Newcomer Jules Latimer said that landing her first onscreen role in “Guilty Party” opposite Kate Beckinsale was “disorienting,” in part because, “I still haven’t told her to this day that when I was a kid, I had a crush on her.
“In my first scene, I’m sort of auditioning [Beckinsale’s character] Beth, and trying to figure out if she’s the right person to take on my case and get my story in the news,” Latimer told The Post. “That was my first scene that I shot on set ever.
And because it’s COVID, I hadn’t seen Kate without her mask on, yet. We had met, but with masks. And I was like ‘Goddammit, she’s so beautiful — I have to focus!’ But she’s such a fantastic actor to play off of.”
Premiering Thursday (Oct. 14) on Paramount+, the dark comedy series follows Beth (Beckinsale), a disgraced journalist who’s fired after she’s accused of falsifying a quote (which she denies). In a quest to salvage her career, she latches on to the case of Toni (Latimer), an incarcerated young mother who has been accused of maiming and murdering her husband — crimes for which she claims her innocence.
A recent Juilliard grad, Latimer, who’s based in Brooklyn, has appeared in several off-Broadway productions, including “Paris,” but “Guilty Party” marks her screen debut.
“I was reading some Octavia Butler,” she said. “I had watched this documentary about folks in prison in upstate New York who were doing the Bard College program. You’re in prison, but you have all this idle time. What do you do with your time to feed your creativity? That sort of fed my imagination for Toni, thinking about things that she might be reading or studying while she’s in prison. The thing that I really wanted to do with Toni is give her a sense of humanity, humor, drive, and passion. I wanted to make sure that we just gave her a 360 sort of dimension.”
In the show, Toni’s goal is to be reunited with her daughter, who was taken away from her after she gave birth while in prison. Toni claims that her husband’s brother was the crime’s real culprit, and Beth gets ensnared into his dark world while she’s investigating Toni’s claim.
“Every character has a particular rhythm to them,” said Latimer. “I think Toni has this mysterious ‘I could take a left or right turn at any moment’ kind of thing. When you get to know her, you’re trying to place what her motive is and whether she’s guilty or innocent, but it’s all within the structure [of the show], so I definitely applied my music background [from Juilliard].”
Working with a veteran actor allowed Latimer to learn the ropes quickly, she said.
“I had seen all these people standing around watching [Kate Beckinsale] rehearse and block a scene. I was like, ‘That’s a lot, how do you stay focused? And she said, ‘A lot of things happen around you, but it’s important to stay keyed in and mine your energy.’ So, she’s been a great mentor to me. I’ve always wanted to work with Kate. I used to go to Blockbuster with my brother to rent the ‘Underworld’ movies.
“My brother is one of my best friends, and he was like ‘I think it’s cool you got the job — but I think it’s cooler that you’re working with Kate Beckinsale.’”