Jordana Brewster got her start in TV, in soap operas like All My Children and As the World Turns and later series like Chuck and the rebooted Dallas, but she’s best known for playing Mia Toretto in the unstoppable Fast & Furious franchise, opposite the late Paul Walker.
Now she returns to TV in two high-profile projects—The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (premiering on FX tonight at 10/9c), playing the sister of the murdered Nicole Brown Simpson, and the twisty murder mystery Secrets and Lies (ABC, spring).
So we asked her about both new gigs, Dallas and, of course, Furious 8.
“The best part was Paul [Walker], so it’s been very tough, but now it’s the fans and seeing the love we get from them. There will be a Fast 8—I think it comes out next year. The fans have a hunger for it, which is amazing, but it will be different for sure.”
How did you prepare to play Denise Brown?
I watched a lot of her interviews. I didn’t meet her. I felt like I didn’t want to screw that up. Championing her sister and the cause of domestic violence has become the cause of her life so I felt the responsibility not to muck it up. I read Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Run of His Life and another book, the only one the Browns were OK with, that more informed the relationship between O.J. and Nicole. It all was really interesting to me.
Is it challenging to play a real person and not just do an imitation?
Yes, but [producer] Ryan Murphy is so brilliant that I knew I was in really good hands. He wanted everyone to get the essence more than anything. Also the costume and hair and makeup, that was a big help. I was in good hands there.
In Secrets and Lies, your character gets killed in the pilot and is seen in flashbacks that reveal secrets of her own, including a baby.
Yes, and the secrets just get bigger with her. Once I found out the story behind them, I said ‘OK, I get it, I understand it,” and was always able to redeem her in my mind.
After Dallas ended, were you looking to do another series?
Yeah, I love television. I love that familiarity you get with the cast and crew and I love being with a character for longer stretches of time because I feel like that’s what I’m used to. I’m used to a franchise.
Any parallels between Secrets and Lies and Dallas?
There are, because there’s as much family drama, if not more, in Secrets and Lies. The stuff that comes out is pretty crazy and exciting. There’s not as much of an emphasis on the business as in Dallas.
What’s been the best part of being in the Fast & Furious franchise?
The best part was Paul [Walker], so it’s been very tough, but now it’s the fans and seeing the love we get from them. There will be a Fast 8—I think it comes out next year. The fans have a hunger for it, which is amazing, but it will be different for sure.
What are your passions outside of acting?
My son occupies everything right now—he’s two years old. And I love reading and I love meditation. It centers me. I love exercise. I love being physical. So does my son, he loves running.
What’s on your to-do list for the future?
Career-wise, I’ve been working since I was 15 and I’d like to continue to work, on a show with a really strong protagonist—that’s what I’d love to do. In my personal life, I’d like to be a little more organized and clean up my potty mouth!
Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC