Frankie Drake Mysteries: Lauren Lee Smith on Returning to the 1920s

CBC/Stephen Scott
CBC/Stephen Scott

The 1920s are calling and there’s a mystery to be solved. Frankie Drake Mysteries returns for a second season on September 24 on CBC to tell even more stories about the adventures of Frankie (Laura Lee Smith) and Trudy (Chantel Riley).

The premiere picks up with Frankie and her mother Nora (Wendy Crewson) investigating a suspicious new artifact at the Royal Ontario Museum, better known as the ROM. Meanwhile, Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo (Sharron Matthews) quickly become knee-deep in their own mystery when a cut-and-dry corpse identification brings up more questions than answers.

The TV Junkies spoke with Frankie Drake herself about what to expect in the new season. She discusses more interactions between the core four women, including more scenes with Flo and Mary, the joy of doing scenes with Crewson, and previews what guest stars she’s most excited for.

 

The TV Junkies: How did it feel to come back for Season 2?

Lauren Lee Smith: Oh my god, I was so excited to come back for Season 2. Honestly, I was ready. I think all of the girls were. We had spent a good chunk of time getting over the exhaustion of filming a TV show, so we were all so ready and so excited to come back. We all kind of had an outline of what the season was going to look like and what at least the first few episodes looked like. We were all just super stoked to get back into it and get back into these characters.

TTVJ: What were some of the changes you noticed between filming the first season and going into Season 2?

LLS: For starters, I think that one of the really, really great things that we see in Season 2 is the friendship, specifically between the four women, is just that much more heightened. We see Flo and Mary sort of take on a more proactive role throughout this season, which I think is really, really cool to see. That was a really nice change. We see Mary’s new boss, Anthony Lemke, who plays Detective Grayson, come into the police station. He sort of throws a wrench into all of our plans and creates difficulties throughout the entire season, which was really fun to play. [laughs] I also think we have a lot more action-adventure aspects to this season. We see a lot more of the girls’ friendship and how much they rely on each other and trust each other. I think those are some of the key things that we see for Season 2.

TTVJ: That’s great to hear. We saw a lot of Frankie and Trudy’s friendship in the first season, but it’s nice to hear how it will expand more to Flo and Mary.

LLS: It’s true. And they have such a beautiful, fun, natural chemistry with each other and I think that everyone sort of saw that watching Season 1 and went, ‘wait, wait, wait. We need to be showcasing this a little bit more.’ I’m so happy that the writers and the producers decided to do that. And also just showing us in our downtime, you know, being four girls in the early 1920s having fun together and pursuing our individual careers.

CBC/Shane Mahood
CBC/Shane Mahood

TTVJ: We’ve already learned a bit about Frankie and Trudy’s pasts, but will we learn any more in this upcoming season?

LLS: Yeah, we’ll continue to get little glimpses of how they came to be and find out a little bit more about them. It’s really fun, actually. That’s one of the aspects that I really like about doing series television is that every week when I get the script I’m also finding stuff out for the first time. [laughs] So I get the script and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, I had no idea that that was part of Frankie’s history.’ But it’s definitely incorporated in Season 2. We get to see a lot of Frankie’s mother, played by the incredible Wendy Crewson, as well. We definitely explore that mother-daughter relationship a lot more in Season 2, which is very, very funny. I adore working with Wendy. She’s a force and she’s such a sweetheart. I think that Frankie and Nora have such an interesting, complicated relationship, so it’s really fun to play and see that.

TTVJ: How has it been building up that chemistry with Wendy over these last two years?

LLS: It’s funny, you know, Wendy is such an incredible actress. She always has been, and we’ve fortunately worked together on a few other projects before this. But when she came on last season, she had such a clear and perfect idea of who this character was. And it was instantaneous the way that the banter happened between us and the physicality and stuff like that. That’s all just us. It sort of happens naturally with us, and I really attribute that to Wendy and her abilities as an actress. She’s just so in it and she comes on set and she has all of these ideas. We’re very lucky to have her.

TTVJ: Obviously the relationships are one aspect of Frankie Drake, but we have to talk about the action a little bit. Were there any stunts that you were particularly excited about this season?

LLS: I think anytime that there’s any physicality, I’m excited about it. It’s really cool to see the three other women using their physicality this season as well. I think anytime we can showcase that with any of us it adds to the show and creates that female Indiana Jones vibe, which I adore about the show. When you’re taking down guys who are twice your size, it’s always fun, and it always looks super cool. We have this phenomenal stunt coordinator Alicia [Turner] who does such a great job. She works with each of us individually with our strengths and makes us look as cool as humanly possible.

TTVJ: You mentioned Anthony Lemke, but are there any other guest stars you’re particularly excited about this season?

LLS: Oh my gosh, we have so many guest stars this season. We have Tara Spencer-Nairn, who’s a very old friend, who comes on. We have Alan Davies, we have Natalie Brown, who comes on as mob boss bootlegger Bessie Starkman. We have Steve Byers in the first episode. We have this extremely talented French actress Romane Portail who comes in to play Coco Chanel. Those are just a few that I can think of, but yeah, we have some incredible guest stars this year.

CBC/Stephen Scott
CBC/Stephen Scott

TTVJ: It’s amazing hearing about all these interesting personalities that can come and go in Toronto in the 1920s.

LLS: Right, isn’t it? It’s really fun that they’re playing with that too. Last year we had Hemingway. I think it’s one of the aspects that reaches the audience and creates a really fun element. I mean, you know, Coco Chanel was not in Toronto in 1921, but we’re able to play with that and come up with a reason why, perhaps, she could have been. It’s a fun way to incorporate these historical, incredible characters into the series.

TTVJ: And, of course, there’s still the local Toronto elements, like seeing the ROM in the premiere.

LLS: I have to say, that was a highlight of Season 2 for me, getting to shoot there after hours and sort of sneak around. Of course, we weren’t allowed to go very far, but just to be there without the craziness and all of the people and the lineups. It was pretty surreal to get to film there.

TTVJ: Are there any particular mysteries that you can preview for the upcoming season?

LLS: We have so many. Every episode there’s one that is equally intriguing. I have to say, I think we start off with a bang. I think the first episode is really, really fun and it showcases each of the women in their own little way. The mystery that we have to solve in this one is really fun and it really lends again to that Indiana Jones feel to it. That was a big highlight for me and getting to work with Steve Byers again, who I adore. I think the audience is gonna love that.

The second episode is equally as fun. We all had to go into serious dance choreography before we started shooting because the episode opens with us doing these very advanced, very interesting dance moves. [laughs] All of the girls got to do their own little bit and have their own little piece showcased.

 

Are you looking forward to a new season of Frankie Drake Mysteries? Sound off in the comments below.

Frankie Drake Mysteries Season 2 premieres Monday, September 24 at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.

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