‘Big Sky’: Meet Brooke Smith, Actress Behind Merrilee, Wife of Rick Legarski

by Suzanne Halliburton
big-sky-meet-brooke-smith-actress-behind-merilee-wife-of-rick-legarski

Big Sky is back on with a new episode. Are you curious about Brooke Smith, who plays Merrilee Legarski?

Fans of Big Sky know her as the wife of Rick Legarski, the shady Montana Patrol officer who is in cahoots with creepy long-haul trucker Ronald Pergman. Merrilee is a reoccurring, but important character. Her husband recently was shot in the head. And he opened his eye last episode, to the shock of many viewers.

Brooke Smith is a well established actress. You may not know her name, but you know her face.

So, here’s everything you need to know about the 53-year-old Big Sky actress from New York.

Before Big Sky, Brooke Smith Did ‘Silence Of The Lambs’

Long before Big Sky, Smith was used to crime dramas, whether she was a bystander, a law officer or the victim. After all, she was in The Silence of the Lambs. She played Catherine Martin, the daughter of a U.S. senator.

Remember this scene? She was singing along to “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in her car when she was snatched and thrown into a pit. Buffalo Bill then tortures Smith’s character in the basement of his home.

Smith lost weight to be an actress, but when she accepted the role in Silence of the Lambs, she had to gain 25 pounds.

“I know I’ll forever be the girl in the pit. For sure,” Smith told Vulture about the 1991 movie. “And I’m okay with that. Hopefully people thought I could act, and maybe that helped me get the next thing.”

Smith also has played characters in crime shows on television. She guest-starred on shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She even played Sheriff Jane Greene on the A&E drama Bates Motel.

Smith Is Believable As a Doctor

Smith also is very believable as a doctor. So it’s a good thing she’s there with her TV husband in Big Sky.

She played Dr. Erica Hahn, a heart surgeon on Grey’s Anatomy. Smith’s character was reoccurring seasons two and three and then was part of the full cast the fourth season. Smith’s character became romantically involved with Callie Torres, one of the hospital’s orthopedic surgeons.

Smith said she watched heart surgery being performed to prep for her role.

There were reports that ABC had Erica Hahn written out of the show because they no longer wanted a lesbian story line. But creator Shonda Rimes, in a statement to Entertainment Weekly, said: “Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke’s character would sustain in the long run.”

Smith also played characters on Ray Donovan, Bosch, Supergirl, The Good Doctor and Chicago Med.

And now, she’s the wife of a very bad man. In a clip released about Tuesday’s episode, Merrilee is standing next to her husband’s hospital bed, saying “Rick, can you hear me? Blink if you can understand.”

Do like Big Sky? Check out more Outsider coverage here, here and here.

Outsider.com