Over the past decade, Laura Vandervoort has poured her heart and soul into each project, establishing herself as one of the most versatile actresses in the entertainment industry. She not only crosses over genres, but also changes from character to character flawlessly embracing the essence of every role she plays. From being listed in Maxim’s Top 100 hottest women two years in a row, to spearheading a national PETA campaign, to starring in a hit studio films, it is evident that Laura’s career is blossoming into something wonderous. Best known for her roles on the television shows “Smallville” and “V,” she continues to turn the heads of genre fans and critics alike.
Laura first began her career in background work on Canadian commercials and TV shows, then landed her first speaking role at the age of thirteen, for the children’s series “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” She went on to take acting classes and book other TV guest star roles and at nineteen, while attending York University, Laura landed the lead on the CTV TV series “Instant Star,” a popular series that ran for four seasons.<
Landing the coveted role of “Supergirl” AKA “Kara” on the hit The CW series “Smallville,” Laura became the main focus of the 7th season of the popular sci-fi drama. Following “Smallville,” Laura booked the sequel to the Jessica Alba/Paul Walker feature film “Into The Blue” titled “Into the Blue 2: The Reef.” Following “The Reef,” the in-demand actress went directly into filming “The Jazzman,” “Out of Control,” “Damage” and s miniseries that was the SyFy channel’s re-launch of Philip José Farmer’s “Riverworld.” Laura also booked a series regular spot for ABC’s sci-fi series “V” amongst Elizabeth Mitchell (“Lost”) and Scott Wolf (“Party of Five”). After “V,” she booked and shot five feature films back to back: the psychological thriller, “The Entitled” starring Ray Liotta, followed by McG’s romantic comedy, “This Means War” starring Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine, the lead in “Desperately Seeking Santa,” with Nick Zano, “Broken Trust,” and the hit side-splitting comedy, “Ted” directed by Seth Macfarlane, starring Mark Wahlberg.
Laura Vandervoort’s latest project is her most ambitious and challenging to date; allowing her to push her limits as an actress. Based on the ‘Women of the Otherworld’ novels by #1 NY Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong, ‘Bitten’ is an emotionally charged supernatural thriller where she stars as Elena Michaels, the lone female werewolf in existence. Desperate to escape both a world she never wanted to be part of and the man who turned her into a werewolf, Elena has abandoned her pack and taken refuge in a new city. There, she works as a photographer and hides her werewolf existence from her new boyfriend. When bodies start turning up in her pack’s backyard, Elena finds herself back at Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral domain. Torn between two worlds and two loves, she quickly realizes that – when push comes to shove – she’ll stop at nothing to defend her pack.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Laura Vandevoort to discuss her blossoming career, the challenges of bringing her character from script to screen and what the future might hold for both on-screen and behind the camera!
I wanted to give our readers a bit of background on you. They say a career in the entertainment industry isn’t for the faint of heart, what made you choose to go in this direction?
I know they say it takes a thick skin to be in this industry but I don’t have that! [laughs] That is something I struggle with on a day to day basis. I can’t say the industry isn’t for the faint of heart because that is me! It is never an easy process being in this industry. I am competitive, I challenge myself and I strive to do my best. I also grew up doing martial arts, so I was very motivated and dedicated to whatever it was I was doing at the time. When I decided to become an actor, it was something that I decided to do at the age of 13 and I asked my parents if I could try it. It was tough and I don’t do well with rejection but I just developed an outer shell. I wouldn’t say it is a thicker skin but an outer shell to deflect negative comments or the ongoing rejection you experience as an actor. I am much better at handling that than I used to be, especially as I have gotten older. Yet, it is still not easy! That’s for sure! [laughs] It is tough for everybody!
Who would you cite as your biggest influence when it comes to being an actor?
I have a distant relative that is a Canadian actor, Gordon Pinsent. He is my third cousin or something like that. He was really the only person I knew who was an actor when I decided to be one or to try it. He is older than I am and he was my mentor in many ways. He visited me on my first set and we would write letters and he would tell me to stay true to myself and work hard. He was definitely my first mentor. Like most actresses, I look up to a lot of people I see when I go to the movies or watch television. Obviously, Meryl Streep is everything! [laughs]
Where do you look for inspiration these days as a working actor?
