Caroline Dhavernas admits she was extremely disappointed when the Fox network yanked Wonderfalls off the air after only four episodes in spring 2004.
The critically acclaimed dramedy starring the Montreal actress was one of the buzz items of that TV season and had many, including Entertainment Weekly magazine, predicting it would turn Dhavernas into a major star. But the brainy show about a troubled young woman working in a Niagara Falls souvenir shop bit the dust before audiences even noticed it existed.
In a recent interview at an Old Montreal hotel bar, Dhavernas, 27, said she's not bitter about the untimely demise of Wonderfalls. She worked off her disappointment by getting busy with film jobs.
She has acted in six features since Wonderfalls - two star-studded Hollywood projects, one Quebec film, a Belgian flick, and a pair of English-Canadian indies: These Girls, which opened a few weeks back, and Niagara Motel, which opened here Friday.
One of the American movies is Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody, which is about 1950s TV actor George Reeves, best known for playing Superman. Brody plays a detective investigating the death of Reeves (Affleck). Dhavernas plays the detective's secretary/ mistress.
The other Hollywood film she's in is Breach, from Shattered Glass writer-director Billy Ray, based on the real-life story of FBI double agent Robert Hanssen. Ryan Phillippe plays a young agent who works with Hanssen, and Dhavernas is the young agent's wife.
The Belgian film, due in cinemas here this summer, is Comme tout le monde.
Dhavernas will also be seen in a French Quebec film for the first time in years, with the release later this year of La Belle bete, based on the Marie-Claire Blais novel of the same name. It's a much-anticipated film co-starring Carole Laure and Jutra-winning C.R.A.Z.Y. lead Marc-Andre Grondin.
Dhavernas said that it has been an exciting time since Wonderfalls and she has no regrets.
"I think it's been for the best," she said, adding she's not keen to return to the wacky world of U.S. network television.
"I might be tempted if there was another special project. But signing your life away is very scary and I'm not ready to do that."
(With U.S. network series, actors have to sign contracts that oblige them to stay with the show for five to seven years - if the series lasts that long.)
Two years after Wonderfalls, Dhavernas is back in Niagara Falls with Niagara Motel, a black comedy penned by George F. Walker and Dani Romain, and based on Walker's Suburban Motel plays.
Director Gary Yates's film is about a motley crew of losers who cross paths at a seedy motel in one of Canada's most popular tourist spots. Dhavernas plays a beautiful waitress at the local diner who's being hounded to become a porn actress by a sleazeball customer, played with relish by Kevin Pollak.
"When I read the script, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is the end: I'll make movies only in Niagara now,' " Dhavernas said. "But it has nothing to do with Wonderfalls. I just think it's a very inspiring place to set a story. Niagara Falls is the honeymoon capital, and it's supposed to be this romantic place where you start your life with someone. But in this case, it's such a clash with what's going on with these characters' lives."
Dhavernas isn't sure what comes next. She's splitting her time between Montreal and New York City, as she has done for years, and has auditioned for a couple of films. She has always followed a career path that has little in common with most Quebecois actors, who tend to stick closer to home. She first made a name for herself as a teenager on a local francophone TV series, then moved on to more international fare. She would like to keep things eclectic, acting in Canadian, Quebecois, American and European films.
The one thing she's not doing is reading TV scripts. The last time she did that, she was disappointed to read a script for a show that was a virtual Wonderfalls clone. "It would have been easy, but it also would have felt like doing something I'd done before," she said.
Niagara Motel is now playing in Montreal theatres.