‘Big Sky’s Jade Pettyjohn Teases ‘Extreme’ & ‘Dark’ Journey For Grace & Her Sister After Kidnapping

'Big Sky' has many mysteries that will leave you wanting more. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jade Pettyjohn about Grace and Danielle's kidnapping and what's ahead.

Jade Pettyjohn
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Image Credit: ABC

Your next TV obsession has arrived in the form of Big Sky. The new David E. Kelley series follows private detectives Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) who team up with Cody’s estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), to search for two sisters (Jade Pettyjohn and Natalie Alyn Lind) who have been kidnapped.

HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with the Little Fires Everywhere alum about the mystery surrounding Grace and Danielle’s kidnapping and how they try to fight back amidst the “vile circumstances” they find themselves in. She also explained Danielle and Grace’s sibling dynamic in season 1, and how she’s bonded with her co-stars over Zoom.

Jade Pettyjohn
Jade Pettyjohn stars as Grace in ‘Big Sky.’ (ABC)

Why were you drawn to this project after Little Fires Everywhere?
Jade Pettyjohn: David E. Kelley is the writer and showrunner, and that really speaks for itself. He’s an amazing writer and has a brilliant mind. So the story just immediately pulled me in when I read the first script. Especially coming from Little Fires, taking on all of Grace was very exciting for me because she’s the polar opposite of Lexie. At the beginning of the series, you see her as sort of a normal teenage girl, a little introverted, but definitely has a strong sense of self. But then she gets kidnapped and put in one of the most extreme, dark, and vile circumstances that you could ever think of, and to explore Grace stepping up to the plate, where she cracks, and how one copes with that is just really interesting to me. There’s so much mystery in the show, and I just think that it pulls you in. I love those kinds of stories.

Even just watching the trailer, it feels like a mix of genres. How would you describe the show? 
Jade Pettyjohn: It definitely does mix some genres. I definitely feel that this show is a mystery thriller, but I also feel that the show tackles some very real human elements. There are definitely some comedic elements to it, but I think it explores relationships in a very real way and how we interact with one another. On top of that, it’s just juicy and thrilling.

Natalie Alyn Lind plays your older sister. What can you tease about Grace and Danielle’s sibling relationship? 
Jade Pettyjohn: Natalie is incredible. Danielle and Grace are polar opposites. Danielle is outgoing, into boys, and super extroverted. Grace is definitely more introverted and prefers listening to a crime podcast than go out with friends. Even though they’re polar opposites, they’re very, very close and embark on this road trip together and get kidnapped. Exploring the relationship between these two and how they cope with such a crazy experience is really interesting. We have to learn how to work together to try and survive. That has just been a really wonderful thing to explore with Natalie. She’s such an incredible and generous actress. We’ve been having a lot of fun creating a relationship. I think sisterhood is a really interesting bond that two women have. There’s a lot of love there, and there’s a lot of connection. I do think that Danielle and Grace are bonded. However, I think their experience with something as traumatic as they are going in this particular show, creates this bond that goes deeper than anything else than they ever have experienced with each other. They really have to step up to the plate and try and do anything they can to survive.

Jade Pettyjohn
Jade Pettyjohn and Natalie Alyn Lind on the set of ‘Big Sky.’ (ABC)

What can you say about how Grace and Danielle handle the kidnapping? 
Jade Pettyjohn: They get kidnapped and have no idea why. Obviously, there’s a huge question mark around it. But as the series progresses, you realize that it runs a lot darker and deeper than just a kidnapping. There are a lot of vile elements to the storyline, and it progresses and unravels as the series does. But what I really love is… I think it’s really easy to write a plotline of two girls who get kidnapped. They are kidnapped and afraid, but a lot happens in this series. You see these two girls find some kind of strength to fight back as much as they possibly can, and they do whatever they need to do to survive, which is extreme. I’m really excited for people to see how these sisters evolve and see how they try and fight back as much as they can.

Not even knowing the storyline just yet, but it seems like Danielle and Grace’s journey parallels Jenny and Cassie’s journey as they try to put the pieces of the kidnappings together. 
Jade Pettyjohn: They really do run parallel. And that’s another really amazing thing about working with David E. Kelley. You can see in really every project he’s created from Big Little Lies to The Undoing, the writing for female characters, in particular, is so strong. Every single character is written with so much depth. I never feel like I’m scratching the surface with Grace, just because the writing is so full and dynamic. It makes for more interesting storytelling, in my opinion, when you have female characters that are well rounded.

Due to COVID-19, set life is a little different. Have you met your fellow co-stars and bonded with them? 
Jade Pettyjohn: They are incredible. When we are all in quarantine in August, we did Zoom game nights every week. Every few days, we’d hop on Zoom and just check in on each other and see how we were doing. But then we would also all get together and do game nights over Zoom, which was a really great way of being able to bond with each other, especially the people that I never really work with. It makes it just easier with the people I do work with because that camaraderie and those family elements are still there, even if we’re socially distant.

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