Abigail Spencer returns to television on October 3 in Timeless, a new drama from NBC that takes audiences on a trip through time. The 35-year-old Spencer stars as Lucy Preston, a history professor who helps stop a criminal from ruining American history.
Here’s a look at Spencer’s career and her new role.
1. Spencer Was Discovered During a Taping of ‘Live With Regis & Kathy Lee’
Spencer’s career began in a surprising way. When she was 17, she left her home in Gulf Breeze, Florida to go to audition at theater schools in New York. While there, she got into a taping of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee and the casting director of All My Children was watching live.
As Spencer explained in a 2013 interview with Indiewire:
And it just so happens that the casting director of All My Children was watching the live feed and Kathy called around to a few people and was like, “Oh, I have this girl…” I thought, “Oh my god, this is never gonna work…” I didn’t even know that she’d done that, and then I got a call later that day that the casting director of All My Children wanted to meet me. A few months later I ended up being on the show.
Spencer was married to Andrew Pruett from 2004 to 2012. They have a son, Roman.
2. Spencer’s Father is the Late Surfing Legend Yancy Spencer III
Spencer’s father is surfing legend Yancy Spencer III, who died in February 2011. Her brothers, Yancy Spencer IV and Sterling, both became surfers as well.
It turns out that Kathy Lee Gifford’s love for Yancy was one of the reasons why she helped his daughter when she was in the Live audience.
“Yancy was my first love. We didn’t end up getting married, but he ended up marrying a beautiful, beautiful lady named Lydia,” Gifford said on the Today Show. She said that Yancy called her to tell her that Spencer wanted to be an actress and was at a taping of Live.
“You talked to me on the air! She was like, ‘World, meet Abigail Spencer,'” Spencer said on Today.
“I had to, because of my love for your father,” Gifford added.
Spencer ended up starring on All My Children in 21 episodes between 1999 and 2000.
3. Spencer Also Stars on SundanceTV’s ‘Rectify’ as Amantha Holden
Spencer can be seen on two different shows this fall. While she’s making Timeless, the fourth and final season of SundanceTV’s Rectify is also airing. The show returns on Wednesday, October 26 at 10 p.m.
Spencer stars as Amantha Holden on the show, which was created by Ray McKinnon. She earned a Critics’ Choice Television Award nomination in 2013..
“Awards are very important for a show like Rectify,” Spencer told Deadline after production wrapped on its third season. “We’re a small show, we’re on a more obscure, harder-to-find channel that is very supportive of creative and singular vision. Hopefully we’ll keep having the opportunity to make this beautiful thing because we’re just not going to be a show that is going to have like Walking Dead numbers. It’s just not going to happen, which is okay.”
Spencer’s other TV credits include roles on True Detective, How I Met Your Mother, Suits, Burning Love and Mad Men.
4. Spencer Says She Collects Vintage Clothing, so Lucy Was ‘Such a Great Role for Me’
in an interview with Den Of Geek, Spencer said that if show creators Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield) hadn’t written a character who was “so compelling and so good,” she would have taken a longer break after finishing Rectify.
She also explained that she’s a collector of vintage clothing, which was one reason why she enjoyed playing the character of Lucy. She explained to Den of Geek:
I feel like I was supposed to be born in another time period often. So every period, I’m like, “I could live here.” The only thing is being a woman in the past is not always great. So that’s something that we’ll explore on the show and I’m very grateful for the present because we’ve made a lot of strides.
In the same interview, she said she hopes there is a romance between her character and Matt Lanter’s Wyatt. She teased a fact about Lucy that comes to light in the second episdoe that will add “an interesting layer to” their relationship.
5. Each Change Made in the Past Will Have an Impact on the Characters’ Lives, Including Lucy’s
In the pilot, the villain, Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic), prevents the Hindenburg disaster from happening and causes another disaster that has a major impact on Lucy’s life.
“Any change that they are making, to put it bluntly, does start to pile up on each other,” Kripke said in August at the Television Critics’ Association Press Tour. “It’s not so much that you hit a reset button… If they’re not careful in episodes moving forward, they’re going to change more. In the pilot, there’s a pretty seismic change to history; that’s not going to happen in every episode. They have to start fighting to maintain things. [There’s] this seismic change in history, but it’s completely personal and emotional. That’s a pretty good model for how things will change in our show.”
Even within the show, the main characters argue over the effects their time travels might have on their futures.
“I think we want to establish the basic parameters of the show and then we’ll have fun trying to break the parameters in certain episodes,” Ryan added.