- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A classic spoof of the Revolutionary War finds Gen. George Washington interrupted by a bill collector out on the battlefield.

“Could you come back in a little while?” Washington proposes. “I’m going down in history at the moment.”

In real life, Washington didn’t know he was going down in history any more than do the characters of “Turn,” a new AMC drama about four young Americans who find themselves part of an espionage network destined to help the Continentals beat their British oppressors. It premieres Sunday (9 p.m. EDT).

History records these childhood friends were the core of what was dubbed the Culper Ring. But history remained pretty tight-lipped about it, at least until now, as “Turn” shines an overdue light on their gallantry.

“We’re catching these heroes before they were heroes,” says Heather Lind, who plays wife, tavern-keeper and spy Anna Strong. “I didn’t know I was auditioning for a real person till about three auditions in.”

Adding spice to the tale is the mutual yearning of Anna and her former fiance, Abraham Woodhull, in their small Long Island town. Years earlier, Abraham broke off their engagement. Each married another. Now, reunited by their patriotic cause, they find their long-thwarted romance will be rekindled.

“He knows Anna is who he should be with,” says Jamie Bell, who plays the much-conflicted Abraham. And when the war throws them together, “she’s the one who makes him face his fears and find his voice.”

The 28-year-old Bell, born in England, began his career as a kid star in the 2000 musical feature “Billy Elliot,” wowing moviegoers with his skill as a hoofer. Subsequent films include “King Kong,” ”Nicholas Nickleby,” ”Flags of Our Fathers,” ”The Adventures of Tintin” and the current “Nymphomaniac.” He is married to actress Evan Rachel Wood.

Lind, 31, who grew up near Albany, N.Y., has logged a number of stage credits and a recurring role on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

“I was sort of star-struck when I met Jamie,” she confides. “To look nice I wore a pair of heels. Then Jamie came in and introduced himself and I was sort of looking down at him.”

No wonder. Bell has a wiry but compact build (“I’m 5-feet-8 after yoga, when I’ve stretched myself out”) and Lind reports her height as 5-feet-7 - that is, when her lustrous brunette locks aren’t poufing up a bit.

“At the last minute, right before the audition, I snuck a pair of flats out of my bag and changed shoes,” she says.

“Very Anna Strong-like,” says Bell admiringly.

The couple’s easy, joking banter strikes quite a contrast to Abraham’s haunted demeanor, and to that of Anna, who, in Lind’s portrayal, exhibits a world of pain and resolve in her enormous brown eyes.

“On the show, I look so SERIOUS!” Lind says. “But there ARE a few scenes toward the end of the season where there’s laughing.”

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