From the spaceship Destiny to small town USA, Elyse Levesque has been everywhere when it comes to her acting resume. The Canadian born actress is definitely a force to be reckoned with as she is a triple threat; acting, modeling and a background in dance. She’s had roles in hit series such as Smallville, 2030 CE and her breakout role on the hit Syfy series Stargate Universe. She’s also had roles in films such as Sons of Liberty with Keith David and Storm Cell with Mimi Rogers.
Today, the multi-talented actress sits down with TVWise to discuss her latest role on the Hallmark original series Cedar Cove as well as her impressive resume and an outside project that just may surprise you.
TVWise: What was is about the script and the character of MaryEllen that made you want to join the cast of Cedar Cove?
Elyse Levesque: Well, before I even got the script, I knew I wanted to be a part of it for a couple of reasons. One, I love Andie MacDowell and two, one of the writers and producers Carl Binder is a good friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with before. I love working with him and trust him. He told me about the character and the way he described was that she was one of the more unique characters. Everyone wants to stay in Cedar Cove except MaryEllen. She’s sort of the visionary, sees herself destined for great things. Has an obsession with the art world and wants to move to New York and be in the art industry. She brings a lot of that into this small town. She dresses very fashion forward and runs the local art gallery.
That appealed to me. I’ve often played very serious characters and this was a chance to find some levity. Also, when I read the script I thought it was very charming and I liked that she was sort of flustered quite often and couldn’t find the right words sometimes. Especially with her relationship with John Goman starting to evolve, you see her floundering and uncomfortable, but finding her confidence slowly but surely with this guy. There was something about the character that I found very endearing and I could relate to a part of myself that isn’t always cool, can be very awkward and insecure. It was a different avenue then I’d gone down before.
TVWise: Was it difficult to transition from the world of science fiction to small town USA as an actor?
Elyse Levesque: Yeah, it was because small town USA is a lot more realistic than being on a spaceship and slowly turning into an alien. [LAUGHS]. So, it was a much easier transition for me. Stargate presented different challenges because it was CGI heavy and you had to suspend your belief whereas with Cedar Cove, I feel like a lot of the subject matter was more relatable and more reality based. Something that I had gone through or had an understanding of, so I felt like it was an easier thing to get to.
TVWise: Your fashion and style on the show. Did you have any input?
Elyse Levesque: I was allowed to say I like it or I don’t like it. They pulled all the clothes for me. Some of the longest costumes fittings I have ever had. The first one was almost 3 hours long. I don’t think my character is ever seen in the same thing twice. She has so many accessories, layers and bells and whistles. So, it was a very extensive costume fitting. For the most part, I was up for almost anything for the character because even though she is the town fashionista, she’s not quite rocking the New York chic thing. Her taste is a little off and she’s not as hip as she would be had she grown up in a fashion mecca, so I was cool with some of it being kind of weird and quirky.
TVWise: Although it seems she loves Cedar Cove, I am guessing MaryEllen’s dream is to move to the big city?
Elyse Levesque: Yeah, it was a conversation that I had with Carl Binder before we started. How she has these bigger dreams to move to New York, which I relate to completely because I am obsessed with New York. She just sees herself as meant for this art world in New York and has glamourized this whole thing in her mind. Who knows if we will see her actually get to do that but I think that is also the allure of John Bowman because he in her mind is from that world.
TVWise: Your character knows a lot about art, did you do any research on art before you started working on the show?
Elyse Levesque: Not too much, actually I studied art history for a semester at the university. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot and see a lot of art. Thankfully I have a pretty good understanding of the art world, but as far as MaryEllen is concerned, the local art she is dealing with is not on that broad scale. I’d love to see more of her art knowledge in the second season because personally I find it all very fascinating. There is one scene near the end where I am talking about a painting and referencing it to another artist, but other than that, we don’t know her true knowledge of art.
TVWise: MaryEllen and John have had an interesting story on the show? Where do you see them when Season 2 begins?
Elyse Levesque: I have no idea. Originally they had written a very different ending where some of the stuff was resolved with John and MaryEllen, but they changed their minds and rewrote it. I am sure they will come up with some interesting twists and turns, but I hope it’s a surprise, even for me.
TVWise: There’s a very strong female presence on Cedar Cove. What’s it been like working with these strong female characters?
Elyse Levesque: It’s the best. We have such a good time. I work with Carroll mostly because she plays my mom. We get along so well. She’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with on set. We all hang out together outside of work and it’s definitely a good strong female bond thing going on. Sometimes I feel bad for the guys, but we have some very handsome guys on the show and they are all very nice. It’s one of those lovely family type feelings when you go to work with the cast and crew. It’s a very nice working environment. Everyone is so excited about how well the show is doing.
TVWise: How are you like MaryEllen and how are you not like MaryEllen?
