The 2000 fantasy/crime drama flick Frequency gets a sex change in segueing from the big screen to TV, with Peyton List playing a young woman who communicates with her long-dead father via ham radio. The new CW show (Wednesdays at 9/8c, premiering tonight) casts List and Riley Smith as NYPD detectives who forge an unlikely relationship that crosses 20 years. Raimy Sullivan’s dad died in an undercover mission gone wrong in 1996, and when she discovers she can prevent that from happening, she springs into action—and then has to deal with the consequences when the butterfly effect kicks in.
No stranger to fantasy TV and the CW in particular, List played Lucy Lane on Smallville, Lisa Smart/Golden Glider on The Flash, and Cara Coburn on The Tomorrow People. She has also appeared in Flashforward, Mad Men and Blood & Oil, working steadily since her debut at 14 as Blonde Girl #1 in Sex and the City and her first regular role, a four-year run on the soap As the World Turns.
In this conversation, she reminisces about early roles, explains what sold her on Frequency and reveals the traits her dates must have.
“Everything I’m most proud of is stuff I never thought I would do.”
What attracted you to the role?
I always gravitate towards really tough, strong women, and I think a part of me does it because as much as I may think I’m tough, I always want to be a bit stronger. I respect women like that so much, so I want to represent them. I also like playing characters that have failings and flaws; they’re more relatable. She’s tenacious. She’s the type of person that doesn’t let go of things easily. When her boyfriend suddenly has no recollection of her and thinks she’s a crazy stranger, she’s not going to let it go.
You’ve done several fantasy/sci-fi shows. Are you a fan?
Yeah, I always was a sci-fi fan, just because it allows for so much more imagination. I like playing characters that are skeptical, and then make the leap to believing. I like how Raimy goes through that process in the pilot, because it’s so specific to her, given what her father does to make her believe.
You started modeling and acting when you were eight. Did you know that early you wanted this as a career?
I was auditioning for Nickelodeon shows and Disney shows because my sister was scouted, and my mom didn’t want me to feel left out. I did the artwork for game boards and for young adult book covers and stuff like that. It was just sort of a natural transition to stuff like a macaroni and cheese commercial. You’re just following directions. Then I got cast in As the World Turns, and I loved the feeling of being part of something, a team. I thought I’d never feel as rewarded or love doing anything as much.
What career highlights stand out to you so far?
Something I unexpectedly love is this period movie I did when I was 18 called The Greatest Game Ever Played. I was not a lead character, but I still watch that movie and go, “I can’t believe I was in that.” It’s such a wonderful, feel-good, pull-at-the-heartstrings movie. Everything I’m most proud of is stuff I never thought I would do. Even when they called me to do The Flash, I never in a million years thought I would do that type of superhero thing, but I loved it. So I read scripts with an open mind.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Hunt Block, who played my father on the soap opera, told me, “Make sure you learn to forget.” And I didn’t understand what that meant, but he was basically saying you will drive yourself crazy if you try to keep track and remember every line that you have. As soon as you get done with a scene, let it go. Move on to the next. And I think it kind of applies to life too. Just make space. It’s a constantly revolving door. Make space in your brain for more.
Do you have a significant other? What do you look for in a guy?
Just my cat. It’s a wild life we lead as actors. It’s not the most stable of professions. There’s the spontaneity of moving to other countries. So understanding and a sense of humor are the most important things to me.
Photos courtesy of The CW