Those of you who regularly read my coverage on film will know that first and foremost I think of myself as a film critic and secondly as a film journalist. Although I've been approached to do various interviews and have had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a number of actors, actresses, writers, and directors, it's not often that I feel inspired enough to do just that. It's even rarer that I actively seek out an interview to promote a movie. In fact, with the exception of JR Bourne and Nathaniel Geary, who I spoke with about the Vancouver theatrical release of On the Corner, I can't remember a time when I myself put in this much effort to sit down and talk to someone. I guess it's because of my love of film and the fact that I feel the Canadian film industry is unappreciated at the box office, so when I see an opportunity to make even a small contribution to trying to change that, I request an interview.
Now to be totally honest, this is not the first time Carly Pope and I have crossed paths. She and I are both graduates of the same Lower Mainland high school, and although we were two years apart, I did have the opportunity to work with her on one school production and if my memory serves me correctly she may have been a drop-in member of a club I ran during her grade 12 year. The name of the club will remain a secret because it would only serve to embarrass myself and her, but I'll tell you that it was one of the most popular in school history. But what does all of this have to do with the fact that Carly is currently appearing in the Canadian comedy Intern Academy? If you said absolutely nothing then you'd be partially correct. You see, it's always fun to bring back some memories, which is something she and I spoke of during a recent press junket to promote the film.
Mark McLeod: You're a local resident of Vancouver who graduated from a specialized theatre program at a local high school. This same program has gone on to launch the careers of a few other Canadian actresses including Cobie Smulders (Veritas: The Quest). What do you think it is about that program that makes it such a launching pad for young talent?
Carly Pope: Well the program was really extensive. I think that in my last year of high school, half of my classes were drama courses (laughs). I mean, I had a complete time with being able to play around and try out different things to see how it suited things, but I think more than anything it's if you like it then you like it so you pursue it elsewhere. So if you enjoy that craft, that art form, then you seek it out elsewhere. Aside from the fact that it's an excellent training ground or it was when I was there, if you want to continue you have to keep training and keep finding things to keep going. Because it was great for the teen years, but then when you get out you have to keep that alive. I certainly credit my excitement and eagerness in the first stage in film and TV and all that stuff to the theatre department there and the theatre company, because that really gave me my energy when it came to this stuff. I had no idea, it was... it was... [PAUSE] Yeah, I had no idea until I started working on scenes and plays and reading plays.
MM: It was just a good elective?
CP: Yeah absolutely it was, until I started to actually take it more seriously and took half of my schooling with it. (laughs)
It was here where I decided to admit that this wasn't our first meeting and that I too had graduated from the same high school as she did, although a couple years later and not from the theatre program itself. I told her about working on that play together which turns out was her grade 11 year and that this was a bit of a blast from the past for both of us. After some brief reminiscing and discussion about how the school is no longer just spawning people who act in film and TV but those who write about these mediums, we got back to the task at hand.
MM: You went down to Los Angeles for a couple years after landing a lead on the WB series Popular. Then after it ended, you came back home. What was the Hollywood experience like and what influenced your decision to return back to Vancouver?
CP: Umm... It was a job down there and my life's up here. Plain and simple. I was brought down there for a job and I was very lucky to have it, but I never had any desire to pursue things down there. I had a job and of course I'm going to take advantage of that and do what I needed to do down there, but as soon as the job was over I was happy to come home.
MM: In Intern Academy, you play Nurse Sarah Calder, part of the nursing staff that really keeps the six interns in check and away from harming the patients. What was it like playing the straight woman to such an insane group of possible medical professionals.
CP: It was very challenging to play the straight character. It's really hard because naturally, being immersed amongst characters, it's very difficult first of all not to want to push it further but also it's hard to feel like you're really doing anything because you're so straight and serious. So it was very challenging, since when I've done comedy I've usually played a little bit more of a character, so it was hard for me to turn it down. I mean, I'm pretty bored with my performance (laughs from both sides of the table) but it was a lot of fun to be amongst everyone. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world and I can only hope that we keep going in some fashion.
MM: A whole wacky series of Intern movies?
CP: Exactly. (laughing)
MM: Two part question: First of all, do you think any of your castmates have what it takes to be doctors? And if so, would you allow any of your fellow cast members to practice medicine on you?
CP: Good question. Do I think any of them could be doctors, absolutely. Any one of them could be if they wanted to be. Everyone's very intelligent and has great senses of humour, which is generally pleasant when it comes to doctors (laughing). Would I allow any of them to practice on me (more laughter). I would say that any of the girls could have a go. Dave (Thomas) has a lot of medical love in his life, so I think he'd be a good candidate, but aside from that I think some of the gents you know, well maybe we could specialize in something for them. Certain areas of interest, but as a GP, no I don't think so (laughing).
MM: If you had to describe your character in one word, what would it be and why?
Carly seems reluctant and without words for the first time during this interview. Two minutes of silence, and the battery low indicator light on the minidisc recorder beginning to flash, and she finally comes up with something.
CP: I would say she's a poser (both of us laugh) because Sarah's not a natural blonde but we wigged her in a big bad way.
MM: Yeah, that wasn't the best dyed hair job I've ever seen.
CP: It's a wig, my hair was actually dyed blonde but it came out not as natural as the creative powers that be would like. Which I explained might have something to do with my black eyebrows (more laughter from both of us). So we wigged it and in my mind it's just posing all over the place.
MM: Well it does sort of stand out on the cast pictures.
CP: Yeah, who's that?
MM: I thought it was a different Carly Pope, the name might have been the same but there's no way it's the same girl.
CP: I know! My friends are having a field day with it.
MM: Intern Academy has quite the cast of Canadian comic legends, like Dave Thomas, Dave Foley, and Dan Aykroyd. What was it like working with and meeting these performers?
CP: It was awesome. It was just a real honor to be surrounded by these actors, and meeting and being around them every day. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
At this time the publicist for the film re-emerged to whisk Carly away to go back to a breakfast interview that was happening at another table in the same restaurant. Although I had some other questions left to ask, I was just thankful to have a few minutes in which to talk to her about the movie. I quickly thanked her and wished her the best of luck in the future, and that hopefully her and I will cross paths yet again in the future on another film project.
In addition to Intern Academy opening nationwide in Canada on September 10th, 2004 from TVA Films, she's also appearing in and co-produced Everyone, which plays at the Vancouver International Film Festival and recently won the Best Canadian Film award at the Montreal Film Festival. Also slated for release later this year or early 2005 is Various Positions, a film which played the Film Festival in 2002.
Special thanks to Carly Pope, Rory Richards PR, Chris Allicock at Amberlight Productions, and the gang at TVA Films.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.