'All Rise': Simone Missick Reveals the Unique Challenges of Filming a Virtual Episode (Exclusive)

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What can we expect from Monday's virtual episode of CBS' All Rise? A lot of experimentation.

The freshman legal drama was the first scripted TV show to go back to work amid the coronavirus outbreak, putting together the special episode by adhering to social distancing guidelines. The episode, titled "Dancing at Los Angeles," revolves around a bench trial overseen by Judge Lola Carmichael involving a dispute over two brothers and a stolen car.

Because the cast and crew were spread across the country, it forced Missick and her castmates to become their own hair and makeup person, their own set dresser and handle their own wardrobe, among many other production duties often taken care of on set such as lighting and sound. 

"We were initially like, 'Yes!'" All Rise star Simone Missick recently shared with ET's Nischelle Turner over Zoom when the cast learned they were producing a remote episode. "I don't think it was until we all logged off that we were like, 'What are we going to do? I don't know how to film this.' Like, we didn't really think it through!" 

Nerves aside, the actress expressed gratitude over the opportunity to bring something different to the table that reflects what's going on in the real world right now. 

CBS' All Rise
CBS

"I'm glad that we're telling this story. I'm glad that it's present. I'm glad that we're getting to see these characters go through what millions of Americans and people all over the world are dealing with," she said. "It feels wonderful to be able to tell such a present and important story and it's almost like our love letter to the essential workers in L.A. -- the men and women who are delivering groceries, and working as nurses and doctors and working in our court system. You can't take a day off, so it seemed like a good idea. It wasn't until we were all doing 12 different department jobs we said, 'Oh no, this is way harder than we thought it was going to be.'"

Missick admitted to having difficulty, at first, adapting to the unique challenges of interacting with her castmates via a virtual interface like Zoom. Oftentimes, Missick and her co-stars weren't in the same Zoom room or couldn't see each other when they were meant to be interacting.

"I would be looking at these frozen versions of everybody throughout the scene and it made you listen way more. It made you focus on what everyone was saying," she explained. "The other part of it is knowing these actors I have worked with for 21 episodes at this point, knowing the relationship with those characters and just ending on that in the moments that you could not connect and had to look at the green dot on the camera."

Missick's husband, For Life star Dorian Missick, also makes an appearance in Monday's episode, playing a part the writers specifically wrote for him: a DJ Tailwind, a Los Angeles emcee who will be a guiding force behind the hour.

"For my husband to be able to be on [the show], I recognize what a blessing that was. I recognize what that really is, not just creatively, but just the fact that we had that opportunity," she said. "As long as I have known him, he has been DJing, so for him to be able to do it on the show and for his character to be the narrator of the episode taking everyone through what a lot of people are doing, it was great [for him] to be a part of the show. He was already working as my crew member helping me move furniture and lights, so the fact that he got to be paid for some of it and act, it sounds like a good deal." 

CBS' All Rise
CBS

As for whether Missick believes the virtual episode could be a new normal, she hoped that that wasn't the case, echoing executive producer Michael M. Robin's comments on the subject.

"No one involved wants to envision that this is the thing that keeps happening. I got a chance to watch the episode. I’m so proud of what we did. It's so real. This is, 'I’m trying to do my job with [technology] in place.' Would I love to see a multi-character legal drama set in peoples homes? No," she said. "I want for actors and writers and creatives to get back to work safely and until the science is able to catch up, I feel like we're going to see a bunch of people come up with different content that could live on a Netflix or a Hulu or a CBS and work because it's telling a story."

"It doesn't necessarily have to only be about the pandemic, but it could be using this technology in a way that we've never seen before," Missick said. "Ultimately, I hope that we don't have to make that choice between telling this kind of story virtually but I think if we had to do it, we did it once. We can maybe pull it off two more times."

The All Rise virtual episode airs Monday, May 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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