How Jessica Biel Found Empathy for Candy Montgomery in Hulu Series: ‘You’re Still Kind of With Her at the End’

How Jessica Biel Found Empathy for Candy Montgomery in Hulu Series: ‘You’re Still Kind of With Her at the End’

In 1980, Texas homemaker Candy Montgomery was accused of murdering Betty Gore, the wife of the man she was involved with. It was a crime no one saw coming, and that was part of the reason Jessica Biel was drawn to play the role in Hulu’s limited series “Candy.”

Starring opposite Melanie Lynskey and Pablo Schreiber, Biel completely transformed — wig, glasses and all — into the character. She also worked double duty as an executive producer on the gory project.

When you first picked up this script, why were you interested?

The nonlinear storytelling, just the subtlety, the feeling of that suburban oppression, the mundanity of these people’s lives kind of flew off the page. It was, at times, just stiflingly terrifying and also just normal, cool, nice, great and funny. It’s quite oddly funny until it’s not.

Did you know about the case of Candy Montgomery?

I had never heard of the story before, which did surprise me because I’m a huge true-crime fan. I listen to a lot of podcasts; I’m kind of up to speed on true-crime stories. Once I really started diving into who she is and how this ending happened this way, I got really interested in why and how did this very normal woman — seemingly very normal, upstanding pillar of the community, good mother, good wife, nice human — how did she commit this crazy act of violence?

How did you craft Candy in a way as a villain that audiences still want to watch?

She’s the untrusting narrator. This person did some crazy stuff. How can we make the audience fall in love with her? That was my whole goal. I wanted to create this person that you really, really were conflicted about. You’re with her. You’re with her and then, wait a minute, I’m not sure if I’m with her. As the story unfolds, you empathize with the actions. You get it on some level. You connect on a human level in some way. You’re still kind of with her at the end. That’s what I hoped to create. You just have to have empathy. I didn’t play this character like she was the villain.

As an actor, you had to find a way to tap into her. How did you draw parallels between Candy and yourself?

I think there are so many things that she’s experiencing that every human has experienced, specifically women. This feeling that you have to be perfect all the time, and you have to look a certain way, and you have to be the best mom and the coolest mom and the best wife and have the perfect party house. Everything is fabulous all the time. I kind of feel like the women in my family have sort of had a version of that, you know, where you just put a smile on everything. I do that in my life, and I’m working really hard to not do that. I’m working really hard to be really authentic, and it’s getting easier. It’s been a long journey. I’ve been working on this for many years.

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