For The Sinner’s Alice Kremelberg, her queer identity shapes the acting roles she takes on.
“As an actor, my job is to imbue aspects of myself in my work, and my queerness is inherently a part of me and my lived experience,” Kremelberg says. “A lot of things I’ve been through as a queer person have given me a multitude of experiences to pull from in my work.” For Kremelberg, that extends to her work on The Sinner.
The fourth season of the police show starring Bill Pullman revolves around Kremelberg’s Percy Muldoon, the daughter of a prominent family that has the town in its grip. Percy goes missing, running away from something sinister.
“Being queer, I am hyper-aware of the male gaze and how my body/identity is being consumed in media,” Kremelberg says. “In the case of The Sinner, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with the creative team when it came to how we depicted both of Percy’s physical relationships in the second episode and how the male gaze was influencing them.”
Regarding Percy, Kremelberg has a lot to tease about her new character and the season itself.
“This season is all about guilt,” she says. Any fan of The Sinner won’t be surprised to hear that. Last season ended with Harry (Bill Pulman) killing Jamie (Matt Bomer) and having to leave his home behind. But what he finds in his new home, an isolated town on an island in Maine, may be just as dark and twisted as what he faced previously. And a lot of that revolves around Percy, whose powerful family runs a major fishing company. When Percy goes missing and is then found dead, it’s up to Harry to figure out why she died.
“This season really goes in-depth with its mystery, it’s layered so well. There are so many cliffhangers where you think you know what’s going on and then the show goes in a completely different direction, it’s really a moody but exciting season,” Kremelberg says.
Kremelberg describes Percy as “someone who is facing her own guilt also. She’s running away from something and tries to deal with it in seemingly healthy ways and unhealthy ways. A lot of her guilt has to deal with grief, something her strong-willed family doesn’t know how to deal with. So she tries and fails to manage it.” There’s a clear connection between what’s haunting Percy and Harry. It makes sense that Percy shows up as a figment of Harry’s mind to guide him through his guilt and her death.
“The audience sees one version of Percy through flashbacks, but primarily she is this manifestation that guides Harry while he deals with the repercussions of last season. But sometimes her voice fails him the more he uncovers about Percy. What he wants to believe and the facts of the mystery are difficult for him to reconcile,” Kremelberg says. Dealing with guilt in real life is a tricky process that Kremelberg understands well.
“Sometimes things bubble up and appear that we don’t want to face at the time because it’s too difficult to deal with, but we all eventually have to face that sooner or later.”
Regarding being out in Hollywood, Kremelberg has mixed feelings about the fact that she’s been cast in both straight and queer roles.
“Many artists in the LGBTQIA+ community experience a greater shift in their careers post-publicly acknowledging their identity, but I recognize that I benefit from a system that allows actors who pass as cisgender or straight the freedom to continue to play heteronormative roles when the reverse isn’t nearly as true,” she says. But Kremelberg is ready to continue playing characters closer to her own identity: “I’m excited to play queer characters in mainstream media.”
The Sinner’s fourth season is currently airing on USA Network.