Anne Heche: ‘I Think Secretly Everyone Wants to Be an Action Hero’

Virginia Sherwood/USA Network

USA goes the Dan Brown route with Dig, a fast-paced ten-part thriller about a 2000 year-old conspiracy centered on the holiest site in contemporary Jerusalem. The Israeli bureau of the FBI gets entangled in the dangerous group’s international tentacles when agent Peter Connelly (Jason Isaacs) investigates the murder of a young American living in the Holy City. Connelly’s boss is played by Anne Heche, who has had a varied career in TV (Ally McBeal, an Emmy-winning role on daytime soap Another World) and movies (Donnie Brasco; Wag the Dog; Six Days, Seven Nights). The actress gives us a guided tour into her newest role:

You’ve been great in a lot of TV comedies over the last decade: Men in Trees, Hung, Save Me, The Michael J. Fox Show. Dig is a rare first action thriller role?

Absolutely. It’s part of what I loved about Dig. I think secretly everyone wants to be an action hero. For sure I do. I get to kick some butt! Dig is in the realm of the Da Vinci Code, an incredible thriller set in an incredible location. It digs up the secrets, conspiracies and beliefs in a certain part of the world.

Tell us about your character.

They said, “We want you to play Lynn Monahan, the head of the FBI in Israel.” I was like, “I’m in!” I always like playing people smarter than me. Lynn is a legal attaché stationed in Jerusalem. She’s there so American citizens have protection through the FBI.

What’s her relationship with your co-star Jason Isaac’s character, Agent Connelly?

Peter was her boss back home. She says that he taught her everything she knows about law enforcement. He’s having difficulty dealing with the death of his daughter and calls Lynn to bring him to Israel so he can get away from the States. The producers, Tim Kring and Gabriel Raff, wanted to present an adult relationship that wasn’t necessarily bound by its romance but certainly by the benefits of it, and at the core is a deep and true friendship for each other. That unites them throughout the show and throughout all their difficulties.

Peter gets obsessively involved with the murder of this American woman, and trying to solve the case, slowly uncovers huge conspiracy about religious prophecy. He ignores most of the rules he should play by. How does his boss Lynn react to his, let’s say unorthodox manner?

We all love a hero who is outside the law. Though he doesn’t break all the rules, he comes close. When she senses that he’s getting far away from the case’s hard evidence and going out on his own, she gets more and more concerned for him.

What are some of the main elements in this conspiracy?

There are five different storylines going on and you have absolutely no idea how they could possibly connect. You’re seeing a religious storyline, you’re seeing a murder mystery, you’re seeing an artifact that’s been stolen, you’re seeing a cow be born. Peter believes they’re all connected and she doesn’t. Lynn is a very logical person. (Laughs)

Lynn must get involved in his case, however, since you said you do some good butt kicking on the show.

(Laughs) Heck yes. When we shot the first episode, I was like,””Hey, wait a minute. I’m flying all the way to Jerusalem and I don’t get to kick someone’s butt? I’m in an office? No way.” And they said, “Just wait.” I did, and when they shot those action scenes, they were so much fun.

Does your enthusiasm indicate that you’d like to do another season, if USA picks it up? Lynn and Peter could take their FBI act around the world.

For sure. We’d sit around on set and talk about the different countries we wanted to go to to dig into the depths of conspiracies. That’s the fun of the legal attaché; they can go anywhere to represent U.S. citizens.

How was the experience filming in Israel before the Gaza conflict forced you to resume filming in Croatia?

Every moment was meaningful. I was over there for six weeks and my family [partner James Tupper, and sons Homer Laffoon, 12, and Atlas Heche Tupper,5] was there for three. We took the children to the Western Wall and [Homer] felt compelled to walk over the men’s side and touch the wall. It was so profound to me.

Dig, premieres Thursday March 5, 10/9c, USA Network

Not a bad start, right? Don’t worry, they’ll soon start falling apart physically and mentally.

Naked and Afraid, Sunday, 10/9c, Discovery