FBI star Missy Peregrym takes her career to the next level

Missy Peregrym’s FBI role is showing a side of her audiences haven’t seen before. Ahead of the FBI season 1 finale, she takes us inside Maggie Bell.

Missy Peregrym isn’t just starring in FBI; she’s challenging herself—and the Dick Wolf series’ audience—in a way that feels brand new.

Her portrayal of Special Agent Maggie Bell has been the emotional core of the show, reminding viewers what it takes to be a federal agent beyond just catching the bad guy. Maggie’s quest to get answers about the death of her husband have provided a season-long storyline that comes to a head in tonight’s season finale, appropriately titled “Closure.”

But as FBI is showing us the second act of Maggie Bell, it’s also showing us the next chapter for Missy Peregrym. Last time audiences saw her wielding a badge was in Rookie Blue; now she’s no longer a rookie, and helping to lead the CBS series to some of the best ratings on broadcast TV.

Before the FBI season finale, One Chicago Center sat down with Missy to discuss her first season in the role of Maggie (the series has been renewed for season 2), and how her career has lead her to this breakout part.

It’s been almost four years since viewers saw Missy as Andy McNally, one of the rookie police officers who gave Rookie Blue its name. It was the first time she had ever portrayed a law enforcement officer, a fact she explained worked in her favor.

“I remember how natural it was,” she reflected. “I remember when I first started Rookie Blue, I was making mistakes on camera constantly—like just trying to put my gun in [and] totally missing the holster, just so uncomfortable with my uniform. They just used all of it and they thought it was so great. It worked because I was a rookie.”

But after six seasons, Andy wasn’t a rookie anymore and neither was Missy Peregrym. When the series ended, she didn’t want to just jump headfirst into another one—or do another crime drama. She was waiting for the right role that reflected where she was in her life and career.

“I took some time off after Rookie Blue, and I had no intention of doing a procedural again, because Rookie Blue is still really special to me,” she reflected. “That will never be matched to a certain degree, because it was just a specific time in my life and it was awesome. I didn’t want to get in that world again.

“I was reading these other projects, and nothing seemed to really fit the thing that I wanted to be doing, the character I wanted to play,” Missy explained. “I had some fun guest starring and doing Van Helsing.

“I was just excited to play a character where it wasn’t just emotional. My whole career I’ve tried to do that. I didn’t just want to be the girlfriend…I’ve played the girlfriend a lot in things, but in terms of leading a show, I really wanted to play a fuller character. This came up and I felt like I wanted to take it on.”

In three-plus years she’d paved a path to Maggie Bell. She was playing characters with more life experience, more rough edges, who just felt more lived-in. There was the aforementioned stint as Scarlett in two seasons of Van Helsing, SyFy‘s bloody awesome post-apocalyptic vampire drama where she was literally slicing up bad guys and dealing with the weight of incredibly dark personal revelations.

But the role that tipped the scales was her guest spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the season 18 episode “Net Worth,” playing an investment banker who accused a client of rape. It was a powerful, defiant performance—and it put her on the radar for FBI, though Missy didn’t know it at the time.

FBI

Closure” — A woman with information about the death of Maggie’s (Missy Peregrym) husband is abducted, leading OA (Zeeko Zaki) and the team to uncover a criminal operation larger than anyone imagined. Also, Dana (Sela Ward) puts her career in jeopardy when she stands by and allows Maggie to work on this case that has such a personal connection to her, on FBI, Tuesday, May 14th (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured Missy Peregrym as Special Agent Maggie Bell Michael Parmelee/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

“That got me this, specifically,” she said. “I didn’t know that. It wasn’t until after I was hired and saw Dick [Wolf] for the first time, he told me the story. That’s why he wanted me for the show.

“For anyone who’s doing anything—not just acting—any time you have an opportunity and it doesn’t feel like very much or it just seems like a stepping stone, whatever it is, nothing is for nothing. If you show up and give yourself fully to something, you have no idea how it can take you to the next thing.”

In Missy Peregrym’s case, it truly does feel like her whole career has been leading up to this. Not only is Maggie Bell a seasoned investigator who’s looking at crimes with a more experienced eye, but FBI season 1 has been telling the bittersweet story of her husband’s death and the mystery behind it.

She’s a woman who can piece together every case but the one that matters most, and there’s something poignant in that—in watching her do for others what she cannot yet do for herself. Missy has been excellent at portraying the internal struggle Maggie is going through, playing a character at a different point in her life than she’s had the chance to do before.

“That was a big thing for me too, because I realized when I was playing the rookie, you take on all the things, all the moments,” she told us. “You put yourself through the trauma of whatever you’re feeling and your body doesn’t know the difference…I was so tired after that run [on Rookie Blue]. That really wrecked me emotionally, all the stuff I had to go through, and I was like I don’t want to take that on again.

“But because [Maggie]’s not a rookie, she knows what she’s doing, there’s an intellect there and a maturity that was very interesting to play,” Missy continued. “I look younger than I am so a lot of roles were [in their] late 20’s and I was like, I can’t go back there. I’m not that person anymore and I’ve had life experiences that I actually want to draw on. I want to be able to play all the things I’ve lived in my life. I don’t want to be stuck in this one spot.”

Now with FBI she’s playing a character who has lived through a lot and still has much more left in front of her—someone she could conceivably grow with for years. Which is a distinct possibility, since the series has not only been renewed but led to a spinoff already. That’s created a journey behind the camera, watching the show turn into a franchise and also transform itself with Rick Eid joining as showrunner while also running Chicago PD.

“I think it’s been amazing,” Missy said of working with Rick, who was also showrunner on Law & Order: SVU during the season in which she appeared. “He’s incredibly collaborative and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.

“It’s really tricky as an actor to come into work and go oh, we have a new showrunner again, great. Who am I playing? What’s the vision? Where are we going? What is the show? What are we trying to make? Usually those are conversations you have before you sign onto the show,” she added. “It’s a really tricky thing for him to come on and have to adjust and very quickly put things together and I think he did a remarkable job at doing that. That is not an easy thing to do.”

All of these factors have culminated in a tremendous journey for Missy Peregrym. Whether it’s helping to launch a franchise, or sinking her teeth into a role that has the weight and the maturity she’s deserved, her work on FBI has showcased the best of her on many levels.

This is the part that is in the right place at the right time for her, and luckily for everyone there’s much more of it to come. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that she’s always down to earth and appreciative of the viewers who make it possible.

“I really appreciate everybody for checking out our show, for really sticking with it,” she reflected. “It’s really unbelievable that we’ve had consistent numbers. We haven’t even been on every week and people are still showing up to do this. Thank you, because we are so grateful to be going back to work next season.”

For the latest FBI season 1 spoilers and news, plus more on all of Dick Wolf’s other series, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.