A member of the accomplished generation of actresses born in Regina in the mid-eighties (a group that includes Tatiana Maslany and Amy Matysio), Elyse Levesque had already reached notoriety thanks to geek favorite series Stargate Universe. Now she is the lead of the new CBC drama Shoot the Messenger.
Roughly inspired by Rob Ford’s controversial tenure as Mayor of Toronto, Shoot the Messenger is anchored by Daisy (Levesque), a reporter with a nose for exclusives and messy personal life. A seemingly meaningless gang-related death leads her to a vast net of corruption, involving dirty cops, crooked politicians and unsavory characters.
Elyse Levesque relates to Daisy’s ambition and drive. “The character appealed to the darker side of myself”, the actresses confesses. Even though she is often cast in shows filming in Canada (Messenger, Stargate, Cedar Cove) Levesque is based in Los Angeles: “I work everywhere but the city I live in.”
– You have been cast in a number of TV shows. Do you have an inkling early on which ones will last?
– You never do. The industry is so weird, it’s really hard to predict. Stargate Universe was such a great show, great cast, we were confident we were coming back for a third season and found out that was not the case. It’s unfortunate, because you can get really attached to people and is hard to say goodbye. Now that I’m older I try to choose projects that I would like to watch and hopefully other people share my taste.
– You are never off-screen for too long. Is there anything that you do that allows you to find work consistently?
– It seems that way, but I too have my lulls. I have an advantage by starting young and being able to build a resume by working in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That worked to my advantage when I moved to Vancouver, since a lot of people my age were just getting out of drama school and didn’t have any credits. One thing that has been beneficial is that I always study acting when I’m not on set. That helps me to remain motivated, focused and growing as an artist and a person.
– How being from Saskatchewan has shaped you as an actress?
– Growing up, coming from a smaller city, I got to be really creative. I also had the freedom of being able to hop in a bicycle and disappear for five hours without my parents worrying. Even though in my high school “Arts” wasn’t at the forefront, I was always surrounded by creative people, friends making independent films with video cameras. It gave me a pretty fun childhood.
– Given your background, how do you deal with new actors and directors in situations in which you know better?
– The best way to approach anything is as a beginner. Otherwise, the ego gets involved and you are out only for yourself. Working with someone new gives you the opportunity to learn, because they bring a new perspective. Also, being an actor is really scary at the beginning -I’ve been there- so I try my best to make people feel welcome.
– What kind of roles do you actively pursue?
– As I get older, I’m more drawn to strong, complicated characters. I have an affinity for period pieces, I grew up loving Jane Austen. Truthful and scary resonate with me. If I read it and I’m scared, it’s probably a good indication.
Shoot the Messenger premieres Monday, October 10th at 9 pm on CBC.