Amy Acker confesses she still gets into trouble for speaking too softly.
That’s hard to believe, given her strong roles on Angel, Alias, Dollhouse and Happy Town, which debuts Wednesday on ABC.
“I was really shy growing up,” admits Acker, 33, of New York, who was born and raised in Dallas, the eldest of four children. In her sophomore year at Lake Highlands High School (where she graduated in 1995), she took a drama class to satisfy a requirement and that cemented her career path.
“I became a different character and said words people had written,” she says. “I just loved doing it.”
Toward the end of high school, Acker co-starred on Wishbone, an Emmy-winning TV series filmed in Richardson about a Jack Russell terrier imagining he’s the main character in classic literature.
Acker attended Southern Methodist University and graduated with a bachelor’s in theater in 1999. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. In 2000, she landed her breakthrough role – Winifred “Fred” Burkle on Angel.
She met creator Joss Whedon, “and we hit it off. … It was just gonna be a three-episode character,” she says. “Somehow, all the sudden, I was on the show as a regular” in Seasons 3 to 5.
Fred died in the fifth season, and the goddess Illyria – also played by Acker – was reincarnated in her body.
She said Whedon told her, ” ‘I’m killing Fred.’ So I’m crying, thinking what did I do? ‘But you’re still gonna be on the show. You’ll be a blue-haired, demon goddess from a different dimension.’ ”
After Angel, Acker co-starred on Alias and Dollhouse. Believing Dollhouse wouldn’t return for a second season, she auditioned for the part of Rachel Conroy on Happy Town, created by Alias writers Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg.
Happy Town, co-starring Steven Weber (Wings), is set in Haplin, Minn., where the idyllic existence is shattered by a string of grisly crimes.
“It takes place in a small town, so it has the pace of a small town … then it gets stirred up by something happening,” Acker says. “There’s this mob mentality when something happens, and things start to go wrong, people suspect their friends, they don’t trust their neighbors, everything sort of flips around.”
Acker’s character, Rachel, is married to the town’s sheriff, played by Geoff Stults (7th Heaven).
“I like the idea of shows where I don’t know where I’ll be at the end of the season. This is something really fun to be a part of.”