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Amy Brenneman says the characters in ‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ are enigmatic

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Amy Brenneman plays a mother searching for her missing daughter in the Amazon thriller series “Tell Me Your Secrets,” premiering Friday.

“It’s a great potboiler, it’s so binge-y,” Brenneman, 56, told The Post about the 10-episode drama, which follows three enigmatic characters: Mary (Brenneman), who’s determined to find her college-aged daughter who vanished seven years before — even as her husband and son want to grieve and move on; Emma Hall (Lily Rabe), a woman fresh off a stint in prison, who used to be intimately acquainted with a serial killer and might know information about the fate of Mary’s daughter; and John (Hamish Linklater), a former predator who’s trying to redeem himself. 

“I do think the more profound part is that there aren’t good guys and bad guys,” said Brenneman. “People [in this show] are pushed to their limits, and the person you might have been vilifying turns out to be a human being as well.”

As the plot unfolds, the trio become intertwined in each other’s stories, and past relationships come to light. 

“I had been a serious fan of Hamish’s for a long time, so when I found out he was playing John I was thrilled,” said Brenneman. “Because you literally never know what’s going to happen when you’re with him. In life or in art, he’s super-lively and fun.”

Amy Brenneman plays a mother searching for her missing daughter in the Amazon thriller series "Tell Me Your Secrets," premiering Friday.
Amy Brenneman plays a mother searching for her missing daughter in the Amazon thriller series.
Skip Bolen

Brenneman asked the show’s creator Harriet Warner for book or movie recommendations in order to get in the mood for “Tell Me Your Secrets,” which was filmed in New Orleans. 

“She turned me onto this show ‘Happy Valley,’ which actually turned me onto a whole bunch of those BBC shows with great characters. ‘Happy Valley’ is still one of my favorite shows. I thought, ‘If that’s what we’re going for, that’s awesome,’” said Brenneman. “It’s got characters that you love, and you love them so much that you don’t judge their actions.

“You’re scared for them; you’re sad for them; you’re just in it with them.”

Brenneman, who initially rose to prominence on “NYPD Blue” and 1995 film “Heat,” has played a wide variety of characters, from doctors (“Private Practice”) to cult members (“The Leftovers”) to her starring role in “Judging Amy,” which aired for six seasons on CBS (1999-2005). She said she can usually tell which of her roles she’s being approached about by a fan.

"Tell Me Your Secrets" premieres Friday on Amazon.
“Tell Me Your Secrets” premieres Friday on Amazon.
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

“It’s interesting. I feel like it’s true to the demographics. When it’s a younger person [coming up to me], especially women under 25, it’s always ‘Private Practice.’ When it’s an older person it’s ‘Judging Amy,’ and it used to be ‘Heat’ for any guy — but now it’s ‘Heat’ and ‘The Leftovers.’ I like getting to show all the facets of a character, and just having a smart writer who is comfortable with seeing the world as complex as it is. When things get too simple-minded, I kind of check out.”

Up next, Brenneman will co-star in FX on Hulu’s espionage drama “The Old Man,” which will mark Jeff Bridges’ inaugural small-screen starring role. The show follows a former intelligence officer (Bridges) who’s forced to re-enter a world he left behind after an assassination attempt and doesn’t yet have a premiere date.

“Best job in the world, best man in the world — it’s [John] Lithgow and Bridges and me, that’s heaven,” Brenneman said. “About a year ago at this time I was [filming] with Jeff [and] we didn’t really have material apart from one another. It seems like one of those pre-pandemic heavenly things, like ‘Did I really do that?’

“But we’ll get back to it,” she said. “He this bout of Lymphoma which he’s being treated for successfully, so we’ll resume. But it is awesome. My character is sort of this innocent who gets caught up in his crazy situation, but she uncovers a dark side of herself, too — maybe there’s a theme to what [roles] I’m drawn to!”

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