The star of ABC's newest drama, inspired by Erin Brockovich's life and created by Krista Vernoff (Grey's Anatomy, Station 19), is about to heat up TV screens as Annie "Rebel" Bello, an unapologetically messy, but funny, fearless and brilliant blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree. In the first episode, Sagal's Rebel finds herself on the doorstep of a major case surrounding defective heart valves that are making people sick. If that's not enough, she's also orbiting a few important men in her life, Benji (James Lesure) and Cruz (Andy Garcia), while married to her third husband, Grady (John Corbett).
"It was funny, it was heartbreaking. It was everything that [I] would resonate to," Sagal told ET's Rachel Smith in March while on the Rebel set, adding that Vernoff and ABC both wanted her for the title role. "It was just too good to pass up. Even though Krista said to me it's an hour, and I was not necessarily looking for another hour-long television show to do because of the schedule, I couldn't say no is really what I'm trying to say."
"She's very unapologetic. In fact she's rude and crass, and that's fun," she said, prompting co-star Garcia to quip, "Fun for her maybe!"
"I love working with Katey. I knew I'd love working with her because I sense that by just being a fan of her work," he added. "Working with her, we both stepped into it in a very generous and easy manner. We understood each other's responsibility to each other and a commitment to each other as not only as characters in a story, but as actors in a show, which is very important. And when the entire cast feels that way, there's a lot of immediate bonding and generosity going on between all the cast members. It's a great place to come to work. It's a great place to be."
Sagal echoed Garcia's sentiments, saying, "There's a lot of gratitude, particularly at this place in our world. You really get a sense that everybody is very grateful to be where we are right now."
Rebel, if you can imagine, marks Garcia's first series regular television role. The veteran actor credited "the perfect storm of a great script and Katey being involved" as the main reasons why he signed on.
"I can play a character that I could specifically make him a Cuban American character and not born in America, but privileged and blessed to be able to have come to America and pursue the dreams and the freedoms that were taken away from him as a young boy, to honor those people who came with a dream that their family could have a future that was taken away from them in their home country," Garcia said. "All those things really infused my interest in playing this character and knowing that Katey was going to be there, that Krista was going to be overseeing the writing of the show, that it was close to home -- my wife was very happy about that and very encouraging."
Sagal recalled having lunch with Brockovich before the pandemic hit and remember being wildly impressed by her.
"I had one lunch with Erin before we all got shut down, before everything happened, and we got along great. I mean, talk about a girls' girl you know, it was Erin and Krista and myself and we just had a great conversation," Sagal shared. "She's a very enigmatic person. She's completely energized. We didn't actually talk a lot about what causes she was working on right now. She was just great to be around. She's very down to earth and I got a lot of humility from her, given all the amazing things she does with her life. She seems very real. And I feel that way about Rebel as well."
It's been a busy few months for Sagal, who continues to recur on The Connersas Dan's love interest, Louise. The Sons of Anarchy alum said "it hasn't been that challenging" juggling the two shows.
"I've done two episodes while we were shooting Rebel and they were just so great over there. They let me come in for one day, shoot my two, three scenes and got me out. It's such a well-oiled machine over there and it's John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert and everybody knows what they're doing," Sagal said. "It's a very nice fit and I pleaded with them -- I had said to them, 'We're both on ABC. Please let me stay here no matter what happens because I really love working with those people.' So hopefully everybody continues."
Rebelpremieres Thursday, April 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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