Interview: Karine Vanasse

From the interview archive.

Have you ever thought about moving to America to become an actress? Or is Canada always going to be your home base to focus on your acting career?

I like having a base Canada to return to from wherever the work takes me. I am quite the vagabond at heart though and it is pretty easy for me to establish myself in a new city or country, and think of it as home for a period of time.  More and more though I appreciate having a place where I can store my suitcases!

Having done much TV work, would you like to do more movies?

I was lucky to have the opportunity to work on two Canadian features last year. One was a comedy and the other was a drama that reunited me with the director who gave me my first lead role when I was 13 years old. Sometimes the process of working in television feels similar if, let’s say, there are fewer episodes and/or if there is one director for the entire series. I still love working in film; the focus on narrative and vision when shooting a movie is one that deeply resonates with me, especially if the director and writer have been developing the project for a while.

What is your dream role to play?

I recently played a mother for the first time and I see how roles for me may head in a different direction in the next few years. They tend to be more complex and what I can bring to them is evolving. I am very excited about what is ahead. 

Do you feel that you have accomplished everything you have wanted in your career?

Being part of a Canadian series like Cardinal, which has been so well received, is a dream come true for me. That being said, there are still many things I want to do and directors I wish to work with. Sarah Polley is very high on the list.

Why do you think Canadian actors aren’t has internationally known as American actors?

I actually think there has been a shift in this idea. In the past, the way the system worked was that in order for an actor to reach an international audience they had to be on an American show or in an American movie. But, with all of the streaming platforms and cable networks shaping the landscape over the past few years, actors who come from outside of the United States can potentially become just as visible and widely known as American actors.  It is exciting and encouraging that now, more than ever before, a homegrown Canadian project may have a strong international reach and viewership.

Do you think there is a stigma associated with Canadian actors and Canadian programming?

Hum… If there is still one, I feel like we are tearing it down.

If you weren’t an actress, what other job would you be doing?

I like to think that I could have been a good lawyer, but I probably would have been way too emotional. Or maybe not. Regardless, in my work I push myself to explore humanity from the storyteller point of view and not only from the actor’s point of view. I like to think that I would be exploring humanity in any career path I chose. 

What would you want the world to know about Canadian actors? 

I feel like the world already knows so many of Canadian without knowing that they are from Canada! There is a unique feeling of community and empathy, and a desire to portray authentic stories and characters. And our sense of humour is definitely something the world can count on.

What great places should readers know about Quebec?

There are so many! The Eastern Townships is the area I know best, but there are national parks like The Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park or the Saguenay Fjord National Park that should not me missed.  

Where do you draw inspiration from for your roles? 

For me, inspiration can be drawn from anywhere and everywhere. It could be from a photo I see on Instagram, to a quote, to a specific song or scent. It always varies depending on the role. Most of the time, it becomes clear when I go for long walks in the woods, alone, with the character in mind.

Are there any new projects you are working on?

I can’t wait to start shooting Season 2 and 3 of Cardinal and to reunite with Billy Campbell. My love, respect and appreciation for this man knows no bounds. He is an American actor, yes, but he will tell you himself that there is something inside of him that feels deeply Canadian. We definitely share an enormous sense of pride for the series.

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