Why Rachel Bilson Is Going All in on Comedy (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Take Two is hoping to be your new summer guilty pleasure.
Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian team up for ABC's detective dramedy, which centers on the unlikely pairing of Samantha Swift (Bilson), the ex-star of a popular cop series fresh out of rehab, and Eddie Valetik (Cibrian), an L.A. private investigator who prefers to operate as a lone wolf. When Sam is offered a potential comeback role, Eddie reluctantly agrees to have her tag along before it becomes apparent that Sam may be the jolt of energy -- and new perspective -- he needs to reinvigorate his P.I. business.
"For me, comedy is always my first love and so to be able to approach a premise like this -- a procedural but it's light and comedic as well -- there was no question for me," Bilson, 36, told ET over the phone while enroute to an on-location shoot.
The actress, who's starred on The O.C., Hart of Dixie and recently Nashville, immediately connected with the light-hearted banter between Sam and Eddie, and the promise of the fun-loving, wacky vibe presented in the pilot. "I loved Sam. The character was interesting. She had a lot of things going on -- from being an actress to recovering [from rehab] and taking on this new role. It was an adventure I couldn't pass up."
Ahead of Thursday's premiere, Bilson spoke with ET about flexing her comedic muscles, her on-set rapport with Cibrian and what Summer Roberts would think if she met Sam Swift.
ET: Last July when we spoke, you had said that you didn't want to work as much, especially with a young daughter. Take Two came pretty quickly after your time on Nashville ended, so what made you say yes?
Rachel Bilson: My daughter [Briar Rose] turned 3 in October and that was around the time that we started talking about Take Two -- or soon after that, if I'm not mistaken. Life happens and things change, and she was a little older. I thought, It's 13 episodes, that's five months and that leaves seven months to be mom. It was the right timing and everything fell in place in the right way.
Take Two comes from the minds of Castle team Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, and is very similar in tone to that series. How familiar were you with Castle before signing on?
I had seen it a few times. My sister-in-law loved it and would watch it, so I knew about it and I knew the premise and I knew it was a fun show. But I knew liked Terri and Andrew's work. So when Take Two came about and I heard the premise for it, I thought it was really cool and really fun, which was very important for me.
On paper, the show's concept is quite meta. You're playing a former TV star, for one thing. Was there an element of deja vu for you?
(Laughs.) Well, I think Sam is a lot different from me personally because I don't think I was falling out of a car pantiless. She was a little more extreme than I was for sure.
What did you like immediately about your character, Sam Swift?
I like that she represented a really strong woman, even though she has been through the wringer. She's approaching life now wanting to change it around and prove herself and better herself and showing strength. Nowadays, with everything going on, that was really attractive to me in a female character. Raising a little girl, you always want to pick those characters.
Is that a driving force behind the recent roles that you've taken?
Yeah, for sure. You become a mom of a young girl, everything changes.
What traits of Sam's do you wish you possessed in your real life?
I love that she's really good at being a P.I. I pride myself on being a really good detective. (Laughs.) I have scared many ex-boyfriends, so I think that part is fun. When I'm reading a script or whatever, I'd be like, "Oh my god, that's how they found out! I would totally have done that." Getting into that myself was fun.
In watching the first two episodes of the show, because you're playing a former small-screen star, I couldn't help but go back to the 2004 episode of The O.C., where Summer Roberts meets the cast of her favorite TV soap...
Yes! Which leads me to this question: What would Summer think of Sam Swift if they met?
Oh my god, that's really funny. (Laughs.) I feel like Summer would be a fan. I think they share a sense of humor and enthusiasm.
A lot of the show hinges on the chemistry between you and Eddie Cibrian. Was the connection instantaneous?
I had never met him or worked with him, but we all got together for lunch -- Eddie, Terri, Andrew and myself -- before we started. He was super nice and we both talked about how we like to work. Just seeing how we have a similar approach to working, we got along great. It's always a gamble, you never know [how it's going to work out], but I'm very grateful that it's him because it's many hours a day you have to spend on set and luckily, he's a nice guy.
Sam and Eddie get thrown into the fire, so to speak, early on when circumstances force them to team up. What's your take on their reluctant partnership?
I like that they're opposites. They work so differently, so I think it's really going to help bring out that other side of the other person. They're also going to help each other a lot because of how different they are. It's fun; there's a good dynamic there with the characters. I think that's what people like to tune in and to see.
Could a romance be brewing between the two of them?
That might be a road that might be traveled at some point. I don't know at this point in time. I think the writers are focusing on our relationship as partners and the crimes we're solving and there might be a few times where we're locked in closets or in close quarters.
If you could do a career take two in a completely different field, what would it be?
That's a tough one. It's hard because I'm a mom and if I wasn't working, I would just be with my daughter. But I always wanted to be a preschool teacher. I always loved kids, so I'd go that route.
Lastly, what's one thing you want fans to take away from watching Take Two?
It's a really fun show and it's the perfect show where you can sit down in your living room and not have to think and just enjoy yourself. It's funny, it's entertaining -- all of the things that I personally like to watch when I just want to relax. I want to turn on a show like this. If people want an escape that's super light and fun, this would be a great show.
Take Two premieres Thursday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.