Durance, who earlier this year said goodbye to the role of Lois Lane after Smallville ended its 10-year run, will play a somewhat mentally unstable woman who believes she truly is Wonder Woman in the Wednesday, Jan. 11 episode of Harry's Law. TVGuide.com hit the set to find out what it's like to put on the costume, which is of the same design worn by Adrianne Palicki in David E. Kelley's defunct Wonder Woman pilot. Also, Durance tackles the Lois Lane vs. Wonder Woman question.
How does it feel actually getting to play Wonder Woman... of sorts?
Erica Durance: "Of sorts" is the best way to put it and it's probably the best way to play it because you get to have a little bit of freedom and you're not judged quite so harshly. The way that I was able to work with the character Wonder Woman in this is through the eyes of a woman who desperately needed a strong female archetype to look up to, and she had gone through such terrible things and this was her alter ego. I would challenge anybody who said that she didn't think she was Wonder Woman. This is how she found her way out.
So, as an actress, getting to put on the suit and play Wonder Woman was fantastic and then I got this whole other layer because of the way David E. Kelley had written it, to ground it in this kind of humanistic viewpoint, which was lovely.
What sparks your character's alter ego, "Wonder Woman," to go public?
Durance: Well, she's been out for a while. What ends up happening is that my character, Annie Billson, has gone one step too far, or some would say many steps too far, and taken this psychosis, this vigilantism a little far in the opinion of society and she's hurt one too many people, and so she's actually been charged with a crime. She goes to see Adam (Nate Corddry), whom she has a history with and has gone to high school with. He knows her, so she seeks his representation.
Annie is really passionate that she is actually Wonder Woman. Is it a fair comparison to say that she's as passionate as Lois Lane?
Durance: I would think so because it's the same person doing it, and passion is passion. I'm the vessel and it'll end up having that same color to it, but I try to be as truthful as possible in it and she does have those same convictions. The only difference, of course, is this character's coming from a completely different type of world, and the reason she's become this is for a totally different reason. But I will say that people will probably definitely recognize it because it's still Erica playing it, right? [Laughs] So I couldn't transform that, but passion is definitely a good word for it.
You had put on the "Amazon Princess" costume on Smallville. How does it feel getting to put on the real thing?
Durance: A little daunting, and partially because having been in the comic world for a while now, I'm really very respectful of the people that love this character. I do take it very seriously. As a side note, just to be light about it, any woman wearing tight pants is not super excited the first time she puts them on. [Laughs] I wasn't exactly, you know, tight pants- or underwear-ready.
Have you ever wanted to play Wonder Woman? If you didn't have the end of Smallville last season, would you have considered joining David E. Kelley's project?
Durance: I will say that I would jump at the opportunity to work with David E. Kelley again and [Harry's Law and Wonder Woman executive producer] Bill D'Elia. Bill D'Elia cast me on my first big job ever so that was very tantalizing. I would face it with a bit of trepidation, but I probably would have wanted to dive into the deep end of something like that. I think it's a great character and you can have so much fun with it.
I love comics. I love that sci-fi stuff. I grew up on that so it's something that, in a way, I really relate to and I would've loved that, but that wasn't my journey. Then I ended up getting this really great specific role on here and got to work on a show that's got the lead, which is Kathy Bates. To me, that's pretty great.
Are you the type of actress who says, "I've spent all these years on Smallville and now I have to get away from that genre!"?
Durance: No. I just believe things come your way that are meant to come your way and you'll know when you see it whether you want to do it or not. I think that most of us actors are put in a box of sorts. We're labeled. You can do your best to step outside of that a little bit here and there and have some fun with it, but you also have to understand that and embrace it and enjoy it. Personally, I'm just grateful to work again.
Do you have any Smallville withdrawal?
Durance: There's a certain grieving process to leaving a show and a group of people that were a family to you. It's important to learn that's all that life is, is just a set of transitions for you and so you move through it. But yeah, there were times when I was like, "Aww." Not so much sad at times, but I'll go on another set and it'll just be slightly different. I'm transitioning. I've been saying that for months. I'm in transition.
Lasso of truth time: Best part of wearing the costume and the worst part of wearing the costume.
Durance: The best part is the corset, believe it or not, because it gives you a tiny little waist, making you sit up really straight. I would say the most uncomfortable part is tight, stretchy pants because, well, you know what you feel like when you're wearing tight, stretchy pants. You just have to be careful everything is appropriate.
But would you have wanted the underwear version of the costume though?
Durance: [Laughs] I'm very grateful for the pants. I know that people were very excited about the underwear and seeing them. To be quite frank, I don't know if I could've done the underwear justice at this point in time and it might have been more upsetting for people to see me in them than to not, so I think the pants are a safe bet for me.
Durance's episode of Harry's Law airs Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 9/8c on NBC.
Are you excited to see Durance in the Wonder Woman costume?