Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Willa Fitzgerald Dishes On Her Role As Roscoe In Reacher And Working With Its Star-Studded Cast - Exclusive Interview

There's a new Reacher in town, and he's found a new home on Prime Video. Fans may recognize the classic character from the 2012 Tom Cruise-led film, but Prime Video is putting a new spin on the OG literature icon. However, Willa Fitzgerald is now joining the Margrave fray in the Georgia-based series as Officer Roscoe, who partners up with the retired military cop to figure out what the hell is going on in Margrave. Before Fitzgerald headed to Margrave, she starred as characters named Emma in "Royal Pains" and "Scream: The TV Series." She also played Meg March in the 2017 mini-series "Little Women," and she's slated for Netflix's upcoming Mike Flanagan series, "The Fall of the House of Usher."

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Willa Fitzgerald discusses her new series "Reacher," what it was like working with the cast, and where she hopes her storyline goes in the future. She even went down memory lane to talk about Wes Craven's legacy in "Scream" and the subsequent series and whether or not she would reprise her role as Emma. Fitzgerald also spoke about her time on "Little Women" and Kathryn Newton's hilarious antics.

A TV legend

Nick Santora has written and helmed some of TV's most innovative and captivating TV shows, like "Prison Break" and now, "Reacher." Did you get a chance to work with him at all, and how do you think his involvement in this show has helped make such a compelling series?

Nick is fantastic. I met him early in my audition process for the show ... virtually, because of COVID, but he's so organized. He's thought everything out. He has an answer for everything, and if he doesn't, he figures out an answer. If he thinks that something should be changed, he changes it. 

He's the best collaborator you could ask for when it comes to having someone who is so prepared, and [he's] so open for collaboration. He also so deeply cares about all of the characters, and it was really fun and exciting to have someone who cares as much about Roscoe as I do and to have that person to bounce ideas off of and to support you [while] doing your part of making the show.

Were you a fan of the 2012 "Jack Reacher" movie, and how do you think this series makes the show its own?

I had not seen it, and I chose not to watch it before shooting our version, because, as an actor, I like to know less about that — [it's a] personal preference. Our show being a television show and not a movie and also being the origin story of Reacher, because it's the first book adaptation, gets to go to more places than a movie adaptation does. Nick is really wonderful at making a show that is [at once] an action show, a thriller, a mystery, a romance, a comedy, a drama, and neatly tying that all up into one series — which is very hard. He does it really, really well, and I hope that speaks to both fans of the books and the movies, and also people who aren't familiar with them.

Reacher vs. Captain America

You have a significant number of scenes with Alan [Ritchson]. What was it like working with him, and do you have any entertaining stories [with] him or the rest of the cast, from set?

Yeah, Alan's great. We have a great working relationship. We were always really joking around on set together and having a good time. I feel like some of the hardest laughs I've had in recent memory have come from being on set with that man. There were a lot of just stupid jokes. He also had a scooter on set, which went 40 miles an hour, that he would use to go from set back to base camp, to go to his trailer, to use the restroom. He would be zipping around this thing, and one day, we decided it would be a good idea to take a joint joy ride [with me].  We terrified production, producers. It nearly got confiscated, but we held onto it.

Were there any crashes or anything?

No, not that I know of. Alan is a recklessly safe driver.

"Reacher" has somewhat of a similar super serum backstory to Captain America. What do you think makes this concept of supersoldiers so intriguing to fans?

I can't totally speak to Captain America, but for Reacher, he is a very intellectual action hero. He's also very interested in the truth, which not all action heroes necessarily are. There is a thoughtfulness to him as an action hero that is compelling and also, at the same time, an impulsivity — he also does stuff, all of a sudden, out of the blue. That's an interesting dichotomy juxtaposition to play with in a character — and makes him even more interesting than another more traditional action hero.

Opposite officers

You also have some great scenes with Harvey [Guillén] and Kristen [Kreuk]. What was it like working with them?

It was really fun to work with Kristen, because other than Maria, she's the only woman in the show. Having just the three women on set, there's a limited supply of estrogen. It was really fun to explore Roscoe's relationship with another woman and especially with a woman from her community. That was a really interesting side of Roscoe as a character that was fun to explore.

Harvey, poor Harvey had a really hard job because whenever we would end up in his office, or in scenes with him, it was always him being really funny and not being able to communicate information. We were just like, "Tell us what we need to know, what's your problem?" You know what I mean? He was having to do his thing, and we were over there. He's great, though. He's really funny.

Your character and Malcolm Goodwin's Finlay appear to be polar opposites in the way that they approach their job. What interests you about that dynamic?

I haven't really thought of them as polar opposites, but now, I'm thinking about that. Their relationship is really interesting because Finlay's an outsider. He comes to Margrave. He's not from Margrave. Roscoe feels both a desire to help protect him from the people in Margrave who don't want an outsider, even though she herself, I think, feels the same way. Also, he's taking over Gray's job, [who] was her father figure in her life after he died. Finlay's uptightness is not dissimilar from Roscoe's strong opinions.

