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Arielle Kebbel plays cop with baggage in NBC's 'Bone Collector'

Actress Arielle Kebbel stars in Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, which premieres Friday on NBC. File Photo by Howard Shen/UPI
Actress Arielle Kebbel stars in "Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector," which premieres Friday on NBC. File Photo by Howard Shen/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Vampire Diaries and Ballers alum Arielle Kebbel said the cop she plays on NBC's new crime drama, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, is troubled but deeply committed to helping others.

"She's messed up. That's her diagnosis," the 34-year-old actress recently told reporters with a laugh at New York Comic Con.

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"I love her," Kebbel said, adding she knew the moment she read the script and was introduced to New York Police Department rookie Amelia Sacks that she wanted to explore what made this woman tick.

"I found her so interesting. When you watch your parents get shot and killed in front of your eyes, there's not a day that you forget that. For the rest of her life, she is carrying that with her," she said.

"How does that go with her in her everyday world, when she is trying to crack a joke with a friend or trying to be there for her sister? There is just this burden there, even though you want to move on."

Inspired by Jeffery Deaver's novel, The Bone Collector, and 13 sequels, the show debuts Friday. It casts Russell Hornsby (In Treatment, The Affair) as forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme, who was left paralyzed during a confrontation with a serial killer.

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When the bloodthirsty criminal resurfaces three years later, Lincoln partners with Amelia to track him down. Using body cameras and radio earpieces, Amelia is able to remain in constant contact with the bed-confined Lincoln when she is in the field.

"It was very important to us not to make her an avatar for some man's brilliance in a room somewhere," writer-producer Mark Bianculli said in a separate interview.

"We want her to be this three-dimensional person. When we pitched this show [to the network], we said that if Amelia didn't meet Lincoln Rhyme that day, she would have her own show. It would be more like Mindhunters and she would study the worst of the worst in prison and interview them. She has her own path."

What intrigued Bianculli and the other writers was seeing how these two characters could work together.

"They really are each other's counterparts and counterpoints, and they fulfill something the other one doesn't have, [compensating for] giant blindspots in each of them. And they each have strengths that help the other one overcome a vulnerability that is very important and necessary for them to get where they need to go," he said. "By the end of the season, we should feel a real arc -- that they are different people from where they started."

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In addition to following Amelia and Lincoln as they hunt for the Bone Collector, the show will follow the partners as they solve less flashy mysteries.

"It has a procedural engine, so there has to be a case of a week, but we also are in the position where we have someone [Lincoln] whose expertise is not just CSI. It's not all clues. It's like that, plus it also has to be this love letter or valentine to New York City every week. There has to be something historical and interesting that would require his expertise."

Kebbel was a big fan of The Bone Collector, the 1999 film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, but hadn't read the book series before getting the role of Amelia.

"I've read The Bone Collector now. I talk to Jeffery Deaver on Instagram now. It's a fangirl moment," she said. "Hopefully, this series goes on and we get to bring more books to life each year."

The stories were ripe for an update because so much has changed in the past 20 years.

"The technology that we are introducing, the way that our team works, the things that are happening in our world today, the crimes we are solving, everything is different," Kebbel said.

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"Because we are a series and not a two-hour movie, we get to explore the back stories a little more. We have time to do flashbacks and show what these characters have been through and show their relationships with other characters. There's jealousy, there's intimacy. Every human being has all these layers."

Kebbel -- who is also known for her performances in Midnight, Texas, Gilmore Girls, unREAL, Fifty Shades Freed and several Hallmark Channel movies -- said she enjoys hopping from one genre to another.

"I love comedy. I love making people laugh. I love laughing myself, but I love switching it up," she said. "After this, I will probably want to do a comedy. Going into another serial killer [project] would be a bit much for me. I'd need a break.

"I find I grow the most when I am constantly switching it back and forth. My comedy helps make my drama better and vice versa."

Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector co-stars Michael Imperioli, Brooke Lyons and Brian F. O'Byrne and airs Friday on NBC.

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