Betty Gabriel Talks Catching a Killer on Defending Jacob, What Fascinated Her About the Series, and More!

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Defending Jacob is shaping up to be the best Apple TV+ series to date. 

With excellent writing, acting, and a convincing mystery that is keeping fans on their toes every week, all of the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come out to play. 

Betty Gabriel plays the role of Pam Duffy on the series, a detective who is invested in finding out the true murderer, and, of course, what the motive was. 

Betty Gabriel

Pam initially seemed to be close enough with Andy to be friends, but their friendship fizzled out when the series strongly suggested they were on two very different sides. 

We recently chatted with Gabriel about her role on the series, allowing us the opportunity to ask about her process when it comes to reading scripts, who she thought was the killer, and so much more. 

Betty Gabriel on Defending Jacob

The actress reunited with Mark Bomback, with whom she worked with on Starz drama Counterpart. 

"I really responded to Mark Bomback's writing," she said. 

"It felt incredibly authentic, witty, and searing. I also really wanted to work with Morten Tyldem who I knew from Counterpart, he was the EP on that, but I didn't actually get to work with him on that one."

The actress opened up about the novel of which the series is adapted from, and how she feels about the differences. 

"I was not but did read after getting cast, and while there are some differences between the novel and the script, I see where some of the authenticity of the storytelling comes from. The author was an attorney himself. Makes sense."

Betty Gabriel and Chris Evans  - Defending Jacob

Gabriel was fascinated by the idea of the series using genetic testing as a means of assessing whether Jacob has the traits of a serial killer. 

"I found the genetic testing most intriguing. It is something that I've thought about personally. How much of our behavior is completely due to our nature and, therefore, somewhat out of our control?"

Indeed, the series is tackling that particular story very well, with Jacob's own mother, Laurie starting to question whether there is more to her son than meets the eye. 

At the heart of the show is Andy Barber (Chris Evans), the father of Jacob. On Defending Jacob Season 1 Episode 1, it seemed like there was a genuine connection between Andy and Pam. 

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They worked together to try to find out everything they could about the killer, even interviewing students in the school. 

Along the way, however, their friendship became fraught, with Pam conceding that she never knew the real Andy, and that they were never real friends. 

While it was never revealed in those early episodes whether Pam believed Jacob was the killer, she has started to grow closer to Andy, and appears to be trying to help him. 

"I think she's thinking of Andy, and sees his desperation and conviction, and as a parent herself, can understand his actions."

"There's also a sense of loyalty to this person that she's worked with for many years, uncovering the truth and fighting for justice. How could she not help him in his personal fight?"

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Given that the series has a murder mystery at the wheel of it all, I wondered whether Gabriel changed her mind about Jacob's innocence every time she was handed a new script to read. 

"No, that's not really how I go about it. I glean as much information as I can from the page without coming to any sort of conclusions," Gabriel said, adding:

"I think the same applies for the character. As a detective, you follow every lead, gather evidence, establish a timeline, etc."

Betty has appeared in a string of hit movies and TV shows. The Purge: Election Year, Westworld, Get Out, and Counterpart spring to mind here. 

I asked the actress what was the most challenging about the role of Pam compared to some of her previous roles. 

"Believe or not, I found the heavy bag boxing quite challenging for sure."

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"It's on screen for 5 seconds, but I wasn't sure if I could fully commit to it."

"I just don't inhabit that realm very often. I'm more of a yogi, but she's someone who has to be incredibly tough and steely. So that activity actually really helped with finding that quality."

We have just two episodes remaining on Defending Jacob Season 1, and that means we should get closer than ever to the truth about what really happened. 

If you've been keeping up with our Defending Jacob reviews, you know that I've been on the fence about Jacob all along, so it will b exciting to get some more insight into what happened that fateful morning. 

Additionally, we also have an interview coming with Pablo Schrieber, who plays Neal Logiudice, so please look out for that one later this week. 

Defending Jacob continues Fridays on Apple TV+.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Defending Jacob Quotes

There's nothing worse than a kid.


We're sailing towards an iceberg, this little white peak in the distance getting closer and closer, but really it's been underneath us the whole time.