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Mother trouble: Mr. Mercedes exclusive interview with Kelly Lynch

Kelly Lynch as Deborah Hartsfield in Mr. Mercedes. Pic credit: AT&T AUDIENCE

One of the most riveting performances on tonight’s highly-anticipated detective tale and thriller based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, Mr. Mercedes, is played by Kelly Lynch.

Long of leg and still arrestingly beautiful, Lynch plays opposite in Mr. Mercedes as a run-down alcoholic mother named Deborah Hartsfield. Her lack of boundaries is a shocker in this dysfunctional family setting beset with personal tragedy.

Her intentions, we learn first-hand, are good but somehow lost in the addled translation of her mind. She expresses her love for her remaining child, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) in a twisted and sick way, and these incestuous relations have set the raging fire of a serial killer’s mind, unbeknownst to her in the beginning.

The addicting teleplay of author Stephen King’s book follows the story of a brilliant young killer played by Treadaway who delights in psychologically torturing a retired detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson).

Gleeson is a lone soul, living next to a physically needy neighbor Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) while he tends to his old tortoise.

But Brady Hartsfield wants him back in the game. Through email, banner ads, letters and even items like a tennis ball, Brady is ensuring this retired detective is drawn back into his old life to capture the one that got away during his long career.

The cast also boasts Mary Louise-Parker as Janey Patterson, Jharrel Jerome as Jerome Robinson and Breeda Wool as Lou Linklatter. Executive Producers are David E. Kelley, Jack Bender, and author Stephen King.

At the television critics’ association summer press tour, we spoke directly with Lynch after the premiere screening.

Monsters and Critics: When you first got the script and you read this character, were you familiar with the book or did you see the script for the first time and how did you interpret Deborah?

Kelly Lynch: You know, it’s funny because I’m a huge Stephen King geek. I’m a big, big fan. I feel like I’ve read everything. I have read almost everything but the Bill Hodge’s Trilogy. My mother had read the books and was completely freaking out when I said I’m up for the part of Deborah Hartsfield. I told her ‘There’s no script yet, but they’ve told me to read the book.’ She went, ‘Oh my God. It’s one of the great Stephan King female characters of all time.’ I thought…the book is dense. I had 24 hours to read it and memorize my audition.

M&C: You knew it was for you?

KL: Yes, the second I read it, I thought, ‘I would kill for this.’ I’ve been waiting for this part. I’ve been waiting to show someone who’s complicated, who people might say, ‘Oh. She’s a monster.’ I challenge anyone to say that at the end of the 10 episodes that she’s a monster. She’s a human being and a victim of circumstance and she truly thinks she’s being a good mother. It’s tragic, but it was so much fun to play and also so much fun to play a human as opposed to she’s bad, she’s good, she’s pretty.”

M&C: Do you think a complicated character like Deborah is a challenge for a beautiful actor?

KL: Women, sometimes we get pigeon holed into an iconic place where we don’t get the human pieces.

M&C: All the complexity. What’s the best thing about your character and what’s the worst thing?

KL: I think the best thing, even though she’s agoraphobic, totally medicated, and not in the world anymore, her whole world is her living room. Her bedroom to sleep and her kitchen to get a bottle of vodka out of the freezer. She’s a survivor and she’s not unhappy. She wakes up and she thinks, ‘Today will be a good day.’ She loves her son and their weird dysfunctional world is a big world to her.

M&C: She’s not the villain we think she is in the premiere?

KL: There’s a lot of color in it for her in her own small world. The worst thing is the fact that her son who is her whole world, she worries that he … She knows something is wrong. She would never imagine how wrong it is, but she just feels like, ‘Why doesn’t he have friends and why doesn’t he want to do things with other kids?’ I feel that’s part of the reason for our weird relationship. The incestuous part of the relationship is also because I think Deb wants Brady to feel like he’s desirable.

M&C: Maternal incest is a really big shocker

KL: She wants him [Brady] to be wanted. In their weird … Yeah. Wanted. Like ‘yes, you’re beautiful. You’re handsome. You’re intelligent. You’re resourceful. You’re such a catch. You’re such a good boy too. Working two jobs to take care of us. You bring me home pizza.’ He’s a good kid [to Deborah]. I think he’s all she has left. Her husband and younger son have died, which she finds out …

M&C: Who was the younger son?

KL: The younger son Jerry is a big part of our story, of Brady and Deb’s story. There was a younger boy.

M&C: Do we see flashbacks of Jerry?

KL: Yes. You meet Jerry.  Jerry was the younger son. Deb has lost not only her husband, her high school sweetheart but her youngest, beautiful little boy.

She’s not strong enough to face the bad luck in her life.

Mr. Mercedes premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on AT&T AUDIENCE Network. Mr. Mercedes will also be available through DIRECTV, AT&T U-Verse and DIRECTV NOW.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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