Christina Hendricks costars alongside Tim Roth in “Tin Star,” a crime drama out today through Amazon Prime. Set against the backdrop of British Columbia, Hendricks stars in the 10-part series as Elizabeth Bradshaw, the corporate liaison for a new oil refinery in town. The oil business brings trouble to the small mountain town: cue Roth’s character, Sheriff Jim Worth. While pegged by some as a Western — there is a revenge element at play — Hendricks describes the show in more distilled terms: “To me, it’s an interesting character study and crime drama,” she says.
WWD spoke with the Knoxville, Tenn.-born actress about the series the day before its American release.
WWD: What attracted you to your role and “Tin Star” as a whole?
Christina Hendricks: When I read the script, it had a very unusual tone, and I really liked how much the environment, the location and the city played into these characters, and how it was affecting their lives. And I liked the idea of looking at the oil industry in this way and playing someone involved with it; I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of that. It had this interesting feeling of these quirky characters in this town that I really responded to.
WWD: Did you learn anything surprising about the oil industry?
C.H.: I read things from both sides, which I thought was important for my character. I think what I was surprised about is just how adamant people are on both sides of [the issue], and have so many talking points and they just absolutely contradict each other. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s seeing eye to eye, and it was very interesting to read [about] that.
So much of it from one side is: “We’re going to have to use [oil] no matter what, so let’s make sure it’s not from bad guys.” And other guys are saying, “There are alternatives, we don’t have to just keep saying it’s going to keep happening no matter what.”
WWD: How would you describe your character, do you consider her a villain?
C.H.: It’s definitely not that straightforward. I think she goes in with good intentions. Even though she feels like she’s walking into the enemy headquarters, I think she’s really been told that she’s going to have some influence and make some change. She’s been fighting for that for so long and it hasn’t worked, so she thinks, “Well, maybe I’m taking a different approach.” But she’s also turning a blind eye to what seems quite obvious and not at all what she signed up for.
WWD: How do you think she changes over the series? Do you think her fundamental morals change?
C.H.: I think that she becomes challenged — she becomes challenged by authority. Morally, she’s definitely challenged as well, not just because of the oil industry but because of many other reasons throughout the series.
WWD: What was your connection to the landscape in the show, and what role did it play for you?
C.H.: I think, first of all, I think it transports the audience as soon as you start watching. It’s an environment that you don’t get to see all the time. Personally, it was something that I was incredibly familiar with. As soon as I got to Calgary I felt so much at home, I said, “Oh, I know this, this is what I grew up in.” So I felt very connected to it. And the character’s supposed to as well, she’s supposed to be a good Canadian girl who grew up in Alberta. It was not dissimilar to the upbringing I had.
It has this eerie feel, it has this sort of overpowering presence which they did intentionally and did a beautiful job of it.
WWD: With so many other projects on the horizon, how would you describe the sort of roles and characters you find yourself gravitating toward?
C.H.: I think it’s more the script as a whole. If I can immediately start imagining myself as the character and throw myself in the scene mentally and I think I can bring something to it, then I can sort of see how the lines are playing out. It’s very personal, and I think every actor feels that way. You know it when you read it. I don’t think I’ve ever been like, “Hey, go out and find me a script where there’s this type of character.” It definitely works the opposite way, where you read the scripts and sometimes you go, “That’s a beautiful script, but I don’t see me in it.” And sometimes you just want to hold onto it, and you beg to get to be that person.