While this week’s woman to watch is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, the sultry actress is well known for her lead roles on stage for the last decade.
Hailing from Houston, this stage star has tackled Shakespeare’s finest, including Juliet, Helena, and Rosalind. To anime fandom, she’s well known for her voice roles in series such as Full Metal Panic? and The Wallflower.
In her primetime TV debut on ABC’s spy-thriller Missing Jessica Boone stars as Rabia, a CIA field coordinator based in Paris whose team is assigned to bring down ex-CIA agent Becca (Ashley Judd), as she attempts to locate her kidnapped son.
Jessica sat down with us to talk about jumping into network television, being a theater geek, and the wacky world of Shakespeare.
Playboy.com: Tell us about your background with acting, how did it all begin for you?
Boone: I was a senior in high school, and I actually went for an audition for a voice-over for anime. I had been singing and doing silly voices so I was cast immediately and I supported myself through college doing that! It was incredibly fun. Then I got interested in classical acting and started doing Shakespeare in the park in Houston. So far, I’ve been able to play a lot of the great leading Shakespearean roles.
Playboy.com: Were you a drama geek growing up? Or an anime fan?
Boone: I definitely was always into theater. I was doing plays and musicals, and singing with the choir. I didn’t really know a lot about anime before I started working in the industry. I definitely watch a lot of it in the booth while recording. But, what’s great about it is that there’s something for everybody.
Playboy.com: Coming from a theater background, how did you come to be on Missing?
Boone: I went over to do a co-production with the Prague Shakespeare Festival last year, then my second day there a casting director said: “There’s this new TV show that’s casting here, you should really be put on tape for it.” That’s how I got cast on Missing!
Playboy.com: Tell us about your character Rabia.
Boone: I play the field coordinator for the CIA sub-station in Paris. We’re suddenly faced with, “Who is this woman (Judd) who’s suddenly turned up.” They say the thinner the file, the more concerned you have to be about the agent, or ex-agent. What is she doing here? Is she just looking for her son or does she have another agenda?
Playboy.com: Will we see you out into the field as well?
Boone: Rabia is the field coordinator but she is a trained CIA agent so she definitely has other abilities. I think I can say that much [laughs]!
Playboy.com: Did you watch spy films to prepare for the role?
Boone: I mean, doesn’t everybody want to be a spy when they grow up? I completely fantasized about being a spy as a kid. I love watching spy movies and what’s great is that the show was mostly based out of Prague—w e’d also hop around to the other cities for shooting; but why this show looks so good is because the Czech crews were the crews for The Bourne Identity, Mission Impossible, Casino Royale, Wanted…they worked on all of those movies, so they’re pro at the spy genre!
Playboy.com: This is your first TV role; do you want to continue on TV?
Boone: I’ve always wanted live and work internationally and it’s great coming from a theater and classical background, I really think I came to primetime TV in an unconventional way as opposed to living in New York or LA. So I hope to keep the ball rolling that’s for sure.
Playboy.com: What’s your favorite play that you’ve acted in?
Boone: Rosalind is one of the great female leads in the entire canon. I was so lucky to play that role in the last year. But probably my favorite play is Cymbeline, a quote-unquote “lessor known” Shakespeare, but Imogen is the heroine and she is one of the few in Shakespeare’s plays that comes on, knows what she wants, she fights for what she wants…and doesn’t get killed in the end.
Playboy.com: Is Shakespeare popular in the Czech Republic?
Boone: There’s actually a long tradition of it there. After ending up staying several months there filming Missing, I’m actually now co-owner of the Prague Shakespeare Festival, which is the only English-language classical theater company in the Czech Republic. I definitely seized on that [laughs]!
Playboy.com: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve had to overcome on stage?
Boone: I think an interesting challenge is when I’m acting on stage, it’s all about giving and projecting to the back row. On film, it’s completely the reverse; it’s all about taking in what you can and really toning it down. It’s a nice challenge to go back and forth and do both. Sometimes in theatre you’re looking at large chunks of text. Very elaborate language… [Shakespeare] had a description for every part of the human condition. Even going back to Missing and this kind of spy-genre, the word assassination didn’t even exist before Shakespeare. He invented stealthily and bandits; terms used today.
Playboy.com: Fascinating, we didn’t know that.
Boone: Also puke, that word didn’t exist; he invented it. I love language [laughs].
Playboy.com: What’s next on your plate?
Boone: The big thing I have coming up in the fall is the Prague Shakespeare Festival, we’re going to partner with the National Theater of the Czech Republic, and so I will get to play Ophelia for the first time. I’ll get to play it in the National Theater so I’m really thrilled about that!
Playboy.com: What was your first time reading Playboy?
Boone: I was at some antique store with my mother and my grandmother. They had some vintage Playboy’s from the 60’s, and I guess this particular shop wasn’t too particular in hiding them, and I was like “wow.” I just thought they were really beautiful looking!
Missing airs on ABC Thursday nights at 8/7c. Follow Jessica on Twitter @BooneJessica