Since auditioning for American Idol‘s ninth season, Crystal Bowersox has made a name for herself on a variety of fronts — diabetes spokesperson, didjeridoo enthusiast, kick-ass coverer of Rolling Stones classics, heartfelt singer-songwriter, and VH1 staple — but it was hard to imagine she’d ever find herself in the role of murder suspect. Tuesday night’s edition of ABC’s Body of Proof (10/9 c), however, will change all that, as Bowersox plays Zoe Brant, a troubled young woman who gets questioned by Megan (Dana Delany) and Bud (John Carroll Lynch) as they look into the death of a champion equestrian.
“She’s a bad girl with a good heart, kind of like me,” says Bowersox, laughing. “I’m more of a good girl now with a good heart, but I used to be [like Zoe], though I don’t know what it’s like to be incarcerated at all. I know nothing about it. My juvenile record is sealed so it’s all good.”
All kidding aside, though, Bowesox says she did draw from real life — specifically, her close relationship with her son — to help her prepare for her role. “Zoe was incarcerated for drug dealing, and she’s on some kind of work-release program [where she gets to see] her young daughter,” Bowersox explains. “I could not imagine what it would be like to be locked up for a bad decision and not be able to see my child. I can hardly go a weekend playing a show without missing him like crazy, so I drew my inspiration from the things I could find in common with the character.”
While the Idol runner-up attended a performing-arts high school, she admits her acting résumé was a little sparse before Body of Proof producers contacted her about auditioning. “I was really insecure about it. I’d never done anything like this before,” says Bowersox, who remembers getting “a really great piece of advice about acting” from Lynch in between takes. “He said, ‘As long as you’re telling the truth, you have nothing to worry about.’ And I kind of thought on that for a minute, about telling the truth from someone else’s perspective,” Bowersox explains. “Acting isn’t necessarily pretending. It’s storytelling. It’s giving someone your perspective on something.”
That said, “I felt pretty guilty when I was being interrogated,” she adds with a laugh.
Still, are there parallels between her Body of Proof gig and her day job? “You have to learn to draw the same emotion you had when you wrote a song every time you perform it,” Bowersox says. “Acting is the same way: You have to find those emotions and bring them to the surface, and then put them back when you’re done.”
In addition to “learning a lot” from Delany and Lynch, Bowersox notes there were other perks from her time on set. “I got to see so much behind-the-scenes stuff,” she recalls. “It wasn’t like working with the makeup artists on Idol. There were pictures on the wall of the trailer with all the gory makeup and horror-film stuff that the artists had done before, and I was just infatuated with it.”
With her acting debut imminent, Bowersox says she’s well aware of the doors Idol has opened for her. “[Body of Proof] was a great opportunity for me,” she says. “There are actors who wait in lines for auditions and callbacks and screen tests, and I walked right on and screen-tested and they liked it. I’m very lucky for that.”
Catch a preview of Bowersox’s Body of Proof episode below, then hit the comments and tell us if you’ll be tuning in tonight.