This week we have Part Two of what is becoming a series of interviews with the cast of The Hub’s mini-series CLUE. Sarah Desjardins joins me to talk about acting and philanthropy.
ANTHONY: Hi, Sarah! Thanks for chatting with me.
SARAH: Of course! Thanks so much for the opportunity!
ANTHONY: Let’s start with something I just realized I haven’t asked any of the other actors I’ve interviewed: how did you get started in this crazy business? What was your first amateur acting gig, and your first professional one?
SARAH: Well when I was about six, that was the first time I ever discovered it was possible to be on T.V. I remember asking my mom “how do I do that?” and a couple months later I had my first agent. Unfortunately my parents decided I was too young and that they would have me try again when I was older but only if I wanted to and took initiative. So once I made it to high school I jumped right into the theater scene. I took part in all the school plays and musicals, still do! My first amateur gig was in grade 8, I was 13 and I was a supporting role in one of the junior stage productions. I had braces up until my sixteenth birthday and the moment I got them off I had headshots done and got with my current agent. After about 9 months with my agency I booked my first professional gig which was Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story.
ANTHONY: Who did you play in the Rowling movie?
SARAH: I got to portray Diane Rowling (J.K. Rowlings younger sister) from age 13-20 and it was quite a lot of fun! Being a Harry Potter fan it was fantastic to be involved in the legacy in some way. Unfortunately I did not get to meet her as this was an unauthorized biopic, not to mention she is a very private person.
ANTHONY: You first came to my attention as part of the CLUE cast. What was the audition process like for that?
SARAH: The audition process was long! haha. I actually discussed this with my fellow cast mates, out of the six of us they all auditioned either once or twice while I auditioned seven times. They made me work for it! I first had to send in a tape, afterwards I went in for the Vancouver casting director and I proceeded to go in for a callback as well as a director/producer session. This took place over a couple of weeks and afterwards my agent informed me that they weren’t casting anyone from Vancouver and they were moving on to Toronto. A few weeks later I got another audition for Clue but this time it was for a minor role. Within the next few days I had another call from my agent saying I had another callback but for Whitney! I was ecstatic! I then had another directors session and the day afterwards I also had another session with the producers! Two days later I got the call that I booked the role. It was a VERY long journey but I couldn’t be more happy with the result!
ANTHONY: Sounds like the audition process was longer than the actual shoot! The show was conceived and filmed as a complete mini-series. How long did filming take, and what were some of the locations you guys used?
SARAH: We had a total of 26 shoot days of which I took part in 25. We shot it over the course of about a month and a half during the summer in my lovely hometown of Vancouver, Canada. We shot in a lot of cool, unique locations among my favorites would have to be the Britannia Mines, which is where we shot all the scenes in the tunnel to the secret room as well as the warehouse where we found Adam Ellis. We also shot some of the street scenes on the set where the movie Watchmen was filmed. It’s basically an entirely fake town, it was awesome! Last but not least The Secret Room! It was built entirely for the show inside an abandoned bank and it was stuffed full with all kinds of neat gadgets, I’d always find myself fooling around in there.
ANTHONY: The Clue cast was a mix of American and Canadian actors. There’s such a great chemistry on-screen. Did you know any of the other teens before filming began?
SARAH: I didn’t actually! But we were so lucky to all get along so well with each other, I was nervous about meeting the rest of the cast for the first time not knowing whether we would all get along or not but we truly bonded and it was always exciting coming to work every day because I got to have a great time with my friends! One thing that I found kind of funny was that for the most part we all clicked best with our Clue counterpart! It just shows that each of us in one way or another are similar to our character.
ANTHONY: I knew from following most of you on Twitter that you built a really strong bond with most of the cast, and that you’d like to work together again. Has The Hub given you all any hint that a second series might be in the near future? I’m sure series creator Raven Metzner has a ton of ideas for how to continue the story, based on that ending.
SARAH: We did. I feel so lucky to have made such great friends from this experience, I will always be thankful! As for a possible second series, we did know while we were filming the first five that there was a possibility of doing more but as of now that is entirely up to The Hub! I know the entire cast and crew would love to but it’s completely in their hands.
