As a person who "recycles everything" at home, Leslie Hope is "trying to teach my son, who's 18, to be super aware in this way." But in Hawaii, where she has been shooting the new ABC series "The River," that's not always an easy proposition. "Hawaii is behind the rest of the country in terms of recycling and trying to do things in a green way because everything has to be shipped off. There are no facilities on the island and it's very expensive to get stuff off the island to recycling plants," she explains.

 

In "The River," premiering Feb. 7 with a two-hour episode, Hawaii stands in for the Amazon jungle, a place with which Hope is familiar, having lived with a tribe there nine years ago. She'd read about the ongoing lawsuits against oil companies polluting the environment, "and I wanted to see for myself what that was all about. It's worse than you can imagine," she says. Her familiarity with the area combined with the fact that she's a documentary filmmaker (most recently with the short "Gay Keith") made the part of Tess Cole particularly appealing.

 

The story follows the quest for Tess' missing husband, a renowned naturalist (Bruce Greenwood), and what happens to the search party once they encounter a mysterious and deadly force. Shooting on location was difficult, as you might expect. "We're trekking through the jungle, we are in water, it's hot and humid and we're loaded with gear. It was challenging, but in a good sense," says Hope, "because you get even further immersed into that world. It makes you have to work less hard in a way, because you don't have to think so hard about what it would be like."

 

The role was as emotionally heightened as it was physical, Hope adds. "I cried more in this show than any other job I've done," points out the actress best known for her role on "24." To the audience's surprise and her own, her character was killed off on that show, something she expects to avoid if "The River" continues beyond its initial nine-hour order. Producer Michael Green "made a promise that it would be 40 episodes before they would kill me and stab me in the guts," she says. "Call it a spoiler."

 

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