Over the years Patty has built an impressive arsenal of secrets. In Season 2, we learn one of them: Daniel Purcell, Patty’s star witness in the case against UNR, is also the father of her 17-year-old son, Michael. Casting Patty’s former love interest could not have been easy, but we think the producers did a phenomenal job with Academy Award-winner William Hurt. Josh Payne‘s got the scoop.
Daniel Purcell is the chief chemist for Ultima National Resources, a worldwide energy company with mountaintop coal mining operations in West Virginia. When he discovers the company is dumping toxic material, Purcell sends the information to Patty Hewes, with whom he had a relationship two decades earlier. Initially, Purcell is reluctant to talk to Patty about the information and claims it was a mistake to send it. But when Purcell stands accused of his wife’s murder, Patty defends him—and learns that Ultima National Resources will stop at nothing to keep its secrets.
We didn’t cast this role until late in the process. In the weeks leading up to shooting, the show’s producers and FX debated the merits of casting one actor who could perhaps form a romantic triangle with Ellen and Patty, or going with two actors. Ultimately, Timothy Olyphant joined the cast and emerged as Ellen’s love interest for the season. Once William Hurt was on board, we decided to set his relationship with Patty in the past so we could address Michael’s paternity.