EW chats with the cast and creators of the new ABC drama based on the life of Erin Brockovich.

By Rosy Cordero
April 08, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT

Rebel (TV Show)

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thursday's premiere of ABC's Rebel.

Rebel star Katey Sagal knows exactly how to make an entrance, but it was her costar John Corbett who left jaws on the floor in the final moments of the new ABC series' premiere on Thursday night when it was revealed his character Grady wants a divorce.

"All I can say is that John Corbett sticks around," Sagal tells EW at a special premiere panel hosted by the network (watch above). "It's a complex relationship. It feels really real. It feels like two people trying to figure stuff out. Both want the same thing but they have different ways of getting there. I mean, I've been married a bunch, so I do know the dance. I will say it feels good, it feels bad, it feels messy, it feels loving. They're figuring it out."

Adds Corbett, "Grady is a fantastic guy. Rebel has a lot going on. I'm her third husband, she's got a bunch of kids, and Grady wants a little more lovin'. He wants a little more one-on-one attention and he doesn't seem to be getting it, so he's acting very childish at the end of this episode. I think it sets up a nice conflict for Rebel, as if she doesn't have enough conflict in her life."

Credit: ABC

The drama, based on the life of activist Erin Brockovich (who serves as executive producer), tells the story of the titular character (Sagal), a mom of three who stands up for the little guy against large corporations by helping them right some wrongs.

Sagal, Corbett, and Brockovich were joined on the panel by series creator Krista Vernoff and costars Andy Garcia, Tamala Jones, and James Lesure to discuss their roles and what's coming up next.

For Garcia, who plays Rebel's boss and longtime friend Cruz, this is his first leading role on television following an illustrious four decades-long career in film.

The Oscar-nominated actor reveals he joined Rebel because of "the quality of the material, the writing, Krista's enthusiasm for the show, and I'm a big fan of Katey. I thought it was a really extraordinary part for her. I knew that inherently there would be some easy chemistry between the two of us. I also saw an opportunity to play a character that I don't see a lot of on television, particularly within my own culture, which is a Cuban man — a Cuban lawyer, in this case."

Clearly, the role of Cruz was made for Garcia. Vernoff notes she found her original pitch for the series from years prior and was reminded that she suggested The Godfather Part III star as the actor executives should envision in the part.

Credit: Pamela Littky/ABC

The series is packed with girl power from top to bottom, including Jones, who portrays Rebel's best friend (and former sister-in-law) Lana, who isn't afraid to tell it like it is.

"What interested me in the role was working with Krista and my favorite girl, Miss Katey. I've been a fan of hers forever," she says. "I'm a lot like Lana: I'm crazy and I like to have fun, but I don't take no mess. I love my nieces. And as far as Lana and Rebel's relationship, I think they're like sisters. Sisters from other misters. They have a special bond and they call each other out on their stuff. I love and appreciate that writing."

Lana's brother Benji (Lesure) is an attorney with a closet full of fly suits who is trying to poach Cassidy (Lex Scott Davis), the daughter he shares with Rebel, away from Cruz's firm. Though it's unknown what he's up to, it's worth noting that he and Rebel remain close.

"Benji cares very little what you think of him," Lesure says with a Smirk. "He's gotta handle his business. This is one of the things I appreciate about him. He's driven, he's confident... but at the end of the day, his intentions are good. You can rest assured that he does have a heart and cares about folks."

Rebel joins Vernoff's powerful Thursday night lineup, which kicks off with Station 19 at 8 p.m., followed by Grey's Anatomy. But does a world exist where all three shows could intersect?

"That'll be up to Shonda Rhimes," she says of the Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 executive producer. "If we get a season 2 for Rebel, I'll make that phone call."

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Rebel (TV Show)

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