Grey’s Anatomy star Chyler Leigh is starring in the upcoming Lifetime movie The 19th Wife, about a woman named Queenie who is in a polygamist community who is accused of murder. We here at The Gloss love few things more than polygamy and Lifetime movies, so we’re obviously really excited about the movie – we might even be liveblogging it! I got to speak to Chyler today about her experience playing a sister-wife.
Had you read any books or seen any TV shows about polygamy before you took on the role?
I didn’t read the book [The 19th Wife] before I got the part. When I arrived in Canada [the movie was filmed in Calgary], I got an autographed copy from the author, David Ebershoff – he actually has a cameo in the movie!
There was also one called Escape. I read through them very quickly. Going through that, seeing the stories of the women depicting what was happening in their lives… that was very helpful. Also, the director did a great job of summarizing things. The first two days, we just sat and did character work.
Did you have any ideas about what polygamy was like?
I didn’t have a lot of preconcieved notions. My character was unique because she and her husband had created a bubble in their community. I had never seen Big Love. I didn’t know a lot going in except that maybe it seemed a little kooky. But there is more than meets the eye. Whatever your faith is, it’s interesting to see how far they take their beliefs and carry them out. Women get treated like drones, like robots, so they can keep producing and have more kids. It’s incredibly compelling.
Why did you take the role?
The character. She was an incredibly strong woman with a great sense of her family and her beliefs. She was so compelling. I find a lot of similarities with her because her child was so important to her.
Okay, tell me about the costumes. You did the full prairie dresses.
It was great. The weather changed a lot in Calgary. The first week it rained a lot and was really cold, so the thick dresses were nice. But then I got bacne because the dresses don’t breathe! It was fun to dress up, though, and step into the character from head to toe. The hair is a lot of work. I had 24-inch extensions. I cannot tell you how much hairspray we used. Our hair team did a great job.
Could you imagine being a polygamist? Would you want to be married to more than one person?
Marriage to one person is enough! It’s a lot of work, and besides, I wouldn’t want to be married to anyone else besides my husband. We read books about marriage, we build each other up, we’re a support system. We make our family our number-one priority.
One last thing… do you have any spoilers about what’s going to happen to your Grey‘s character, Lexie, next season?
She’s going to go to the psych ward for a couple of days.