'Runaway' Bride


As Leslie Hope was starting work on "Runaway," series creator Chad Hodge told her that tens of thousands of people in the United States live under assumed identities.

"It's way more common than we might think," Hope says. "Which, of course, makes me quite sleuthy on my own: What's going on over there? That car's been parked for too long. ... But it's entirely feasible that people could stay hidden for years and years. I thought that was fascinating."

The "years and years" part would probably be fine with Hope, as it would mean "Runaway," which debuts Monday and is the lone new drama series on The CW's inaugural schedule, turned out pretty well. Hope, best known for "24" and "Commander in Chief," and Donnie Wahlberg star as Lily and Paul Rader, who go underground after Paul, a lawyer, is framed for murder.

The story of a falsely accused killer who goes on the lam isn't new; on TV, it stretches back as far as "The Fugitive." The difference with "Runaway" is that Richard Kimble didn't have his wife and three kids on the run with him, and it's that aspect of the show that most appeals to Hope.

"An interesting part of all this is the notion of trying to raise your kids with any kind of moral code or ethical values, and every day in this new life we've created, we're actually going to lie," Hope says.

And if that's the case, she continues, then it raises the question of "what you're allowed to lie about." It's a dilemma that will pop up in a future episode, when the Raders' youngest son, Tommy (Nathan Gamble), gets caught fibbing at school.

"He's completely confused as to why he's not allowed to lie," Hope says. "He's being asked every day to go to school with a fake name, asked to lie about what his dad does for a living. And he starts lying to get out of a math test. He's bewildered as to why that's not okay. ...

"That's this other burden these parents face -- what are we doing to our children? Not only have we completely uprooted them and asked them to assume this new identity, on top of it, we can't give them a compass: Day to day, these are the rules of the family. It's shifting all the time."

"Runaway" films in Toronto and Oakville, Ontario (which doubles for an Iowa town where the Raders settle), which means Hope is racking up frequent-flier miles traveling between work and her family in Los Angeles. Wahlberg is in the same situation, and Hope says they've some over that. They're also "on the same page" in their approach to developing their characters' relationship.

"There's stuff I think we can bring to the table" regarding Lily and Paul's marriage, which, the first episode hints, wasn't ideal in their old life. "It may not be the first consideration -- some of the writers are a lot younger. I hate to say it, but it's true. Some of them are a lot younger and without kids, and I think maybe we bring a valuable perspective to this situation that the family potentially could be in."

And though it's Paul who's trying to clear his name, viewers find out pretty quickly that Lily had a hand in the decision to go on the run, both from the government agents searching for them and the real criminals, who have threatened the family.

"I like the notion that she wasn't being just dragged along, resentful and hurting, sort of against her will," she says. "Not only did my character make that decision, but it sort of puts Donnie and I on equal footing in terms of responsibility for what we've done to these kids. It's another thing that can start to pull these adults together who haven't been working very well together. I like that."

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