Cobie Smulders who is a busy actress returns to TV in Stumptown. She reprised her role as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in both Spiderman: Far From Home and Avengers: Infinity War, which just became the highest grossing motion picture of all time. Other credits include The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Jack Reacher 2. On TV she was seen on the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother and the critically acclaimed drama, The L Word.
ABC’s Stumptown is based on the graphic novel of the same name. The series, set in Portland, Oregon, follows Dex Parios (Smulders). She’s an assertive army veteran, with gambling debt, a brother to care for and a complicated love life. But with intelligence skills which makes her at great PI.
Cobie came to the TV Critics tour this summer to talk about her new drama, which premieres on September 25th, 2019.
Stumptown - Cobie Smulders
Stumptown – Cobie Smulders at the red carpet event hosted by ABC and Entertainment Weekly at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles © 2019 American Broadcasting Companies, photo by Todd Wawrychuk

What was it about this project that attracted you?

The role of Dex. I think when you go into something that could potentially go for multiple seasons, you want to choose something that you’re never going to be bored with, that’s going to be challenging.

That it’s a character that you want to live with for a while. And I just fell in love with this character. I just want to be her for a while.

The character in the graphic novel is bisexual. Have you decided to forgo that altogether, or is it something we will see you explore down the line?

She’s going to be exploring all sorts of things. Yeah, she is bisexual and speaking to this woman and her relationships in general, I don’t think she can be in a steady relationship. So she’s very much up for whatever the night presents. She sleeps with a lot of people.

Stumptown, 101 - BTS: Cobie Smulders
Stumptown, 101 “Forget it Dex, It’s Stumptown.” – Behind the Scenes: Cobie Smulders as Dex Parios © 2019 American Broadcasting Companies, photo by Tony Rivetti

Is it fun to play someone with so many flaws?

Oh, yeah. I think that’s the exciting thing. It’s actually quite difficult to do press, because it’s hard to categorize Dex, to sum her up in a one-liner. And that’s what makes me the most excited to play her.

She’s tough and smart, but she’s broken, and she’s just trying to get through the day. So she’s a combination of all things. And, for me, personally, it’s a wonderful challenge.

How bruised did you actually come out of the pilot?

There’s a sequence in a car, and I took the most hits on that one. The rest of it was very choreographed, but that was a tricky one.

What do you think about your children seeing pictures of mommy all banged up?

They understand stunts. I’ve walked them through how to do stunts; how to make it look real, and that it’s not real. They’re still really little, and they don’t see that on me in person, so I try to explain the choreography involved, and that actually is funny to them. They do really bad pratfalls.

Stumptown, 101 - Cobie Smulders
Stumptown, 101 “Forget it Dex, It’s Stumptown.” – Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) © 2019 American Broadcasting Companies, photo by Kailey Schwerman

You have been through some really tough times in your life. How do you think that affects your acting?

I think you’re talking about cancer, going through that has made me a better person, a better mother. Certainly, I am able to tap into things, in terms of creating characters.

[So,] I think that the general overall gift if cancer can give you a gift is being grateful for being here. And being able to have gone through something like that, when other things bubble up that are trying, you go, “Well, it wasn’t that. I am not in that hospital anymore.” So I am now in a grateful place with it.

Does it make you stronger?

Yeah, I think it does. I’m grateful that it makes me stronger. I’m a survivor, and grateful for that. And, yeah, I will say that it has got me to this place of more strength.

Stumptown, 101 - Cobie Smulders
Stumptown, 101 “Forget it Dex, It’s Stumptown.” – Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) © 2019 American Broadcasting Companies, photo by David Bukach

Did you do some research on PTSD or talk to anybody about how to portray this character accurately?

Yeah. I spoke to a specialist. I will say, this is a character who is not dealing with PTSD. She’s avoiding the entire issue. In terms of playing somebody who is in the effects of it, I think we all have PTSD. I think that we’re all dealing with stuff that has traumatized us. This is obviously a very severe case. People deal with very severe cases and go through very traumatic things.

But I leaned on my own experience. Cancer. I’ve leaned on things that have happened in my life, and I’ve read first time accounts and talked to women in the military. I just think that these women are so brave. And they continue to be so brave men and women after being out of the service.

One of the reasons I’m excited about this project, too, is to shed some light on people dealing with that. The fact that there aren’t enough services that are assisting people who are dealing with this. I think you can carry a lot of shame with it. Have a stiff upper lip, and just carry on.

I’m excited to see this woman come face to face with her demons and work through that, and showcase how someone can do that.

Stumptown, Season 1 - Poster: Jake Johnson, Cobie Smulders, and Michael Ealy
Stumptown, Season 1 – Poster: Grey McConnell (Jake Johnson), Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), and Detective Miles Hoffman (Michael Ealy) © 2019 American Broadcasting Companies

Judy Sloane

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