Do you see your Da Vinci’s Inquest character of Sue as a hero or a villain?
The thing I love about Sue is that she’s not a victim or a villain, she is a whole, three dimensional person. She is resourceful and has some agency and choice, but those are always mitigated by her context. She’s a survivor. I believe she is very sympathetic and human, because of her flaws, and that her fate could be anyone’s fate if they shared her experiences.
What advice would you give to someone who was practicing self-mutilation?
I don’t really believe in giving advice, I think you should make the choice that is best for you; I have no idea what your personal situation is. That said, I truly believe that if you stop doing it you will eventually find the affection, understanding, and means of self-expression you are presently lacking but totally deserve and need. It might take the patience of a saint and hard work, but it will happen. If, on the other hand, you continue to self-mutilate, you might not find these things, because it may delay your internal development. Taking Women’s Studies courses helped me to articulate my experiences in a meaningful way to a particular community. Other people express themselves through the arts. Maybe you don’t know yet how you will find expression and understanding, but you should give it time, the world is always a lot bigger than we realize, and everything is temporary.
Do you like coffee?
Love coffee, but can’t drink it much as I have a really sensitive system and it makes me bats.
Have you ever traveled outside of Canada, and if so, was there any country that you particularly enjoyed?
I just went to Belgium and I adored it.
What are your thoughts on gay marriage? Should it be legalized?
Yes, it should be legalized. It is legal in my province, and I have always said that I would never myself be married unless gays and lesbians have the right as well. As things stand globally and historically, marriage is an institution of male domination and ownership of the female body. If gays and lesbians can also marry, the meaning of marriage will change for the better. I believe that all people should enjoy the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation. Homophobia is as great a concern to me as racism, sexism or classism, and indeed these are all inextricably linked.
What are your favourite poems and poets?
Here is one of my favourite simple poems, for me it contains something of the essence of enlightenment. It’s by Emily Dickinson. I like lots of other poets as well.
Some things that fly there be, —
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.
Some things that stay there be, —
Grief, hills, eternity:
Nor this behooveth me.
There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!
What is your favourite holiday and why?
Christmas is my favourite holiday because of the beautiful stories that all cultures tell around that time. It’s the time of brightness that lights up the dark winter.
What is your favourite color?
Is it true that you can sing?
I have an unremarkable but fairly tuneful voice, suitable for choral music, in a mid-sized to largish choir. Actually, larger the better.
Do you ever use music to help you get into character?
Of course. I always listen to music that relates to my character in some way when I am working, e.g. if I ever got to be in a Woody Allen movie, I’d listen to Django Reinhardt in my trailer.
When you talk about exploitation in films, what do you mean? What is exploitative and what is not?
When I talk about exploitation I mean that a member of an oppressed class is used, to their detriment or with minimal compensation, for the benefit of members of an oppressive class. The question of who has the power to decide whether something is exploitative or not is a very interesting one, and needs to be asked constantly. For example, if you have a middle-class white feminist telling a poor pornography actress she is being exploited and the actress doesn’t think so, this is very problematic. Complex issue.
What advice can you give a young actress who is just starting out?
If you want to be an actress, you should develop as many other interests as you can, and definitely get an education. This will only enhance your future performances. I have been really lucky and finding work as an actress is still a huge struggle. It’s just the nature of the industry, you have to be in the right place at the right time.
What if you have no prior resume?
You could always get experience by taking classes or being involved in community theatre.
What kind of fiction do you like to read? Would you ever consider taking a role based on a character from a novel you have enjoyed?
I like all kinds of fiction. I’d love to do historical fiction or sci-fi.
Do you have the same feelings for your fans in the United States as you do for your fans in Canada?
I don’t like the American government, but I don’t think it accurately reflects the wishes of the American people, so I don’t like Americans any less than anybody else, if that’s what you mean.
What movies did you enjoy as a kid?
Some of my favourites were: The Dark Crystal, Time Bandits, Dunder Klumpen, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence of Arabia, and Dragon Slayer.
Have you ever visited England, and if so, did you enjoy it?
I am a shameless Anglophile and could easily live there happily one day.
Were there moments in your life when you felt masochistic?
I try not to ever let myself use pain as a recourse for guilt, because pain can easily become an end itself, or a method of warding off future pain. I think everyone faces this challenge on one level or another. I don’t mean this as a judgement on adult consensual masochistic play for pleasure, which is a totally separate issue.
Was there ever a point in your life when you just wanted to give up?
Of course. Life itself is a miraculous triumph over that natural, human impulse.
Growing up, did you have a large number of friends or a few close ones?
It depended on my mood, and how it pleased me to conceptualize myself. Sometimes I thought every person I knew was a friendship-type relationship in one state of progress or another, sometimes no one seemed to fit the category.
If you could film on location anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York. I’ve always wanted to visit there.
How important is fame to you? Would you prefer to stick with smaller films?
From what I’ve heard, fame isn’t very good for people. I want to be happy, and I’m not sure if it’s compatible with fame. I want to play interesting, unique characters, which usually occur in smaller films.
What, if anything, does the horror genre have to contribute to film and literature?
The horror genre always has a lot to say about what threatens mainstream culture, and is an excellent venue for psychological and feminist discourse.
Have you ever seen Tim Burton’s work?
