If you thought Lily van der Woodsen was a mother with issues, just wait until you meet Laura Wyatt.
The two fictional characters bear an extreme likeness — because they’re both played by Melrose Place alum Kelly Rutherford — but while the Gossip Girl matriarch’s heart was usually in the right place, the Quantico mama’s motives aren’t as clear.
Rutherford debuts on the ABC drama this Sunday (10/9c) as the until-recently-presumed-dead mother of Johanna Braddy’s Shelby. We caught up with Rutherford in advance of her first episode to ask the big question: What kind of parents allow their daughter to think they’ve been dead for more than a decade?
TVLINE | You worked with Quantico showrunner Joshua Safran on Gossip Girl — was it as simple as him asking you to come work with him again?
I’m obviously a big fan of Josh’s, you know, from Gossip Girl and all the other things that he’s done since then. I was really excited that he called. And my friend, Marcia Cross, is already playing a mom on the show, so it was already great to be playing the other mom. So Josh called, and we spoke about the character a bit, and I just loved it… I love the show. I think it’s just amazing and suspenseful, and the writing and the acting is stellar.
TVLINE | What did Josh tell you about Laura when you first chatted about the character?
He said there was a lot of mystery around this character, and yet a lot of compassion. This was a woman who had to make some very difficult choices in life, and who obviously loves her daughter very much.
TVLINE | Is she still with Shelby’s father, Glenn, when we meet them? They’re still getting along and all of that?
Yes, as far as I know. I don’t know if that’s a cover or notI don’t know quite yet, because we just filmed one episode and I’m getting ready to film the second one. I’m not an actor that asks a million questions, who has to know the future or too much of the character, because I find it interesting to allow it to evolve like life, you know? Sometimes it’s better not to know.
TVLINE | Obviously, the big question Shelby has going into this is: How could anyone leave their child thinking they were dead for all this time?
There’s there’s got to be an enormous amount of that, but the point in them doing it was to protect her. They felt that the only way to protect her was to do what they did, in a way, and for her to somewhat have a normal life. It was probably a very difficult choice to make for them. They’ve been keeping up with her, through other people, in terms of being aware of how she’s doing. I can imagine it would not be the easiest choice in the world to make.