SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Accused Season 1, Episode 14, “Jessie’s Story.”
While Accused has pulled off several plot twists in its debut season, “Jessie’s Story” packed a wallop when it revealed that Dominic wasn’t just Jessie’s defense attorney—he was her father. Not even Dominic knew about his paternity, as the FOX drama told a story about two families living literally across the hall from one another that never realized their connection.
With the episode in the books, here’s the rest of my interview with Josh Hamilton in which we discuss the reveal, what went into playing that important scene and why the ending of “Jessie’s Story” carries so much weight. If you missed the first part of the interview, click here.
Brittany Frederick: What was your reaction when you got to the part in the script that revealed Dominic as Jessie’s father? Because it’s a genuine surprise, but it also makes sense when you start thinking about it specifically.
Josh Hamilton: I knew it was probably something more significant than just the lawyer down the hall. I figured there must be something there. And I remember actually being worried that people would clock it too early. So the first time you see me when I’m holding the elevator for [Jessie and her mother Kara], I was trying to not really stand out very much, because I didn’t want it to be like “There must be something going on with this guy.”
BF: Accused gives a few details about how Dominic and Kara slept together, but by virtue of the show, it can’t go too deeply into that. Did you and Betsy Brandt, who plays Kara, have any discussion yourselves to fill in the blanks?
JH: We did kind of of talk through theoretically something like that might happen. Marriages are complicated things and people are going through a hard time. I think sometimes people take comfort where they can find it. And they’re all friends, and it’s interesting what can happen after a few too many margaritas.
BF: What’s most impressive about the episode is that everyone deals with the situation maturely and it comes to not a perfect, but at least a reasonably happy ending. That’s different from many Accused plots this season.
JH: We did talk about the subject matter. And that the treatment of those [other episodes] were all pretty heavy, and that they really wanted to consciously make this episode have a lighter tone. One thing they kept saying [was] make it a little more comedic. And so that was fun, to try to find the right tone for it. I think that was very conscious. Everyone was like, we need at least one that’s not like, really, really heavy.
BF: “Jessie’s Story” also avoids melodrama. On another show, this would have been more salacious or everyone would have ended up hating each other. Was that something that resonated with you?
JH: I think [writer] Maile Meloy did an amazing job of cramming in so much. Each of these relationships and dynamics in this kind of situation could have been an hour in itself. I was very impressed with how much she managed to cover with such economy. This is something that happens all the time. I’ve had personal experience where I’ve had half-brothers, uncles, cousins that I didn’t know about, and so I really related to it on that level, and was glad to see it.
It can be incredibly destabilizing, but it doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. It can be, it can be someone else to get to know and to bring into our lives. So I liked the end. I think we all would have enjoyed a few more hours to explore these relationships and dynamics, because that potential was certainly there. But I felt like they did a pretty great job of getting that all in there. Everyone’s trying and in those kind of situations, that’s really all people can do, is try their best.
BF: What’s also entertaining about this episode is that despite playing a lawyer on a crime drama, you do very little actual lawyering. Did you miss getting to show Dominic actually representing Jessie?
JH: No. (laughs) There’s much less to memorize. It’s so much better without having to do a big, big defense speech or something.
BF: But a lot of Accused actors have mentioned wanting to come back, and by virtue of his profession, Dominic could turn up defending someone else in Season 2. Would you be up for that challenge should it make sense story-wise?
JH: Absolutely. I really love the creative team and so, sure. What I really loved about this one was having Maile Meloy on set and be very involved in all the scenes. If there were any questions or a word or a line we wanted to change or rearrange, she was there and very, very hands on, which is not usually the case on TV. Usually if you want to change something, you have to get it cleared by 18 people with the network. It was really nice to have to have her there, to have everyone on the same page and knowing the tone we were going for, and be able to work it out in real time. That’s what felt different to me.
BF: I’m sure there are some people who are going to go back and rewatch “Jessie’s Story” looking for clues now that they know the big plot twist. Were there other moments that stood out to you, or that should stand out to the audience on a second viewing?
JH: There were that I enjoyed playing. When he knows that he’s her father, and she doesn’t yet you know, how to play that. Without tipping her off, but obviously having an immediate parental concern that’s just innate, wanting her to get the best defense she could [and] not just because he’s a friendly neighbor…I think that’s a really interesting dynamic.
And then the scene with her in the elevator, where they’re feeling each other out. It’s a little awkward, just trying to figure out how to talk to each other. I’ve seen it happen in real life. My father had a son that entered his life 28 years after he was born, and watching them navigate getting to know each other was a fascinating dynamic. That line when she says, “Do you like cilantro? and I say, “It tastes like soap”—I’ve truthfully never really thought about it that much. But for some reason ever since we shot that scene, whenever I eat cilantro, now I do. It really does taste kind of soapy to me, and I can’t shake it.
Accused airs Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on FOX. “Jessie’s Story” is now streaming on Hulu.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.