It hasn’t happened a lot lately but if I go to a film and I am truly enraptured with the script, the characters or the female actors, that is something I find very inspiring. I get truly inspired when I leave a movie feeling I need to do something different or step outside of my comfort zone, along with working with other incredible actors who encourage you to do better than you have been doing. I am just inspired to create. I have a lot of Canadian friends who are here in Los Angeles now who are producing their own projects where they are also writing, starring and improvising in them. Taking comedy classes is another thing that has encouraged me to maybe do something like that as well. I have created a kids show that we are working on that will be a TV series. That is something that came from me having a year off and I wasn’t super busy. In that time, I wrote a book and was inspired to create. Now, it will be a live action kids series called “Super Duper Deelia!” That has allowed me to be a producer/creator, which is also inspiring to me. I am learning about everything on the other side of the camera!
That is awesome to hear. I was curious if you wanted to explore the world behind the camera but clearly you already started down that path!
Yeah! It is definitely a little scary because I have been on only one side of the camera for a long time but I’m hoping it goes well and isn’t too terrifying for me. At the same time, I hope that it is and I am constantly learning, that’s for sure!
It’s important to note you are still very busy in front of the camera, as well. One of your projects is “Bitten” and it is back for its second season. What can you tell us about how you got involved with the project?
“Bitten” was a project that came to me. I had done a show in Halifax, Nova Scotia called “Haven” with eOne. I did a guest star on the show as sort of an evil villain that killed women and wore their skin. It was a creepy character! [laughs] After that project, I think eOne had me on their radar. They had “Bitten” optioned and J.B. Sugar had me in mind for Elena. I was actually at a friend’s viewing party for “Haven” when I was approached by one of the people from eOne about the project. I read the script, spoke to my agents and our executive producer about how he envisioned the show to look, along with Elena herself. I had a great creative conversation with him and the last thing on my mind was the werewolf aspect. I was more interested in how she became who she was and what she had been through. It was a great story and a really strong female lead that I was really excited to be a part of, so that is sort of how I got on board. We did a chemistry reading with a lot of the guys and now we are onto Season 2! It has been a great ride!
How did you prepare for the character in the series?
With Elena, it was trying to understand what is going on in her heart and in her head. Obviously, having the books as source material was helpful but for me it was about understanding where the character is coming from, where they have been and where they are going. Then I try to find what part of me relates to or connects with what that character has going on. With any character, I try to find some sort of parallel with myself and try to inject that wherever possible without changing too much of the character. Physically, I had to be in fighting condition and had to train for it. The majority of the character is being mentally where she is at the moment. In the beginning of the first season, she was rather torn between the human world and the wolf world. She was very confused. She came from a foster care system and had been abused as a child, so I always want to keep those things in mind when she is dealing with people, relationships and trust issues.
As an actor, you bring something special to each character you play. What did you bring to this character that wasn’t on the written page?
That is a good question. There was so much about Elena that I could relate to and it was within me to play. Perhaps I brought a bit of a sensitivity, a softer side or a more motherly, nurturing nature to her when it comes to the pack and the boys. I think that is what I brought to the role, especially this season. With our new young witch that nurturing side of her is coming forward. Ironically, Elena was born the same day I was born in Toronto on September 22nd. She has twins in the book, which is interesting because my mom is a twin and it skips a generation. There was definitely a weird alignment of, “Maybe this was meant to be!”
That is interesting! You mentioned the novels “Bitten” is based on and you were aware of those but were you aware of the dedicated fan base the books developed? How has the response to the show affected you?
