Before signing on to star as the lead detective in CBS' missing-persons drama "Cold Case," Kathryn Morris was courted by Steven Spielberg and Rod Lurie. She played every male's fantasy in HBO's "The Mind of the Married Man" and in John Woo's "Paycheck." Now, seven years into playing "Cold Case's" Lilly Rush, Morris says she's more content than ever.
Spielberg sought you out after seeing your performance in Lurie's political thriller "The Contender." He later cast you in "Minority Report" and "AI." How did being pursued by Spielberg like that feel?
You think it's a joke when your agent calls you, and then all of a sudden you're in front of him. It's like getting sprinkled with fairy dust. After 10 years in the business, there you are sitting in front of him, and he's got your picture and résumé on his desk. I remember he said that he thought I was a very versatile actress, and that's why we were having this meeting. He asked me about how I had come up with my character in "The Contender," and about my past experience and acting. It felt like he was bringing me into his club.
Lurie, who first cast you in "The Contender," called you his muse. That's adoration.
He's another decent person. He actually saw me on an audition, it's as boring as that. But we talk a lot. He has his own like little acting company, if you will, and I think he just feels like I'm one of his go-to actors. When he writes a new script often he will send it to me. I feel honored, because for Rod to ask for my feedback means a lot.
You have been playing Lilly on "Cold Case" for several years now. How do you keep a procedural series fresh? What do you still enjoy about playing her?
Lilly has evolved from being this little beat cop to this hungry cold case detective to a person who has expanded her sole capacity. Not just with the suspects, or the victims. She has really evolved into a person that is as real to me as a relative of mine. It's a pretty cool thing to have for this many years.
Have you ever felt a little restless or maybe wanted to try something new?
I'm in talks for a couple of great independent films concurrent with "Cold Case," but the show is having its best season ever if you ask me. To me when actors get restless on series, I find them to be a little on the lazy side. I'm still looking to be a better actor, and I'm grateful every day. . . .
Before "Cold Case," you had a juicy role in HBO's "Mind of the Married Man." Could you see doing comedy again?
Ha, that show really [ticked] some women off, didn't it?
It became a little controversial, and I loved being part of the controversy. Playing the press secretary to the mayor, being this fantasy of a smart bossy woman who can roll in lingerie and have sex while talking politics in bed . . . I loved it. It was just so much fun, but again, I'm really happy on "Cold Case" now. It's like doing a mini movie every week on our show.
It sounds like you maybe miss the sexy part of that role.
I'm actually a real girly girl, even though Lilly is in suits 24/7. I'm a girl that wants to climb in a van with 10 other girls and camp out in chenille to go see "Sex and the City." (My girlfriends and I did dress up for it.) That's a whole other side of myself. I even have a new fashion venture that's in the early stages of design. The other day we had this chill in the air and I walked over to the camera crew and, "Boys, there's good news: It's chilly enough for cute boot weather!"
In "Cold Case," you jump around in time, solving missing persons cases from all sorts of periods. Do you have a favorite time period the show has gotten to explore?
I actually prefer cases that are a little bit more recent. But I do like the '80s because of the music. In our two-part season finale it was exclusively Pearl Jam. That was just the coolest.
The time slot changes have not been helpful to the show's ratings.
Well, we have fans that have followed us wherever we go. And our audience actually watches the show when it airs, they don't DVR it. That's a big difference. We are trying to do more cases aimed at 18- to 49-year-olds, though. Like we just did a skateboard episode, and a fight club episode. . . .