American Crime’s Felicity Huffman opens up about playing a racist

‘Empathy allows us to see people whole,’ says Felicity Huffman on racism and her role on American Crime

Felicity Huffman is smart, tenacious, outspoken — she is by no means a timid woman. But in a refreshingly frank interview, the actress admits that even she wasn’t certain at first how to approach her controversial character on ABC’s American Crime.

Or the dialogue it would inevitably create.

The brainchild of 12 Years a Slave visionary John Ridley, American Crime centers on race, class, religion and gender politics in the wake of a racially charged murder.

At the center of the critically acclaimed series’ story arc is Huffman’s character, Barb Hanlon, a woman whose young war veteran son was brutally murdered during a home invasion robbery. Huffman fearlessly plays Barb, a mother hell-bent on getting what she perceives to be justice for her son, and the result is arguably one of the most compelling characters on television this year.

But to say the role is complex would be an understatement. In fact, we don’t honestly know how to describe Barb in a way that truly captures her.

“I didn’t quite, either,” Huffman confides, “and a good friend of mine said, ‘You know, she’s internally parched.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you know, she is. She’s brittle. She’s been damaged and she’s pissed.’ And of course, one word for that is she’s a racist. But there you see the building of a racist, which I think is the genius of what John Ridley did.”

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Felicity Huffman says working with husband William H Macy ‘raises the level of my game’

Felicity Huffman has revealed that acting opposite her husband William H Macy forces her to up her game.

The couple will next be seen as parents to a troubled son going through the juvenile court system in Stealing Cars, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Speaking on the red carpet at the premiere, the Desperate Housewives actress said the pair don’t look for parts together, but working with her husband brings out the best in her.

“I love working with him, it raises the level of my game but we don’t go out there looking for it.”

Huffman, who found fame as housewife Lynette Scavo, is also slated to appear in Macy’s next directorial effort Krystal, opposite Sienna Miller, Jane Fonda and Josh Hutcherson.

“It feels like you have street cred when you do independent films and it’s where the exciting work is being done,” she said.

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