'In the Dark' Star Perry Mattfeld on Female Anti-Heroes, Guide Dogs, and Wonder Woman

In the Dark premieres on The CW tonight, bringing a one-of-a-kind female lead onto the fan-favorite network. The series follows Murphy (Perry Mattfeld), a blind twenty-something with a penchant for sarcasm, cigarettes, and casual hookups. While living in downtown Chicago, Murphy stumbles upon what she believes to be the dead body of Tyson, a teenager that she had previously developed a friendship with. When the police refuse to investigate what happened to Tyson, Murphy takes matters into her own hands, and her life changes in the process.

Ahead of tonight's series premiere, ComicBook.com got a chance to talk to Mattfeld about bringing the best portrayal of Murphy to life, having a canine co-star, and what kind of superhero she'd love to play.

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(Photo: The CW)

ComicBook.com: What initially drew you to the role of Murphy?

Perry Mattfeld: Well I've said before, when I got the script, the character of Murphy was just like an actor's dream for me. I mean the emotional, mental, and then the physical aspect was something that I was really attracted to. I went to USC and I have a degree in theater, so when I read about this character I thought, I'm trained for this. I have to try. This is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding characters that I've ever had the opportunity to play.

What has the process been like of getting into this character and making sure that she's as positive as a representation of the blind community as possible? I've seen on social media that you've met with blind advocacy groups.

Yeah. I mean the story is the story, but obviously, the portrayal needs to be authentic. So the minute I got the role, I spent a lot of time with Laurie Bernstein, who's our blind consultant on the show. I spent time with her in her house watching her night routine, her morning routine, watching her cook in her house, clean her house, watch TV, text, email, just kinda watched her move through her space. Just watched her. I spent a lot of time with her and her adorable guide dog. I learned how to use the guide dog, I learned how to use a cane.

I just wanted to get kind of the physicality down just because that's challenging enough, but who Murphy is on top of that required a lot of skill. So I wanted to make sure that I did a lot of research, and I'm still learning obviously. It's been really cool for me to get to dive into that world, and it was a special opportunity for our whole crew to learn about. We had guide dogs on our set everyday. So to learn about that was really special for our whole crew.

I just spent a lot of time making sure that I did a lot of research and made that a priority. I had to do the work there, because who Murphy is on top of that is a lot to carry as well.

I loved how imperfect of a character Murphy is, and how she embraces her flaws in a way that I feel like a lot of female characters don't necessarily get the chance to.

Corrine, who's our story creator, she talked about how she never felt like she related to the female leads that she watched growing up on TV. So she wanted to create a flawed anti-hero that could still be loved, could still get attention, could be strong, could be vocal. And I appreciate that too. That was an interesting journey for me as well, to be confident enough to be that bold. I think people will really appreciate having an imperfect female anti-hero at the forefront of our show.

I also really loved all of the ways that female sexuality and female relationships are represented on In the Dark. I think with Murphy and her relationships, and her roommate and her girlfriend's relationship, everything is portrayed in such a natural way. What has that been like for you, to have a character who has such unique relationships with the people around her?

Well, I appreciate how character-driven our show is. There's plenty of times where you'll see Murphy and her roommate Jess just kinda sitting in their sweatpants, hungover on the couch, just venting and talking about what's happening in their life. I appreciate that being there on TV and seeing us no makeup, sweatpants, messy hair. I really appreciate that, and I'm really glad that the CW is bringing that to network.

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(Photo: The CW)

I remember the very first thing I heard about In the Dark was at Upfronts last year, when everyone was like, "Oh my gosh! There's a dog in this show! This is amazing." What has it been like kind of sharing the screen with a seeing-eye dog and having that be such a big part of the character?

I mean, it was pretty funny during the pilot. We set up a really nice place for Murphy to go with this relationship with her guide dog. Her guide dog Pretzel represents everything that she doesn't want to need: loyalty, support, help, and so you kind of see this really beautiful love story that grows throughout the season as well with her guide dog.

