Say hello to TV's newest power woman, "Political Animals'" Elaine Barrish. She describes herself as a "bitch with a capital C," but don't call her that to her face.
Played by Sigourney Weaver, in her first series regular role on TV, Elaine's political resume may sound familiar. She's a former first lady, who stood by her popular liberal husband's side despite numerous affairs and infidelities. After his time in office came to an end, Elaine went after her own political dreams, putting in her own presidential bid some years later, only to lose, divorce her husband and eventually become the secretary of state.
Elaine's similarities to Hillary Clinton on "Political Animals" (premieres Sunday, July 15 at 10 p.m. ET on USA) may seem obvious, but according to Weaver -- who says she was more inspired by her grade school head mistress than by the current secretary of state -- Elaine is not a fictional version of the former first lady.
"I know that there are obvious superficial similarities with the Clintons, but I think ["Political Animals" creator] Greg Berlanti has been inspired by all of the families in the White House. The families who have been in the White House have paid a price for that experience, and oddly, they all want to get back in the White House," Sigourney Weaver explained to HuffPost TV during a round table interview in June. "So it's inspired by the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Bushs -- all of these different families -- that's why he wrote this. I have great respect for the Clintons, especially for her ... I think she's awesome, but Elaine is just her own person, completely."
Weaver's co-star James Wolk, who plays Elaine's politically ambitious son Douglas, echoed his TV mom's statements, telling HuffPost TV that he was particularly inspired by Bobby Kennedy.
"They were projected as these perfect icons, but as I started to research Bobby, I discovered that he was a very dark, tumultuous individual," said Wolk. "He was very cerebral, and he became the family protector -- so ruthlessly ambitious that it took him down many interesting roads."
Elaine considers herself to be a strong female leader. So strong, in fact, that she even comes with her own catchphrase: "Never call a bitch a bitch." So she's definitely not about to let drama with her two sons (played by Wolk and Sebastian Stan) and her ex-husband/occasional friend with benefits Bud (Ciarán Hinds), an international crisis or a determined D.C. journalist (Carla Gugino) bring the Hammond family down. But that's going to be pretty tough.
"Bud used to have this line, where he said, 'Now this family is broken just like the rest of this country,'' Burlanti explained during a round table interview. "I think we struggle a lot with that as a country. Were we great at one time? And what can we do to get back to that? This family embodies that."
Click through the gallery to read more from the cast and Berlanti. Find out how "The Devil Wears Prada" factored into the show, what Sebastian Stan thinks of his character's sex addiction and more on what to expect from "Political Animals."
"Political Animals" premieres Sunday, July 15 at 10 p.m. ET on USA Network
Sigourney Weaver On Elaine Barrish
"I was really delighted to have an opportunity to channel some of the amazing mentors that I've had in my life, even from grade school. My head mistress, Mildred Berendsen, and my English teacher Florence Hunt were very influential in building this character. Elaine brings a different kind of energy to politics ... She's a very mainstream woman, and I've never gotten the chance to play that before. I wasn't looking to play an All-American person like Elaine, so it's been very interesting for me ... I'm so weird, and Elaine is so mainstream. I've never been anywhere close to that type of person."
Ciarán Hinds On Bud & Elaine's Relationship
"He still loves her. He always will. In Episode 2, there's a flashback to when Bud was president and what he was doing and all of the affairs. Then there's a scene where he goes to her and says, 'I'm sorry. You should leave me.' But he loves her. He's cheating on her and lying to her, but he doesn't want her to go."
James Wolk On Douglas Hammond
"[Doug and TJ] are both struggling to find their place in the world, and it's not easy. They're in this pressure cooker. They're expected to be perfect. But none of them are. As the series goes on, you start to realize that maybe Doug doesn't have it all together. There's something brewing there."
Carla Gugino On Susan & Elaine's Relationship
"It's interesting because one of the first things that Greg Berlanti said to me was, 'I'm so intrigued as to why these women who are smart, successful and ambitious are so often on the opposite sides of the fence when they probably understand what it took to get there more than anyone else.' So that was something that I wanted to keep in mind throughout the show. What's interesting is that I don't think Susan wants to tear Elaine down, but she felt that Elaine epitomized everything that she wanted to be. So when Elaine stayed with her husband after all of these affairs, it was like a personal insult to her."
Carla Gugino On Susan Berg
"I felt like her idol would have been Bob Woodward. Susan Berg would definitely say that if you're going to be running the country, the way you live your life is going to be reflective of the way you run the country, so we need to know how you live your life."
James Wolk On First Families
"I think what's so interesting about Douglas and TJ is that they're a part of a generation where the media is watching you 24/7. William and Harry have grown up in that spotlight, and it's a completely different spotlight than the one the Kennedy brothers grew up in. TJ and Douglas are dealing with that and figuring it out. They're both being revealed to the public in these different ways that I think wear and tear on them."
Greg Berlanti On The Clintons
"Gosh! I hope they like [the show]! I think it's a love letter to anybody in politics. It does try and get at the sacrifices people have to make when they're in that world."
Sebastian Stan On TJ Hammond
"They all have their problems, but TJ's are just much more on the surface."
Greg Berlanti On Elaine Barrish & Hillary Clinton
"I think my mom would be upset because she thinks [Elaine] is based on her. My mom's hope is that one day, I'd write a female character ... I think part of the reason I wanted to write about a female character at the center of the show is because there was an element that appealed to me and interested me. There's a certain fortitude and strength -- and the ability to do so many things at the same time and having to balance life and family. And also, the loneliness of it."
Adrian Pasdar [President Garcetti] On Dancing With Sigourney Weaver
"They didn't even play the music! The scene starts, and then they roll sound and they stop the music, so then you're up there like the biggest doofus, just hoping to God that you don't look like a complete idiot. I hate moments like that because I get so embarrassed. You don't want to look foolish! And then there are these people there, who have been standing in the sun all day long, and if you get anything wrong, they hold you culpable!"
Ellen Burstyn On Margaret Barrish
"She's the truth-teller. I met this woman and I told her, 'You're like the character I'm playing,' and she replied, 'Flimsy filters, huh?' That's a great description of her. She has a great sense of humor too."
Ellen Burstyn On The Relationship Between Margaret & TJ
"They are very close, and their relationship will be expanded in later episodes. There is more about them. She is the one in the family that he's safe with and open with. Margaret is his safety."
Greg Berlanti On Elaine Barrish & The Hammonds
"[The show] is similar to 'The Devil Wears Prada' and Miranda Priestly. Here's this character, but you want to create your own version of it. The resume is similar, but once she says -- after 10 minutes -- 'I want a divorce' and goes her own way, the story becomes very different. I really wanted to do a former first family because I hadn't seen that on TV. This family is our equivalent of royalty, and now that they're not in power, You realize that they're just like us. There's a sex addict, there's an alcoholic, there's a rageaholic kid and a drunk grandmother. All we want is to see them get back in the White House. They're all dealing with having been something great once, and trying to deal with getting back to that."
Sebastian Stan On The Sex In 'Political Animals'
"I think the show is called 'Political Animals' for a reason. These people all come at things with an agenda in mind. I don't know that the sex in the show will always be as manipulative, but I certainly think that sex isn't off limits for these political animals. They're very motivated people."