Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the series premiere of Deception. Read at your own risk!
ABC’s new magic drama Deception hit the ground running Sunday night.
During the opening moments of the show’s series premiere, magician Cameron Black (Jack Cutmore-Scott) was inadvertently exposed as having a secret twin brother who helped with his illusions. It all happened when Jonathon Black (also Cutmore-Scott) was framed for murder by a master illusionist with two different colored eyes and, as we learn in the final moments of the hour, a vendetta against Cameron. Who is this Mystery Woman? EW turned to actress Stephanie Corneliussen to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about the Mystery Woman?
STEPHANIE CORNELIUSSEN: First of all, from a personal point of view, it was a really cool character to play. She is a woman in control in every way. From my past roles, I like playing that character. I was happy to do it again. That’s exactly what she is — she is a mastermind on every level. She knows exactly what she’s doing. When you say you have a plan A, B, C, she goes through the entire alphabet and probably adds a few extra letters. She goes through the Danish Alphabet. How about that? She’s just this mysterious entity who’s there to just wreak havoc on the poor Brothers Black. She has an agenda, unbeknownst to them yet. Yeah, she’s a fiery one, that one.
Did they give you any information about this character during the audition process?
No, actually the audition process was an offer. I was offered the part. There’s actually a fun backstory to that: I couldn’t do it because of time scheduling. Then when my schedule cleared up, it was offered to me again, and I couldn’t do it because of something else. Then it was offered to me one more time. I felt that them feeling so strongly that I was the best for that part was incredibly flattering, and I decided to take it on. All it said was, “Mystery Woman: Mysterious woman.” [Laughs] I had a great conversation with Chris [Fedark], who is our creator, and he really went in-depth with her. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much because that is going to reveal some spoilers for later, but she lives true to her name — she is a mystery. She is fueled by a lot of things that I assume the day-to-day person would let slide. She remembers the little things.
In the pilot, she mentions knowing Cameron, but he clearly doesn’t remember her. Will we get more information about their history in subsequent episodes?
We certainly will. There’s a really intriguing history as well. There’s a lot of drama involved. I think one of the catalysts that really pushes her forward is that line, “You don’t remember me,” even though she very casually says it.
As you were filming these episodes, did you know the Mystery Woman’s motivation, or was that something you learned along the way?
It was something I found out towards the end. There was a lot of speculation. Jack Cutmore-Scott, who plays both the brothers — poor guy, the workload he had — he’s fantastic, not only a fantastic scene partner there, but also great at coming up with all these theories. We theorized a lot in the hair and makeup trailer. The only thing I can tell you is that we were wrong. We were very, very wrong.
What does their dynamic look look moving forward?
It’s really interesting. There is some confusion within their dynamic, which leads back to the past. There are some things that are remembered and some things that are forgotten. Though she obviously has an antagonist agenda towards him, I think there’s a bit of admiration as well. When he says that he knows where she is, it’s a mix between confusion, but also, “Okay, you’re a worthy partner,” or “You’re a worthy adversary.” I think that that only motivates her to up her game. She wants to prove, in some sort, that she’s better than him.
Do we get to see you do some magic this season?
Oh, well, you never know what makes it into episodes. We definitely see some masterclass scheming.
What is it like wearing a single contact for the illusion of her distinct two different colored eyes?
You know what? I’m really lucky I never had to wear contacts. I was so incredibly incompetent putting them in that production had to hire a lens tech for me, who was running around after me putting it in and putting it out. In the first couple of weeks of shooting, we had to prep for a good 20 minutes before I had to shoot a scene because my eye would just not have it. Then by the end of the day, it was like no problem. Finger in the eye and I got it. I have great admiration for people who do that every day, especially the people who do it and make it look easy. My eye is like rolling back in my head and I’m hyperventilating. I mean, I got over it, but it is a very odd sensation having somebody, even yourself, poke a finger in your eye. It’s like the logical part of your brain is going, “Don’t do that. What are you doing?”
How does the Mystery Woman compare to some of the past characters you’ve played?
I think I’ve become, in some sense, typecast. I think I do scheming villainess well, apparently, since I keep getting cast in these parts. I love them. There’s a lot of likeness, but there’s also a lot of new stuff. Every character is an independent person. There are new facets, obviously, to this character. There is some likeness to draw from what I’ve done previously.
Yes, Chris Fedak mentioned he wanted you for the role after working with you on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Another scheming villainess. I think I found my niche. I’m holding onto it. I like it.
Do you know Mystery Woman’s real name?
You know what? I don’t. I don’t know her name. Trust me, this was a whole thing, especially during the last part of the season. Again, going back to Jack, who obviously would tell me that he knew and he didn’t, which is just such a tease, but otherwise it would be at the end of a 14-hour workday just running around to random executive producers and going, “Tell me her name. Tell me her name or I’m not shooting this last scene.” They’re like, “You can’t do that.” I was like, “I know, but just give a little.” I’m so interested in finding out her name. I need to know. I need to know if that reveals some further explanation. You know what I mean? There’s got to be something. There’s got to be something about it, otherwise they would have told me!
Deception airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.