When Joelle Carter took on her first acting role as a co-ed involved in a prostitution ring in a 1996 episode of “Law & Order,” the actress had no idea she would be reunited with producer Dick Wolf again 21 years later. Since starring as outlaw Ava Crowder in the hit series “Justified,” which came to an end in 2015, the now 44-year-old nabbed a recurring role on “Scandal’s” fifth season — until she was asked to fight crime as Laura Nagel. Fox News spoke with Carter about her show “Chicago Justice” and whether we can expect a “Justified” reunion:
Fox News: What made you take on ‘Chicago Justice?’
Joelle Carter: The Dick Wolf franchise speaks for itself. I was pretty honored to be offered a part. I started off with him in ‘Law & Order,’ and it was my first job in the industry, so I was thrilled to work with him again. And I think a change of pace from living the life of a criminal on the other side of the law was intriguing for me, especially to become a character that wants to serve justice. I also wanted to study what it was really like to be a cop.
Fox News: Many fans definitely still remember you from your days on ‘Justified.’ How are Laura and Ava’s personalities different?
Carter: Ava was more of a free-spirit. She really was quite sexual and flirtatious. Even with everything she’s been through in life, she had a way of dealing with things in a lighter, more innocent way…
Laura is definitely worldlier and has dedicated her life to a system that Ava would never respect. She’s really married to her job and isn’t really looking for love. Ava was very much seeking that other person in the world that she can walk along with in life. Ava wasn’t afraid to dive into a love affair. Laura, on the other hand, has a child and responsibilities. It’s certainly interesting for me because both women are so different from each other.
Fox News: In order to join ‘Chicago Justice,’ you had to give up a recurring role in ‘Scandal.’
Carter: Well for me, ‘Chicago Justice’ offered a more permanent role, which intrigued me more, honestly. I had to just go for it and see how the chips would fall. The scheduling with ‘Scandal’ just didn’t work out.
Fox News: What’s your relationship like with your current cast?
Carter: I love these guys. They’re really wonderful actors and I couldn’t ask for a better lead to our show like Philip [Winchester]. He has such a positive attitude, he lifts up the crew when everyone is tired or feeling down. He even helped me learned that courtroom dialogue... And Jon [Seda] is the best partner anyone can have. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be my partner in law. He showed me the ropes because he’s had more experienced in a role like this one than I have. He even showed me the technique of handcuffing someone because he’s been doing it for years.
Fox News: How did shadowing a top female investigator in Chicago helped you prepare?
Carter: She was a valuable resource. She really showed me how dangerous it was out there. She’s a total spitfire. Half the time she doesn’t even ride with a partner. She really knows how to connect and talk to people, which is one of her biggest assets... most of the people she has to talk to already have their guard up. I wanted to adapt that to my character.
Fox News: Was it hard for you to say goodbye to your ‘Justified’ family?
Carter: I have not said goodbye! I refuse. It was really hard. I was in Los Angeles actually a few weeks ago and I tried to get a big dinner together so we can have a reunion, but everyone’s working all over the world. They all said, ‘Try summertime!’ So I’m going to work on that and try again. I’m on it and will track everyone down.
"Chicago Justice" is on Sundays on NBC.