The 30-year-old actress stars as feminist Deborah, who leaves her colonial past behind to travel through time with her modern-day boyfriend, in Fox’s comedy.
It’s the first time Leighton has returned to the small screen since her former hit TV show Gossip Girl ended in 2012, and the actress explained in an interview with Vulture.com that her comeback is down to the strength of the character she was offered.
“I was excited to have the chance to play a character who’s so well-rounded,” she told the website. “I really didn’t want to play a girlfriend or a wife. I wanted to have something that I could have fun with and be a real person, as all women are. It’s so rare to find that on television.”
Leighton added that she found it “really refreshing” to play a fearless character who would shoot a gun in one scene and chase bad guys while riding a horse in the next.
“We also bring attention in an accessible way through humor to the treatment of women throughout the ages, which I think is really wonderful,” she shared.
Leighton’s personal life has changed dramatically since her Gossip Girl days, as she is mother to 19-month-old daughter Arlo with husband Adam Brody.
So when it came to choose her next job, the brunette beauty had to think carefully about exactly what she wanted to take on.
“I didn’t want to do a show that had 20-plus episodes every year, and I didn’t want to do an hour-long show,” she explained. “I felt it would either be a procedural drama or a melodrama, and I really didn’t want to do that. That’s not how I wanted to spend my time working. I really wanted to have fun on set and be challenged, and this came along at the perfect time. I still can’t believe it.”