With two hit shows and a much-an­tic­i­pated xavier dolan film set for a 2017 re­lease, Emily Hamp­shire is set to be­come Canada’s next big star.

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With two hit shows and a muchan­tic­i­pated Xavier Dolan film set for a 2017 re­lease, Emily Hamp­shire is set to be­come Canada’s next big star.

When we last spoke with Emily Hamp­shire, she was sport­ing the lat­est styles for a fash­ion shoot for our Fall 2014 is­sue. Two years later, the 34-year-old Mon­treal-born ac­tress, who ap­pears on this is­sue’s cover, is the star of not one but two Cana­dian TV shows. On the hit CBC com­edy Schitt’s Creek, she plays sharp-tongued ho­tel re­cep­tion­ist Ste­vie Budd, while on the SyFy se­ries 12 Mon­keys, she plays the in­tel­li­gent yet un­sta­ble Jen­nifer Goines. Now, the brunette beauty’s lat­est role sees her steal­ing the big screen in Mon­treal film­maker Xavier Dolan’s up­com­ing film The Death and Life of John F. Dono­van. As Amy Bos­worth, she em­bod­ies a role that was es­pe­cially writ­ten for her by the tal­ented Dolan. It is the first English lan­guage film for the ac­claimed di­rec­tor, who is also a close friend of Hamp­shire’s. With a high­pro­file cast that in­cludes Natalie Port­man, Jes­sica Chas­tain and Su­san Saran­don, the movie is sure to set Hamp­shire’s star on the rise on the in­ter­na­tional stage. Real Style spoke with the ex­u­ber­ant, laid­back and proudly Canuck star about work­ing with Dolan, her two shows and the thing about drame­dies.

Real Style: Last time Real Style caught up with you, we fea­tured you in a pho­to­shoot for our Win­ter 2014 is­sue! Since then, you’ve starred in Schitt’s Creek and 12 Mon­keys. How have th­ese roles changed you as an ac­tor? Emily Hamp­shire: Gosh, the com­bi­na­tion of Ste­vie and Jen­nifer (the char­ac­ters I play in Schitt’s Creek and 12 Mon­keys re­spec­tively) has truly been the great­est gift I could ask for as an ac­tor. But also as a hu­man be­ing, I love and ad­mire th­ese char­ac­ters so much that I am grate­ful to have them in my life. I of­ten feel as if the char­ac­ters I play are like those sig­nif­i­cant peo­ple who en­ter your life and shape you, make you see the world dif­fer­ently by open­ing your eyes to things you oth­er­wise would never have paid at­ten­tion to.

On a more prac­ti­cal level, do­ing Schitt’s Creek has re­ally taught me to let go. I’ve learned that I’m some­times bet­ter on the show when I’m just en­joy­ing my­self and trust­ing my in­stincts. It’s truly the best job in the world. I mean, most of the time I’m sit­ting be­hind the desk play­ing Sudoku and get­ting to say the things we’d all like to say to mem­bers of the Rose fam­ily. I’ve learned that just be­cause some­thing is fun and easy doesn’t mean it’s not good. In fact, I now think that hav­ing so much fun shoot­ing the show is one of the in­gre­di­ents that makes it great. RS: Tell us more about star­ring as Jen­nifer Goines on 12 Mon­keys. EH: 12 Mon­keys is prob­a­bly the hard­est job I’ve ever had, but the re­wards of get­ting to play Jen­nifer Goines are end­less. She is the part that keeps on giv­ing. She’s like those ma­tryoshka dolls: Ev­ery time I open her up and think I know what makes her ticks, I find an­other Jen­nifer in­side just wait­ing to come out and play.

RS: Can you iden­tify with Jen­nifer in any way? EH: Yes. I iden­tify with the way she al­ways sees the truth in sit­u­a­tions. I feel like I have an over­ac­tive radar for what is re­ally be­ing said be­hind the words or in the si­lences in con­ver­sa­tion. Jen­nifer has that too –to a dif­fer­ent de­gree. But she’s bet­ter than me—I ad­mire her be­cause she says it! She al­ways points out the true thing in a sit­u­a­tion and doesn’t let any­thing slide for so­cial con­ven­tions. I wish I could be that brave. But maybe that’s what makes her seem crazy and lets me get away with seem­ing sane?

RS: Xavier Dolan is di­rect­ing his first English-speak­ing movie, The Death and Life of John F. Dono­van. What was it like to work with such a renowned young Cana­dian di­rec­tor? EH: I just wrapped and it was truly one of the great­est ex­pe­ri­ences of my ca­reer thus far. Xavier is an old friend of mine and we’ve wanted to work to­gether for a while so my ex­pec­ta­tions were high in gear­ing up for this film. There’s also the fact that he wrote this role for me four years ago, which made the an­tic­i­pa­tion even greater, but work­ing with him ex­ceeded all my ex­pec­ta­tions. Just watch­ing him work is a mas­ter class in be­ing an artist. His taste is im­pec­ca­ble, he is un­com­pro­mis­ing in his vi­sion and his radar for truth is ra­zor sharp. He is truly the most au­then­tic hu­man be­ing I know and that’s some­thing special just to be around—it’s catchy and in­spir­ing. He raises ev­ery­one’s game.

RS: How was the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with a cast of high pro­file stars like Natalie Port­man, Jes­sica Chas­tain, Su­san Saran­don, Kathy Bates and Kit Har­ing­ton on that film ? EH: So won­der­ful. And I think mostly be­cause the en­vi­ron­ment Xavier cre­ates around him and on set is one where the work is king. There are no “stars” or more or less fa­mous peo­ple on set. The big­gest star is al­ways your work, and if you do well you are cel­e­brated, and if you don’t bring it, well, lemme put it this way: You don’t want to dis­ap­point Xavier when you’ve wit­nessed the joy he ex­udes when he’s pleased. The drug I think we were all chas­ing on set was to make this beau­ti­ful boy be­hind the mon­i­tor scream and jump up like he’s a 13-year-old girl who’s just been pro­posed

to by Justin Bieber. So it was such an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be work­ing with th­ese high-pro­file stars as an equal.

