The Mo­tive is clear, Cana­dian TV se­ries drew ac­tor home

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - BRAD OSWALD

VAN­COU­VER — They aren’t just mak­ing a TV show. They’re also mak­ing a state­ment about how, and where, they want to pur­sue their ca­reers as ac­tors.

The stars of the up­com­ing CTV po­lice drama Mo­tive, which is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion in Van­cou­ver, have very def­i­nite ideas about what be­ing part of this new Cana­dian se­ries means, per­son­ally as well as pro­fes­sion­ally. On a pre­dictably rainy Tues­day in Novem­ber, Mo­tive’s pro­duc­ers in­vited TV writ­ers from sev­eral Cana­dian cities to visit the show’s head­quar­ters at The Bridge Stu­dios in the Van­cou­ver sub­urb of Burn­aby. Dur­ing in­ter­views on the show’s set, its two lead cast mem­bers — both Cana­di­ans who have had lengthy ca­reers in the U.S. — cited Mo­tive’s lo­ca­tion and un­apolo­get­i­cally Cana­dian at­ti­tude as ma­jor fac­tors in their de­ci­sion to sign on.

“I didn’t want to be at the whim of the net­works in the (United) States any­more,” se­ries star Kristin Lehman ex­plained. “I was very con­tent to be a jour­ney­man ac­tor, and to take shows or films on a project-by-project ba­sis, be­cause my in­ven­tory of val­ues told me that my qual­ity of life with my fam­ily needed to be a higher pri­or­ity than what­ever else came next. ... I didn’t want to get back on that (U.S. net­work) roller-coaster of ‘This is the next hot thing,’ only to have them pull the plug. I had done that too many times.”

Mo­tive, which is slated to pre­miere on CTV early in 2013, is de­scribed by its pro­duc­ers as “a why­dunit rather than a who­dunit”; Lehman is cast in the lead role as Det. Angie Flynn, an out­spo­ken sin­gle mom whose on-the­job in­ves­tiga­tive in­stincts might be de­scribed as both abrupt and nearly in­fal­li­ble.

Cana­dian ac­tor Louis Fer­reira plays Flynn’s level-headed part­ner, Det. Os­car Vega, and TV veteran Lau­ren Holly — an Amer­i­can-born per­former who now calls Toronto home — por­trays med­i­cal ex­am­iner Dr. Betty Rogers.

Last year, at about the same time that she had be­gun dream­ing of a solid gig in her home coun­try, Lehman was shoot­ing a movie in North Carolina; dur­ing her down time, she hap­pened upon a marathon of the CTV-pro­duced drama Flashpoint on a U.S. ca­ble net­work. It was, she ex­plained, a com­plete eye opener.

“I had never seen Flashpoint be­fore,” she said. “I called my hus­band af­ter­ward and said, ‘I should be so lucky as to work in Canada on a show that looks as good as that one and goes as long as it has. I would love noth­ing more than that.’... I’ve had a lovely life in the States, and a very nice ca­reer, but I want to live here.”

Lehman had taken a cou­ple of years off from act­ing af­ter the birth of her son, and was seek­ing to con­tinue the pos­i­tive level of work/life bal­ance she found when she re­sumed her ca­reer with a part on the AMC se­ries The Killing.

“Af­ter The Killing wrapped, I took some time off to be with my fam­ily, and then I con­tin­ued all my pro­fes­sional obli­ga­tions in Los An­ge­les, where I’ve lived and worked for a very long time. But ... I wanted to work at the high­est level pos­si­ble in Canada. I’ve had a long ca­reer, I’ve worked really hard and I’ve learned a thing or two, and I wanted the lux­ury of be­ing able to work in my own coun­try, on a show that I re­spect and ad­mire, and I be­lieved such a show could ex­ist in Canada. And then Mo­tive came along.

“At the moment when I had to make a de­ci­sion, there was this show, and there was an­other show, an Amer­i­can project, knock­ing hard at my door. And in­stead of say­ing all the things I’ve used to make de­ci­sions in the past, I bit my tongue, held my breath and said, ‘I want to do this show. I’m not go­ing to hedge my bets.’”

Mo­tive’s un­con­ven­tional for­mat will be­gin each episode by show­ing view­ers a mur­der and the iden­tity of the killer; as the sto­ry­line un­folds, the au­di­ence will dis­cover clues at the same time as the show’s fic­tional de­tec­tives, and by the end, ev­ery­one on both sides of the screen will un­der­stand why the crime was com­mit­ted.

Lehman, 40, a Toronto-born ac­tor whose ex­ten­sive U.S.-net­work cred­its also in­clude Fox’s Killer In­stinct and CBS’s Judg­ing Amy and Cen­tury City, said she wel­comes the chal­lenge of play­ing a prime-time se­ries’ cen­tral char­ac­ter.

“I’m just fiercely proud of this se­ries,” she said. “I want, ev­ery day, to come in and do it jus­tice. I feel so grate­ful that I get to drive 10 min­utes (to work), in the coun­try that I love, and that I have this op­por­tu­nity to make art in my own coun­try and play a great fe­male char­ac­ter. There just aren’t that many op­por­tu­ni­ties like this that come along.

“I feel very in­vested in this, so I think the stakes are higher. I want my in­tegrity to show; I want all the train­ing I’ve had to show. I want to be the best team player I can be; I want to be the most ef­fec­tive co-star I can be; I want to treat peo­ple with dig­nity and re­spect. Ev­ery­thing I’ve learned in my en­tire ca­reer, I want it to be used here.”

Lehman’s part­ner in (solv­ing) crime is Por­tugese-born, Toronto-raised ac­tor Fer­reira, 45, who toiled for 25 years un­der the stage moniker Justin Louis be­fore re­claim­ing his name and her­itage af­ter his mother’s death in 2008. He said that even at this early stage in pro­duc­tion, there’s a feel­ing on the Mo­tive set that this could be an im­por­tant se­ries, like Due South and Flashpoint be­fore it, in the con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion of Canada’s home­grown-pro­duc­tion in­dus­try.

“I think (Cana­dian TV) is bet­ter now than it’s ever been,” said Fer­reira, whose U.S. TV cred­its in­clude Star­gate Uni­verse, Hid­den Hills, Pub­lic Mo­rals and The Fight­ing Fitzger­alds. “You don’t have to leave to do great work.... We are a smaller coun­try, for sure, but boy, are we able to pro­duce some won­der­ful stuff now. And we’re do­ing it more and more.

“What I love is the fact that I’m back in a city I love, work­ing with this group of peo­ple — I worked with a lot of them on Star­gate, and across the board, they’re the great­est. I’m just so grate­ful.”

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