On FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Connie Britton plays the late Nicole Brown Simpson’s best friend, Faye Resnick, and Tuesday night’s episode revisited her most notorious claim to fame: that salacious moment in history when Resnick released a tell-all book about her friend during the 1995 murder trial and appeared on Larry King — temporarily halting the trial of the century. Britton, who stars in ABC’s Nashville, took a break from shooting a concert scene to talk to Vulture about how she prepared to play a “bad girl” and being out of the loop on the Friday Night Lights reunion.
The People v. O.J. Simpson is serious business, but you were such a hoot as Faye Resnick. Please tell me we are going to see more of her in the series.
That’s the end of Faye, yeah. When we were shooting it, some of the writers would come up and be like, “We need more Faye, we need more Faye,” but the truth of the matter is we have to stay focused on what the story is, and once the Larry King interview happened, Faye did not really figure that prominently in the case anymore. Unfortunately, that was all we get.
Tell me a little bit about how you prepared for Faye. We’ve seen her on Real Housewives recently, and there’s certainly a lot of footage from back then. How did you get into the mind-set?
I did a lot of research. It’s a little nerve-racking playing a character that is still living and in the public eye, so I really wanted to be as accurate as I could. I watched as much video as I could get my hands on, particularly video of that time — video and photographs. Obviously, there were things that are more recent, but I wanted to stay as close to that period as I could, because I think as we all evolve, sure, she’s a different person now. I really want to have that version of Faye in my mind, and I read the book that she wrote about Nicole. It was a very incendiary book that caused all this trouble, which was awesome. I felt so decadent that I had the excuse to read that book.
She is kind of a bad girl, not the typical role for you. Did you enjoy that?
I really did. You’re right. I constantly have to apologize for my pathetic social-media presence; I don’t pay that much attention, but even I was aware there was a little bit of Oh, Connie plays these good characters. People were judge-y, judge-y, judge-y. And I sort of felt like, first of all, as an actor I want to play as many variations on women as I can. And beyond that, she’s such a rich character. She’s a very interesting person. To me I never judge a character, ever, in the same way that I don’t think of some of the characters that I’ve been playing more recently as good women or characters. So I didn’t think of Faye as not being that. But I do see her as different, and I see her coming from a different point of view and a different life experience. That made it really fun and challenging for me. Also, to have her as a guideline was really a good challenge because there’s a lot of freedom when a character’s pure fiction. You can really dream up anything you want when you’re playing a character like that. But this is the opposite, where it was really about specificity, and I love specificity as an actor, so that part was really a joy for me.
Do you think Tami Taylor would ever give a “Brentwood Hello”?
[Laughs.] You know what? You never know. She might. Tami had her wild days. We touched on that a little bit.
That’s true. Her ex-boyfriend showed up.
That’s right. She had her days.
Are you a Real Housewives fan? There’s a whole new generation that knows Faye differently, from Beverly Hills.
I know! I don’t really watch TV, but I have to admit: I have watched Real Housewives. I’ve sort of gone through periods — not really since I had my son, so it’s been a while — but I’ve gone through periods of Real Housewives watching. Particularly, I really was into Real Housewives of New York, which I thought was just fantastic.
Was there anything you learned about her that helped you connect to the character and shape how you wanted to play her?
With Faye, I’m never gonna question whether what somebody says is true or not true, but she does talk about having a very difficult childhood, suffering abuse, things like that, and that was part of the reason why she was very impassioned about the domestic-abuse aspect of what happened to Nicole. I think that is something that is very real, and people deal with that life experience and that perspective differently, and it alters them and impacts them. So, for me that was very important information, and I tried to start from there.
Were you interested in this project because you wanted to work with [executive producer Ryan Murphy] again, or was it the topic?
Yeah, mostly it was working with Ryan again. I really love working with him, and I particularly love working with him when he’s on to a new idea, because his mind sparks. And when he sparks to a new idea it’s a very exciting thing to be around. I had heard that he was doing this and I reached out to him and was like, “I wanna do that with you! Is there a part for me in it at all?”
One of our bloggers had suggested you should play Nicole Brown Simpson.
That’s what started the whole thing for me. Isn’t that amazing? It was in Vulture and my friend read it and sent it to me. She’s like, “Connie, look at this.” That’s totally how I found out that Ryan was doing this project. So then I reached out to Ryan and said, “Hey! What’s up with this?” and that’s how it all started.
Did he immediately think of Faye?
Not to be too blunt about it, but he was basically like: “Well, Nicole’s dead. So that would not be the thing, but let me figure it out.” And he pretty quickly came back to me about Faye. And he was like, “There aren’t a lot of women parts in this movie, but this would be really great.”
It’s almost a comic relief in a very heavy show.
In a way, at the time it wasn’t necessarily comic, but it definitely was, in the midst of something that was a really dark and difficult case, to have everything come screeching to a halt because of this scandalous and flamboyant moment. That’s what it was at that time. I’m glad it comes across that way, even for those few moments that Faye is in this incarnation of the story.
Let’s switch gears to Nashville for a moment. What can you tell us about Rayna and Deacon’s wedding?
Rayna and Deacon’s wedding is going to be beautiful, and it is actually going to happen, but — surprise, surprise — there will be a lot of drama surrounding it. There you go. You heard it from me first.
And there’s going to be a Friday Night Lights reunion in Austin?
I just read about that. They never even reached out to me about it. I read about it, and I’m like, I’m there. First of all, I need an excuse to get to Austin, but I also always look for an excuse to get together with the guys, and some of them I’ve seen more recently, but a few I haven’t seen in a long time, so I think it’ll be really fun. I hope I can be there for that.
Okay, this one’s for the internet: How’s your hair today?
[Laughs.] I’m so glad that you asked because, no, actually, my hair is so glad that you asked because we’re performing today, we’re performing at the Ryman Theater. Rayna is performing a big number. So my hair is particularly snappy today.