In a 1997 episode of the ABC comedy, Raver played a City Hall staffer led to believe that Alan Ruck’s Stuart was gay — which the straight (and opportunistic) assistant deputy mayor used to his advantage in wooing the brunette beauty. “Oh my god, that was hilarious,” Raver recalls of the rare foray into sitcoms. “Usually you kind of go towards one thing, you easily go into other dramas, but I love changing it up. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Ben Stiller on Night at the Museum, and there was a little comedy in the Sheldon Turner pilot I did for ABC last season, The Advocate.“
Raver very fondly recalls this short-lived NBC drama about an Irish-Catholic family as an “incredible beginning” to her career, boasting as it did a cast that included Jill Clayburgh, Bobby Cannavale (whom she would soon enough reteam with on Third Watch) and Tate Donovan (aka her oneday 24 husband), while ER auteur John Wells was among the show’s writer/EPs. Alas, sometimes this “very real” family drama would get too real. “Every episode had a family dinner,” Raver notes with a chuckle, “but then it would be, like, 16-hour days sitting around this table with a ham and Brussels sprouts in front of you! We all got really close on that show.”
After Trinity‘s abbreviated run, John Wells recruited Raver, Cannavale and Skipp Sudduth from the family drama to head up this look at NYC cops, firefighters and paramedics, which would run for six seasons. Asked to assay the NBC series’ still-passionate fan base, Raver offers, “I don't know if it’s because it was about police and fire and ambulance, and that touches home for so many people, and was also like an extension of family” – NYFD paramedics Bobby Caffey and Kim Zambrano (played by Cannavale and Raver) included. After five seasons – and not long after giving birth to her first child — Raver and Wells arrived at a way for Zambrano to exit, in the Season 6 opener. “I really felt like we had told her story,” says the actress.
Fittingly, within 24 hours, Raver was on a plane to chase her next trademark role….
Auditioning for creator Joel Surnow (“Kiefer [Sutherland] was, I think, literally in the Amazon shooting some movie,” Raver recalls), the woman who would be Audrey Raines remembers feeling “huge tension, because it had all come together really fast,” within 24 hours after she parted ways with Third Watch. That tension dissipated when immediately thereafter, “Joel said, ‘You’re Audrey. Let me introduce you to everyone.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just got the role of a lifetime!'” In keeping with the Fox drama’s twisty nature, Raver’s chemistry with Sutherland proved so palpable in the first scene they filmed, the writers threw at the relative strangers, on the fly, “this crazy, beautiful love scene,” she shares. “Kiefer and I shook hands, and he was like, ‘OK, here we go!'” Though that impetuous interlude was ultimately chopped, Raver affirms of her arrival on the hit drama, “It really was like stepping onto a moving bullet train.”
As for her dynamic with her leading man, “I had intrinsic trust with Kiefer, and that's why, for me, those characters evolved to what they did,” she posits. “If you think about what he and I had to do in that span — love scenes, scenes where he was choking me up against a wall, scenes where some other guy was about to kill me and I had a knife — it was very intense but every step of the way he was so incredibly present.”
This ambitious ABC drama, which aimed to capitalize on the super-serialized craze spawned by its lead-in, Lost, recounted bit by bit the details of a bank heist-gone-wrong, and the nine people held hostage during a 52-hour standoff. “I think it was a bit ahead of its time — kind of a precursor for the shows that are now doing really well,” Raver says. Having debuted in 2006, when DVR playback was barely a consideration, certainly didn’t help the drama make its case. Says Raver, “I feel like that show absolutely would have been a huge hit, had it had its time.”
This adaptation of the best-selling Candace Bushnell novel launched in February 2008, in ER‘s time slot, when the NBC medical drama ran out of episodes due to the writer’s strike. Set in NYC and starring Raver, Brooke Shields and Lindsay Price as, respectively, a successful magazine editor, film producer and fashion designer, “I felt like it was an add-on to Sex in the City, kind of an extension,” versus a copy, Raver states. “I had just had my second child and went back to work three weeks later, on this super-sexy show with all these younger guys…. But you just jump in and do it!” This Jungle wasn’t just all heat, though. “We had a lot of laughs, Brooke, Lindsay and I,” Raver smiles. “It was a great experience, another one of those things where people ask me all the time, ‘Why did that show not keep going?'”
In November 2009, Raver began a two-and-a-half-season run as Dr. Teddy Altman, where she was at first given the unenviable task of stirring up trouble for doctors-in-love Owen and Cristina. “That was, like, some amazing combination of the intensity of 24, but with the comedy that is so generously done by [series creator] Shonda [Rhimes], who is just a genius. Every script that she wrote or monologue that she edited, I would always know it was her,” Raver raves. “That company worked really hard, but they also played really hard…. Kevin [McKidd] has become a really good friend of mine, as has Sandra [Oh], who is such a unique and special person.”
Raver hails Julia Neville as “very much” the Lady Macbeth-ian wife of Major Tom Neville, played by the “formidable” Giancarlo Esposito. “It was definitely like that line from Macbeth, about shaming your husband — ‘Screw your courage to the sticking-place,'” the actress notes. “She would get under his skin to make him act, and as such was one of the driving forces behind his character.”
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY
“Who gets to revive a show that you kind of put away in your mind, to never come back again?” Such was a delighted Raver’s thought when she was invited to be a part of the Fox fave’s 2014 limited-series return. “To be able to reaccess that story and, on top of it all, be in London…. I mean, I moved my family, and my kids were going to school there. We had so many dinners with Kiefer, and we were privately let into a lot of the tourist attractions…,” the actress shares. Plus, Audrey was given quite an exit – an almost heroic one, “doing her thing,” Raver notes. “It was emotional and fantastic all in one — because it’s 24, you know?”
“It’s fun and also different” to guest-star on an established series, Raver says, as she is doing in Bones‘ Season 11 premiere. “You want the character to be accessible to people, but you can definitely shake things up a little bit more.” As Special Agent Miller investigates Booth’s vanishing (and possible role in a murder), she butts heads with Brennan, “which was really fun to play because Emily [Deschanel] and I get along so well,” Raver relates. “It’s certainly tense between the two of them, because at first you see my character coming at it purely as a professional. But as other things start revealing themselves, it makes it really layered and great.” And though Raver is no stranger to gunplay from her myriad roles, packing on-screen heat is still “scary,” she attests. “I literally was one of those people on set like, ‘I have to check it. Let me check it. Let me see the gun. Let me check it.'”