Karine Vanasse knows a good role when she sees it and playing Detective Lise Delorme in CTV’s Cardinal was one of those roles she wasn’t going to miss out on. The Quebec native has had many Quebecois roles, but the new adaptation of the Giles Blunt award-winning John Cardinal Mysteries series was a chance for the actress to finally have a role on an English speaking Canadian series, something she has wanted for quite some time now. Vanasse plays Detective Lise Delorme, a gifted investigator who has been partnered with Detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell), a man she is also investigating.
Vanasse, who is known for roles on Revenge and Pan Am, recently spoke with The TV Junkies about why she couldn’t let this opportunity pass her by and what a joy it was for her to work alongside Campbell. She also discusses what she loves most about Delorme and what it really was like filming in the frigid Northern Ontario winter.
The TV Junkies: How did this opportunity for Cardinal come about for you?
Karine Vanasse: My agents received the script in the fall and I wanted to do everything I possibly could to get it. The material was really good and I had never been on an English Canadian show. I had just wrapped a series here in Quebec after doing Revenge for two years. It was a choice after Revenge to come back and do a Quebecois series. The character was very strong, I had to do a lot of training but I wanted to do the same type of thing in Toronto. People would say ‘oh you’re the girl from Revenge, you’re French’ and I’d have to say ‘no, I’m Canadian.’ So to have the opportunity to proudly be part of a project that was from here, and at that level, was something I really wanted. Once I knew they were open to having me on board no other project could’ve taken me away from that.
TTVJ: Delorme seems like a role that many actresses would love to play–she’s smart, bold and multi-layered. What did you love most about the character?
KV: She’s very grounded. She doesn’t have much of a private life, but she’s very determined, yet willing to reconsider things. She has strong opinions but gets more and more comfortable with gray areas as we follow her on her mission. She’s willing to reposition her thinking and very open. I felt like we were seeing that process with her. I really like the act of admiring someone, and although she’s investigating Cardinal, she finally admires him so much that she really learns from him.
You’re saying many actresses would dream of playing her which is true because I was in that position myself. It’s one thing to play a character like Lise Delorme, but it’s also another to be filmed, directed and edited in the way the entire crew did. I felt like Daniel Grou, the editors, the DPs and everyone was very sensitive and attentive to miniscule moments where we were given information about the characters that could’ve been missed by other directors. We were very privileged to have great characters, but everyone involved was protecting them.
TTVJ: What was it like for you to work with Billy?
KV: It was a very interesting relationship to develop between Delorme and Cardinal. They are suspicious about each other at first and then slowly respect each other. I’m very grateful for the role and for getting to act across from Billy. I’m afraid to see some of the extras we filmed on the last day of shooting because I couldn’t talk about Billy without crying. It was so nice to see that you can pursue that level of career with honesty, authenticity, that level of desire and do good work and appreciate the involvement of a great director. He was always so appreciative and moved by how hard people were working. The level of respect for the work was very high and it was very beautiful to witness. I felt very privileged to be next to him.
TTVJ: In the premiere episode we learn that Lise is actually investigating Cardinal. What can you share about why she’s looking into him and what she may find?
KV: It gets more and more difficult for Lise to pursue that investigation. When you investigate someone from a distance it’s easier than when you get to know that person. When I said I like that she’s willing to reposition herself, in the first episode she’s very driven by her mission–trying to figure out what this guy is hiding–but she’s willing to question those initial intentions. Why is she there next to him investigating him?
TTVJ: The weather plays a huge character in Cardinal, but what was that experience for you having to film out in the winter?
KV: It was cold and I had been away from winter for 2 years prior to Cardinal. I was in Los Angeles and had been missing winter. I was well served here. However, if we would’ve had a warmer winter and less snow the show would be missing something. Yes, it was cold and yes sometimes I had to warm up my lips because I had problems saying my lines, but it’s part of the show and part of the identity. I think it adds a lot to it.
What are your thoughts on Cardinal? Share them in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.