When stepping into the dark role of a woman who finds herself in a murderous rage and can't explain why, one wouldn't expect to look to their new motherhood for inspiration.
But in the case of Jessica Biel and the new USA Network limited series The Sinner, becoming a mom in 2015 to son Silas allowed her to find some common ground with Cora Tannetti, the aforementioned character who snaps one day during a family beach day, murdering a man she can't remember having ever met for reasons even she's unsure of.
"Easier in the sense that I truly understand what it means to have a child, what the history of that looks like. You know, the actual process of it. And then what it means to be a parent," the former 7th Heaven star told E! News at the show's premiere event in New York City. "So playing a person who commits a crime like this and then has to really deal with the repercussions of how does that look like for her family unit—that I really understand and I feel very connected to that idea."
The Sinner, based on the novel of the same name by Petra Hammesfahr, follows the aftermath of Cora's heinous crime, as Det. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) delves into Cora's past to try and determine why she did what she did. It's that exploration of Cora's dark secrets that drove Biel to the project.
"I think the book initially was so interesting, so compelling," she told us. "And this particular character, who is so psychologically complicated, that's what you dream of when you're sitting at home like, 'Oh, what would I love to do?' Someone that is terrifying…all of these things wrapped up in this project for me."
For more from Biel, be sure to check out the video above!
The Sinner premieres Wednesday, August 2 at 10 p.m. on USA.
(E! and USA are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)