EMILY PERKINS: Part 5 of 5 Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
June 29, 2004
In part five of our exclusive five-part interview with Emily Perkins, Emily discusses her television work, including her recurring role on the highly acclaimed television series Da Vinci's Inquest, details some of the hardships of being a Canadian actress, and touches upon future prospects.
RadioFree.com: You've guest starred on several television shows during your career. What was The Odyssey?
Emily: Oh, that was a kid's show. It was a YTV show.
You were also in the X-Files fifth season episode "All Souls." Is it true that Katharine Isabelle's father was associated with the series?
He was the production designer, yep.
Even though the episodes preceded Ginger Snaps by about two years, did that have anything to do with you and Katharine both being cast in guest spots? Did you know someone, for example, who suggested you for the role?
Nope. That didn't have anything to do with it for me. I had auditioned for it a few times. Actually, the role that she got was like between the two of us, and she got the part.
So they offered you the other "All Souls" role instead?
Well, I just came back and auditioned for the other one--the nephilim. [laughs]
In that episode, you played, as you stated, the nephilim--a set of quadruplets who are supposedly angelic offspring and who are getting killed off by a paranormal force. Was it difficult when you had to play corpses with their eyes burnt out?
You just have to be still. It was pretty easy. Well, you can imagine. All you do is hold your breath. [laughs]
You also guest starred on an episode of the 2002 version of The Twilight Zone. Were you a fan of the original series?
Yeah, I liked The Twilight Zone, for sure.
What classic episode would you count as one of your favorites?
I liked the episode where these little people come attack this woman in a farm house, and you think they're Martians, but then you realize they're not the aliens, they're from earth. I loved that one.
You played Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in an episode of the TV series Mentors, a show about a couple of kids who use a time machine to meet famous historical figures. That project looked like it was a lot of fun.
Yeah, it was.
And even though it's a kid's show, it's a quality one, right?
It is. It's educational.
Is it rewarding to be on something like that, where you know you're contributing to kids learning?
Oh yeah, totally, for sure. And especially to play Mary Shelley. Again, it sort of conduces the horror motif, but...
...but nobody died this time.
What's the casting process in a show like that? Do they ask their guest stars what roles they'd like to do, or do they list off the roles and have the actors go for whichever one they'd like?
They just called me to audition for that part because the director was a fan of Ginger Snaps, and he just thought that I'd be perfect to play Mary Shelley in it.
As Mary Shelley, you got to put on an English accent.
Yep, it was just a fun accent for kids. [laughs] I'm quite sure it was not historically accurate...at all! It was just a fun thing.
There's a scene where Mary Shelley is cautiously trying a piece of Pizza Hut pizza, which is as surreal as Bram Stoker chowing down on a Big Mac or Edgar Allan Poe reaching for that last chip in a Pringles can. Was that cold, disgusting prop pizza they had you eating?
It was cold, for sure. I was kind of wondering about how long it had been sitting around, but they assured me that it was fine! [laughs]
Katharine Isabelle was also in an episode of Mentors, playing Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan.
I actually played her in our school play!
So you know all about her...
Coincidentally, there was a recent episode of Jeopardy where the Final Jeopardy answer (or question, depending on how you look at it) was Frankenstein, and another answer was Anne Sullivan. So I have to admit a kid's show like Mentors helped me on that one.
So you did well on that Jeopardy? [laughs] I love it when that happens. It's such a self-esteem boost when you do well on Jeopardy.
Your big television project at the moment is a recurring role on the highly acclaimed Canadian series Da Vinci's Inquest. How long have you been playing your character Sue?
This will be the fourth season.
You were also on the 1990 TV series Mom P.I. Do you enjoy working on episodic television?
Yep. It's neat because your character has a chance to develop and evolve over time, so yeah.
Your Da Vinci's Inquest character is recurring, but does she recur often?
I'm in the majority of the episodes.
For those of us in the States who don't get the show, could you tell us a little about Sue and her background?
She's a sex trade worker and she's drug addicted, and she's an informant. So basically, most of her scenes are giving information on what's going down on the street. [laughs]
You were nominated for two Leo awards for your work on this show. Is that the Canadian equivalent of the American Emmy that recognizes achievement in television?
No, it's not Canadian, it's just for B.C. So I don't know if you have awards that are just for California, say. It's a provincial award.
Still, a nice accomplishment. For which categories were you nominated?
I won the Leo last year for Best Supporting Actress, and then this year I was nominated in a different category, but I didn't win. The one last year that I won for was called "Dogs Don't Bite People" and then the one for this year was "Bury My Own Bones."
[loads question] Were you ticked off at not having won this year?
No! [laughs] Of course not!
