St. Pete native Monica Raymund impresses in Fox's new forensics drama, Lie to Me
It's the kind of story you thought only happened in bad teen soap operas anymore: fresh-faced kid, a month out of college, goes through with an audition she doesn't expect will go well . . . and lands the role of a lifetime.
But that's exactly how Monica Raymund of St. Petersburg landed in the cast of Fox's highly anticipated crime drama debuting at 9 tonight, Lie to Me.
"I wasn’t a snob. I just really didn’t think I was any good on TV," Raymund told me in the lobby of the Universal Hilton Hotel last week, just after a press conference before more than 100 critics to promote the show.
"I really didn’t think TV would be my first medium that I would explore with. I thought I was gonna land a musical theater gig on Broadway or, like, go join a Shakespeare company for a little bit 'cause that’s what I’ve been doing for four years. It didn’t make sense to me that anybody would want me for TV. I had seen myself on film and I had done a couple of auditions. I just didn’t think I had it, but there you go. . . . I don’t know everything about myself and I proved myself wrong and it just goes to show that, you know, surprises happen on your journey."
Alerted to the audition by a casting director in New York, she snagged the role a month after graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School with a renowned award for classical theater acting named after legendary character actor John Houseman.
I've got a full-blown feature on Raymund coming in Sunday's paper. But here's an early look at the actor -- who has done so well in the show's episodes, even the sound guys at a recent studio session cleaning up dialogue complimented her skills. She's playing the third or fourth most-visible character on the show, Ria Torres, a former airport screener with an instinct for deciphering non-verbal clues displayed by others.
Lie to Me is an ambitious effort by Fox to develop another in its own brand of crime dramas, in the same spirit as the buddy forensics series Bones. Such shows can be lucrative: CBS's CSI franchise boasts some of the highest-rated series on network television and NBC's Law & Order franchise has disguised a lot of programming problems at the fourth-place networks for years.
This series features Oscar-nominated actor Tim Roth as an expert in non-verbal behavior clues. Wary of locking himself into the torture that Brit Hugh Laurie endures trying to play an American and a handicapped guy in pain on Fox's House, Roth insisted he keep his native accent for the show.
He's joined by Kelli Williams, former co-star on ABC's legal drama The Practice, in her first series role after taking a few years off to raise her three kids.
You can tell Fox wants this show to work badly; billboards featuring Roth's mug are plastered all over Los Angeles, including along the main road leading from the airport. Raymund's just trying to soak up as much knowledge as she can while making the best of the latest in a growing string of lucky breaks that have brought more success than anyone could have expected.