That amazing start for Combat Hospital has to be a great sign for the folks behind Rookie Blue. The Toronto-lensed cop drama is back for a second season starting tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
Both shows are cross border co-productions, airing on Global and ABC as summer series. Combat Hospital‘s launch to two million viewers across Canada shows there is a strong appetite for original scripted fare amidst all the summer R&R (reality and reruns).
I spoke with creator and executive producer Tassie Cameron and stars Missy Peregrym and Charlotte Sullivan a few weeks ago in order to advance the Rookie Blue return for The Canadian Press. You can read that story here. Cameron, a former Canadian Film Centre grad, has become one of the top showrunners in Canada after launching Blue and writing and production stints on Flashpoint, Degrassi and The Eleventh Hour.
Cameron and Peregrym are both great fun on the phone but the bright discovery was Sullivan, a free spirit who I also bumped into a few months ago down in Los Angeles at the red carpet premiere for The Kennedys. Sullivan played Marilyn Monroe in that History Television miniseries.
Her Rookie Blue cop character Gail Peck is more of a brat, a role Sullivan quickly embraced. “She’s a strange little cat, for sure,” she says, “a lot more eccentric and morbid, always the black sheep of the group.”
And that’s why Sullivan loves her. “I know that sounds strange because a lot of people hate her. She allows me to do things–I’m a weirdo in real life.”
Sullivan doesn’t look like your run-of-the-mill weirdo–all blone hair and blue eyes, she looks like an Ivy League prom queen. But she’s different, that’s for sure. Instead of the usual actress-y spin about how she’s ready to go Hollywood, Sullivan insists she’s just as much a rookie in her profession as her character is on the police beat. “I’m always scared–I feel like a rookie in real life,” she says. “Every time the camera’s rolling, I feel more and more green.”
Just when I thought I might have to give her a pep talk she adds, “I’d rather be green, because once you’re ripe, you start to rot.”
Sullivan says she looks to her cast mates Enuka Okuma, Gregory Smith, Missy Peregrym and Travis Milne, above, to help her through scenes. “What should I do on this take?” she says. “More often than not they put some weird idea into my brain and something will pop out of me that’s either appropriate or not appropriate.”
It all seems to be working, I offer. Sullivan doesn’t sound convinced. “I’m constantly freaking out about work, whether or not I still want to do acting. I think you have to be really, really, really good at this, and I feel I’m no where near that point yet. I have a lot of work to do if this is what I want to do with my life.”
Geez, I began thinking, I’m going to have to start charging by the hour for these interviews. “Relax, you’re on a hit show,” I offer. “If it’s a hit, its certainly not because of me–I’m lucky to be with these people.”
Okay, this is modest, even for a Canadian! Sullivan’s apparent lack of confidence and/or self esteme sure hasn’t held her back. The 27-year-old is in post production on Edwin Boyd, the true life tale of the infamous Canadian bank robber. In recent years, she’s appeared in everything from MVP to The Listener to Defendor and the cable fantasy mini Alice.
Just like on the show, her friend and cast mate Peregrym has Sullivan’s back. “I need to say something,” Peregrym says when she hears Sullivan has been trash talking herself again. “Charlotte is fantastic. She always talks about how she doesn’t know what she’s doing. I wish she could see herself the way we all see her in the show.”
Career aside, Sullivan really is a lot weirder than she looks. She could hardly wait to spill the beans about a crazy-ass prank she was dying to pull on her fiancee. The prop guy at Rookie Blue had fixed her up with one of those creepy pool of blood things. “I’m going to lie on the floor of my bathroom, with the blood coming out of my head, just to see if he cares for me or not.”
Holy crap. I hope the dude isn’t a regular here at TV Feeds My Family, I’d hate to spoil the surprise. “Maybe I’ll make a crash noise–I haven’t quite planned it all out yet.”
No surprise then to learn the film which inspired the Toronto native to become an actress: Edward Sissorhands. “I was little, and it was such an incredibly morbid, strange world, I just thought, I want to be in that movie.
“I remember my mom saying they’ve already made it, it’s done, and I balled my eye balls out—-literally, my eyeballs came out of my face.”
Now that’s acting.