‘Rebel’ Star Katey Sagal on How Erin Brockovich Lured Her Back to TV Drama

Katey Sagal Rebel Episode 2
Q&A
ABC/Karen Ballard

Powerhouse Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy) brings her larger-than-life energy to the role of hard-charging consumer advocate Annie “Rebel” Bello, in, yes, Rebel.

“When she gets it in her mind that something is unfair and has to stop, she’s relentless,” Sagal says of the sexy blue-collar badass.

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The series is inspired by the current work of activist Erin Brockovich (whose early career was chronicled in the 2000 Julia Roberts film) and costars Andy Garcia as Julian Cruz, the lawyer for whom Rebel consults. Sagal tells us more.

Most recently, you’ve been appearing on the ABC comedy The Conners. What about this character lured you back to heavy drama?

Katey Sagal: Everybody knows what it means to “Erin Brockovich” something. It’s a verb. It was really interesting to me, particularly given the time we’re in. She gives voice to the voiceless.

This season, Rebel campaigns to help victims of a flawed medical device. How did you prep?

I did research into the unregulated part of Big Pharma and medical devices and watched a [Netflix] documentary called The Bleeding Edge. I was shocked. There’s other advocacy too. Rebel is, like Erin, a famous person who gets emails constantly from people coming up against companies that won’t hear their complaints.

Katey Sagal Andy Garcia Rebel Cruz

ABC/Temma Hankin

Just how fun is shooting scenes where you tell people off?

In my life, I wouldn’t call me timid, but I let a lot roll. You know how sometimes you’ll have some fiery stuff going on inside? This is a great outlet to let it fly. Rebel says things you’re thinking but don’t say.

Is she anything like you?

Rebel’s got three kids, she’s juggling a career, two ex-husbands [including corporate lawyer Benji Ray, played by James Lesure] and one current husband [John Corbett’s Grady Bello]. I have three kids, have always been a working mom, hopefully juggled things as best I could and am on my third husband [SOA creator Kurt Sutter].

John Corbett Grady Rebel Katey Sagal Pilot

ABC/Temma Hankin

How excited are you to have a show built around you at this stage of your career?

It’s groundbreaking. Men of a certain age have always been in leading roles, but you don’t find many women. I’m in my 60s. Women my age can be hot, vital, vibrant and smart — all the things that we are.

Rebel, Series Premiere, Thursday, April 8, 10/9c, ABC