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Caroline Dhavernas is back in her universe
Star returns to Montreal to promote her latest film, Mars et Avril by Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette
Caroline Dhavernas has done plenty of high-profile American projects and many homegrown productions, and she loves mixing it up like that.
"I think it’s the variety that makes this job exciting,” said Dhavernas, in a chat during the press day for the new Quebec science fiction film Mars et Avril.
Dhavernas plays Avril, an alluring photographer who falls for the much older Jacob (Jacques Languirand), an unusual fellow who plays wind instruments inspired by women’s bodies. The film from writer-director Martin Villeneuve — which is set in a futuristic Montreal — also features Paul Ahmarani as the guy who designs the instruments and actor/director Robert Lepage as a cosmologist. Mars et Avril opens Friday.
"When you have different roles, different languages, different countries, that’s when things get interesting,” Dhavernas says. "I’ve been doing this job for 26 years, so there always have to be new challenges.”
Dhavernas, who began dubbing TV shows when she was 8, first shot to prominence in the English world thanks to her starring role in the critically laudeded but short-lived Fox series Wonderfalls.
Fox aired only four episodes back in 2004 before axing the quirky series about a young woman, played by Dhavernas, who worked at a gift shop in Niagara Falls. But millions of fans signed a petition to try to persuade Fox to keep it alive, and the studio eventually released all 13 episodes on DVD. It turned into quite the cult item, a show that’s still talked about eight years after its all-too-brief run on network television.
"It had a very short life on air but other networks picked it up afterward, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world,” Dhavernas said.
She recently reunited with Wonderfalls co-creator Bryan Fuller. He penned Hannibal, the NBC series inspired by the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, which Dhavernas is currently shooting in Toronto. It features a young Hannibal Lecter, the same hungry cannibal who takes centre-stage in Harris’s novel The Silence of the Lambs (and the film of the same name).
"It was a bit unreal to talk to him that first day that we were in Toronto,” Dhavernas said. "He was talking about the character and I was having trouble concentrating. I just kept thinking — ‘Wow I can’t believe we’re working together again.’ ”
In Hannibal, Dhavernas portrays Dr. Alana Stewart, a psychiatrist who used to be a student of gourmand serial killer Lecter, played by Mads Mikkelsen. The cast of the series also includes Laurence Fishburne and Hugh Dancy.
She was most recently seen on American television in the Hawaii-shot, South America-set medical drama Off the Map, alongside fellow Montrealer Rachelle Lefevre.
Dhavernas has done high-profile Quebec projects in the past few years, notably De père en flic and Surviving My Mother, but she mentions, surprisingly enough, that she hasn’t worked in her home province since she shot Mars et Avril 3½ years ago.
"I really miss working here,” Dhavernas said. "Sometimes I get scripts which I don’t feel like doing. Also I’m away a lot. I was in Hawaii for six months. Now I’m in Toronto. So sometimes I’m not available. But also people think, because you work elsewhere, that you’re not interested (in doing Quebec productions). I think that’s the biggest problem.”
Dhavernas knows Mars et Avril director Villeneuve from their CEGEP days together at Brébeuf, but the odd wrinkle is that Villeneuve was initially thinking of Marie-Josée Croze for the role of Avril. Most of the main actors in the film — including Languirand, Ahmarani and Lepage — were featured in the photos in the original books — which are photo-romans — written by Villeneuve. In the books, it was Croze in the photos, but she was not available when the time came to shoot the film.
"I’m not a big science-fiction fan. I find it can often be a kind of cold universe. But I found a real warmth in Martin’s screenplay. It’s a love story. There’s a real poetry in the film. I really have a lot of admiration for Martin.”
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