You Must Know: Rachael Carpani
While every network spends time and money building up their antiheroes, Rachael Carpani is bringing a genuine hero to life every week on Lifetime's Against The Wall, the best drama you're not watching!
Here's a quick primer for the uninitiated: Rachael plays Abby Kowalski, the only daughter in a Chicago family of beat cops, who doesn't toe the blue family line and instead joins Internal Affairs. Abby's also caught between a rock and a hot place as she's juggling two marvelous men: cop Brody and lawyer Danny, neither of which is turned off by her anti-relationship stance or countless quirks (claustrophobic, Bears-obsessed, constantly sings to herself).
Tonight brings season one's penultimate episode, which is not only Abby's birthday, but also the moment both men decide to make an aggressive play for her heart. I caught up with the Australian actress to talk about this smart, surprising and sassy series in an attempt to learn what cliffhangers lie ahead for fans and find out where Abby's musical moments come from!
Insider.com: What was your first impression of this show and character?
Rachael Carpani: I read the pilot script on one of the incredibly long legs from Sydney to Los Angeles, and couldn't put it down. Every few pages I was constantly surprised by this character – the different ways in which Annie Brunner [the show's creator] gave us different glimpses of Abby's personality. It kept going in all these different directions. Just when I thought I had a hold on her, suddenly they'd thrown in the booty call. That came out of nowhere and I literally flipped the page back and thought, "what?" [laughs] I thought I was reading another straight procedural cop show but I realized that it was nothing like that. This is a family drama where Abby disrupts the balance by joining Internal Affairs.
Insider: I have to say, I've really grown to love The Kowalski's -- I don't like sports, but I totally want to watch a Bears game with them and try one of Sheila's cupcakes!
Rachael: I know! They are pretty cool – and very good looking. Honestly, you look at my brothers and it's like, "really?" I couldn’t believe these incredibly good-looking guys were playing my brothers when I first met them.
Insider: Ditto for Danny & Brody -- I genuinely don't know who I want her to end up with.
Rachael: I know, I love the way Annie wrote these two great guys as her two love interests. Neither is better than the other on paper, and that's more like life than the usual romantic comedy. There isn't the obvious guy you know she's going to end up with at the end – these two would both make excellent choices. And the creators won't tell me who she ends up with. I'm just as confused as Abby [laughs].
Insider: So that means she doesn't make a choice before the end of season one?
Rachael: Yes. Without giving anything away, everyone will be surprised where things go this season. I think you can see how confused Abby is by both of them – it really comes down to how she feels in the moment. And what I love is that she also has these great men in her family that she looks up to and aspires to be like. Especially her father. Which is why I think she is afraid to go into a full-blown relationship -- she's worried they won't live up to the standard she has in her head. Plus, she just wants to be one of the boys, so she's always competing with everyone in her head.
Insider: Which led to one of my favorite moments of the season: that flag football game where Abby got handed her ass!
Rachael: Aw, yea! And filming that was so much fun, but I was terrified. I had these enormous, legitimate football players hurtling towards me and it took all my self-control not to run in the other direction. We had this fantastic stand-in for me, but in the end it was pouring rain and filming was running long, so I figured I was tough, I could take it. The adrenaline was flowing and I just kept telling the stunt guys to throw me to the ground, that I could take it, I'm tough. I woke up the next day absolutely covered in bruises, totally regretting my decision to act tough in front of the crew [laughs]. I think I’ll leave it to the professionals next time.
Insider: That's such an Abby thing to do, I love it. I also adore her penchant for singing to herself. Where did that quirk come from?
Rachael: That was all Annie Bruenner – she has written a lot of elements of her own personality into Abby, so if I ever have a question about the character, I turn to her and ask, "what would you do here?" [laughs] She does break into little tunes every now and then. I also tend to hum when I'm nervous or excited or concentrating. I love the fact that all her songs are from a very specific era because she grew up with her parents playing them. So I've had to be educated on a lot of classic American songs, but I found that to be a gorgeous personality quirk. We decided early on that Abby isn't the greatest singer, like her pitch is always slightly off, her timing just isn’t right, but she just does it for herself, so it doesn't matter.
Insider: Let's talk about the finale -- personally, I'm guessing Lina's pregnancy plays a part.
Rachael: You'll just have to see, don't press me, I'll probably tell you! [laughs] I will say that they manage to bring pretty much everything we've been following all season long together in this amazing finale.
Insider: OK, what can you say about the finale?
Rachael: The finale is, in a lot of ways, a cliffhanger. A lot of things get resolved. It addresses a lot of the issues we've been waiting for with her relationships, with her job, her family, her claustrophobia and Lina's pregnancy -- all those things come to a head. I love how Abby's worlds combine and everything falls apart around her. Her reactions to all of those things happening at once are particularly great in the finale.
Against The Wall airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime