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Interview with Caroline (Surviving My Mother)

First Weekend Club’s Katherine Brodsky spoke to Caroline about the film, as well as her soaring career in an exclusive interview:

KB: How did you come to play Bianca? What attracted you to her character?
CD: Well, you know all these characters in this film have double lives like Bianca. And the writer really wanted to make sure that you know her past as a teenager where there is a lot of suffering at home. And I think she wants to show her friends that she is doing okay – that they don’t have to worry about her. Of course she’s feeling that pain herself and finds a way to ease that pain in her sexuality. And I think she kind of numbs herself with all these men she is meeting and the feeling she gets when she is having these relationships. And eventually when you meet her later on in her life when she is in university, that pattern is still present in her life. And she could have been easily been a character that you can judge. And I think that would have been a terrible mistake because you need the audience to feel for her and root for her. Because the way she used her sexuality – she’s in control. People have a hard time sometimes accepting that in a person. That’s why she hides it so much form her parents. She knows that that side of her can be judged and can be dirty, too.

She hides that part of herself and pushes away anyone who comes too close, she has this fear of non-physical intimacy…
Exactly. That’s the biggest theme. That’s why that becomes a problem… That’s why she is as damaged as she is.
Did you draw at all on your own relationship with your mother or relationships of others that you observed for the role?

I have an amazing relationship with my mom so I couldn’t go there, but in just my personal relationships I have encountered situations when I’ve had [or observed] conflicts with people and I guess you get inspired by that. But it was pretty simple. I didn’t really have to do any strong research – I just discuss[ed] the character and her past with the director.
The biggest challenge for me was exactly playing what I had to play but the way we played it because of the comedy and the drama. They were both so present in this film. And if you push the comedy too strongly then the dramatic side suffers. And we couldn’t have that happening.
Emile was also saying how that was a challenge for him to balance the comedy with the drama…
Well, not many directors can do comedy actually. It’s a really specific genre and you need to know the timing and the rhythm especially when you’re mixing up both. But because it is so natural for him to do a comedy, he could concentrate on the dramatic side as well and make sure that both levels were played correctly. Because if you have a director who doesn’t feel comedy – who doesn’t know how to do comedy – then I am sure this movie wouldn’t have worked because it’s such a fine line between the two genres and you really need to know what you are doing. And he knew exactly what he wanted but he gave me a lot of space to bring what I had to bring – and it was written so clearly that we didn’t need to improv or change things around. It went very well.
The film does have quite of a bit of content that can be considered "provocative". Did you find any scenes in the film particularly challenging, and if so, which ones?
Well, it was my biggest fear when I met Emile. I said to him these issues are dramatic issues and it is very serious and it is a comedy - so how is that going to happen. And I think the only way we made that work was to plan everything very naturally. So when the mother kills her mother – how was that going to play when the scene before or after is a little comedic. Somehow it all works though and people even laugh during the illness. People feel allowed to laugh, which is amazing because usually when you deal with someone being sick or death – laughing is out of the question. I think it’s a relief for a lot of people in the audience to feel to be able to be free to laugh. And they’re not being told to laugh because we’re not pushing the jokes.
Well both comedy and tragedy are so close…
Exactly. Drama can come out of comedy. And the opposite is true also. I think it’s interesting to let the audience just decide when they want to laugh – not tell them when they need to.
You were surrounded by a very talented ensemble cast-- what was the experience like?
Yeah, the only person I had worked with was the woman who plays Ginetta (Louison Danis). I had worked with her when I was 13 – a long time ago. And it was nice to see her again. And she is so great and funny. And I also knew the woman who played my grandmother (Véronique Le Flaguais) but I had never worked with her. And Ellen David - I had never even seen her work.
So it was great to discover all these people and their talents. And some French-Canadian actors who can actually speak English without any trace of an accent. They’re not usually given a chance to explore that. And Colin Mochrie, of course. He’s just amazing and so sweet and funny. And he also gets to play a lot of comedies, but very rarely do we see him do any dramatic work. So everyone got to experience and show what they’re capable of.
And the women, they are basically three generations of very strong, very different women…
Yeah. Exactly. They’re great female parts, too, which is always interesting.
You've been working in film and television both in the US and Canada for a while now (your first film role was when you were only 12)... What is the response to your work and to you like in Canada versus the US?
Well, it’s very different. In the US I’m auditioning all the time. In Canada, I started getting direct offers on a regular basis, which is amazing. I feel privileged to actually be able to be offered these parts. I still audition once in a while up here in Canada, but people are starting to know my work. In America it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s starting [to build] slowly with "Breach” and "Hollywoodland” and "Wonderfalls [tv series]” though. I think casting agents and people in the industry are getting to see more of my work.
What kind of audiences do you think this movie is going to speak to?
We’ve been seeing it in Quebec with different audiences and cities. Both men and women love it. I was wondering: Are men going to like a movie about three generations of women? But it could have been men [in the story instead], it’s really not that important in the end. And the parts were written by men anyways.
[It’s speaks] to people who like different genres, who like to be surprised. There are so many surprises in this film. You don’t really know where the film is going and you’re always kind of going from crying to laughing. Never in the film can you suspect anything will happen. It’s like being on a roller coaster really.
That’s true, you really don’t see it coming. And there’s a light approach to some difficult things and it’s not all judgemental…
Right. I don’t think you can take yourself too seriously. That’s what I love about this film, too. And it could have. With all the taboos… And it’s kind of naïve, too, sometimes, you know.
So, what’s next for you?
I’m in a film called "Passchendaele” which is shooting in Calgary and is directed/written by Paul Gross. It is about the first World War. I play a nurse and there’s a beautiful love story in there between Paul Gross’ character and mine. It’s a beautiful film and I’m really, really happy to be part of it. It’s about battle of Passchendaele, which was a very important battle for Canadians and it’s a big part of our history. It was just so amazing to be privileged to live a little part of that history. A piece of our history.
And also I am back here [in Ontario] in two weeks shooting "Cry of the Owl” which is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith [co-starring Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman].
Category: Articles | Added by: kate-ksk (2010-01-20)
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