From left to right: Bridget Regan on White Collar, Marvel's Agent Carter, and Jane the Virgin.
When The CW's Jane the Virgin isn't telling the story of a young woman who's accidentally impregnated courtesy of her boss' sperm, the critical hit of the season has been focusing on the hunt for Sin Rostro, a mysterious man responsible for a dozen illegal schemes. And after 11 episodes, it was finally revealed that Rose, a philandering trophy wife sleeping with her stepdaughter, is the woman behind the criminal. It was a true jaw-meets-floor moment for any Jane the Virgin fan, in large part thanks to Bridget Regan's layered and nuanced performance as Rose, whom viewers thought was evil after sending her lover to a mental institution. But few, if any, saw her as Sin Rostro levels of evil.
And Regan is quickly gaining a reputation in Hollywood for mastering the art of being bad. In addition to Rose, her two most recent TV characters — Rebecca on USA's White Collar and Dottie on ABC's Marvel's Agent Carter — seemed mild-mannered when first introduced, but each also eventually pulled back the curtain to reveal a redefining secret: Museum worker Rebecca turned out to be a con artist named Rachel, and dancer Dottie concealed the fact that she's a Russian super-spy.
"The thing about villains is they're strong, active characters," Regan told BuzzFeed News over coffee at Alfred in Los Angeles. "They're not sitting back and waiting for something to come along. They're moving towards something always. They are driven and focused and that is really appealing to play because you have a lot to do."
The fact that her three most recent, and arguably biggest, roles have been villainous is pure coincidence, Regan said. But the trend has presented some challenges for the actor, who studied classical theater at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. "My background is very traditional theater training: Think about what your character wants, you fill in the character's memories … and you connect the dots [because] in television, you can only get snippets of a character, but you need to know the whole story, so you create it," she said. "And you just have to scrap all of that when it's not fitting any more. You just have to move on. You have to be really flexible, which is also kind of fun because you never know what they're going to throw at you. If you embrace the excitement of the unexpected, it can be really fun."
Regan's evil reveals on Agent Carter (left) and Jane the Virgin (right).
Regan's ability to embrace and portray a character's dualities was apparent from her first audition, according to Agent Carter executive producers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. "She can play the nuances in a way that is grounded and real," they told BuzzFeed News in an email. "You believe her when she is sweet, Iowa-born Dottie, just as much as you believe her when she's a trained Russian killer."
Jane the Virgin's Rose was the only character of the three where Regan didn't know in advance that she'd have an evil turn, but executive producer Jennie Urman saw she was capable of portraying the many sides of Rose. "There is always something a little mysterious going on with Bridget," Urman told BuzzFeed News in an email. "She always played Rose as a woman with secrets … and I thought she really brought out Rose's conflict."
But part of the key to properly bringing these two-faced women to life for Regan was, ironically, ignoring their duality. "If someone's going to be a really good liar, they would believe they are that person in that moment, so that's how I rehearsed it," she said. "I feel like that's how a crazy psychopath would do it," the actor added with a laugh.
While Regan's futures on Jane the Virgin and Agent Carter remain to be seen, it's clear that her villainous back-to-back-to-back roles have made picking her next project infinitely harder. "To get to run with these characters, and have them change and have variety, it's a real gift. The bar is set so high for me now," she said. "I'm going to be really bored if I have to play some boring ingénue next."