Constance Zimmer, In Justice
has played the hippest nun we've
ever seen (on Joan of Arcadia
) and has held her own when trading caustic barbs with Jeremy Piven
. So who better to fight the good fight in getting wrongfully incarcerated folk out of the clink on ABC's In Justice
(Fridays at 10 pm/ET)? The Queen of Acerbic (our words) postponed her lunch date with a bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins long enough to speak with TVGuide.com about her wide and wild array of roles.
TVGuide.com: As I said to your cast mate Jason O'Mara a few weeks ago, I love In Justice and — if I can milk this joke one more time — am glad the Dancing with the Stars results show hasn't been expanded to two hours.
Constance Zimmer: [Laughs] Hey, they put that show on [as a strong lead-in] just for us, so I think we're very proud of that.
TVGuide.com: First, the obvious question. Are you related to either soap diva Kim Zimmer, baseball manager Don Zimmer or Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer?
Zimmer: No, I am not. I'm going to forge ahead and become the fourth name on that list, when you ask somebody, "Are you related to Constance Zimmer?"
TVGuide.com: Of course, I remember you from Joan of Arcadia....
Zimmer: Oh, really? I thought you were going to say Entourage.
TVGuide.com: Well, that's coming up next. So why do you think Joan flew under the radar whereas The Book of Daniel drew so much controversy? Joan had a pierced goth God and all....
Zimmer: I think that Joan of Arcadia played a lot more to a simplistic version of religion. Every week there was a different person who represented God — it could have been anybody from an 8-year-old child to a 70-year-old grandmother. I never saw The Book of Daniel so it's hard for me to judge, but that was specifically about a priest, right, who was talking to Jesus?
TVGuide.com: Yep, Jesus with a beard and robe and everything.
Zimmer: Yeah, I think that's a little too much for a lot of people to take. Joan of Arcadia was about a girl in high school struggling with everyday life and she just happens to have this notion that there are people we come across every day who could represent God. That's much easier to take and much more like a television show. I always felt that you left the show taking what you wanted to take from it.
TVGuide.com: OK, now we can talk about Entourage. You play Dana Gordon, the Warner Bros. exec in charge of Vince's "Aquaman" film. Will you pop up at all in the third season [starting in June]?
Zimmer: Officially, I can say that we're in negotiations. But I can't say anything beyond that.
TVGuide.com: No buzz on whether "Aquaman" will have turned out to be a hit or a bomb?
Zimmer: Again, we never know what the outcome's going to be.
TVGuide.com: The sticky wicket, as I see it, is that as Entourage blends fiction and reality, are they at liberty to suggest that a James Cameron film would be a flop? Or are they compelled, since Cameron guest-starred as himself and everything, to have "Aquaman" be a blockbuster hit?
Zimmer: But a lot of what's on the show is very over-the-top, and they're not necessarily nice to a lot of people. It's very, very tongue in cheek about some stuff. It's really more about entertainment value.
TVGuide.com: Are you glad to see Jeremy Piven earn critical raves?
Zimmer: Yeah... the first sitcom I ever did was Ellen, and that was when I met Jeremy. I have always wondered why he wasn't working more and getting more accolades, because I think he's one of the funniest actors out there. And the fact that all of my stuff [on Entourage] was with him had me so excited. I was like, "Yes! I get to be with Ari!"
TVGuide.com: Even though he's yelling at you half the time.
Zimmer: But I get to yell back, which is the best!
TVGuide.com: What drew you to In Justice?
Zimmer: The pilot script was really well written. I thought it was different from the other procedurals on the air — getting people out of jail as opposed to putting them in. It's a part of the judicial system that a lot of people aren't aware of, sad to say. I wasn't aware of how many people are in jail who shouldn't be, so that was shocking to me. As an actor, I like to do work that makes people aware in general, whether it's of something as specific as the judicial system or...
TVGuide.com: The fact that nuns don't all wear sensible shoes.
Zimmer: Exactly! It's good to mix it up a little bit.
TVGuide.com: Next week's In Justice splits the team into two sides: those that want to exonerate a jailed rapist, and those that stand by the victim's testimony. Where does your character, Brianna, fall?
Zimmer: Well, I would not want to give away too much, but it was a wonderful thing to play in that I actually am siding with the victim. I was a little nervous at first because I was like, "Wait a minute. Am I going to come across as being wimpy or as extremely arrogant and bitchy?" There are so many people who want everybody to believe they're innocent. I get that. I've heard that it comes across as a good episode because it questions what we're doing.
TVGuide.com: Of your many guest-starring TV appearances, which one has been your most memorable?
Zimmer: Seinfeld is definitely up there because I was such a huge fan and it was the last season of the show — I really got in right under the wire. Mind you, I only had two lines! Elaine was trying to figure out if her boyfriend was black, and I was the waitress in the coffee shop who says, "Do you guys want coffee?" And then I look at the boyfriend and say, "Are you black?" Elaine looks at him just as I say "... or would you like cream?"
TVGuide.com: Which role taught you the most about comic timing? You're one of the queens of acerbic.
Zimmer: Oh my god, thank you! That's because I'm acerbic, period, and it's not really a stretch, I guess. [Laughs] No, I've just learned something from every job. When I realized that I could get paid to be sarcastic, I was like, "OK, this is fantastic."
TVGuide.com: I feel the same about my job.
Zimmer: See, you just take it and run with it.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about Just Pray, the acclaimed short film you did last year.
Zimmer: I did that with Cynthia Watros (Lost) and Janel Moloney (The West Wing), and it really was an amazing experience. It was Tiffani [Thiessen]'s debut as a director, and it's an incredible story that a friend of hers, Dean Johnson, wrote. Again, I'm all about stretching myself and this was such a perfect place to do that. The fact that we got into so many festivals — Tribeca, Seattle, Palm Springs — and won awards was just icing on the cake. Doing it could have been enough.
TVGuide.com: Did you first meet Tiffani on Beverly Hills 90210 or Good Morning, Miami?
Zimmer: Good Morning, Miami. The second she walked in the door to do a table read, we become best friends forever.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, what TV are you liking these days?
Zimmer: I'm definitely on the Grey's Anatomy bandwagon. The writing is really, really amazing, and [series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] really seems to have her finger on the pulse of young people's issues of today. By young, I mean 20 to 40. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What did you think of the "Code Black" two-parter?
Zimmer: Listen, it was definitely television at its finest as far as the exaggerated version of everything you think could never happen. But I went there and I believed it and the ending... well, I was blown away! [Laughs]