Karen Sillas of 'Under Suspicion'

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”I’m a little stressed. Life continues while I’m doing this friggin’ series,” sighs Karen Sillas on a mobile phone from the Portland, Ore., set of Under Suspicion, the new CBS cop drama in which the heretofore-little-known actress stars. ”I’m trying to pay bills. I’m literally writing checks right now.”

You can’t blame her for feeling overwhelmed. With a decade of indie movies and stage work under her belt, the Brooklyn-bred Sillas landed her first mainstream lead in Suspicion last February after producers saw her in the award-winning film What Happened Was (now in art-house release). ”It was my second time in L.A. ever. I read for CBS and Warner Bros., and within an hour they started shaking my hand,” she recalls. ”I went out dancing that night and drank some wine. I woke up in the morning and said, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ ”

Three days later, Sillas started filming the pilot, which has brought much attention to her acting-and her wardrobe. ”The stylist looked at the femininity and voluptuousness of my body and said, ‘Look, we want to use this,’ ” says the 30ish Sillas. ”When you put a very nicely fitted jacket or skirt and heels with that-which real female detectives do-people are like, ‘Whoa, that’s intense!’ ”

Even more intense is Suspicion‘s 12-hour-a-day shooting schedule, but certain things make it worthwhile. ”This morning (creator) Jacqui Zambrano and I watched the main title sequence, designed by Saul Bass, who’s done Scorsese and Hitchcock films. Seeing our names was so f — -ing amazing!” she shrieks. ”We were crying. We said, ‘F — -, now we know why we’re doing this.’ ”

Under Suspicion

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  • Stephen Hopkins