Just happy to be nominated, right?
Yeah, for sure.
Sue's story arc at the end of last season involved her being threatened by a corrupt police officer. Is that story continuing into next season?
Well, now they pretty much have all the evidence to get this bad cop, but he wasn't arrested as of the last episode. And he knows that my character Sue has all the information, and he's using her to frame this city councilor. That's where they left off, so you think that my character's life is in danger because he's probably going to try and kill me next. [laughs] I'd be next on his list.
Do you know what's in store for your character for this upcoming seventh season?
No. I know I'm in this season, but I have no idea what's going to happen.
It seems that in a show like this, your type of character could be killed at any moment. Is that something that you worry about?
Yeah, a little bit. Like I kind of wonder whenever I hear from Chris Haddock, the creator. I kind of think, "Oh, God, is this going to be the kiss of death? Is he going to tell me, 'Sorry, but Sue's going to die'"?
Does playing someone like Sue conflict with your outlook as a feminist, or do you just accept the fact that there are women like that in the world, and you're just portraying one of them?
Well, I think of her as being a product of her society, and she's trying to do the best that she can with her limited resources. And I like the character. I think she's a pretty complex character. She's sympathetic, but at the same time, she's just so stupid sometimes! [laughs] She just makes a lot of bad choices. So yeah, I think of it as a feminist kind of character not in itself, but in the context of the show, which has a strong social conscience, a political perspective. And just the fact that I have the opportunity to expose the life of that, because there are so many women that have that kind of existence, I think it's a good thing.
So you never feel it's stereotypical or exploitative?
No, not at all. It's not the way the show is written.
Any upcoming projects or auditions to speak of?
Not really. Da Vinci's Inquest is starting next month and that's about it. I've had a few auditions this year that I almost got, but then they ended up casting someone else. So I don't know how things are going to go this year. I always seem to have trouble just getting auditions. I've never really had much choice in my career. Like things just come along, and I'm grateful for whatever work I can get. I haven't really had any power of direction to direct my career.
Is it difficult to discuss acting from a job perspective?
I don't mind people knowing that I struggle as an actress because most Canadian actors do, and I'm not ashamed of that at all. I don't think that's a reflection of like my lack of merit. That's just the reality for almost all Canadian actors. There are very few actors that can subsist on it. But so far, I've managed.
I thought maybe you'd be sitting on a huge pile of Ginger Snaps money, since it was such a hit on video.
Right, but that doesn't pay me.
Actually, it doesn't? No royalties?
No, I don't see any money from the success of the films, I just get paid my lump sum at the beginning, and they were low budget movies. American actors, they make so much money. Canadian actors don't make anywhere near what American actors make. That's why Canadian actors all work at Starbucks. [laughs] But if they were in L.A. and doing the same amount of work, they could probably live off it.
Is there any type of film or genre that you would like to tackle as an actress that you haven't gotten a chance to do yet?
Well, comedy. I'd love to do comedy. And I think I have pretty good sense of comic timing, so I'd really like to try that. [laughs]
Looking back on recent cinema, what role would you have liked to play if you had a choice of any of them?
I think I would most like to be Uma Thurman in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. That character was just so cool.
Any aspirations to write, direct, or do anything in the film industry aside from acting?
I've thought about writing and I've just sort of experimented with that, but nothing's really come to fruition yet. But I'm thinking at some point down the road I'd probably like to do that. I'm not sure about directing, but writing maybe.
Have you ever been to internet sites or fan groups that are about you?
I did a while ago. I saw that there were a few out there. Yeah, it's really cool.
So no bad experiences, despite the fact that the internet can be this gross, disgusting contraption where people feel free to say anything?
Oh, no. People seemed really nice. It's like, "Wow, I can't believe people actually responded to that character so strongly that they would actually have like a fansite." It's just so rewarding. It's really nice.
You don't think it's scary in a stalker sort of way to have so many people talking about Emily Perkins one week, only to find them still talking about Emily Perkins the next week?
Well, I don't think they're really talking about Emily Perkins, they're just talking about a character that had resonance for them. But I don't think anyone would ever stalk me. That seems absurd. [laughs]
So with that, do you have a message for all of your adoring, non-stalking fans out there?
Thank you for your support. It just makes me feel like a million bucks that you're out there!
Emily, thank you so much for your time, patience, and insight. It was wonderful to have met you.
Thanks a lot, Michael, it was a pleasure.
This concludes our five-part interview with Emily Perkins. It was a fantastic experience, but as the old adage goes, "All good things...", right? Special thanks to Emily for being so patient, forthright, amicable, and interesting. If talent and enthusiasm actually count for anything in the entertainment industry, she should be owning the world soon enough.