Devils, debuting at 8/7 Wednesday, Oct. 7, on The CW, marks Patrick Dempsey's first starring role on network series TV since he left Grey's Anatomy in 2015.
For Pia Mechler however, Devils, part of The CW's slate of imported scripted pandemic substitutes, gave her a chance to play a complex character in Eleanor Bourg. Eleanor is a key part of the team of Alessandro Borghi's Massimo Ruggero, head of trading at NYL, a large investment bank. Dempsey plays their boss, Dominic Morgan.
“Eleanor is a woman that is looking for her place at the top of a male-dominated world,” said Mechler in an interview from her home in Brooklyn. “I also loved the show's international appeal. It is representative of a globalized world of finance and that was reflected in our storytelling, as well as in the behind-the-scenes set-up.”
Mechler, a German actress and singer, has branched out in writing, producing, and directing since her move to the United States in 2010.
She was concerned that financial trading might be a difficult setting for viewers to understand.
“I myself was concerned of drowning in a world of numbers and abstracts I had no clue about. Luckily we had Guido Maria Brera, the man whose novel 'Devils' is based on and who has been a successful, highly regarded trader himself, as the show's adviser.
“He helped us understand the world of finance, not only in its abstract terms, but also the psychology of these people who gamble with unimaginable sums every day.
“Though I will say, the great thing about Devils is the show also dives into the personal lives of these characters as much as it does into their involvement in the world of economy and politics, so there’s something for everyone.”
Mechler, 37, described Eleanor as “a highly intelligent and ambitious young trader who has fought her way up to the top as the only woman in Massimo's tight-knit team. Sales is her expertise, meaning she deals with clients and sets them up for the big deals that Massimo is trying to push through.”
But as a woman, Eleanor faces special challenges.
“Eleanor has to deal with everyday sexism and jealousy of her male counterparts,” she explained. “So in that sense, she has to constantly prove herself and while being extremely loyal, she also understands that this is a world of backstabbing where everyone has their own agenda.”
Eleanor and Massimo have a very complicated relationship.
“On the one hand Massimo helped Eleanor become who she was bound to be,” Mechler said. “Massimo is someone who doesn't care that Eleanor is one of the very few women at this level of trading. What counts for him is performance, cleverness and absolute loyalty. The latter might become tricky.”
Mechler said viewers will get glimpses of Eleanor's back story throughout the season, especially when it comes to her difficult rise as a woman within this world.
Massimo's rise at the London bank gets stalled, largely because of racism among the very British old boys in the command structure. How does Eleanor deal with this development?
“She has to question said loyalty,” Mechler said. “Will she fight for herself or stick to Massimo to the bitter end?”
After a tragedy in the first episode, Massimo falls under suspicion. What will this mean for his team members, such as Eleanor?
“Given the fact that his team is such a small and exclusive group, there will definitely be some kind of mix-up,” Mechler said.
Mechler most enjoyed the camaraderie on the set of Devils, which was shot in Rome and London over a half-year.
“Especially being in Italy for such a long time and sort of lost in translation formed a very unique dynamic between us actors,” she said.
“I have never been on a set where everyone would gather in just one trailer to have lunch together or just hang or where colleagues spend so much time outside of shooting together.
“We formed close friendships that still continue to this day, and I think that definitely translated onto the screen and makes the show very special.”
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.