Because it’s a TV series filmed around and focused on large bodies of water, actress Lake Bell finds her role in “Surface” to be quite challenging.
”Personally, I’m a good swimmer—but I’m terrified of the ocean,” confesses Bell, who was last seen on the 2004-5 season of “Boston Legal.” And as obsessed oceanographer Laura Daughtery, she’s getting wet quite often these days. On the NBC series, airing Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, her life is changed when she and others discover the appearance of strange, mysterious sea creatures. Can Bell put aside her fear for the sake of good TV?
“Now I’m embracing it, and I love it,” she says. “Seeing the final product is what’s so great—because when you take all that green screen stuff, all the take work and the real exteriors, and put it all together, it’s really amazing how it looks.”
The green screen is, of course, the tool by which many effects-heavy shows are made—actors do their thing in front of the green area, and a background is spliced in. But while “Surface” makes use of the green screen technology, it still films three to five days on location per episode. Which means that Bell does have to jump into the water for midnight shoots—an intimidating prospect for someone with trepidations about the sea. Fortunately, her character is fearless.
“I really feel like I connect with this character,” says Bell. “I’m tremendously passionate about my work—I think that’s very important in Laura Daughtery’s world. Simply, her passion drives her, as well as her determination and fearlessness. All right, maybe I’m a little more fearful than she is, but I do relate to the fact that if someone slams the door in my face I’m going to find a way to get over it or around it.”
Laura isn’t just a dedicated researcher, she’s a mom—another aspect of her life that’s different from Bell’s, although Bell professes to get maternal experience from taking care of her dog. “It’s great being a young mother character. That’s definitely new to me, and I think it’s very telling about her character that she perseveres regardless of whatever obstacles are in her way. I think maybe the ‘nurture’ thing doesn’t come naturally to her, but that’s what’s cool about this character. She’s flawed in the way we’re all human, and it makes for great human drama.”
Although Bell isn’t a science fiction fan, she’s very proud of this project, and the dedication behind it. She says, “Acting is acting, in terms of whether you’re in a comedy, you’re in a drama, or you’re in a scifi genre (piece). I really don’t view ‘Surface’s some kind of scifi show. I really do feel that it’s a human drama. And I think the characters are very real and very relatable.”
So, despite her fears, she’s happy being part of this project—one that’s so demanding in many ways? “I feel giddy about it,” she says, calling this her “dream job.” “I feel mostly wonderful about it because I think it’s a great project.””
That makes sense. After all, you might say (as directors/writers/creators and executive producers Jonas and Josh Pate did when they met her) that she was fated for the role. “I had a great audition…they were like, ‘oh my god, you’re name’s Lake—it’s perfect for the water theme. And I think that’s really the only reason I’m here,” Bell kids.