interview JANA LETONJA

Actor Necar Zadegan stars on Paramount+’s crime thriller series ‘Mayor of Kingstown’, which is currently airing its third season. Before her role on ‘Mayor of Kingstown’, Necar starred on many TV shows, such as ‘Masters of Sex’, ’24’, ‘Star Trek: Picard’, ‘Nip/Tuck’, ‘NCIS: New Orleans’, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Lost’.

Necar, you play ‘Evelyn Foley’ Assistant D.A. on Mayor of Kingstown. What drew you to this role? What makes her unique?

I loved the writing. From the first scene I read, the scene between Evelyn and Mike at dinner from the first season, there was so much between them and so much unsaid that it gave great room to feel. It was so cinematic and I just loved the way Taylor Sheridan told the story of these lives. The character of Evelyn is incredibly intelligent and too good for many of her decisions. She’s unique in the world of this story because she is the only one who actually got out of this town, but then she came back, so perhaps a part of her never really got out. Do people ever really escape their past? Does she want to? Will she? And I think that’s interesting about her. 

The series is currently airing its third season. Is there an episode you are most excited for the audience to watch? Is there anything you can share with us about that episode?

I love this whole season. Every episode keeps pushing the boundaries of what these characters can handle. Honestly, there are scenes that I have been excited about seeing since I read them in the scripts for every episode. But because of where the season is headed, there are some scenes in the seventh and eighth episodes that you can’t miss because they foreshadow some things that will be explosive at the end, so it will resonate later for viewers that follow the story. 

Could you elaborate on your on screen chemistry with Jeremy Renner? What insights can you share about the development of Evelyn’s relationship with Mike throughout the series?

I absolutely love working with Jeremy, he makes it easy. I think he’s so good and we play off each other really well. He always keeps the takes fresh and has an easy playfulness and warmth about him that I get to find inside our scenes. I just love it and I tell him so all the time. 

The relationship between Evelyn and Mike is long and carries a lot of history. The series opened with Evelyn trying to hold on to some kind of boundary that seemed to make sense, at least to her. Their relationship has always been really interesting to me. They’re so smart and understand one another from a very cerebral perspective while also being this kind of antagonistic, toxic people who are part-time, secret lovers who are still just kids from the old neighborhood. In the first season, she avoided real intimacy, but now, by the third season, we see her unable to resist the intensity of their bond. 

In what ways do you personally connect with Evelyn? Are there any similarities between you and her?

I don’t think about that a lot, I think about the characters and try to stay in the world of their story when I’m working. But I can say that I grew up in some degree in an all-American kind of way, fourth of July barbeques and riding around the neighborhood on bikes, surrounded by people who just wanted to have a good life and worked hard, and if sometimes things didn’t go the way they’d planned or if tragedy struck, people would deal best as they could, so I get that about her world. 

You have starred in many of our favorite projects. Is there a role or character you played that stood out the most to you or was more memorable than others?

I am always most interested in what I am currently working on and I really love all the roles I have gotten to play, but I got to do a funny thing for a super eclectic series called ‘Documentary Now’. That always stands out to me because it was honestly so funny and so much fun to do. And because each episode is kind of a stand-alone, they’re each like their own movie and it felt like that when we were working. But also because the character was absolutely wild, even though she was based on a real person. It was a spoof of the ‘Wild Wild Country’ documentary, but a lot of my lines were verbatim from the actual doc because it was already so funny as much as it was dead serious and totally absurd. It was also a highly collaborative project and I loved working with the creators in that way. They all came out of SNL, and that type of character work is extremely fun. Everybody on that project is talented. 

Your career started on Broadway, where you debuted alongside Robin Williams in the Pulitzer Prize-nominated ‘Bengal Tiger’. What did this role mean for your career, and how was it performing alongside the iconic Robin Williams?

That was a beautiful show, one of the most stunning pieces of theatre I think I have ever seen. Magical staging, exquisitely metaphorical and a commentary on things that were very controversial to talk about at that time and even still, which is what great art gets to do. It was also very special for me because it was my Broadway debut and all of our Broadway debuts, even Robin’s, so it felt particularly exciting. We were all so young at the time and Robin joined our company later, so by the time he came, we were well rehearsed. After he joined and we went into rehearsal with him, it was mostly us watching him catch up to where the show was, so we were this group of young actors getting to watch this kind of masterclass as Robin felt his way into the role. It was a highlight of my career. I will always cherish performing alongside him. 

Most recently, you wrapped the Miramax spy thriller ‘Inheritance’ alongside Phoebe Dynevor. Can you tell us about the film and your role in it?

I get to play the head of Interpol as she chases this high-class fugitive across the globe, which made for a lot of running through incredibly exciting shooting locations. We shot my scenes in Egypt and India, and I cannot begin to explain the bucket list quality of making a movie at the pyramids of Giza and shooting scenes along the Nile River. Because we were shooting on location in the middle of these great cities of the world, overpopulated and bustling as they are, a lot of times actual city life was just happening all around us, so it felt very visceral. I was finishing up the second season of ‘Mayor of Kingstown’ in Pittsburgh and flew directly from there to Cairo and then Delhi to do this movie. I was doing this slight accent and had this affected way of speaking for this very international character, and so literally dropping into those cities really helped thrust me into the headspace for the film because of where I was coming from in terms of the storyline of Mayor. The change in light, the smells, the soft mystery of the air in those places, everything about the locations kind of carried me from where I was into the headspace for this movie. 

What do you find the most creatively fulfilling about acting, and how did your interest in acting begin?

There is so much about the world and about people that is mysterious and inexplicable, and you get to dissect all of that in a way that makes sense in this work. That is creatively fulfilling. My interest in the arts was natural, it was always there. From a young age, I knew I was an actress and was lucky to have support in following that path. I was always studying and doing plays and things, and then at sixteen, I booked my first professional job on a tour that went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival  and the UK and I just kept going. 

What are you most passionate about outside of acting?

My family. And music. And food. And love.

What can you share with us about your upcoming projects?

We wrapped on ‘Mayor of Kingstown’, so my most immediate project will be a summer vacation. But I am in talks on a couple of new scripts that I like a lot, so no doubt we will get started soon and I will be able to share about it. 

talent NECAR ZADEGAN

photographer RETO STERCHI

hair ANGELO RIVERA

makeup PETER DEOLIVEIRA