Scott Turow: Still Rusty After All These Years

Bill Pullman as Rusty Sabich in Scott Turow’s Innocent/ TNT Mystery Movie Night
Bill Pullman as Rusty Sabich in Scott Turow’s Innocent/ TNT Mystery Movie Night
Tonight, TNT’s Mystery Movie Night kicks off with its first adaption of Scott Turow’s Innocent, starring Bill Pullman as an older and not-always-wiser Judge Rusty Sabich, a man long-ago accused of killing his lover who’ll be suspected this time around of killing his difficult wife, played by Marcia Gay Harden. If you loved the previous Rusty legal thriller in the theaters, it’s funny to know that even the author had to shake his preconceptions from that film to get inside this story. From the author panel, Turow said:

“I will admit for the first six months or so when I thought about Rusty, I saw Harrison Ford. [laughter] It’s such an overwhelmingly powerful medium.  And then, you know, he became my Rusty again. He didn’t really look all that different to start with, but I saw him in my mind’s eye as I had seen him almost twenty years earlier and had lived with [him] for a number of years. And that’s the point at which you know the book is really yours, because it’s starting to register in your own internal ranges.”

We’ve got more on why Turow broke his vow to write the sequel, plus backstage clips from the set, and why Turow always admires criminals.

The strained Sabich family dynamic includes distant son Nat (Callard Harris), also a lawyer, and will come to involve departing law clerk Anna (Mariana Klaveno of True Blood), who fascinates and desires both Sabich men.

Believe us, they’re not any of them as content as they appear above. The dark currents run deep. So deep, that when Barbara dies, Rusty sits with her body for almost an entire day—thinking, he says—before calling for help. Rusty’s planning a run for the State Supreme Court, and the poor timing and oddness of the death has everyone scratching their heads, even son Nat.

Sandy Stern and Rusty Sabich Prosecutor Tommy Molto got burned badly, almost irreparably, by Rusty twenty years ago. He’s wary of pursuing a high-profile loser of a case, but would delight too much in Rusty’s downfall to turn away from the information turned up by his right-hand man. Alfred Molina plays Rusty’s defense lawyer, Sandy Stern, and Richard Schiff plays Sabich’s long-time nemesis. The prosecutor’s office bulldog is Jimmy Brand (Tahmoh Penikett of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse).  

So, what is it that finally brought Turow back to this particular world of conflicted loyalities and unresolved hostility? Turns out, it was as simple as an idea he couldn’t shake.  From the panel interview with Tina Jordan:

We’ve also got an exclusive clip with Turow talking about his love for the law and working on this adaptation with the same director, Mike Robe, who wrote the screenplay and has filmed two of Turow’s previous novels. (Obviously, another fan.)

In the green room, we did ask Turow whether Nat would somehow have to be turned into the adaptation’s hero for newcomers to the character.  After all, Rusty is pretty gray-scale by this time in his life. Sure, he has painful old regrets, but keeps forging new ones anyway.

Scott TurowTurow laughed off our question with a twinkle in his eye, saying “It’s Rusty’s movie.” What else would you expect from the author who said this?


Innocent airs tonight at 9/8c.  If you’re a fan of Turow’s or Rusty’s, let us know what you thought!


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    Thanks for this tempting preview. I am leaving today’s project promptly at 8:30 so I can tidy up, make a double cup of green tea and settle in for what I hope will be a great two hours of entertainment.

  2. Deborah Lacy

    Looking forward to this, and still jealous you got to go to the event!

  3. Terrie Farley Moran

    Was okay, not great. Saw the end coming long before. Just wasn’t sure how the script would get there. All nice performances. Richard Schiff was a standout.

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