They often come to a head, and there's a lot of fun chemistry and friction from them testing each others' boundaries and seeing where the actual limit is.  Malcolm and I had a great time playing around with that on set. He's a really fun actor.

Honing in on the accents

You grew up in Tennessee, but you don't really have any twang, but you have to bring that out a little bit in the show. Is that something that you once had that you trained yourself out of, or, did you never develop one? What was it like adopting a bit of a twang for Roscoe?

I had an accent that was pretty Southern for a while when I was a kid, and I only realized that [by] watching old home videos where I totally forgot that I ever really had an accent.

That was when I was quite young, and because I left and I went to school for college up in Connecticut, I lost whatever I may have had, but I [never] really had a strong accent. [Developing the accent] was really fun. I worked a lot with Ria Nolan on the dialect for Reacher, and it was very specific. We really honed in on a very specific regional Georgia accent. I feel pretty comfortable within a Southern accent, but it was really fun to play with the specificity of how tight we could get it.

What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of taking on this role?

It was really fun to play someone who's so opinionated in a world in which she's also bumping up against a lot of other really opinionated people. It makes for a really fun dynamic in scenes and on set.

Roscoe's future

Is there an actor or director you'd love to see on the "Reacher" series? You're allowed as many names as you want.

We were so lucky, we had so many directors. I would love to see M.J. [Bassett] come back.

She directed our last episode of the season and really helmed a massive amount of work in a very big, final episode. She would be so amazing to have come back in another season. The amazing thing about the "Reacher" universe is that there are a lot of characters who come in and out. There's so much opportunity for really fun character actors to be coming in playing parts and joining the world of "Reacher."

And where do you hope to see your character go in possible future seasons?

Roscoe is a very ... I think she's got a firm sense of self, and she will continue to be the Roscoe that you all meet in Season 1.

The legacy of Wes Craven

You also starred in the first two seasons of "Scream: The TV Series." Did you get a chance to interact with Wes Craven at all? What was that experience like, or what would you have liked to have asked him if you had gotten the chance?

Wes was involved, but by the time that we were shooting the show, he wasn't traveling much. He was involved more in the production side of things and was never able to make it to set, but he created a whole genre of slasher, horror, campy. He really was an inventor of a genre. His legacy is so huge that I would've loved to have met him, and I have so much respect for him. There's a lot of work that's being made right now that is an homage to him, and, I'm sure, that will continue to be made because he really did make a thing that was new when he made that first "Scream" movie.

Before the series reboot, Season 2 left fans on a pretty intense cliffhanger. Would you be open to reprising your role if the opportunity presented itself, and where do you think Emma and her surviving friends are now?

Oh my gosh. No one's called me yet. That's all I'll say. No one's called me. I don't know much about where they're going with things these days. I'm excited to watch the new movie.

Speaking of the new movie, would you have any interest in snagging a role in any potential movie sequels down the line?

If they give me a call, I'll answer it.

Would you want to play a victim or another final girl?

Oh, I want to play the villain for sure.

Kathryn Newton's impeccable music taste

You also starred in the 2017 mini-series "Little Women." What was it like working with Kathryn Newton and Angela Lansbury, and do you have any fun stories from that set?

That set was incredible. We all really became family. I still talk to everyone from that job. I love Kathryn. She's so funny. I just ran the marathon in New York City this year again, and I ran it for the first time in 2017, right after I shot "Little Women." Both times, I've run the marathon. I have listened to Kathryn Newton's infinitely long, hardcore hip hop, rap, endless playlists because that woman is constantly walking around with one earbud dangling out of her ear, including on "Little Women," listening to wild, wild hip hop. We would have crazy dance parties in our underclothes and garment, because we would have to take off our dresses to eat lunch. [We] would be dancing like lunatics outside of our trailers.

Angela Lansbury is an absolute icon, and [I loved] getting to work with her and talk to her about her amazing career [and hear] her advice for us — that was a really once in a lifetime experience. Maybe I'll get to work with her again, but if I don't, that is an incredible experience.

Cinematic memory lane

What's your favorite movie or show of all time?

Hard question. These are not spur of the moment ... Okay, this is a sleeper hit that's going to be really divisive. I love "Ghost Story." It's an amazing film and I also loved David Lowery's "The Green Knight" as well.

What do you love about them?

They both contain such unexpected cinematic choices that are so emotionally heavy that the cathartic payoff is so unexpected. [Lowery is] amazing at creating a story that really gets under your skin and into your soul.

Definitely. Is there a role from the past, or the present that you're dying to take on, or a franchise you'd love to be a part of?

Prior to playing Roscoe, what I've enjoyed most are playing ambiguous, amoral characters, who are a bit of the anti-hero. I find that really interesting. I find that very compelling as an actor, and they are the most fun to explore the depths of and to create a character for. I would love to have more of that in my future.

The first season of "Reacher" is now streaming on Prime Video.