Jessica Ellis
Updated Jun 12, 2016 @ 9:14 am
Credit: Lifetime

Fans of Lifetime’s breakout hit UnREAL know the show is anchored by two incredibly powerful, complex female characters: Rachel, played by Shiri Appleby, and Quinn, a character that feels conjured out of executive-wear and scotch, played by the inimitable Constance Zimmer. As hard as it is to even consider anyone else in those roles, it turns out both were nearly played by other actresses, and Constance was particularly hard to nail down.

“She turned us down like 16 times,” show creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro admitted recently, during a panel at the ATX television festival in Austin, Texas. The Hollywood Reporter also mentions Shapiro adding that another actress played hard-bitten Quinn in the original 2013 pilot. “We had someone else playing Quinn so we’ve seen what that’s like and I never want to go back there,” Shapiro recalled. “No offense to the actress but it was just wasn’t the right thing.”

We never want to go back either, Ms. Shapiro! Constance Zimmer is a force of nature as Quinn, the executive producer of show-within-a-show Everlasting, a character who walks a fine line between being the mentor to wayward soul Rachel, and being a manipulative mom-figure villain a la Mother Gothel in Tangled. According to a profile in the New York Times, Zimmer was initially wary “of playing yet another no-nonsense career woman and of starring on a Lifetime show.” She was eventually persuaded by the strong feminist themes of the show and its unusually dark tone.

The risk of taking the role has so far paid off major dividends for Zimmer, as UnREAL has been hailed by critics, revitalized the Lifetime network, and earned special accolades for the actress, who won a Critic’s Choice award for her portrayal of Quinn. With a second season bringing the drama on Monday nights and a third already greenlit by the network, we look forward to being even MORE grateful from week to week that she finally took the role.