EXCLUSIVE: Paula Patton Reveals How Motherhood Shaped Her Performance on ABC's 'Somewhere Between'
By Philiana Ng
Paula Patton is embracing the small screen.
On Somewhere Between, Patton plays Laura Price, a local San Francisco TV news producer who is married to the California district attorney and mother to a young daughter, Serena, whose unexpected death turns Laura’s world upside down. In a twist of fate, Laura is presented with the chance days later to prevent her daughter’s murder a la Groundhog Day, teaming up with former cop-turned-private investigator, Nico (Devon Sawa), to find answers.
“I was lucky on this one. The script came to me and they said that they would like for me to play the role [of Laura] if I was interested. It moved my spirit and my soul and for me, these shows -- or any kind of project -- I really want to shoot something that I’d want to watch as well,” Patton tells ET exclusively. “It’s a role that will stretch you or challenge you or make me scared or excite me. It was one of those things where the project came across my desk and I loved it.”
The one-hour suspense drama marks Patton’s first true foray into series television, though she’s previously starred in TV pilots and done guest spots on Law & Order: SVU and Single Ladies. The series’ unique tone -- and premise -- immediately drew her in.
“The fact that it’s a mixture of genres and it doesn’t necessarily follow all the rules, in that way, it’s unconventional,” Patton says, adding that under the guise of the murder mystery is a “deep, heartfelt drama” that she felt “was unique.” “I didn’t know where it was going and I found the concept to be intriguing. We’re always doing things we’ve seen before and trying new ways to tell [those stories] in a different way or a different note, but it definitely felt different.”
Patton noted that her character changes drastically from the start of the season to the end of the 10-episode run.
“Nobody else’s life would you give yourself more for than your child, so that put it in an extreme, heightened level. For Laura, she’s given up on life in the beginning and it’s a weird trip of a fatal miracle, so to speak, that she gets to come back eight days later to change what had happened,” the 41-year-old actress says. “What was exciting about it was: Who is somebody when they’re in these situations, when their back is against the wall? What are the secrets she’s kept from herself and from others? Who she is in the beginning is not who she is at the end of the show -- and she’s quite a beast at the end.”
Patton is mother to her 7-year-old son, Julian, with ex-husband Robin Thicke, and she drew on personal experiences to fill in the blank spaces of her character’s tragic dilemma.
“It’s just the mama bear kind of thing. It’s the thing where if your kid is stuck under a car, you might find the strength to lift that car up because of the adrenaline. I think you start there and the rest is fiction,” she explains. “In life, you’re always drawing from personal experiences and the way you see something and the way you feel. That’s natural. Of course, if being a mother helps you understand something at that level, then that’s helpful.”
With Somewhere Between being Patton’s first major television role, the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol star confessed she didn’t see this project serving as a marker for a new chapter in her professional career.
“I don’t really think of things in chapters like that. Yes, this is a new page, but I don’t know if that’s where I’m at,” Patton admits. “I want to cultivate more material, work with great artists in movies and television shows -- whatever artistic projects and endeavors move you in your heart and your soul and mind, and inspire me and potentially others, to look through that lens and see what comes. But I also need it to be fun, because life is too short.”
As for whether Patton is looking to do more on TV, she’s hopeful.
“I would love to! It was so hard to say goodbye,” she shares. “I was like, ‘Can we do more?’ I keep in touch but it’s not quite the same as getting to play every day. It was a real joy.”
Somewhere Between airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Get a first look at Tuesday's episode in ET's exclusive sneak peek below.