USA Network's The 4400 tugs at the heartstrings this Sunday at 9 pm/ET when it stages a most unlikely reunion between the recently returned Richard and his late wife, Lily (who, in the guise of Tippi Hedren, died from old age at the start of Season 2). How can this be? It's The 4400! Still, TVGuide.com invited Laura Allen to shed more light on the emotional get-together, as well as tease the new-and-improved second season of FX's Dirt.
TVGuide.com: What was your reaction when you got the call to swing by The 4400 again?
Laura Allen: I heard about it this spring when I was in New York. I always thought there would be an opportunity to go back there, because sci-fi is like that, but there are no fixed rules. I was dead, but even [director] Scott Peters said, as I was parting ways with them, "We're a pretty creative bunch. We'll find a way to get you back." So I wasn't terribly surprised.
TVGuide.com: The details at the time were a bit sketchy as to what led to your rather unexpected and abrupt departure. I know [executive producer Ira Steven] Behr told SciFiWire it was "a business thing, not a creative decision."
Allen: Yeah... it kind of was, unfortunately. It was a disagreement with the contract — it was unfortunate. I think the show is really special, but... it was time for me to move on.
TVGuide.com: If you're going to get killed off, it might as well be in the form of Tippi Hedren.
Allen: [Laughs] I know! What an honor!
TVGuide.com: How was it seeing Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (Richard) again?
Allen: I adore that guy. He's left the show now as well, and he's doing great. We actually knew each other before The 4400, so he's like an old friend now.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease about how, or even why, The 4400 is staging this reunion, and why it's happening now? You've both been off the show, the chapter seemed closed....
Allen: I had thought that it was going to be Lily's grandmother when I went back, but actually it's Lily as we knew her, the mother of Isabelle. I think her presence was needed for Richard, who was making some critical decisions as a parent to this crazy Isabelle character. He needed reassurance, and Lily makes herself available to him through the power of another 4400. That's about as much as I can say. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: The issue being that Isabelle is now a hottie twentysomething "toddler."
Allen: Yeah, it's fun being the mother of a college-age kid.
TVGuide.com: That's what was behind the contract dispute, wasn't it?! You didn't want to be mom to a young adult!
Allen: [Joking] That's right!
TVGuide.com: On a scale of 1 to 10, where does the reunion rank on the Kleenex scale?
Allen: For myself, it was a 10. There was a whole mishmash of emotion going on for me as a performer and as Lily, also.
TVGuide.com: Are you back on Dirt this season?
Allen: Yes, we go back to work in October. There's a cliff-hanger going on there, a stabbing between myself and Courteney Cox's character. It is undetermined who really got the knife.
TVGuide.com: What new scandals can we look forward to for Julia?
Allen: They are in the writing rooms right now, so I know very little.
TVGuide.com: Julia has been through so much already, and in very short order.
Allen: She sure has. I hope she has a steadier life in the times ahead!
TVGuide.com: Is Dirt a fun outlet for a comparatively straitlaced actress to let loose in, to get to play the bad seed you never became?
Allen: You're familiar with [my role as] Laura English on All My Children, and I tell you, I felt a lot of similarities with Julia on Dirt, in terms of this "good girl gone bad," spiraling out of control. That tends to happen with the characters I play! I must have this sweet veneer, but when you get underneath it, there's grit I love to play with.
TVGuide.com: Even though Dirt got picked up for a second season, it took some heat from the critics. Do you think any tweaks are being made to address its perceived shortcomings?
Allen: I do, I do. The writers are really tight with the network executives discussing [Season 2]. They're working out full outlines for each character this year, so I think we'll have a well-laid-out plan. We have genius people behind the show — Matthew Carnahan, the creator, is so full of ideas, like the schizophrenia and the heroin addiction. There's so much to play, and we wanted to play it right away [in Season 1].
TVGuide.com: It's almost like the deck was stacked again Dirt, because the subject matter is so juicy.... Expectations were high.
Allen: Absolutely. What was fun for a lot of viewers was that the storylines were thinly veiled takes on what's in the tabloids now.
TVGuide.com: What can you tell me about From Within, the movie you just wrapped?
Allen: It's actually made the tabloids! Rumer Willis is on our set, and she was busted for something ridiculous. A few weeks ago, she was in a room where there were substances.... She's a sweet, really good kid, and I feel bad because she will not be able to escape the tabloids.
TVGuide.com: But the movie itself is about a Bible-thumping town where people start to get killed off?
Allen: That's right. It's mostly a young cast, and there is a "suicide curse" going around this very Baptist town. Thomas Dekker (Heroes) is in it, and Rumer, and Adam Goldberg plays my boyfriend....
TVGuide.com: Would you categorize it as a horror film or a thriller?
Allen: It's more of a thriller — but it's got some really good scares!
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