'Prime Suspect's' Maria Bello talks getting beat up, sexism and strong female characters

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maria-bello-prime-suspect-interview.jpg "Prime Suspect" is NBC's newest cop drama and it's off to a great start - largely due to star Maria Bello's brash portrayal of the no-nonsense NYPD Det. Jane Timoney. Bello tells Zap2it about Thursday night's episode, delightfully titled "Bitch."

We had to assume the title of the episode is in reference to Jane, which Maria teases is true.

"Jane does find herself dealing with a lot of stuff and no sleep and Jane can tend to go [the bitch route]," says Bello. "I don't want to ruin the surprise. But suffice to say Jane, as well as most people I know, can be a bitch with no sleep."

We were hoping it was maybe one of the male squad members, who are mostly pretty horrible towards Jane. At this comment, Bello relays a story of being at an event for her 10-year-old son Jackson and the reactions she was getting from the other moms - "So many women were coming up to me and saying those guys are such jerks to her!"

But Bello doesn't think the sexism Jane experiences with the NYPD is anything out of the ordinary, for any women.

"Every woman I know has experience some form of sexism. Not so overt [as on 'Prime Suspect], but there is an underlying sexism that sometimes still exists," says Bello. "I don't think it's odd that it would be happening in the police department. I also think there is another facet to [the sexism] which Jane is experiencing. These guys are under the impression that she slept with the Chief of Police to get ahead."

"She also has a very particular personality. Some people are going to like her, some people are not," Bello continues. "And she's not nicey-nice all the time. She doesn't try to get people to like her."

But it's all in an effort to get the job done. While Timoney may be seen as a "strong female character," Bello just sees her as a character.

"I don't know any females that aren't strong, if you understand what I'm saying," says Bello. "Women have been portrayed a lot of times in TV and film as not fully formed human beings and women, who we are. I'm proud to play parts, parts like this part, who show real women - complicated and interesting and noble and strong, like the women I know in life."

When asked if she has had a favorite moment so far, Bello tells us about a scene in the pilot where Timoney gets pretty roughed up by a suspect she's chasing. Apparently, not all the blows were fake.

"There was a pretty fun moment in the pilot episode where I'm getting beat up and at one point my head smashed against the sidewalk," says Bello. "The whole crew cringed, but we didn't stop shooting ... It actually was the take we used and it looked terrific, I think."

"It's the best job of my life, to be honest. I'm thrilled," says Bello.

"Prime Suspect" airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Photo/Video credit: NBC