ANTHONY: How much of that ending did you know when you started filming?
SARAH: We actually got the scripts for all 5 episodes when we started filming so I knew right away, but it was still extremely cool to see how it turned out because of course we weren’t there for the very last part! I myself am dying to know who is watching us on the security footage. They definitely left it as a great cliffhanger so we would have an option to continue, we’ll see what happens!
ANTHONY: How did you develop or prepare for playing the character of Whitney (“Ms. White”)?
SARAH: Her personality actually came quite naturally to me, I’m not quite sure what it was considering we aren’t too much alike but I suppose it was just very easy to see her side of things. I completely understood where Whitney was coming from! She could be easily misconstrued as a nag or bossy but she just cares so much about everything and everyone around her and wants to bring out the best in people. One of the biggest similarities we share is I do care a lot about other people and their needs as well as wonderful causes!
ANTHONY: As you said, Whitney is a very socially-conscious, “get involved,” charity-minded character. I know when the CLUE miniseries originally ran, viewers were able to try to win character-based prize packages, and the Whitney package included a donation to a charity of the winner’s choice. Did you ever find out what charity benefitted from that?
SARAH: I didn’t ever get to find out no! But honestly just knowing that money went to an amazing charity that really needed it is enough to warm my heart.
ANTHONY: What causes/charities are important to you, and why?
SARAH: My strongest connection to a charity would have to be B.C. Children’s Hospital. They actually saved my life, I was born with my small intestine outside of my body so as soon as I was born I was rushed into emergency surgery. They hold a special place in my heart and they are a central hub where children all over Canada are brought to be treated so it is very important to recognize the help that they need. I also recently got involved with Generation On through The Hub and they are fantastic! They are all about encouraging the younger generation to get involved with charities that matter to them and to participate in volunteer work that will help make the world a better place, which is so important because the younger generation truly are the supporters of the future.
ANTHONY: I’ve contacted the Generation On folks to see about doing an interview and featuring them here; they’re doing such important work. I know your co-star Sterling Beaumon has served as a spokesman for them. Now to abruptly switch topics: tell me a bit about your latest project (at least, latest according to your IMDb page!), Kiss at Pine Lake.
SARAH: Well I actually shot it before Clue! It’s a Hallmark Channel Original Movie that will be released in August 2012 about two people Luke and Zoe who at age fifteen almost had their first kiss on the last day of summer camp. Now 15 years later Luke has taken on camp Pine Lake as his special project and Zoe works for a high powered investment group who wants to buy it only to tear it down and build a wellness resort. Zoe is sent to convince the owner to sell and as they are reunited once again they find their love beginning to re-kindle. I played young Zoe who is mainly played by the lovely Mia Kirshner.
ANTHONY: Are there any other projects on the horizon you can tell us about (or hint at, at least)?
SARAH: I have a minor role in the feature Red Machine staring: James Marsden, Thomas Jane and Billy Bob Thorton! I’m super excited I have had the privilege to audition for many other amazing projects since Clue and there are a few projects that hopefully will develop for me in the near future.
ANTHONY: I’ll be looking forward to Red Machine. Great cast! And now my standard final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
SARAH: As much as I’d love it to be some deep, insightful book I am a sucker for the typical teenage romance which it would seem Sarah Dessen has mastered. My favorite book is Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen. One of the reasons would definitely be that I can relate so much to what the main character (Auden) is going through in her life, I also have a lot of her habits. If you love a good romance or have a tough family situation it definitely is the book for you, it touched my heart in ways I never expected and I hope it touches yours too!
PS. If it’s ever made into a movie, I nominate myself to play Auden! haha
ANTHONY: We’ll have to start a Twitter campaign and get Sarah Dessen’s attention,then, won’t we! Thanks again, Sarah! It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.
You can find “Part One” of my only-slightly-unintentional series of interviews with the CLUE cast by clicking on Brad And Todd Mann. “Part Three” will hopefully appear in a couple of weeks, when I interview Zach Mills.