Why did you decide to take this role?
I worked with Steven Soderbergh on Magic Mike, and he had me in mind for this role. He’s a genius, so I don’t question him. I knew if he was producing the show it was going to be about something more profound than just sex. It’s also hard as a woman to find characters who are difficult or unapologetic or have different morals, like Christine.
People are afraid to show women with demons. But I think it’s important for women to see flawed female characters. We’re held to a perfect standard, but every woman is flawed. And there are women who like sex and don’t care. Whether it’s this show or an Amy Schumer sketch, I’m interested in opening up the range of women on TV.
The show strives not to judge Christine.
She’s not a victim. It’ll push people’s buttons because she comes from a great background, so why would she choose this? People are judgmental about sex, but everyone has their own moral code. Unless you’re hurting people, who are we to say what’s right? It challenges our assumptions.
What was it like working with both a female director, Amy Seimetz, and a male director, Lodge Kerrigan, on a show that deals with gender dynamics?
Steven did that to get both perspectives. I wish we could do that with every show and film.
You met with feminist Eve Ensler on the set of Mad Max to talk about a very different side of the sex trade.
My character was a sex slave. Eve had us do exercises that she does with survivors, and we were all in tears by the end. It gave us the anger we needed for the role but also made us feel empowered as women.
This appears in the April 11, 2016 issue of TIME.