Chris Evans may have played superhero Captain America on-screen, but he admits that a real acting challenge for him has been playing a parent.
Defending Jacob follows the Barber family and what happens when their only child, Jacob (Jaedan Martell) is arrested on charges of killing a fellow classmate.
Jacob’s father Andy, played by Evans, happens to be the district attorney, which causes an extreme moral conflict for Andy as he tries to support his son while not really sure of the boy’s exact involvement in the crime.
Downton Abbey alum Michelle Dockery plays Jacob’s mother, who struggles to understand just how to help her son, and suffers social ostracism because of her parental actions.
Dockery says that she signed on to play the maternal figure in Defending Jacob for reasons similar to Evans. “What I was drawn to is really tapping into how you would react as a parent and what lengths you would go to to protect your child. And I’d never really read anything like this before. I was just so instantly drawn to the project. She’s very different from any other character that I’ve played.”
She added with a slight smirk, “You know, I like doing accents, so I liked playing another American.”
Morten Tyldum, executive producer and director of the series, says that assembling the family was key to the success of the series. “One of the things we were worried about is did we really believe in and care for this family? The heart of this story is about a family who’s experienced this extraordinary situation, this nightmare, this thing that both tears them apart and pulls them together in some way. You need to believe 100 percent that this is a family.”
To that end, Dockery says, “I felt like it was very easy for us to become a family on set. We all had a really lovely time together in spite of the intensity of the subject matter.”