The role of a lifetime. That’s how Perry Mattfeld feels about leading The CW’s new drama, In the Dark. The 25-year-old actress couldn’t wait to take on the challenge of playing Murphy, an irreverent blind woman in her 20s who likes to drink a lot and lounge with her guide dog, Pretzel.
“This character is like an actor’s dream, not only because of the mental and emotional [journey], but a physical aspect as well,” she says in the new issue of Us Weekly. “I obviously realized how much I had to learn, but also the responsibility of this role. That was something that was really exciting for me as an actor because it became a full-blown research project.”
The show follows Murphy, who, while out for a walk with Pretzel, stumbles upon the corpse of her friend who once saved her life. When authorities don’t immediately investigate, Murphy takes the case on herself.
When the Shameless alum was cast in the series, which also stars Rich Sommer, Brooke Markham and blind actress Calle Walton, many critics wondered why the network didn’t cast a visually impaired star to play the part.
“I definitely understand that question,” the California native says. “I also think that there is an opportunity to surround the project with authenticity rather than the focus being on the primary character. Even in our writers room and through casting. … The fact that millions of people are going to get even a glimpse of this, even a little bit of education about this, on a major network show, is so huge, so you have to think big picture, too.”
In fact, since Mattfeld is not blind, she educated herself and worked closely with Guide Dogs of America’s Lorri Bernson, who inspired the role and acted as a consultant on the series.
“I was just watching her day to day. I recorded everything, and I followed her around as she used her guide dog. I watched her get ready for bed, do her morning routine, her night routine. I watched her cook in her kitchen, I watched her clean, I watched her organize her closet,” Mattfeld explains. “I learned how to use an iPhone with the digital impaired settings on, watched her email. I just kind of obsessed over her basic day to day movements and was fascinated by that, and again so impressed by how efficient she is.”
However, it’s important to note that Murphy is not only a blind woman – she is also a bit of a mess and a badass!
“She’s not the way she is because of her blindness, and you get to learn about all of the other things that make her the way she is,” Mattfeld tells Us. “I think it’s great not only to have a female character at the forefront of the show, but a flawed hero. She’s someone that everyone can relate to. You get to learn about her background and all the other reasons why she is the way she is, and her blindness is just an additional quality about her that doesn’t define her whatsoever.”
In the Dark premieres on The CW Thursday, April 4, at 9 p.m. ET.
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