The Province – 2004

Emily only gets to smile off camera

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If no one in the Kits coffee shop recognizes Vancouver actor Emily Perkins, maybe it’s because her hair is washed and combed.

Perkins, 26 but much younger-looking, starred in the cult horror hit Ginger Snaps and its sequels, and has a recurring role as a junkie sex-trade worker on TV’s Da Vinci’s Inquest.

“Sometimes if I just roll out of bed and go to the drug store or something, someone will recognize me,” Perkins says. “As soon as I see people eying me with pity, they’ll come and say ‘Were you on Da Vinci’s Inquest?'”

Perkins finished her third season on the TV show last fall and takes another big-screen foray into the great unwashed in Ginger Snaps 2, opening Jan. 30. The first movie played Canadian screens in 2000 and became an international cult hit on video with its sly mix of gore and sexual politics.

Katharine Isabelle played a teenaged girl who began changing after she was bit by an animal, and Perkins was the sister who tried to keep Ginger from snapping.

The first movie’s success prompted the producers to commission two sequels, filmed back-to-back in Edmonton last year.

In Ginger Snaps 2, Isabelle’s Ginger is a sardonic ghost while Perkins’ Bridget, locked up in a psych ward, fights against her own transformation. As well, she’s being stalked by a mysterious hairy beast with urges of its own. Smallville’s Eric Johnson co-stars as a shifty orderly.

“It’s definitely interesting when viewed through a feminist lens,” Perkins says of the sequel. “It’s about horror at the way teenage girls bodies are constructed. The werewolf that’s chasing her represents the requirement in our society that girls become sexual objects.”

Perkins is in nearly every scene of the new movie, which meant some long days during the month-long shoot, especially in scenes near the movie’s end for which she needed seven hours of prosthetic makeup.

Scrubbed and smiling during an interview, she’s philosophical about a career that so far has her doing none of that onscreen.

“I guess people just don’t see me that way. I smile a lot in person and the characters I play never smile. I guess I’ve been typecast into darker roles, which I don’t mind.

“I’m hoping the movie will bring some work my way but you can’t really count on it. Especially the way Bridget looks, she’s so grotesque. There aren’t really that many roles for girls that look like that.”

Her performance in the first Ginger Snaps drew enough good notices three years ago that she was set to move to L.A.

“There were several agents in L.A. that were interested in representing me but life intervened.”

Perkins stayed in Vancouver and adopted two younger cousins, now aged 12 and 15, who had been in foster care. “The kids came along and it wasn’t really possible for me to go down there.”

She’s between jobs now, busy raising her two children and doing clay sculptures. She studies at Emily Carr college and there’s a bit of Ginger Snaps even in her artwork.

“I love doing figures in states of transformation. I did a series of crustacean women, like girls with lobster claws.”

By Glen Schaefer

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