Colourful new legal drama Rebel, which aired on ABC in the US and begins soon in the UK on Disney+, has been inspired by the work of Erin Brockovich. The US legal clerk shot to fame when her dogged 1993 battle against a power company accused of contaminating the water supply became the subject of a 2000 film, starring an Oscar-winning Julia Roberts.
Now, Sons of Anarchy’s Katey Sagal take centre stage in Rebel as no-holds-barred legal advocate Annie "Rebel" Bello, a force of nature who will stop at nothing to bring a big corporation to account if she suspects them of wrongdoing. But her no-nonsense methods of getting things done often raise eyebrows.
Here’s everything we know about Rebel…
Rebel release date
Rebel has already been released in the US, premiering on ABC in April.
In the UK Rebel will be released on Disney Plus on Friday May 28.
What’s Rebel about?
The series follows Rebel’s relentless campaigns against shady companies, in particular a medical corporation that has apparently caused untold harm to patients who have been supplied with faulty mechanical heart valves it manufactured. But can Rebel bring the company to justice?
Rebel’s complex home life with third husband Grady and her three grown-up children also comes under the spotlight, as her single-minded dedication to her work threatens to impact on them all.
“She's aggressive, doesn't take no for an answer and gets in people's faces. Rebel's always right about the thing that she's fighting for, but she doesn't use the most diplomatic means to get her point across. But she's funny,” Sagal tells us.
“I love that she does service in the name of social justice and balances this kooky family. Like most women, she's juggling a bunch of things and it doesn't always work out. She wasn't around much and her two older children blame her a lot. But one’s a doctor, one’s a lawyer, so something rubbed off in the name of doing good work.”
Who’s in Rebel?
Alongside Sagal, the drama also sees Sex and the City’s John Corbett as Rebel’s third husband Grady, who feels neglected. Gossip Girl’s Kevin Zegers, The L Word: Generation Q’s Lex Scott Davis and Runaways’ Ariela Barer play her children — doctor Nate, lawyer Cassidy, and troubled Ziggy. Castle’s Tamala Jones is her friend and former sister-in-law Lana, an ex-cop who now helps Rebel with her work, and Las Vegas’ James Lesure is Rebel’s second husband and Cassidy’s father, ruthless lawyer Benji. Meanwhile Hollywood legend Andy Garcia co-stars as Julian Cruz, Rebel’s widowed boss, who shares her ethics but despairs at her gung-ho approach.
“Cruz is a pro bono lawyer and not in favour of huge corporations ripping people off, so he admires Rebel but the ways and means she uses can be irritating, she drives him insane. They fight, but they've got each other's backs,” says Sagal.
“Andy’s such a soulful actor, so it's been great. He has all these movie star stories, he's worked with everybody, and, not in a flamboyant way, he'll talk about what he's done. It's fun listening to him.”
Was Erin Brockovich involved in the making of Rebel?
Yes, Brockovich is an executive producer on the series and spoke to Sagal about the role.
“I've met her a couple of times and we got on immediately. She's a gals’ gal,” says Sagal. “I came up with Rebel’s own backstory but Erin’s energy is around. When you meet her, she’s enthusiastic, full of life and believes in what she believes in.”
What else do we know about Rebel?
Sagal believes that Rebel’s crusading spirit will strike a chord in the current climate.
“The show is timely,” she says. “Rebel’s focus is empowering people, she gives them the fishing pole rather than catches the fish for them. In the times we're living in, it’s important that everybody doesn’t feel powerless. There's so much misinformation. But if you see injustice, Rebel feels that every voice matters. Speak up and don’t give up.”
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