After a 16-year hiatus from TV, Téa Leoni makes a big comeback playing the title role in CBS’ new series, Madam Secretary.
The actress plays Elizabeth McCord, the new Secretary of State who reluctantly accepted the appointment from the President (her former boss) following the mysterious death of her predecessor.
The role seemed to fit Leoni perfectly, she told CBS News that she was immediately drawn to Madam Secretary after reading the script. “Sometimes, I think, I read a script, and it’s not so much that I know that I have to do it,” Leoni said. “I know that I can’t not do it.”
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The 48-year-old actress said that she relates to her character’s rawness and honesty because she has kids who take over a huge part of her life, despite her high-powered position, “which at times, is a huge pain in the ass.”
“Here’s another way about it,” the actress continued. “There are a lot of shows out there that are leaning wonderfully to the left and the right and forward and back…and I think we were really shooting to come up with a very wide open woman.” Leoni further commented that she appreciates that there are plenty of interesting and dynamic female characters – specifically women in office – on television.
Leoni’s character, McCord, is a former CIA operative who quit the agency because of conflict with her personal principles. She is living a normal life as a university professor, wife and mother until a plane crash causes the untimely death of the secretary of State and brings her into office.
The pilot episode involves two Americans being held hostage in Syria which the government tries to sort out. Because the character doesn’t have a political background, Madam Secretary will find herself at odds with those around her as she faces all sorts of conflicts as the series unfolds.
“I like playing a fish out of water, and I like the opportunity. I think the dirty little secret on this character is that she’s hopeful and she’s not cynical and she’s a believer.” Leoni said.