By the end of the first hour of “Good Behavior,” audiences will have seen Michelle Dockery scrub toilets, get drunk, do drugs and point a shotgun at a man. She has officially left “Downton Abbey.” This seems like new territory for Dockery, but it was actually the PBS period drama that made producers think she was perfect to play Letty Raines.
Executive producer Blake Crouch, who wrote the novellas that the new TNT show is based on, recognized Dockery from her work on “Downton,” and that’s how he knew she’d be perfect as Letty. “I was a big ‘Downton Abbey’ fan from Season 1, and when the idea of Michelle as Letty was first pitched, I thought — like a light bulb went off in my head,” he told International Business Times at the “Good Behavior” premiere in New York on Monday night.
“On a surface level it feels like maybe Letty and Lady Mary couldn’t be more different,” he continued. “But I actually think they have a lot of similarities and I think they’d be friends if they met in real life. I think they’d hang out. I think they would get drunk, get into trouble.”
Letty and Mary are both very strong characters. They have their struggles (though Letty might have a few more problems), but they’re both creative and fight to get what they want. However, Letty isn’t fighting for control of an estate on “Good Behavior.” She’s trying to fight for control of her life. In the pilot episode, she has been sober for a week, but the stress in her life will make it particularly difficult to stay away from alcohol and drugs. Not only does she get fired, but she discovers a hitman’s plan to kill an innocent woman. She decides to do the right thing and warn the target, but she doesn’t exactly become a hero.
Fellow executive producer Chad Hodge noted that Dockery’s ability to play every facet of Letty, from confident con woman to anguished drug addict, really won her the role. “She’s totally fearless, totally fun, totally funny and I mean, if you’ve seen ‘Downton Abbey,’ you know she can do anything,” Hodge raved. “And whether it’s playing Lady Mary or Letty, the skill set that she has and the palette that she has to paint with is beyond amazing.”
It’s easy to see why the writers wanted the Brit, but, despite what some might assume, Dockery didn’t take the role to ditch her “Downton” image. “Yeah, I was just looking for another job,” Dockery laughed.
It was the writing that caught her attention. “The role came my way and I couldn’t put the script down,” she said. “She was a fascinating character and I loved the story. And it just came along not too long after ‘Downton,’ which was unexpected for me actually, to play a role that was so different.”
Fans can see just how contrasting the characters are in the two-hour premiere of “Good Behavior,” which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST on TNT.