Hostages - Artwork featuring Stars Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, photo: Nino Muoz

Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story, Olympus Has Fallen) and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, United States of Tara) face off in the new CBS series Hostages, premiering on September 23, 2013.

Dylan portrays rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle, who kidnaps the family of Dr Ellen Sanders (Toni) so that she will assassinate the President when she operates on him.

Dylan and Toni spoke about their tense political drama at the TV Critics tour.

What attracted you to this series?

Hostages, 101 “Pilot”- Rogue FBI agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Nicole Rivelli

Dylan: I always respond to material. Whether it was The Practice or American Horror Story and, certainly Hostages, the scripts were all spectacular.

Toni: Similarly to Dylan, I tend to follow my gut. It’s always about a good story and good material. And when I read this, it was an absolute page turner. I couldn’t put it down

Can you talk a little about your characters?

Dylan: I like to play good and bad. I enjoy that as an actor, and I thought this was a perfect role for me to play both sides of it. As I say in the pilot, I’m doing bad things for a good reason, and anytime you say that you are getting a mixed bag with a person.

I think that there’s a lot of duality in this man. There’s a lot of good and bad in him. That’s what I respond to.

Hostages, 101 “Pilot”- Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) rushes to her husband Brian (Tate Donovan) side, when he is hurt standing up for his family ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Nicole Rivelli

Toni: I’m always drawn to characters that seem real, and by that I mean complex. Here’s an woman who is wearing several different hats. She has a very high-pressured job that she’s incredibly successful at. She’s a mom, she’s a wife. She’s somewhat compromised at home even though she’s successful at work.

The thing that I really love about her the most is quite simple. Here’s a woman who, in a way, has been toeing the line her whole life and she’s put in a situation which makes her walk straight across that line and discover her true self.

I love that. I think it’s about finding one’s strength and living authentically.

How much of a relief is to play this role instead of Tara on United States of Tara, where you were playing multiple personalities?

Hostages, 101 “Pilot”- Dr Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) and her family is taken hostage by Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) ©2013 CBS Broadcasting

Toni: I feel like Tara was one character.

I know I was playing different parts of her, but they were all ultimately just part of one woman.

I find this character equally as fascinating, so thus far it’s satisfying.

How can the premise of this series last several seasons?

Hostages, 102 “Invisible Leash”- Archer (Billy Brown), Dr Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) and Rogue FBI agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) ©2013 Warner Bro, photo by David Giesbrecht

Dylan: I think what’s important to bring up is that this show is happening in almost real time, where the whole season is just two weeks.

That’s something that we don’t necessarily get in the pilot, but you will understand as we go along. So, it’s a very short stint of time that this whole season takes place, and that gives us the leeway to do other seasons.

Is the limited number of 15 episodes a draw for you both?

Toni: It’s more appealing to me, absolutely. It just allows a lot more freedom.

Dylan: It definitely is, because doing a series is really a marathon. What’s great about this show is that it’s streamlined and you’re getting the best of the best.

There’s no fat on these episodes. There’s a midseason finale, and then a finale. So there’s no bullshit in this show.

Hostages – Actors Toni Collette and Tate Donovan ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, 2013 in New York City to celebrate the upcoming premiere ©2013 CBS, photo by Ben Hider/NYSE Euronext

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.