Writer’s Room: Alfre Woodard’s ‘Copper’ Debut

Alfre Woodard portrays Hattie Lemaster, a former slave recently arrived to Five Points to start anew with her daughter Sara Freeman.

Alfre Woodard portrays Hattie Lemaster, a former slave recently arrived to Five Points to start anew with her daughter Sara Freeman.

With Alfre Woodard set to make her ‘Copper’ debut this Sunday (July 28th at 10/9c) we asked series writer Kevin Deiboldt to share insight into Woodard’s character, freed slave Hattie Lemaster.

BBCAmerica.com: Were you excited to work with Alfre Woodard?
Kevin Deiboldt: Excited, with a smidgeon of anxiety and terror. It’s not every day you get to work with someone who’s been nominated for a bajillion (alright, eighteen) Emmy awards. Truthfully, though, I couldn’t wait to see Alfre, Tessa and Ato work together. Talk about an abundance of riches.

What can you tell us about Alfre’s character, Hattie Lemaster?
I can tell you she’s Sara’s mom. Other than that, I don’t want to give anything away…

Seriously? That’s all? We already know that from her bio on the Copper website.
Fine. I can also tell you that she’s lived her entire life as a slave in the South… so, to go from that existence – never knowing if she’ll see her family again – to suddenly having freedom and living in not just New York City, but Five Points… Daunting, to say the least.

Will there be any tension between Hattie and Doc Freeman?
The tension isn’t so much between Doc and Hattie, as it is with the overall difficulty of being inserted into the Freemans’ new lives up North. Of reconnecting with a daughter who is, in many ways, very different from the girl Hattie raised back in Virginia. (Wait… were you setting me up for a mother-in-law joke? Damn. I think you were. I totally missed that.)

Did you know Alfre had the part before you wrote the character?
We didn’t. She was obviously our pie-in-the-sky hope for Hattie, but you never know how these things will work out. Thankfully, she’s known Tom (Fontana) since back on ‘St. Elsewhere,’ and the stars of scheduling aligned. Alfre arrived with such passion – brimming with questions and thoughts about the character – she really helped shape Hattie, infusing her with life.

What can viewers expect for the second half of the season?
A continuation of what we’ve seen in the first half – exploring our characters, challenging them, seeing how they handle the hardships that come with life in this time… and in this neighborhood. Some manage to overcome it, some are undone, and some don’t make it at all.

Have questions or comments for Kevin? Leave them below! And for more of Kevin’s ‘Copper’ musings, check out his personal blog, Ithaca Mafia, and follow him on Twitter at @Kluv32.

  • Kafi D’Ambrosi

    Work or love interest for Hattie?