The down-to-earth Quebec-raised actress known for hits like Hannibal and Mary Kills People, walks us through her early life while growing up in Montreal, her extensive career, overcoming challenges, and dishes on her most-admired actor.

By Brenna Dixon
Photographer Richard Bernardin
Stylist Fritz

What attracted you to the world of acting? Both my parents are actors, so that’s how I got into acting. My father was doing a lot of dubbing work and I think there was a need for kids’ voices. I actually started dubbing when I was eight. When I was 11, I joined their agency and then began auditioning, which led to filming my first movie and doing my first TV show. I guess I never really had time to dream of being an actor, it just kind of happened. I just fell in love with it.

What was life like growing up in Montreal, in general and as an aspiring actress? I actually went through all my high school years working, but I never worked too much, so I was able to stay in school and have a normal life which I think was an amazing thing. I had access to both worlds which was fantastic. I got to go to school and have my little gang of friends and social life which is so important as a teenager. At the same time, I got to skip school once in a while to work, which was an amazingly fascinating world.

Being a French-Canadian actress, was it difficult for you to break into the English and American TV markets? I remember auditioning during high school for English speaking roles and it took a while for me to get them. I think I wasn’t feeling as confident. When I was 22, I moved to New York after filming with an American actress for a Quebec movie called “The Baroness and the Pig.” After we wrapped, she invited me to meet her agent in New York – me and that agent are still working together now, after all these years. It’s just so fantastic to have met someone who truly believes in you, who respects your choices, and has great taste reading scripts, understanding whether that script is right for you or not. I love working with her: she has been one of my major allies in my career.

You seem to be drawn to the ‘thriller’ genre – does that reflect your personality? Are you a thrill seeker? I hadn’t noticed! I don’t generally tend to prefer the thriller genre, but I guess it’s a bit of a coincidence what has happened in the past years. I don’t see a lot of thriller movies and I’m not a horror fan in anyway, so I guess it just kind of happened. I tend to be drawn to filmmakers, directors, writers, and stories that I want to tell and be part of as opposed to any certain genre.

Who would be your desired film producer to work with on the film of your dreams? I don’t think ahead that much because we have so little control over who we get to work with at the end of the day. But, a dream producer for me would be someone who gives a lot of freedom to the director. I really admire a lot of movies that were made in the 1970s in America because I feel like they have a sense of freedom, exploration, and experimentation that we have lost over the years. It also feels like directors had more of a say regarding who they got to hire, but perhaps I am just idealizing that era. For me, I feel that there is something so strong there creatively that perhaps we should allow ourselves to go back to [it] in order to create new things. Today, we are doing so many remakes of stories that have already been told, and, most of the time, that doesn’t really appeal to me. There are so many brilliant ideas; I wish the business would collectively make that effort to let our imaginations run wild and give ourselves the freedom to go there. All the grand movies we look back upon and admire were made by people who had the guts to just go for it!

What would you consider the highlight of your career thus far?  I feel like it’s been a slow ride for me. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities, but I can’t go back in and indicate just one. I have been blessed with fantastic projects in the past couple of years. Mary Kills People was great because playing the lead as a mother was so close to my reality. There have been so many experiences in the recent years that I am fond of, but I truly think the next highlights are ahead of me.

What has been the most difficult experience in acting that you have had to overcome? I think acting in -40 degree weather in the Montreal countryside, at night, and in period clothing, was the biggest challenge. It was difficult because I felt I didn’t have access to my emotions: my body was shutting down and went into survival mode to endure the weather. I had a lot of emotional scenes to do, but my ability to go there was inhibited and not available to me. I was in a panic. Sometimes it is the elements that you just can’t control which are the challenge.

Can you name one thing that you can’t go without?  The older I get, the more I realize that being able to draw, paint, and visit a museum is vital to my happiness. I am not able to get to stand in front of a painting every day and have it take me to another world, so it’s a luxury. Culture is definitely something that I think I couldn’t go without.

What would you consider the hardest part of acting? The older you get, you change, and the way you work changes as well. When I was younger, I felt like I had a lot more control over a scene or what I was about to do when I was on set. Now, it’s hard but equally amazing, as I have learned to let go and embrace anything that isn’t planned and pops up. The loss of control is something that I have had to habituate myself with and approach quietly, trusting my instincts when a scene goes in another direction. It’s okay to not know what the final result looks like; you have to trust the people around you.

What actors do you admire? I love Cate Blanchett, firstly for her talent but also her beauty, her intelligence, and outspoken nature. I admire her sense of freedom and sound mind every time I hear her speak.

What inspires you to keep going? I know that I am privileged to be doing what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this forever and people still want to hire me, so I try to keep that in mind. I also keep in mind the lovely life this career has given me access to: I have travelled the world because of this job. And of course, the people I love keep me going. I have amazing people in my life, and when I get a little discouraged when work is dense, I am reassured that, because of them, the rest of my life is very fulfilling.

What kind of roles do you hope to play in the future? I would like to do more comedy! I did comedy when I was 25, and I’d really like to go back to it at some point.
What do you think about the fashion scene in Canada? I love to get dressed up. I have so much clothing from my mother and grandmother from the ‘70s, so I’m a bit of a collector. I love UNTTLD from Montreal; I think they do great work! I also adore Mara Hoffman for her prints – I think she’s one of my favourite designers that I’ve come across most recently.

Where would be your dream destination to get away from the stress of your career for a bit? I’ve never been to Asia, and I’ve been meaning to go there for a 3- or 4-month trip. I’ve never done that kind of long trip that people did in their youth. I’d love to do a long adventure without worrying about getting on a plane soon – to have the ability to just deposit yourself into your surroundings.

What advice would you give to a younger you? If I had to think of one thing I think it would be to just own your decisions – don’t make decisions to please others. We often try to please other people when we are younger, and we all want to be loved, but you learn later on when you own your decisions that people just go with the flow and respect you for it.

Photographer Richard Bernadin.
Fashion Editor  Fritz.
Artistic Direction Sylvain Blais.
Makeup and Hair Steven Turpin at TEAMM MGMT
using YSL BEAUTY, SEPHORA COLLECTION, DIOR, SHU UEMURA, and KÉRASTASE.
Model Caroline Dhavernas at AGENCE MVA.
Assistantant Photographer Don Loga.
Assistant Hair and Makeup Geneviève Hardy.

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