Abigail Spencer stars in two series this fall that could not be more different: NBC’s “Timeless” is an effects-heavy thriller getting a big fall launch, while SundanceTV’s “Rectify” is an intimate drama about a man’s struggle after being released from death row that’s now entering its final season.
But Spencer doesn’t see her job on the two shows as all that different.
“I think every human story at its heart is the same,” she said. “The challenge is keeping that human element the same no matter what the world is around these characters.”
On “Timeless,” Spencer plays Lucy Preston, a historian (“the leading historian in the country is what they keep telling me,” Spencer joked) who joins a team trying to stop a time-jumping criminal, played by “ER” alum Goran Visnjic, from rewriting history.
“We’re not bringing our cellphones back,” she said. “We don’t have access to Google in 1944. We can’t bring any technology back with us, so Lucy has to have it all in her head.”
By strange coincidence, “Timeless” is just one of several time-travel shows debuting this season, including “Making History” on Fox and “Time After Time” on ABC. They will join the CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow,” which will return for its second season in October.
So what is it about time travel that makes it such an appealing premise for a TV show?
“Really, the only way to change our future is to explore and learn from our past,” said Spencer, 35. “As our access and our connectivity to each other through social media and the internet grows, I think there’s this kind of yearning to go back to see how we got here or to understand what’s happening now.”
As for which era has been her favorite to visit so far, Spencer easily chose the 1940s.
“I think that was my time,” she said. The hair, the makeup, the clothes, “they fit like a glove.”
“Timeless” premieres Oct. 3 on NBC.
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