The question lingers: Why does Canada provide so many talented actors?
The country doesn’t have that many people; its population is smaller than California’s. But it keeps delivering gifted stars, from Sandra Oh and Rachel McAdams to the Ryans (Gosling, Reynolds), Michael J. Fox and a ton of comedy people.
We’ll ask Andrea Roth – who’s had great moments in “Rescue Me” and the current “Cloak & Dagger” — in a minute. But first, here are two theories we’ve heard:
— Alternate influences. The late Alan Thicke said in Canada he grew up with both kinds of comedy – British (droll, literate, often weird) and American (slick, commercial). In the same way, drama actors saw slick, American shows, but often had British-style training. Many – Eric McCormack, Christopher Plummer, Megan Follows, William Shatner, Sarah Polley, Hume Cronyn – worked at the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
— Better roles. When American TV movies were shot in Canada, the lead roles (often dull, bland ones) went to Americans; the other roles, the interesting ones, went to Canadians.
Roth offers a variation: “When you’re an actor in Canada, it’s not very lucrative,” she said. You don’t get picky; you grab everything. “You have to do so much work. I’ve done a lot of bad, bad movies.”
They became her acting classes. Roth had no Shakesearean education; she did theater as a kid, but expected something practical. “I thought I would be an English teacher or an art teacher.”
But when she did a college internship at a Toronto ad agency, a scout spotted her. She became a model and then an actress. She isn’t saying what the “bad, bad movies” were, but you didn’t see “The Club,” “The Psychic,” “The Jitters” or “Seedpeople” on many Academy Award lists.
Roth moved to Los Angeles, but promptly got cast in shows shot in Canada. She wasn’t confined to pretty-blonde roles; soon, she was a sly grifter in three episodes of “Lucky” … Denis Leary’s combative ex-wife in “Rescue Me” … and now a troubled widow in “Cloak & Dagger.”
That’s based on a Marvel comic about two teens with superpowers. “It’s definitely not a genre I was familiar with,” said said.
Even at her audition, she was only handed two scenes. It was only at the final screening in Los Angeles that she got the full pilot film. “I was so blown away; I was pleasantly surprised.”
Her character had silently absorbed years of spousal abuse. Then her husband was framed by his employers and killed; she retreated into alcohol; her daughter Tandy became a street thief, then discovered her superpowers.
They’ve had a love-hate relationship, Roth said, but now have hesitantly reunited. “I always seem to be playing a flawed person.”
That requires acting depth … something Canadians seem blessed with.
— “Cloak & Dagger,” 8 p.m. Thursdays, Freeform
— Season-opener, April 4, will be followed by another episode at 9:01