— -- In the new ABC crime drama, “Secrets and Lies,” actor Ryan Phillippe plays a family man who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a neighbor’s 5-year-old boy.
Although Phillippe has three kids of his own in real life, including a 15-year-old daughter named Ava and an 11-year-old son named Deacon with his ex-wife Reese Witherspoon, Phillippe said he wasn’t sure he could play Ben Crawford, a parent to two girls, in “Secrets and Lies.”
“When they brought me in to meet on this one I felt like I was way too young,” Phillippe, 40, told "Nightline." “Even though I have a 15 year old daughter, on the series I have a 17 year old, [and] I still get carded for drinks.”
And his son, Deacon, wasn’t too keen on watching him play a dad either.
“As soon as he saw me being a father to other kids, he had to kind of shield his eyes,” Phillippe said. “He was like, ‘Dad, this is so weird.’ He got jealous. It was really hard for him to handle.
“Then by hour two he was like, ‘I’m definitely watching next week,’” he added.
Phillippe is most famous for starring with Witherspoon in the 1999 film “Cruel Intentions,” in which he plays the conniving high school bad boy, Sebastian. So it’s surreal for him now, he said, to be playing a concerned dad in “Secrets and Lies” who has to do things like drag his teenage daughter out of a party.
“I’m reading the script and I’m like, ‘Am I really doing this scene? I’m really doing ‘the dad pulling the daughter out of the party’ scene?” he said. “That was crazy for me.”
Alongside Phillippe is Oscar-nominated actress Juliette Lewis, who plays the all-business police Det. Andrea Cornell hot on Ben Crawford’s trail as she tries to crack the case. But even with Lewis’ long list of versatility on-screen, ranging from “Natural Born Killers” to “Cape Fear,” which earned her the Oscar nod, she said this role on “Secrets and Lies” was a new challenge.
“She’s poker-faced,” Lewis said of her character. “Everything about her I had to change, like my behavior, the way I spoke, because she doesn’t have a lot of fluctuation. I can get very animated. All of that I had to wrap up. I cannot explain to you how bizarre and wild it is to do that.”
As the season continues, shocking plot twists are a definite, and Lewis said even the detective isn’t safe.
“By the 9th and 10th episode we get a little bit of her personal life,” she said. “The show is called ‘Secrets and Lies’ and we learn that everybody has them.”
“Secrets and Lies” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on ABC.