The Ross family on Little Dog is made up of quite the group of characters. No one can argue with that fact. Viewers of the CBC comedy series soon realize you have to have a pretty big personality to hold your own in that family. While the series may focus on boxer Tommy Ross’ (Joel Thomas Hynes) quest for redemption, it also gives voices and time for many other members of his family, including sister Ginny (Katharine Isabelle). Ginny has spent much of the show’s second season dodging questions from son Chesley (Billy Cochrane) about the identity of his father, and recently saw the opportunity to bring wannabe boxing promoter Kevin Smallwood (Romaine Waite) into the mix by saying he’s Chesley’s dad.
That’s the thing about everyone in the Ross family though, they all make questionable decisions and viewers get to see how they hilariously pan out. In order to get some more insight into Ginny’s line of thinking with Chesley, as well as what she may be hiding, The TV Junkies recently spoke with Isabelle. She also shared with us what she loves about shooting Little Dog in Newfoundland, as well as what she finds so rewarding about playing out Ginny’s relationships with her mother, Sylvia (Ger Ryan) and Tommy’s ex, Pamela (Julia Chan). In addition to Little Dog, Isabelle also previews her role in the upcoming Netflix series The Order, premiering later in 2019.
The TV Junkies: Something I really love about Little Dog is that even though it’s on the surface super masculine and about this boxer’s redemption story, there’s such a feminine lens to it. Was that something that really drew you to the show?
Katharine Isabelle: Right off the top I didn’t know anything about it. As a working actor, you get sent tons of things to audition for and have no idea what the story is behind them. The very first person I talked to was Sherry [White, showrunner], and she was so passionate about women in film and the female characters we had on this show. It sparked a light in me because sometimes you have no idea what the passion is behind it, but Sherry and Joel are so amazing and distinct in creating these characters. In the first couple episodes I immediately knew who these characters were, and as you go along you start realizing there’s more and more layers. That attention to detail and attention to the layering I think speaks to all the women we have involved.
TTVJ: I also really love how many women directors Little Dog has used. Have you ever worked on a project like that? KI: No, I’ve definitely never had all female directors in a television show before. I’m thrilled with it! Let’s make that effort to support women in film and female directors. That’s exactly what this show does and it gives them this platform to see what they can do with it. I do think there’s another layer that female directors bring to it, and it’s just clarifying even more the complexity of human nature.
TTVJ: Another aspect of Little Dog I love is that it’s shot in Newfoundland. What’s that like for you getting to experience that each year? KI: Honestly, that was a total dream for me. I’m from the West Coast and I’ve travelled extensively across Canada, but I’ve never been to Newfoundland. I was beyond thrilled to live there for months at a time. It’s such a beautiful location and amazing place to wake up, walk outside and have that Atlantic wind hit your face. You feel like “I’m alive!” [laughs] The beauty and nature of the island is just stunning. I did some of the East Coast trail walks along the cliffs and it’s just outstanding. Then you start meeting the people there and think “maybe I can just stay here forever.” I want the show to go on forever so I can keep living two months in the summer in Newfoundland.
TTVJ: Like everyone on the show, Ginny makes some pretty questionable decisions, including telling her son, Chesley that Kevin Smallwood is his dad. I assume that will come back to bite her, but why is she so reluctant to tell him the truth? KI: We will all find out why she’s reluctant later this season. That’s kind of the thing with Ginny, she’s made questionable choices thanks to impulsive decision making. I think we’re all seeing there’s definitely something in her past that she’d maybe not like fully expressed, but at the same time, her kid is at an age where he wants to know more about himself. How that balance plays out is hilarious. We’ve all made questionable life decisions and usually we have to explain them at some point. I think we can all see that in her challenge this season.
TTVJ: Speaking of Kevin Smallwood, it seems like Ginny may see a business opportunity there. What can we expect from her relationship with him moving forward? KI: She’s got an eye out at all times, right? Her journey this season is more about trying to keep Chesley sane and sound as he is searching for his identity. Whoever enters her orbit, and is potentially an opportunity to be used to further anything for Ginny and her family, is going to be exploited.
TTVJ: Ginny and Sylvia have such an interesting dynamic and relationship. Why do they butt heads so much and what’s it like building that relationship with Ger Ryan? KI: They are so similar and that’s what a lot of mother/daughter relationships are like. The thing that bothers her then is that she totally knows it, and it’s incredibly frustrating to Ginny, even though she’d never admit it in 1,000 years. Ger is the most fun human on the planet and a delightfully hilarious woman. The craziness that she brings out is just thrilling to work with. Ginny is so toxic and abrasive that it can be difficult to amp your energy up to that, especially this season where she’s constantly frustrated, and Sylvia is mind-bogglingly frustrating and it helps everything. She’s fantastic and helps me ramp up my energy. I adore her for that.
TTVJ: A relationship I really enjoy is the one between Ginny and Pamela. It seems like they were pretty good friends once upon a time. Will we get to see any more of it? KI: I love Pamela and Julia. We ended up living together last season and just cooked together every day. I adore that relationship and you see that they have a real past. They both had to float different ways to survive, but see in each other what they’ve gone through and are there to support. If we come back for a third season I would love them to go on some kind of Thelma and Louise type road trip. It’d be so great to see that friendship restart.
TTVJ: That’s one of the great things about the show, only nine episodes have aired so far, but yet, I feel like the small bits we’ve been given makes it very clear those two had a very strong friendship. KI: That’s what great filmmaking is about, using every second that you have to get across these relationships, intricacies and the level of it within a short amount of time. It’s a fine line that’s very hard to do. We have a lot of characters in this show, and when you only have a few episodes of a half hour show, it’s amazing they’ve been able to express so clearly who these characters are and what their relationships are. I applaud them. My only complaint, and the only complaint I hear, is that I want more episodes!
TTVJ: I know you’re also going to be in the new Netflix series The Order. Can you share a little about who you’re playing there and what that’s about? KI: It’s about a secret society that operates out of a prestigious university. I play the chancellor of the university and second in command of the secret society. I’m really excited to see it because I think it’s going to be so fun and funny. They have an amazing group of young actors and Dennis Heaton, the creator, is just brilliant. When you’re shooting the first season of a show you don’t know what the show is, what the tone is or how they are going to edit it. Then when you get to watch and see you are always then ready to get back at it. I am excited to see what they’ve done with it.
What do you think of Ginny’s choices in Season 2 of Little Dog? Sound off below!
Little Dog airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBC and is available on CBC Gem.
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.