‘The Sinner’ season 2 premieres Aug. 1 with an all-new mystery. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with star Natalie Paul about her new character, how the second season compares to the first, and more!
The first season of The Sinner took the world by storm, and now the show is returning for its highly-anticipated second season. The new episodes will revolve around the mystery of an 11-year-old boy from Keller, New York, who brutally murdered his parents. Ambrose (Bill Pullman) returns to Keller to investigate alongside detective in training, Heather (Natalie Paul).
Ahead of the season 2 premiere, HollywoodLife talked with Natalie to get the scoop on Heather. While Heather is a “very ambitious” cop, Natalie notes that her character has her own set of “baggage.” Natalie also admits she put pressure on herself before filming because she just wanted “to be another positive in the show” after its critically-acclaimed first season. Check out our full Q&A with Natalie below!
Heather is a new character this season. What can you say about her?
Natalie Paul: Heather is a detective in training in Keller, New York, where the show is set. She’s trying to become a detective, and then she gets hit with this huge, strange situation with this little boy who’s killed his parents. She’s kind of in over her head trying to do a really good job, so she calls Bill [Pullman’s character] who has now left Keller to kind of come in an mentor and help her figure this out. They end up being a team. We learn more about Bill’s character this season, and we learn about Heather, too, She’s this very ambitious, young cop wanting to be a detective, but she’s got her own baggage.
What stood out about the role that made you want to be a part of this show?
Natalie Paul: So many things! I think it was just so different from anything I’ve ever done. I’ve never played anyone in law enforcement, and it’s just really written so beautifully. Heather is such a complex character, so it was an amazing opportunity to be able to explore a lot of things just thematically. She’s a really well written character, really complex. She’s strong, she wants to do the right thing, yet she’s so conflicted and flawed. That contrast was the hook for me.
Did you reach out to cops or female cops, specifically, for research?
Natalie Paul: There were a few experts we got to talk to, including female detectives. I also did some research on my own. I read some personal essays and watched some documentaries. The biggest thing I learned from all that is that to be a female detective you really, really cannot show your personal side too much. We all kind of experience that on some level, but it’s such a tough job and the sacrifices that you have to make you have to do in order to succeed. It was interesting to hear about what it takes. It takes long hours, late nights, and compartmentalizing a lot. It was really interesting and eye-opening.
What kind of detective is Heather? Is she determined to go beyond the surface?
Natalie Paul: I think she knows better to ask and to be collaborative when things look so strange. She’s all about getting the bad guys. Bill Pullman’s character is a little bit more attuned to the complexities and nuances, and I think that’s one of the reasons why they work well together. She’s very passionate, and he’s a little bit more cerebral. As a young detective in training, that’s what fuels her. She’s always been a caretaker. You see that in her relationship with her dad a lot.
What’s it been like working with Bill Pullman?
Natalie Paul: Every day is another lesson in the school of Bill Pullman — just watching him break down the script and talk about it with the director. It’s so funny how it totally mirrors the relationship between Heather and Ambrose. It’s been really great. He’s so nice.
Going into the second season, did you feel any pressure heading into new territory with this season not being based on any book material?
Natalie Paul: I think part of my own challenge was just trying to be another positive in the show. I felt like, “Okay, don’t mess it up.”Another reason why I wanted the role was to grow as an artist. Luckily, everyone has been super welcoming and super kind and welcomed me with open arms. I haven’t felt the same pressure from them that I felt from myself.
The first season set a really high bar. How does this season compare to the first?
Natalie Paul: I think what’s amazing about it is that it’s so different, but the core elements of what made season one so great — the storytelling, the writing, the complexities of the characters — are still all there. The new aspects, the new characters — Carrie Coon being an amazing actress — I felt like last season was very much an ensemble show, but this one is a little bit larger in scope because it’s about all these different things. The peaceful community in the town is also involved.
What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Natalie Paul: It definitely was shocking, but I love things like that, meaning things that test and challenge us. I love to be a part of any show or any kind of art that does that. It wakes us up and gets us thinking. What would you do in that situation? How would you react?
Jessica Biel is an executive producer this season. What’s it been like having her on set?
Natalie Paul: When she comes to set, it’s a great feeling because she’s been there herself. We’ll talk about the process and all the things we want to bring to the show to keep it going. She’s such a great leader and a great presence. She makes it really easy.