Conviction Star Hayley Atwell on Acting (and Dressing!) Like a Former First Daughter
Move over, Chelsea—there's another former first daughter that’s getting some major media buzz this week. And her wild antics make both Clinton and the Bush twins look like angels.
ABC’s newest drama Conviction introduces us to Hayes Morrison (Hayley Atwell), a former first daughter, who is unlike any offspring we've ever seen come out of the White House, IRL. Yes, she's smart (a lawyer) and stylish (loves Alexander McQueen) on the outside, but she also has a wild streak that is threatening to derail her life and her mother's bid for the Senate. In the premiere (tonight at 10 p.m. ET), she’s facing charges for drug possession. And to get out of jail time, she agrees to a deal with the D.A. to head up the Conviction Integrity Unit (C.I.U.) and help right some of the wrongs clogging up the justice system. As you can imagine, things don’t start off very smoothly.
“Hayes is basically blackmailed into this job. But since she’s been backed into a corner, she finds a way to make that corner her own boxing ring," says Atwell, who is best known as Marvel’s kick-ass Agent Carter. “I liked the fact that she is a complex character. She is really morally ambiguous at times and unlikeable, but you still root for her.”
While Hayes doesn’t share many, or really any, similarities with America’s club of actual first daughters, Atwell still looked at women like Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump to get a sense of the pressure that faces someone that was raised in such an intense spotlight. “With Chelsea and Ivanka, their public persona is very polished. They lead very successful lives and that's all we know about them, really,” says Atwell. “With our show, we get to see a former first daughter behind closed doors. Hayes is brilliant, but she's fighting very hard against all of this privilege that she has been given. And she is always on the verge of pressing the self-destruct button."
One thing that she does have under control? First daughter fashion. “Hayes is a woman that has been in the media a long time, so she knows the importance of dressing and how it can make an impression,” says Atwell, who worked with costume designer Carol Beadle to help imagine her character’s sleek wardrobe. “If she has to wear a blazer to the office, it will be Alexander McQueen or something with an interesting cut. Or she'll put on cool studded shoes or a bracelet with a skull on it. Her clothes are her armour to the world.”
And that goes beyond nine-to-five style, too. In the pilot, Hayes arrives at an event in a sexy red gown to spite her politically-minded mom. “Instead of the elegant black dress that her mom wants her to wear, she shows up in a bright red one with cleavage showing," says Atwell. "Everything is a power play for her—even fashion.”
Watch Conviction on Monday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. And check out the trailer for the show above.