Despite appearances to the contrary, it's not always easy being Ryan Phillippe.
Phillippe stars in ABC's upcoming drama "Secrets and Lies" as Ben Garner, who goes from Good Samaritan to murder suspect in a young boy’s death. Juliette Lewis plays the detective digging for the truth surrounding the murder. It all represents a tall order if you're Phillippe, especially when you appear in every scene of the series.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Wednesday, the actor compared the experience to his previous series "Damages," saying that, by comparison, his most recent gig is "exhausting."
"This was a completely different work experience, because it's a forced-perspective show, it's all from my character's point of view, which is exhausting," Phillippe said. "There's no days off and no scenes off, so in that regard it was a completely different experience."
The fact that he was playing a man whose life is unraveling under tragic circumstances also took its toll.
"I felt very much in the throes of the material throughout the experience. I mean, every day I was playing a guy whose life was falling apart, who was being accused, who was being slandered -- so much negativity in the material," Phillippe recalled. "There were things about that I think I would take home with me. But I knew that before I signed on, that that would be a part of it. It seemed like an enormous workload from day one, and it was."
The series, which also stars Juliette Lewis as the tenacious detective who's investigating the murder, is an adaptation of an Australian series of the same title. Given that, and the fact that the show unfolds around the death of a child, comparisons to Fox's "Broadchurch" adaptation "Gracepoint" were also a topic of discussion at the panel for the series, which premieres March 1 at 9 p.m.
Executive producer Barbie Kligman told the assembled reporters that she deliberately didn't watch "Gracepoint" while working on "Secrets and Lies" to avoid being influenced by it. Having since watched the show, however, she did offer her thoughts on how the two series differ.
"Gracepoint," Klingman noted, "is more traditional in showing many points of view," adding that "ours is a character drama with an underlying mystery."
"Our show is better," Lewis joked, before adding, "I don't know; I didn't see the one you were talking about."
As for the matter of why it was worth adapting the original Australian series in the first place, executive producer Aaron Kaplan suggested that the American version will be a super-sized version of the original.
"We saw this format as an opportunity to do a much bigger, different kind of show," Kaplan said. "We wanted to tell that story for America. We wanted to expand it, we wanted to to make it bigger, we wanted to assemble an A-plus cast to work with us, and deliver something that felt like broadcast television."