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Girl About Town

Hannah Ware takes a second spin in the Second City on ABC’s Betrayal.

Ware finds Stuart Townsend intriguing on Betrayal

We’re just going to go ahead and call actress Hannah Ware a Chicagoan. Shortly after wrapping up a run playing Kelsey Grammer’s daughter on the Chicago-filmed series Boss, the London native is back in town, this time front and center as the star of ABC’s Betrayal. The sizzle: On the show Ware plays Sara Hanley, a staff photographer at fictional Chicago magazine Wicker Park, who launches into a steamy affair with Stuart Townsend’s character, lawyer Jack McAllister. Complicating things: Both are married, and not to each other. The situation becomes even more charged when Hanley’s husband, also a lawyer, ends up going head-to-head with McAllister in a high-profile murder trial. We spoke with Ware about the show, her character and her favorite things to do in her adopted home.

Is it just a coincidence that you once again grace Chicago with your presence?
Yes, it’s an absolute coincidence. But I really love the city; it feels like home.

Your character’s been a bad girl. What do you think pushed her over the edge?
Why do people fall in love? I don’t know if even I can explain that. It’s so many things... it’s being at a certain place in your life; it’s what that person presents to you. It’s so hard to articulate, isn’t it, why you fall in love with the people you do. I find that endlessly fascinating.

What else intrigued you about Sara?
I like the fact that she’s a character that most women can, in some way, identify with. I was drawn to the psychological aspect of what she was dealing with, feeling slightly lost in both her marriage and her career, a bit displaced, but not knowing exactly why. I think everyone goes through that. And she responds. I don’t agree with adultery; I think it’s morally wrong, but people get into situations for reasons, and I was really interested in why Sara did it. As an actor, I’m drawn to the psychology of people, why they do things and why they don’t, and Betrayal was very centered on that.

She plays a photographer at fictional magazine Wicker Park

Chicago seems like far more than a backdrop on the show; the cityscapes are gorgeous and prominent.
It’s like a love letter to Chicago. It’s adultery, but it’s a love story set in a beautiful city. It’s like a great Shakespearean play or a Tom Hardy novel, where the weather and the landscape lend themselves to the psychology of what the characters are going through. The huge skyscrapers sometimes make you feel very small and insignificant… though your feelings are so explosive. It can really feed you as an actor. It’s also a place I was familiar with, so I felt like I had a foundation to know what it was like to be a girl living in Chicago.

On the film side, you’re also starring in Spike Lee’s remake of the famous South Korean thriller Oldboy.
Yes, I play Josh Brolin’s ex-wife. In the original it’s a character you don’t see; it’s the mother of the girl who dies. So it’s a small role, but it’s a really exciting role. There’s a tragedy regarding how the girl becomes motherless, so it’s an important event in the movie. And being able to work with Josh Brolin and Spike Lee, it was an amazing experience.

Since this is our Health and Fitness issue, how do you stay in shape?
I’m a big fan of spinning. I think it’s so good; I do it all the time. I do yoga no matter what city I’m in… and I love barre classes. I do like to keep fit; I think it’s important. Your body is a tool as an actor; it’s your instrument. So those are a few of the things I do.

What else do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love farmers markets, like the Green City Market. And there are so many great restaurants here. I adore Prosecco, Blackbird, RM Champagne Salon. RM has that peaceful courtyard; you almost feel like you’re in Barcelona because there are so many places you drink cava in Barcelona, near those beautiful walls. I also love that, in Chicago, you can walk somewhere, like over the bridge near the chocolate factory, and there are places that haven’t been touched, haven’t been homogenized, painted over. … I think there’s still a lot of beauty in that as an urban space.

Do you find Chicago very different from London?
Well, I haven’t lived in London for years because I’ve lived in New York for the last seven years, and I just moved to L.A. But I spent my formative years there, and I went to university there. I still find it hard to get my head around and navigate all the various neighborhoods of Chicago. I can’t quite quantify Chicago as a whole the way I can London or New York; there’s an element of the unknown for me here. I think it has similarities to London in the sense that there’s great theater, art and music scenes. It’s also very exciting to be in a pedestrian city—unlike L.A., which really bothers me because I’m a girl who moves very fluidly in a city. I like to use my feet to get around. But I find it’s hard to do that in L.A., so I was really excited to get back to it.