‘Clarice’ Star Michael Cudlitz Talks Starling and Krendler’s ‘Adversarial’ Relationship

Rebecca Breeds Michael Cudlitz Clarice Starling Paul Krendler
Brooke Palmer/CBS

If you’ve been watching this ambitious new crime thriller, you’ve probably already scrapped most of what you thought you knew about Paul Krendler. In The Silence of the Lambs and author Thomas Harris’ sequel Hannibal, the ambitious Justice Department bigwig is unambiguously hostile to FBI agent Clarice Starling. But Michael Cudlitz’s characterization in Clarice is more fluid.

“Their relationship starts massively adversarial, and we’re going to learn specifically why,” says Cudlitz (above). “It’s not necessarily what everyone thinks on its surface.”

Already, this Krendler — leader of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program task force — is showing more respect for Starling (Rebecca Breeds) and her expertise in the realm of behavioral science. “In some ways, he’s in complete awe of her,” the actor says. But “he comes from a world of facts, of policing — not this mumbo-jumbo. In his mind, it stands to tear down everything he believes in.”

In the March 4 episode, because a suspect on the verge of revealing a vast conspiracy behind a series of murders was assassinated in their custody, the team is under investigation. As Special Agent Anthony Herman (David Hewlett) — Krendler’s old nemesis — grills them, Starling starts to get a better sense of her enigmatic boss.

Michael Cudlitz Clarice Paul Krendler

Brooke Palmer/CBS

As for that conspiracy, he adds, it’s big and close to home. By episode’s end, “We realize there’s something going on within our system. You don’t know who to trust.”

Clarice, Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS