This morning I was fortunate enough to chat on the phone with Jennifer Spence, multi-time Leo Award nominee and one of the stars of the hit Canadian sci-fi series 'Continuum.' Set and filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, 'Continuum' has accomplished the rare feat of catching on outside of the Canadian market; the series was launched on Showcase in Canada but is now also carried by Syfy in the UK and the USA.
Spence is best known for her role on 'SGU Stargate Universe' as Dr. Lisa Park, a role she played for thirty-six episodes. With the ever-growing popularity of 'Continuum' (now in its second season), Spence's character on the series, Betty Robertson, is becoming more and more important to the plot. And the best news? 'Continuum' was officially renewed for a third season just last week!
TVRage: I'd like to begin by thanking you very much for taking the time to talk to me today and to congratulate you on all of the success of 'Continuum,' as well as your third Leo nomination!
Jennifer Spence: Oh, thank you so much! Yes, super exciting, we get a third season!
TVR: I know we're all excited about that. Did you guys know that you had something special from the time that 'Continuum' began?
JS: Oh we definitely did. Just from the moment I read the pilot script before the first season, I was like, "they need to hire me!" (laughs) I need to get on this show because this is awesome! So we knew all along while we were making it how incredible the show was. But of course you never know for sure how the audience is going to react. But thankfully they agreed with us, in terms of thinking that we had something great.
TVR: So let me ask you this: are you sick and tired of people asking you about time-travel yet?
JS: No, not at all! That's not a question I get asked very often, believe it or not.
TVR: I find that one of the most engaging things about the show is the fact that it doesn't force any answers on the viewer about time-travel, it just poses questions about "what if" and things like that. I was curious, do you catch yourself pondering those same questions while you work on the show?
JS: Oh for sure. So much of it is just theory. We don't know! (laughs) and we won't know until we have the opportunity to actually try it, if possible. So it's really interesting, the whole idea of time-travel, the continuum, the space-time continuum, the ramifications of something happening if you don't do exactly what you were supposed to do at a certain time... it's very complicated!
TVR: Which is exactly why we fans like it so much! Were you a science-fiction fan before 'Continuum?' Had you already watched other time-travel shows or anything like that?
JS: Well my very favorite sci-fi or time-travel movie is 'Back to the Future.' I love that movie so much, I've watched it so many times! I enjoy sci-fi as a genre but for the most part it is something that I've gotten into later on in life.
TVR: Switching gears now, let's talk about Betty a little bit. What's something that Jennifer Spence and Betty Robertson have in common?
JS: Well... we're both nerds.
JS: Except I don't have the technological know-how that she does!
TVR: Fair enough! And, right now, Showcase has a poll going on, as I'm sure you know, on their website regarding Betty's future. Did you want to explain a bit about that for the fans who may not have seen it yet?
JS: Yes, this is super, super exciting stuff. I think this is the second time, maybe, that this has been done in television history: allowing the viewers to determine what the outcome of the season finale will be. So basically, it gives you a chance to vote for which side fans think that Betty--and the show in general--should go. Should they go the way of Liber8? Should they go the way of 1FutureOurWay, basically, non-Liber8. The way of the corporations and the police department and everything else, to put it in a crass way. So people have the chance to vote and they can do that by using two hashtags.
[editor's note: the twitter accounts are @Liber8Now and @1FutureOurWay, the hashtags are #Liber8Now and #1FutureOurWay. Details are available at http://www.showcase.ca/continuum]
JS, cont: At the end, we'll tally up the scores and that will determine which way the season finale goes. So we shot two different endings and it'll be up to the fans which one actually gets aired.
TVR: That's very exciting. Without giving anything away, are you personally pulling for one of those endings over the other? Is there one that you liked better?
JS: Yeah! There is one ending I like better! I don't know if I'm allowed to say anything about which one, though (laughs). But I do, I feel quite strongly about one side.
TVR: So without influencing the vote, we'll just know that there's a lot riding on this for Jennifer as well as Betty.
JS: Exactly! Choose right! (laughs)
TVR: 'Continuum' has also earned a lot of notoriety by the fact that you guys share some cast members with possibly the biggest science-fiction series of all time, 'The X-Files.' [Referring to Nicholas Lea, who played Krycek on 'The X-Files,' and William B. Davis, the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man.]
TVR: That certainly drummed up a lot of buzz in sci-fi circles. Did that same sort of excitement carry over to the cast while you were working with them?
JS: Oh yeah, for sure. It's always a thrill when you get to work with people who you've watched and who's work you've admired over the years. Nick Lea was actually the best man at our wedding.
TVR: Oh really, wow!
JS: So that was a fun little tidbit! So it was a lot of fun to have a scene with part of my wedding party!
TVR: That's amazing.
JS: And obviously, 'The X-Files,' everyone involved was at the top of their game, so it's very exciting.
TVR: And you just accomplished a beautiful segue for me by bringing up your wedding--you recently filmed a feature that was written and directed by your husband, Benjamin Ratner, entitled 'Down River.' What can you tell us about that?
JS: We're very, very excited for this to come out. We're hoping it's going to do the festival circuit shortly, that's usually in September. That's when the Toronto International Film Festival happens and the Vancouver International Film Festival happens. We're hoping it's going to make the rounds there. 'Down River' is very much a passion-project for [Ben,] written by him, inspired by a friend of his who passed before her time. It's inspired by her. Basically in a nutshell it's about this mentor figure, an older woman, basically a mother figure to a bunch of different women artists. There's a painter, a visual artist played by myself, a singer in a band played by Colleen Rennisson and an actress played by Gabrielle Miller. So it's all about their relationship together, navigating the crazy waters of life. We're very excited about that coming out and sharing it with everyone.
TVR: Well I will be in line at TIFF when that one comes out!
TVR: So finally, how would you like to whet the fans' appetites about the episodes of 'Continuum' that we're yet to see? What can you throw out there to make us salivate even more?
JS: Well I've said this a few times, but I say it because it's true: when we, the cast, were getting the episodes week by week and having our read-throughs, we were just blown away by how each episode seemed to out-do the last. How is it possible that the show seems to just keep getting better and better, you know? It was already a great show and it seems to just keep getting better. It really does. I think that part of that is because all of the characters are deepening, the relationships are deepening, so it's not just about the crazy brainiac aspect of the show, in terms of time-travel and police-procedural. It's also about the human aspect with the relationships between characters deepening.
TVR: Well that sounds great! Thank you again so much for taking the time, I'm sure all of your fans appreciate it as well.
JS: Thank you so much!
'Continuum's second season airs Sundays at 9pm EST on Showcase and Fridays at 10pm EST on Syfy. Header photograph courtesy Soda Pop Photography.