That sage advice came from Big Sky series creator David E. Kelley when actress Katheryn Winnick approach him about joining the cast. He lauded the planned format in which he described new actors joining the cast frequently and storylines evolving as the series matured.
He wasn’t wrong.
Initially marketed as a Ryan Phillippe star vehicle, ABC’s Big Sky killed him off at the end of the first episode. That left Winnick and co-star Kylie Bunbury as leads of this now female-centered crime series. Kelley’s initial advice to “expect the unexpected” fully paid off for Winnick.
“I love that because people didn’t know what they’re going to get. They had to really tune in and again next week and see what happens with these two female leads,” Winnick explained. “Are they going to get better that are now solving these crimes together? What’s interesting about this, even though there’s all these different thrills and shocks, it’s character driven.”
On Big Sky, Winnick plays Jenny Hoyt, an ex-cop who takes ownership of her ex-husband’s private detective agency. Winnick describes her as an impulsive, ambitious, and direct woman. A woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to get what she needs. Yet, Winnick likes to play the subtle notes to the character, the sensitive and lost underbelly of Jenny Hoyt.
Those subtle character notes push Winnick’s performance beyond that of a standard crime procedural and drive her to further explore the character in the upcoming second season.
“At the core of it, she’s also trying to find our own way, trying to figure out who she is right now, and trying to figure out her own identity outside of her husband and her son,” Winnick explained. “So I’m yet to see where she’s gonna go. I feel there’s so much more still to discover with her. We just scratched the surface, so that allows me creatively to be able to explore the character even further, peel the onion, and discover who she is.”
Moving forward into season two, Winnick will work with a new show runner in Elwood Reid who joined the series toward the end of season one. His intent for the future of the series is to continue working with the writers and actors to further develop the characters. Winnick already feels in great hands with the change as Reid maintains a collaborative relationship with his actors. That relationship will prove key in continuing to find new layers in Jenny Hoyt.
Aside from further developing her performance, Winnick has other big plans for Big Sky‘s second season. As she did on the most recent season of Vikings, she will sit in the director’s chair during the course of season two. She plans to draw on her own experience as an actor and previous directing experience (for which she received a Women’s Image Award) to convey her overall vision of the episode.
“We’ll have a good group of crew members that can bring it with me and play and create some great cinematic art. For me as an actor, that’s what really drives me — to really connect with the other actors and push them to a point that they maybe haven’t seen before.”