The new ABC series Rebel comes from Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff and is based on the real life legal exploits of Erin Brockovich. The legal advocate was indelibly immortalized on screen by Julia Roberts's Oscar-winning performance in the 2000 Steven Soderbergh film Erin Brockovich, but the real-life Brockovich has continued fighting for people in need of legal protection and representation for decades now. The series will follow a fictionalized character inspired by Brockovich's life and cases, and features a stacked cast of TV veterans:
Katey Sagal began her career in the entertainment industry as a backup singer for the likes of Bob Dylan, Etta James, and most famously for Bette Midler as one of her "Harlettes." Her big breakthrough came when she was cast as Peg Bundy on the early FOX comedy Married… with Children, where she co-starred for eleven seasons. She subsequently appeared on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules and the FX drama Sons of Anarchy. Most recently, she joined the cast of ABC's The Connors, playing Dan's love interest after Roseanne died. She's playing Annie "Rebel" Bello, a law advocate (though not a lawyer), based on the real Erin Brockovich. She's funny, messy, and a fierce advocate for the people she's fighting for.
Academy Award-nominated actor Andy Garcia has been a presence in films for over 30 years. His early roles in films like The Untouchables and Stand and Deliver preceded his Oscar-nominated performance in The Godfather, Part III. He went on to headline a ton of movies in the 1990s, including When a Man Loves a Woman, before playing the villainous Terry Benedict in Ocean's Eleven. Most recently he's shown up in films like Book Club, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. On Rebel, he plays attorney Julian Cruz, for whom Rebel works and who she is constantly prodding to take up the cases she digs up.
John Corbett's breakthrough TV role came in 1990 when he was cast as a free-spirited radio DJ in a small Alaska town on CBS's Northern Exposure. But he is almost certainly best known for playing Aidan Shaw, Carrie Bradshaw's post- (and pre-) Mr. Big boyfriend on Sex and the City. He's also known for playing the groom in the 2002 hit comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Toni Collette's loyal husband on United States of Tara. Corbett will plays Grady, Rebel's husband and father of their adopted daughter.
Lesure has appeared on a ton of TV shows over the years — from Good Girls to Divorce to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip — but he's probably best known for his lead role opposite Holly Robinson Peete on the WB sitcom For Your Love and as the head of casino security on the NBC drama Las Vegas. On Rebel, he plays Benji, Rebel's second husband and father of their daughter, Cassidy. He's a corporate lawyer, which often puts him at odds with Rebel and her legal work supporting workers and the people victimized by big businesses.
Tamala Jones' best-known film roles are in Booty Call, Can't Hardly Wait, and What Men Want, but her biggest successes have come on TV. She played Tracey Morgan's wife on The Tracey Morgan Show from 2003-2004; she's had guest arcs on My Name Is Earl and 9-1-1: Lone Star, and she starred as medical examiner Dr. Lanie Parrish on ABC's mystery series Castle. She also starred on For Your Love, playing the sister-in-law to James Lesure's character. On Rebel, she'll be playing Lesure's sister, Lana, who may no longer be Rebel's sister-in-law, but she does work as her investigator.
Ariela Barer had a breakthrough role playing Elena's love interest on Netflix's One Day at a Time, which led to her getting cast as Gert Yorkes in the Hulu superhero series Runaways. On Rebel, she plays Ziggie, Rebel and Grady's teenage daughter, who struggles with painkiller addiction as the series begins.
Lex Scott Davis's first TV role was playing Toni Braxton in the Lifetime original movie Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart. She's also starred in the film The First Purge and in a recurring role on The L Word: Generation Q. She plays Cassidy, daughter of Rebel and Benji Ray, who overcame her past as a juvenile delinquent and is now an attorney who's frequently called upon to bail out her mother.
Kevin Zegers got his start as a child actor in TV commercials and in TV shows like The X-Files. His big break was getting the lead role in the seminal dog-playing-basketball movie Air Bud. His other major roles include the Zack Snyder-directed Dawn of the Dead remake and opposite Oscar-nominated Felicity Huffman in Transamerica. Most recently, he had a recurring role on Fear the Walking Dead. Zegers will play Rebel's eldest son Nate, a doctor who isn't always on the same page as his mom.
English actor Sam Palladio is best known for playing aspiring country musician Gunnar Scott on Nashville (above). More recently, he's found big success starring opposite Vanessa Hudgens in Netflix's The Princess Switch movies, playing Prince Edward of Belgravia. In Rebel, Palladio plays Luke, a hotshot young lawyer at Benji Ray's corporate law firm.
Character actor Dan Bucatinsky is probably best known for his Emmy-winning role as the ill-fated reporter James Novak on ABC's Scandal (above). In addition to being an actor, he's also a writer and producer, sharing a production company with Lisa Kudrow, with whom he's made The Comeback and Web Therapy. He's been married to screenwriter/director Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex; Boys on the Side) since 2008, and is one of the most frequently working gay actors on television. On Rebel, he plays Jason Erickson, an irritable university professor to whom Rebel turns for help.
Two-time Academy Award-nominated actress Mary McDonnell came to early notoriety for her acclaimed performances in the films Dances with Wolves and Passion Fish. Since then, she's starred in movies like Sneakers, Independence Day, and Donnie Darko, but her most prominent role was that of President Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, a role that won her critical acclaim and a lifetime of fan devotion. Since then, she's starred on the TNT drama Major Crimes, and most recently in a recurring role on the third season of Fargo. In Rebel she plays Helen, a woman suffering from illness (as is her daughter) whom Rebel is trying to help.
Adam Arkin, son of the Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin, has won acclaim as both an actor and director. He's probably best known for his role on the 1990s medical drama Chicago Hope, as well as major guest-starring roles on shows like Northern Exposure, Frasier, and The West Wing. He previously starred opposite Katey Sagal on Sons of Anarchy, playing a white supremacist business leader. In addition to serving as an executive producer and director on Rebel, he plays Mark Duncan, CEO of a medical corporation that Rebel is battling.
Familiar face Abigail Spencer earned major acclaim for her role as Amantha Holden on the Sundance TV drama Rectify. She parlayed those great reviews into a lead role on the NBC time-hopping adventure series Timeless, and memorable roles on Grey's Anatomy and Hulu's Reprisal. Her character Misha on Rebel is a cardiothoracic surgeon who finds herself involved in a medical investigation Rebel is conducting.
Rebel premieres on ABC April 8th at 10:00 PM ET.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Rebel, ABC, Abigail Spencer, Adam Arkin, Andy Garcia, Ariela Barer, Dan Bucatinsky, James Lesure, John Corbett, Katey Sagal, Kevin Zegers, Lex Scott Davis, Mary McDonnell, Sam Palladio, Tamala Jones