Elyse Levesque: I too came from a small town. I had aspirations to see the world and to be involved in art and to live in the big city. I think I also share some of the same awkwardness, but I keep it under wraps better. I think I’m better at glossing it over and making it seem like I’m cool. Differently, I am a lot less scattered than she is. She’s always running late, she’s forgetful. I think she’s more fly by the seat of her pants than I am. If I have a schedule, I stick to it and I am on time. I think she’s one of the people that are always moving and doing something. She’s totally in her own world.
TVWise: What was it like working on Stargate Universe?
Elyse Levesque: The two years I worked on that series were two of my most memorable years yet. It was a game changer for me in a lot of ways being brought onto a show like that. I’m still such good friends with many of the people I got to work with. It was such a great experience from top to bottom. I loved the show itself, my co-stars and getting to travel with them to promote the show. Just everything that came with the experience of working on that show was special. It was a very magical time in my life.
TVWise: Obviously being on a show like SGU, you are now part of the science fiction club. Have you been to any conventions and how has the experience been for you?
Elyse Levesque: You know, I’ve had wonderful experiences going to conventions. My first one was Comic Con which is another level and I was so scared. [LAUGHS]. I’d never gone to a convention before let alone THE convention. They put you on stage in front of 4000 people or whatever it was and it was insane! I did conventions in the states and have gone to the UK a couple of times. They are a lot of fun, especially the UK ones because it’s a full on weekend thing were as some of the other ones you just show up to do your Q&A and that’s it. The UK ones are a weekend of fun, you get to know everybody and you really get to connect with the fans. These fans are so supportive and loyal. It’s very touching to see that people love something you did so much that they are willing to spend a weekend and hear you just talk a bunch of stuff about the show. They are very loyal.
TVWise: Why do you think fans love shows like Stargate Universe and science fiction shows in general?
Elyse Levesque: Many fans know more about the show than I do. I don’t know what it is about sci-fi necessarily. There’s something maybe about the fantasy of the whole thing? Maybe linking to the online gaming and that following. I’m not sure that I have the answer to that question. It’s like there are just certain things like trading cards that have these big followings. I know why people go to these conventions because they can connect with other people who understand them. It’s not about how you look or where you are from, it’s about the show that you love and share this similar interest in.
TVWise: So, it seems that you also are a rapper. What can you tell us about your group CouplaHotChicks…MaybeThree?
Elyse Levesque: I’ve been known to spit a few rhymes in my day. I had to do an assignment for my acting class about 5 years ago. It was for this thing called Tornado of Talent were you face your biggest fear, you live your biggest fantasy. You can do whatever you want, you can sing, imaging receiving an Oscar and act that out or whatever. So, I had always had this envy of rappers. I love T.I. and was obsessed with the song What You Know. I’ve always have this fantasy of being able to rap in front of an audience, so I dressed like a dude, rewrote the lyrics to the song and performed it in front of my acting class. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. It was so empowering. I got such a great response from the class that I thought hmm, I may be onto something here. One of the other actresses in the class asked me to perform it for an event during Pride week in Vancouver. She worked at a restaurant in the West End of Vancouver. I was scared to do it outside the safety of my classroom alone, so I asked one of my best friends Devon, who is one of the band members if she’d be willing to perform it with me. One of the other band members Lea was there to watch the performance. She was so shocked at what came out from us. So, she Devon and I all moved in together. We kept talking about doing a video, but kept putting it off. We finally had an idea for a song; we wrote it and got a friend of ours to make the beat. We shot the video in two days and edited it in one day. We got it up so fast!
TVWise: Did you get any negative feedback for the song It’s Christmas (Do Tha Jesus)?
Elyse Levesque: Oh yeah and the funny part is that it wasn’t about the Jesus thing; it was about women rapping and saying what they want to say. That’s what’s unfortunate. You can offend anyone else, but women can’t do that. We’ve had a few silly sexist comments from people who are scared. Unfortunately a lot of the comments seem to be from men which surprised me.
TVWise: Besides T. I., what other rappers do you like?
Elyse Levesque: I’m a fan of 2pac and old school Jay Z. I also love Kanye West. Kanye’s music is brilliant. I love that he adds old flavor with new sounds, it’s awesome.
TVWise: Any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Elyse Levesque: Sure, I have a few things right now. I’m working on a movie now called Spare Change which I am shooting in Los Angeles. It’s by the some of the producers of Weeds and Orange is the New Black. It’s a comedy which is a new adventure for me which is exciting. I am doing that until the end of November. I am producing a short film and acting in it called Fruitcake. We just finished raising the funds for on Indiegogo. We’ll be shooting that at the end of November. Also, I am rehearsing a play called Burn This.
Elyse Levesque plays Maryellen Sherman on the Hallmark Channel original series Cedar Cove, which will return for a second season in 2014.