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Devil In Ohio's Emily Deschanel And Madeleine Arthur On Their Parallel Characters' Onscreen Dynamic - Exclusive

In Netflix's thriller "Devil in Ohio," Emily Deschanel's Suzanne, a psychiatrist, makes the questionable decision to take in Madeleine Arthur's Mae, an abused teen who recently escaped from a cult. While it quickly becomes clear that there's more to Mae than the innocent girl she initially comes across as, Suzanne's desire to protect her comes from her own experience leaving an abusive home when she was a teenager. Suzanne sees a kindred spirit in Mae, which blinds her to the negative impact the newcomer is having on her family. 

Meanwhile, Mae finds a protector and champion in Suzanne, which makes her desperate to stay with her newfound mother figure by any means necessary. Deschanel and Arthur do a delicate onscreen dance as they both slowly reveal what's motivating their characters. As a result, even when Suzanne and Mae make eyebrow-raising choices, their reasons for doing so are understandable. In an exclusive interview, Looper spoke to Emily Deschanel and Madeleine Arthur about the intriguing dynamic between their characters in "Devil in Ohio."

Deschanel and Arthur's characters parallel each other 'just enough'

When "Devil in Ohio" starts, Suzanne's sympathy for Mae seems purely professional, but as the show continues, it becomes clear that the characters' histories are similar in ways that lead Suzanne to want to save Mae from the trauma of her past. "I was just saying how [Suzanne and Mae] parallel each other," Deschanel commented. "[It's] just enough they parallel each other, enough to make us understand why they're drawn to each other and why Suzanne brings Mae into her own family and takes her in.

"They're both dealing with trauma they experienced as children," Deschanel added. "Obviously, Mae's trauma is much more fresh, and Suzanne's trauma is something she thought she dealt with. Being a psychiatrist, she thought she dealt with it all and compartmentalized it, but it's coming back to haunt her because of Mae coming into her life. But they do parallel each other."

The pair of actors create a compelling mother-daughter-like relationship onscreen, yet according to Deschanel, due to COVID protocols, they didn't have much time to work together before filming started. 

"We had a little bit of rehearsal and moments while we were filming. We didn't get to do any real outside work before besides a little bit of rehearsal, because we didn't have as much time to even hang out or bond or spend time because we were scared to death from our Netflix COVID [protocols]," Deschanel laughed. "We were dealing with COVID and Vancouver, but we talked about things. We mostly did our own work, and it worked well together, our work on our own characters."

Arthur agreed and noted that having minimal time to work together prior to filming may have enriched the depiction of their characters' relationship. "I feel like doing the work separately almost complements and enhanced the characters because they're getting to know each other as well," Arthur observed. "It created a great dynamic in that way. I'm so grateful we had the time as Mae and Suzanne to see their relationship evolve and see where it goes."

"Devil in Ohio" is available for streaming on Netflix.