I knew about the books and I knew there was a fan base but I definitely didn’t know the extent or to what extreme the fans were fans of the book but we were definitely determined to make sure they were happy with our portrayal of the characters, the scripts and the look of the show. That is really important because if you are a fan of the books, you have existed within that world before we have, so you have the right to your opinion. We just wanted to make them happy and I think in the end they were. There were a few surprises that they weren’t quite comfortable with or differences in casting but in the end they seemed very happy. It has been great meeting them at conventions and getting a chance to talk to the die-hard fans. They have been so fantastic and supportive! We are definitely hoping for a third season!
There is a great team bringing this show to life. What has it been like to work with everyone behind the scenes and what is the biggest thing you have taken away from this experience?
You’re right! Our team is phenomenal! I don’t think I have been on a show where I love every person involved, both onscreen and off, from the crew to the writers and producers to the stunt people. I think we have been very lucky and blessed in that sense. Deagan Fryklind is an amazing writer and a female powerhouse! She is the Holy Grail to me when it comes to dynamic, empowering female themes! J.B. Sugarman, our executive producer, is phenomenal as well and very much one of us. We are all sort of our own little pack and are very supportive of each other. It is sort of rare to have these fairly young, handsome young actors on a set where they all get along and adore each other. I adore them and the entire experience has been fantastic. I think I come away from this show knowing we are doing the best we can, the fans are happy and we are all butting in 100% every day. In the end, I know I have made family and friends for life because of this show!
What has been the biggest challenge for you on the series so far? Does anything stand out to you?
I think I would definitely have to say, in Season One, it was getting comfortable within my own skin. The show is a sexualized show, it is racy and it is about the relationship between a man and a woman, a werewolf and a human. They are very animalistic. I think this was the first role where I had to be more physically comfortable within myself. I love doing stunts and action and all of that but when it came to the more emotional and physical scenes with someone, I was terrified! [laughs] I definitely have gotten to a place where that is easier for me and I trust the people I am working with. I think since hitting 30, a weird switch went off and I am comfortable with who I am and it is what it is! [laughs] This show definitely helped me get there!
When it comes to the action and physicality in the show, what has that experience been like?
We have a great stunt coordinator, John Stead, who is phenomenal. He knows all the actors abilities and knows how determined we are as actors to do our own stuff, so he allows us to do a large portion of it. We have great choreographed stunt sequences that we get to learn on weekends or the day before a shoot. I grew up doing martial arts, so it is something I love to do. It mixes up the day a little bit. Often times, I am very happy with the final product. All of the boys are amazing with their sequences as well!
As an actor, you worked quite a bit in the world of sci-fi. I was curious if there was another genre or dream project you were anxious to tackle in the short term?
Definitely! There is a list! [laughs] Outside of the sci-fi realm, I would love to do a period piece. I would love to do a Victorian era film, something along those lines. I would love to do a blockbuster Marvel film! I would love to do a great indie and completely change the way that I look. Westerns and action films are also on that short list!
You can serve as a great inspiration to young actors. What is the best piece of advice you have been given that you can pass along to those looking to make a career in the entertainment industry?
Honestly, it is fairly simple and certainly not a revelation but it is what Gordon Pinsent had said to me when I was young. He said, “Don’t let the business get to you. Don’t let it change you and remember where you came from!” I think if you follow that advice, people will respect you, love working with you and want to work with you, which will lead to you being a continually working actor. If you are difficult and your head gets too big, you can still be working but you won’t have the respect you would want as an actor. I think remembering where you come from and having respect for everyone, no matter how big or small the project might be, is the key. It’s all about respect!
You have given voice to some truly deserving causes with PETA and the Humane Society International. How did you get involved there?
I worked with PETA a while ago to do two of their campaigns, Exotic Skins and banning Seaworld. Those are things I very much believe in and am involved with. I have always been an advocate for animals. The Human Society International is something I wanted to be a part of and help support for all of the amazing work they do. We are trying to spread the word on a petition signed for banning cosmetic testing on animals in Canada and around the world. In my personal life, I also try to enforce that and on set whenever possible. I think people need to educate themselves on the options for products that are out there that are cruelty free!
Absolutely! Thank you for your time today, Laura! It has been a pleasure and, as a fan of your work, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the years to come!
Thank you, Jason! Take care!