Yep, huge fan.
Would you change anything about yourself?
Only my desire to change myself. (If I were you, reading this answer, I would think it a very pretentious and irritating answer, but I am just going to leave it like that regardless.)
Do you believe in the supernatural?
I believe that the supernatural represents knowledge of real things that the society has repressed. Confrontation with this knowledge can be extremely dangerous, because the mainstream society will do anything to eliminate the evidence of it. The wolf in Ginger Snaps for me represents the knowledge that gender performance, and sexuality, is constructed rather than natural. Femininity is not natural to the female body, but rather imposed as part of the heterosexual imperative. The failure of Ginger and Brigitte to cover this up, and to make sexuality a safe, contained thing, leads to Ginger’s death. In the same way, people are murdered and beaten for being gay, because they are threatening existing power structures by exposing the fact that gender is not synonymous with physical sex. That is a kind of supernatural knowledge, too. I think a lot of teenagers are destructive or self-destructive because they are unable to express knowledge that is incongruous with our culture, but is nonetheless real.
Do you believe in reincarnation?
I think it can be a really useful idea, especially when you want to think about what exactly makes you YOU. It’s one of many questions I keep in mind as I try to understand what it means to be alive and embodied. In general, I believe in whatever helps me to live life according to my deepest values. Beliefs are just words to persuade the intellect to follow the heart.
Do you prefer wearing makeup or going for the natural look?
I go through phases of liking to wear makeup and rejecting it. It can be fun, but it can also be used to hide behind, and is kind of bad for your skin.
Have you ever seen In the Mouth of Madness?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen outside it!
Is the glass half full or half empty?
The interesting question for me isn’t the perceived fullness or emptiness of the glass, nor is it “why is the glass?” or even the cheeky, my-boots-are-brighter-than-your-boots question “is the glass?” Rather I would ask, “when is the glass, how is the glass, where is the glass,” etc., in an attempt to contextualize any meanings the glass might appear to suggest, and create an open-ended dialogue between the signifier of the glass, whatever the heck it refers to, and my own personal socio-historical (no doubt philosophically self-indulgent) vantage point.
Was there ever a point in your life when you felt alone with no one to turn to?
I have felt that way many times. It always passes eventually.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Reading my horrorscope.
What do you do to relax in your free time, if you have any?
I read my Harper’s magazine and books, and play internet chess and reversi.
Would you like to do a guest spot on The Simpsons?
Yes! What an experience that would be.
What scares you the most?
The idea of something bad happening to my kids, and flying.
What is it like seeing yourself onscreen?
It’s like being tied to an anthill in the desert, naked, covered in honey, with your eyelids cut off so you have to stare at the sun til you die.
Could Ginger Snaps be expanded to encompass the male perspective?
Ginger Snaps is FROM the female perspective and in many ways FOR the female perspective, but it is actually ABOUT the influence of the male perspective, so it already does encompass that.
Do you think it’s weird that Ginger Snaps fans mimic the movie by making their own death shots?
Part of the inspiration for the death shots was the postmodern work of Cindy Sherman. Everyone should check out her work. Making death shots is really fun.
Was it scary seeing Katharine Isabelle in all her werewolf makeup?
No, too much pathos in the makeup.
Any chance of a special edition of Ginger Snaps with additional footage or commentary by you and Katharine?
I really, really wanted to do a commentary, but it wasn’t permitted by the distributors.
Which did you prefer: the costumes in Ginger Snaps Back or the casual clothes in Unleashed?
The Unleashed costumes were way more comfortable, but the Snaps Back ones were so nice to look at. I still wear some of my wardrobe from the original Snaps and Unleashed. It makes me feel like I haven’t really lost that character, who it was sad for me to have to stop being.
Did you do many takes to get your screams just right in Unleashed, or did you overdub them later in the studio?
Some were dubbed, but I tried to match them to the originals. I really love screaming for some reason. It is super fun to scream as loudly as you can into a microphone. Everyone should do it once a week.
If you weren’t an actress, would you be a fan of the Ginger Snaps series?
Yes. I love the stories and characters.
In retrospect, do you think the importance of the song “Hungry Like the Wolf” in Small Sacrifices was a sign of things to come with Ginger Snaps?
I’ve always found that fact eerie in the extreme. Sometimes I imagine that coincidences like that are the inside jokes of angels, but what sort of angel makes a joke like that??
What was it like working with Hugh Dillon in Ginger Snaps Back?
Hugh Dillon is honestly one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever worked with.
Is it difficult to maintain your passion for acting in a business that discriminates and typecasts most people?
Yes. Now my passion is for acting in my real life, as in refining and being conscious of my actions and choices and the performance of my identity.
Is the movie scene in Canada more down to earth than in Hollywood?
Yes, for sure. You don’t get the Hindenburgesque egos as much in Canada.
Do you think the Canadian film industry holds its own on the global stage?
I think Canadian film has a long way to go. It is really hard for new talent to get funding.
Could you talk about the opening scene of Ginger Snaps when Brigitte emerges from the garage? How were you feeling the day of the shoot?
I was really happy that day because my mom was coming to Toronto to visit me, and she was going to make me my favourite vegetable soup and load up my freezer with it before she went home. Go figure. That is my vegetable soup-anticipatory face.