Degrassi, Trailer Park Boys, Lost Girl, Bomb Girls, Kids in the Hall… Canadian TV certainly has its gems, and we couldn’t be more excited for our latest newfound obsession: CTV’s Motive, which premieres tonight after the Super Bowl. Unlike most crime dramas, Motive starts off by showing you who the killer is and who is unlucky victim gets to be in the first couple minutes (FYI: in episode 1, the victim is played by none other than Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block fame). Over the course of the episode, the viewer gets to follow as the crime scene detectives unravel the killer’s motivations for the crime in order to find their suspect. While it sounds like a simple twist, you’re actually taken on a much more psychological journey of piecing together why someone decides to kill.
The show stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn, a crime scene investigator who gets through her insane days on the job with a heavy dose of dark humour. We spoke with Kristin about how she researched her role, the current state of Canadian TV and much more!
Real Style: Joey from New Kids is on the first episode. I didn’t realize he was an actor!
Kristin Lehman: He is. He was on that show Boston Public for a long time.
Real Style: How did you get him involved?
Kristin Lehman: We have the same agent. Aside from his huge [New Kids on the Block reunion] tour, he was just a huge feather in our cap for the first episode. I was like, “I can’t believe we’re about to kill a huge cultural icon. We can’t do that! The New Kid on the Block is now in a huge pile of blood!”
Real Style: The New Kid on the Block is now the dead guy on the block! You get to find out who the murder victim and the murderer is from the get-go of each episode. It’s an interesting concept.
Kristin Lehman: Yes, it leads people to believe that they have more information than our cops, but then, at some point, before you know it, you’re both caught up. Everybody, when they’re watching the who-dun-it shows, is making guesses in the first five minutes anyway. We just kind of give them what they want.
Real Style: What do you think the appeal of that? I realized I was actually starting to feel a lot more sympathetic towards the murderer as the case unfolded.
Kristin Lehman: That’s right. You become more invested. The sneak-peeks you get off the top are of them in their real life. You’re more invested, you know both of them, and you’ve already made assumptions. A murder who would murders someone — that makes them immediately bad — but here you see them in a different.
Real Style: Will that carry through the season?
Kristin Lehman: It has. I’ve seen 9 episodes, and I wasn’t expecting to feel as much emotion as I feel for the people in these situations.
Real Style: What kind of research did you do for this role?
Kristin Lehman: I spent a lot of time interviewing male and female homicide teams. It was fantastic. Their relationship and why they do what they do — their relationship to their job, their relationship to each other and everyone at the police station — all of that was more important to me than learning how to fire a gun. Homicide detective almost never pull out their guns. What was important for me was finding out why these people do what they do.
Real Style: What kind of things did you find out?
Kristin Lehman: I found out that detectives are really good dressers. I’m not even exaggerating. The woman I interviewed had these fantastic fuschia suede heels on that I coveted. And that they’re invested in their jobs the same way you and I might be. We think of them as doing these jobs that we could never imagine doing, but their relationship to what they do is the same as our relationship to what we do.
Real Style: Your character’s personal life seems like an issue that we’ll get into later.
Kristin Lehman: I think we dip in and out of it. Every new show is trying to find their feet before they can say what they are. That’s certainly something that I like about the role — going in and out of the personal life. There are some episodes where we go into it a little more, and some where we don’t at all.
Real Style: You guys are very blatant about shooting in Vancouver, right down to a close-up of a BC license plate. That’s nice for a Canadian show.
Kristin Lehman: I totally agree with you. We try to use obvious Canadian touches whenever we can, and I’m really proud of the way we use Vancouver for its production value. Nobody is pretending that we’re not shooting in Canada, which is really important to me. The other wonderful thing is that ABC has bought us, but they air us after CTV has had the full season air on Canadian television. That’s another thing that I think is really a nod towards the importance of us acknowledging our own industry.
Real Style: Wow, so it will be in the States later this year?
Kristin Lehman: Yes, we got news on Wednesday. We’ll be part of their summertime programming.
Real Style: That’s fascinating. Canadian productions are getting a lot of attention in the US — I’m thinking of Lost Girl on SyFy…
It’s a bi-product of networks trying to shoe-line their business. They don’t have to invest as much in developing projects when they can purchase their summertime off-season products that someone else has done.
Real Style: What has your career been like in terms of splitting up your time between LA and Canada?
Kristin Lehman: I’m really lucky. I never really felt like LA was the Mecca, that you “made it” if you made it somewhere else. I’ve been a journeyman actor for my whole career. I just sort of went where I was invited. I worked the early part of my career in Canada before I had the luxury of doing an American series, which brought me down to LA. I lived there for 10 years. I came back here to have my little boy about five years ago. I decided that while I have a lovely, lovely life in LA — a lot of my friends and other professionals live there — I just love Canada. That’s where I want to be.
Real Style: Are you based in Toronto half the time?
Kristin Lehman: No, I moved actually to do another series called The Killing for AMC two years ago. During that time, my little boy started school, so it was important for me to keep us in a place where he could keep growing his social life. I love Toronto, and I kept my house here. Between my husband, my son and I, we’ll always have a bit of both in our lives. We need a bit of both because the cities are so different, and we have that luxury. We’re really lucky.
Real Style: What got you interested in doing Motive?
Kristin Lehman: It was the characters that I liked so much about Motive. I really thought it was tremendous that there was so much dark humour. One of the things the police officers told us in the first minutes of being with them is that the way that they cope with their job is by using a lot of inappropriate humour. It’s really a lovely opportunity to try to challenge our ideas of what it is to deal with complex issues, and that they’re not always dower. Having that kind of humour along with the pathos for what people are going through is a really nice challenge. We have some really excellent guest stars who are all really enjoying our show also because they get a really full meal — a full, developed character to come and play for a week.
Real Style: Like a victim or a murderer…
Kristin Lehman: Yes. Obviously the victim dies, so usually our guest stars are really excited to come and play the killer, but I think people are excited to do anything on our show, which I’m pleased about.
Real Style: Are there any plots or guest stars that you can tell us about?
Kristin Lehman: There are too many spoilers to share, but I think our writing is just full of twists and turns and full of excellent plot lines.
Real Style: You have a big time slot for the premiere –right after Super Bowl Sunday.
We do! It’s so exciting to know how much the network is behind us that they gave us that gift.
Real Style: You were on the side of my TTC streetcar in Toronto this morning.
Kristin Lehman: Oh was I?! Yes, I was busting crime.