On Pop TV’s new limited seriesFlack, Genevieve Angelson plays Ruth opposite Anna Paquin’s Robyn, a ruthless publicist who is an expert at keeping her clients’ lives together despite being unable to stop her own from falling apart. Ruth, who is married and a mother, seemingly serves as her sister’s moral center, offering much-needed doses of reality in a sea of bad decisions, including Robyn doing drugs at work and having sex with a client.
While the two seem to be living disparate lives, they’re united by the same tragedy of their mother’s addiction and suicide. “It’s really just about how they have adapted to that trauma that is different,” Angelson says. “So, Robyn stars to emulate it and Ruth does everything she can to just keep a lid on things.”
But no matter how put together she appears, Ruth is in just as much danger of unraveling as her sister, as seen in the third episode, which airs on Thursday. (Check out ET’s exclusive preview of Ruth’s birthday celebration.) “The coping tactic of ‘control, control, control’ really starts to fall apart for her,” Angelson says, as the two sisters’ relationship comes to a head.
It’s that relationship that’s really at the emotional core of the series; and bringing that to life is the incredible chemistry between Paquin and Angelson, which the actress says was “instant.”
“It was really like It was sort of good luck that when we met in person it really was instantaneous,” Angelson says of first meeting Paquin after she was cast on the show. “It was like, ‘I get you. You get me.’”
And that certainly isn’t always the case. “It’s really difficult when you get cast opposite someone who is supposed to be your family because it’s not just the scene you’re portraying on the page, it’s the having known each other your entire life and that’s hard to come up with when you meet your co-stars on the day of shooting,” Angelson says, recalling a dinner scene that was cut from another series she was on because the guest stars couldn’t form a believable connection. “There was no chemistry among us. It just didn’t happen.”
While the two actresses quickly got along, Angelson says it was her love for Paquin’s film, Margaret, a three-hour ensemble drama written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, that helped them form a deeper bond. “She stopped and she cried. She was like, ‘That’s the one that means the most to me and nobody ever says that,’” Angelson recalls. “So, I think it was in that moment she felt seen by me and I felt that we had connected.”
Ultimately, it was “that closeness and that openness” that created a unique experience on set.
Outside of the show, Angelson is enjoying the connection she gets to form with an audience during each performance of the Off-Broadway play, The Cake, which officially opened at the New York City Center on Tuesday. Written by Bekah Brunstetter, the play tells the story of a woman (Angelson), whose return home to North Carolina with her fiancée challenges the deep prejudices of a family friend (Debra Jo Rupp) asked to make the couple a wedding cake.
“It’s wonderful to be in a play that’s so relevant and feel really useful; it’s nice to be a play that matters,” says Angelson, who was moved by a theater experience she had in England while filming Flack that she felt compelled to return to the stage, “where the people in the audience change because of what you were doing.”
At the end of the day, the play -- like Flack -- is “different from the jobs you take for the money.” It’s “a tool of activism and makes me feel good about how I’m participating in the world,” Angelson says.