But it was pretty funny during the pilot. There are some times when Murphy is kind of short with her dog or kind of mean to her dog. And Perry, I, Perry, am so in love with that dog. His name is Levi. He's a brilliant actor, so after we would cut, I would pull Levi aside, and I would say, "You're brilliant. You're so talented. You bring so much depth to the character. Thank you for being here." I made sure he felt very welcome. But having dogs on the set every single day made showing up and going to work that much better.

What has been your favorite scene to shoot so far in Season One?

There's a scene in episode six, and without giving too much away, that was my first experience with maybe the entire concept of winter in general. Because I'm born and raised in Los Angeles. So that was definitely a shock for me. There's a really, really special, beautiful scene that brings people to tears every time they see it. It involves Lake Ontario, and I went into Lake Ontario, and as cold as it was and as traumatizing as it was just to get in that freezing cold lake in a bathing suit.

I turned around and looked at my entire crew and Brooke [Markham], who's my incredible supportive costar, and they're all in parkas watching me in this bathing suit step into Lake Ontario. And looking behind and seeing all of them cheering for me and clapping and rooting for me while we did this very emotional scene in the freezing cold made it all worth it. I mean I would've done it 15 times because of the support that I had of my crew, who are so passionate about this project.

I totally get the culture shock of being in the cold. I completely get how that would be kind of wild.

Just the amount of layers. I just can't even -- the scarves, and the hats, and the gloves, and then you have the shoes, and then it's wet, and then it's muddy. It's like, "Oh my god. How do people live like this?"

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(Photo: The CW)

What can people expect in Season One?

I think [there's] something that's really fascinating and exciting about the way that the all-star writers team set up Season One. By the finale, I think, you'll be shocked about where Season Two is going, but I think the audience will feel like they've probably known all along, maybe, that that's where this is going. Without realizing it.

We have so much diversity in our writers' room as well. We have 80% women, so that diversity behind the scenes is directly portrayed on camera, which is really exciting.

And with Murphy, it's three steps forward, four steps back. So seeing the next mess she gets herself into is gonna be a shock, but yet I think just sets up Season Two so perfectly... When we read the finale together as a cast, we all just went, "What?!" So. But at the same time, we're all like, "I knew it." So I think it's the weirdest experience. It's emotional and yet it's hilarious, and there's a thriller element as we get towards the end. There's nothing like it on TV.

What are you nerdy about? Is there anything in particular that you are absolutely a huge fan of?

I obviously love dogs so much. I'm around dogs all the time, but I am a crazy cat person as well. So I'm not gonna be ashamed if I have four kids and 10 cats later on in my life. My rescue kitten who I got in college is my world. She goes with me everywhere. She came with me to Toronto, lived in my trailer as well. There's a lot of people that bring their dogs to set. I think you're considered a little bit of a freak if people know that you have your cat in your trailer, so I didn't necessarily reveal that to everyone except people that I knew were cat lovers. I have a coffee table book called, "Cat Body Language," for anyone who likes to do some light cat reading when they come over to my home.

Is there a particular comic book movie or sci-fi franchise that you would love to join?

Well, I'm 5'11" and I'm pretty tall, so... I got to play a really strong character on my last show, on Shameless, and I'm getting to play another strong female on In The Dark, and I feel like the next dream for me would be I'd get to play a superhero. Because I am tall, I do have a presence whether or not I want to. Sometimes people are like, "What the hell is that?" when they see me walk in. So that's a dream for me, to be able to take that strong female to the next level and put on a superhero outfit.

Is there a particular role you can think of, or would you be open to anything?

Obviously, my girlfriends and I are completely in love with Gal [Gadot as Wonder Woman]. So I think doing something like that, like a superwoman, would be so cool. I would've loved to be one of the women on [Wonder Woman's] island. All those beautiful tall women, just happen to all live on the same rock. I would've loved to have a little apartment on that rock.



In The Dark premieres today, April 4th, at 9/8c on The CW.