Christine Lahti Joins Mike Colter and Katja Herbers in New CBS Supernatural Drama ‘Evil’

Christine Lahti is joining the cast of CBS’s upcoming fall drama Evil, writers and executive producers Robert and Michelle King (creators of The Good Wife and The Good Fight) announced at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday. 

Lahti is a last-minute replacement Dierdre O’Connell, who originally played the role of Sheryl Luria, the mother of Katja Herber’s character Kristen Bouchard. Kristen is a forensic psychologist who teams up with David Acosta (Mike Colter) priest-in-training to investigate possible cases of demonic possession. O’Connell, who appeared in the episode screened at Comic-Con, had to bow out because of scheduling conflicts. Evil also stars Michael Emerson as the sinister Dr. Leland Townsend.

Not a “possession of the week” show 

In the show’s premiere episode (directed by Robert King), Kristen and David are brought together when a man slaughters three families. His lawyers claim a spirit named Roy caused him to do the deed. The killer says he blacked out and has no memory of committing the crime. Is this a case of the devil at work? Perhaps, but not in the way audiences might think. One thing is for sure — don’t expect Colter’s character to show up with a bottle of holy water to cast out the devil in every episode.

“It won’t be a possession of the week,” Robert King told the audience at Comic-Con, explaining that the show is more about exploring spirituality and ideas of good and evil than it is about exorcism (though one episode will look at different ideas of exorcism in Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim traditions). For one, there’s already a pop culture artifact that tackled that topic pretty well. 

“When there’s a movie like The Exorcist, it’s very hard to do better than that,” King said. “You don’t want to play in their playground. You want to play in your own playground.”

Plus, relying on a demonic explanation would be too simple from a storytelling perspective, King said. “It’s just as scary to deal with the scientific reality as with the supernatural reality, and sometimes they can co-exist in a way that is terrifying,” he explained. 

Creating a dialogue

Mike Colter
Mike Colter speaks at the Evil screening and panel during San Diego Comic-Con 2019 | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Evil might have some supernatural elements, but it’s a show that aims to be more than just diverting genre television. Just as Evil brings together a skeptic and a believer in a respectful conversation, the show’s creators and cast hope it might inspire a similar dialogue among audience members. While Colter’s character is grounded by his Catholic faith and belief in God and the Devil, Kristen is rooted in the world of science while his assistant Ben “rejects all this paranormal nonsense,” as actor Aasif Mandvi explained. But they’re both willing to listen to David’s theories, something that Colter said the world could use more of these days. 

“The country is full of people with very strong opinions about religion and politics. What we’re trying to do, I think, is open a discussion between everyone,” he said. “Having a strong opinion doesn’t mean you can’t listen. And if you can listen, you might learn something.”

Evil premieres Thursday, September 26 at 10/9c on CBS.