Burton's kick-ass characters were in the same room together. (Spoiler Alert: There would be plenty of tequila shots!)

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You're back for your second episode on Forever as Iona Payne, a dominatrix therapist, and love interest for Henry. What brought you back to the show?
Hilarie Burton: Well I mean it's such a good group of people over there. I really had fun the first go-around and you get a call out of the blue like, 'Hey you want to play again?' and I mean like yeah of course I do! They're really thoughtful people over there and I brought my son with me to work one day -- I was fully dressed that day [Laughs] -- and it was such a warm family environment, and I really appreciate the people there.

What can you tease about Iona's sexy return and how does it tie into her first appearance on the series?
Iona Payne was a domination therapist that helped with a case that the department was working on and she and Henry hit it off. There was a spark. Unfortunately she became a suspect in [that case] and that kind of threw a hitch in their giddy-up. But you still see a connection between her and Henry and when I return they are tracking a victim and trying to find out what that victim's routines are. She's a college student and they show up at her class and I end up being the professor.

Were you surprised to see that Iona could go from a wild sex-enthusiast to a modest professor?
Maybe there was a little too much heat in the domination world after dead bodies started turning up in my first episode, so she decided to get back into academics. [Laughs] We address it, she's a psychologist and she has all sort of doctorates and things, and so it would make sense that she could teach a class in this taboo subject matters. So it was fun to go from being something so risqué to being an academic and I like that this character is so well-rounded that she can bridge both worlds.

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Photo: ABC

Emily Kinney from The Walking Dead is also appearing in tonight's episode. Are you a TWD fan and what was it like working with her?
HB: Emily is so so great! I really had such a good time with her. By the time we were done I was like, 'Do you want to date my brother?' I'd keep her around forever, she's the coolest. Yeah I really liked her storyline with Norman Reedus [on The Walking Dead] and I thought that was really fun and I was really rooting for the two of them to hook up. Such a smart girl and she's just so good on set. She's really kind to the crew, she works her butt off, she's prepared, I mean that girl's a pro.

As a fan of Forever, what is your favorite part of bringing Iona back into Henry's immortal world?
I think what's fun when I get to return is the fans get to see this side of Henry that they only see in flashback. All of his romantic involvements have been past tense thus far, so there's that wish fulfillment of kissing on Henry. I hope that I am that person who gets to facilitate that for everyone.

Your character was so ahead of the pop culture BDSM curve, and now it's all the rage. Do you think Iona saw Fifty Shades of Grey in its opening weekend?
HB: No she was a consultant on that movie. [laughs] I feel like Fifty Shades is a very approachable for the masses, but Iona Payne is probably into some deeper stuff. Stuff that you'd have to go to a very particular bookstore in lower Manhattan to find. She would think Fifty Shades is for kids.

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Speaking of shows that you watch, is there any other TV series that you are dying to be apart of?
Oh yes! Put the word out that I need to be on Kingdom on DIRECTV'S Audience Network -- it's the new Sons of Anarchy, and the new Breaking Bad. It is so sharp, and it is so good. Joanna Going on that show is just everything I aspire to, she is so crazy in the best possible way. There's just some really wonderful performances on that show and It's my favorite show on television."

You have been on a number of TV shows, but most fans know and remember you as Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill. What do you think Peyton is up to today?
HB: Peyton's big thing is that she didn’t have a family and that everyone always left her, so I hope that she finally has that family. She probably has a couple of kids and I think she's probably finding a lot of joy and using her creativity in that outlet. Being a part of a unit is just so important and I just think that would be Peyton's primary focus right now.

What do you think would happen if Peyton Sawyer (One Tree Hill), Sara Ellis (White Collar), Dr. Lauren Boswell (Grey's Anatomy) and Iona Payne (Forever) were all in the same room together?
HB: Tequila shots! [Laughs] All of the women I play can be seen as bad guys. They’ve all done horrible, horrible things, but what I try to bring to them as an actress is a likability factor to justify those actions. Like, 'Yeah I 'm going to help you cheat on your wife, but it's just because we're having a good time, baby. You need to lighten up!' So I certainly think the four of them bellying up to the bar, doing tequila shots and trading war stories would be very fun.

Catch Hilarie Burton on tonight's episode of Forever at 10 p.m. on ABC.