Directed by Monika Mitchell, Netflix’s Brazen explores the tribulations of a mystery novelist, Grace (Alyssa Milano), who inserts herself into her sister’s murder investigation. The drama, based on the novel Brazen virtue by Nora Roberts, is filled with dark twists as the late sister’s past life as a webcam performer is revealed.
The curious and heartbroken writer uses her crime smarts to help track down the assailant — much to the dismay of lead detective Ed, played by The Bold Type’s Sam Page. The Wisconsin-born actor brilliantly steps into the detective role, playing into his character’s romantic chemistry with Grace and tight kinship with his partner Ben (Malachi Weir).
In an exclusive interview with Monsters & Critics, Page spoke to us about his experience working with Alyssa Milano, his familiarity with Nora Roberts’ fanbase, and how every acting job he lands is a “dream come true.”
Monsters & Critics: Can you tell us a little bit about your character in Brazen? Through the trailer, it is revealed that he’s a detective. He’s responsible for solving the overlying murder case. What was it like tapping into the character?
Sam Page: It was pretty easy to tap into the character. He’s best friends with his partner, played by Malachi [Weir], and we’ve become really good friends. I was in quarantine in Montreal because I had to do the last couple of days of filming for The Bold Type. So, I was there doing quarantine. He was about to leave to quarantine in Vancouver to get ready to do Brazen. We would chat a lot, just hours and hours and hours of chatting. And we became really close friends. By the time we finally met each other. It was like we knew each other so well. That was pretty easy.
I think Ed and I have a very similar approach to our jobs, which is just to keep everything moving forward and to keep everyone happy. And to solve all the issues that are in front of us. Except for him, it’s murder. And for me, it’s to get the scene right.
M&C: You mentioned you had an easy time getting into character. Were there any challenges that you faced filming Brazen? Or was there a scene that posed a particular challenge for you?
Page: There weren’t any specific scenes. I’ve never played a cop before. I think Malachi said he had played a cop maybe once before, but not to the extent where we are leading the charge into a suspect’s house or getting to do a lot of interrogation stuff or even having to put our hands on our guns.
There was one scene where we kept having to be like, ‘okay, we’ve got to stop acting like we’re having so much fun being cops’ because, as they say in sports… when you get to the big game, act like you’ve been there before. Don’t act like everything’s a new, exciting experience.
M&C: Well, I guess that is one downside to working with your best friends. You mentioned that this was your first time playing a cop character. Did you look to any other cop characters for inspiration?
Page: It ran the gamut, you know, Riggs and Murtaugh. We would always pretend we were doing things from Lethal Weapon to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All of it. But, it was more about the relationships and the dynamic, and one person trying to be devil’s advocate when the other person’s going down an investigative pathway.
We also had to deal with the characters letting a civilian, a brilliant profiler, into our investigation… who’s also my hopeful girlfriend. While having her present in this investigation, we wanted to make sure that it didn’t feel normal for us, or to make sure the audience didn’t think we would be okay with that.
We wanted to keep that authentic because it seemed like a real exception to just about every investigative rule. But that’s because Grace is so exceptional. I think those were some of the challenges, and also some of the things we really fine-tuned into the scenes and into the characters, and into the dynamics of their relationships.
M&C: Speaking of Grace, what was it like working with Alyssa Milano?
Page: It was amazing. It was a dream come true. She, at rest, has so much energy, it emanates. Whether she’s just sitting there doing nothing, or whether she’s getting pumped up for a big dramatic scene or a crying scene, or a romantic scene. It is no small wonder when you meet her and when you work with her. She’s such a successful actor because she brings so much energy and so much presence to the set, then it’s all there to work off.
M&C: This movie is based on a book by Nora Roberts, do you have any familiarity with the source material? Did you recognize the name when you got the script?
Page: I didn’t know the source material, but I absolutely recognized the name, Nora Roberts. I was really excited because when you get to work on something that’s an adaptation of such a popular novel, there is the excitement that you’ve got a lot of the pieces of the puzzle, in a more fleshed-out version than you have in just a script.
Scripts can leave a lot of gaps that are great, it’s a lot of fun, that’s like solving a puzzle and putting things together on your own. Then there’s source material that has so much more there if you need to dig into it. It also comes with a plugged-in audience.
But there’s the added pressure because you want to make sure that the diehard fans of the book, who are going to show up and watch it, are pleased with it. That you take them back on that journey that they went on with the book.
But you also want to shoot for a bigger audience. You also want to reach people who have never read Nora’s books or didn’t read that book, be interested in the story, and then hopefully want to read the book after the movie. So, that’s a goal too. And you want the audience members who did read the book before the movie and saw the movie because they read the book to be really excited to see the next movie.
M&C: Speaking of these diehard fans, did you scour any of the fan forums?
Page: I try not to add that extra pressure. We’ll see what they have to say. You want to create the most formidable version of the character that you can and I think if you’re trying to just people-please, you can’t. You don’t want to aim for the middle. You want to aim for the top.
M&C: You’ve been acting for over 20 years and you’ve been a part of so many iconic projects. I mean, House of Cards, Gossip Girl, Mad Men, the list goes on. What are some main lessons that you picked up throughout your career?
Page: No matter what you are working on, it’s a pretty unique life that you get to live when every day, you’re on the cusp of a dream coming true. You brought up that I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I never really thought of it like that. Not every job is easy, every job has challenging moments. And a lot of times, that’s more behind the scenes.
But, I moved out here, as everybody does when they want to become an actor, with a dream to be a professional actor. And if I’m working on a set, and I got hired to act on it, I always, no matter what the project is, consider that a dream come true. I approach every job like, ‘wow, this is great that I get to do this.’
Every single job, there’s something to learn. You can grow as an actor if you take something away from every single job so I really love it. I’ve always tried to be a sponge on set. Every department, I try to learn what everybody’s job is and how they do it so that you can help everybody do their job… It’s a wonderfully complex job we do and it takes a lot of people, and I love working with a lot of people and the concept of collaboration. It’s my favorite part of what I do.
Brazen is currently streaming on Netflix.