RS: You’ve played both comedic and dra­matic roles dur­ing your ca­reer. Which do you pre­fer? EH: Dram­edy. I don’t be­lieve that one can be truly good with­out at least a bit of the other. I be­lieve that in life too. I’ve al­ways felt the need to de­flate a heavy sit­u­a­tion by mak­ing fun of it in some wa y, and the only things that make me belly laugh are the un­speak­able truths that get re­leased in a joke. I feel like both Schitt’s Creek and 12 Mon­keys are bet­ter shows be­cause they know that. Schitt’s Creek hu­mour comes from th­ese char­ac­ters tak­ing things very se­ri­ously and it’s also got a huge amount of heart, and 12 Mon­keys has some of the fun­ni­est mo­ments I’ve ever got to play as my char­ac­ter is of­ten the comic re­lief in the show.

RS: What’s your dream role, if you had to choose just one. EH: Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

RS: You won a 2016 Cana­dian Screen Award for Best Per­for­mance by an Ac­tress in a Fea­tured Sup­port­ing Role, for your role in Schitt’s Creek. What was that like? EH: Oh boy, hon­estly, I had no idea I would feel so emo­tion­ally af­fected by it. It felt so much big­ger than just win­ning an award for me. When I got on stage, I looked out at the au­di­ence and saw all th­ese faces that had in one way or an­other helped me along the road to this mo­ment. I saw Rick Mercer , whom I did my first TV se­ries with, and who taught me so much about com­edy. And Karen and Dani, my first agents, whom I’m still with to­day . I was struck by the memories of liv­ing in Karen’s base­ment when I was a kid and book­ing my first job with Dani and both of them talk­ing me down from the ledge when I didn’t get some part I wanted and they be­lieved some­thing bet­ter would come along, and it did. I could just go on and on about that au­di­ence of peo­ple whom I re­al­ized in that mo­ment had all had some hand in rais­ing me. It was so mov­ing to me that I have no idea what I said and I can’t talk about it any­more be­cause it makes me cry.

RS: What are some of the big­gest chal­lenges of work­ing in the Cana­dian film in­dus­try? EH: I ac­tu­ally think there are more ad­van­tages than chal­lenges. I think it’s eas­ier to hone your craft and climb up the lad­der of both suc­cess and—more im­por­tantly—ex­pe­ri­ence in a smaller pond. I have a lot of great ac­tor friends in L.A. who haven’t worked a quar­ter as much as my ac­tor friends in Canada, and I think that’s partly be­cause we don’t have a “star sys­tem.” In Canada I’ve been able to be the lead in tons of movies—al­beit ones that no­body saw, but it al­lowed me to work and be­come an ac­tor who is ready for their “big break” on the world stage. Whereas my ac­tor friends in L.A. are all fight­ing for the bit parts be­cause the “name” ac­tor s are cast in the lead roles. I mean, this is just a small an­gle in re­sponse to this ques­tion—there are def­i­nitely ar­gu­ments for both sides— but I rarely hear the ad­van­tage of be­ing part of the Cana­dian fi lm in­dus­try and I ac­tu­ally think there are a ton of ad­van­tages. My en­tire ca­reer is based on them.

RS: What orig­i­nally in­spired you to pur­sue act­ing? EH: I saw Les Misérables and I felt like I left the earth. I wanted to be Épo­nine.

RS: How do you psych your­self up for a new role and get into char­ac­ter? EH: I think you’ve touched on my favourite part of my job. When I get a new role, I find that in­stantly ev­ery­thing I do and see and ex­pe­ri­ence in life sud­denly in­forms it. It’s like I’m see­ing ev­ery­thing through a new fil­ter. It’s kind of like when you’re shop­ping for a car, sud­denly all you see is cars. Any­way, I read books that re­late in some way to the part. I seek out mu­sic that I think speaks to my char­ac­ter or the project in gen­eral. I make char­ac­ter playlists, some­times scene playlists. The main thing I do is go through my “char­ac­ter box” (which is a slightly em­bar­rass­ing thing to ad­mit I have made and la­belled as such), which is a huge file box of mag­a­zine tear outs of im­ages that I find in­ter­est­ing in some way and have filed into cat­e­gories like hair/makeup/faces/ wardrobe/poses. I pull out any­thing I feel in­spires this part a nd I make a lit­tle book out of it. How­ever, I’m start­ing to tran­si­tion over to Pin­ter­est.

RS: What up­com­ing projects can au­di­ences ex­pect to see you in? EH: I’m about to start shoot­ing 12 Mon­keys Sea­son 3 and then go right into Schitt’s Creek Sea­son 3, so those will be com­ing out in the new year. Also look for­ward to The Death and Life of John F. Dono­van— a su­per movie that is so huge I signed an NDA and can’t talk about it yet. Which kills me be­cause I re­ally want to tell ev­ery­one!

RS: De­scribe your per­fect day off. How do you un­wind and re­lax af­ter spend­ing time on set? EH: Morning movie; like a 10 a.m. show at an empty theatre with birth­day cake flavour (any­thing re­ally) pop­corn. A su­u­u­u­per long mas­sage. Bob­bing in the waves in Mi­ami and nap­ping. All day, but with breaks so it doesn’t turn into sleep­ing.

pho­to­graph ed by: Vanessa Heins

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