Throughout two episodes of CBC’s new drama This Life there’s still one character that remains a mystery to viewers. Oliver Lawson (Kristopher Turner) was introduced in the second episode when he learned that his older sister Natalie (Torri Higginson) had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. On Monday night’s episode Oliver, an artist currently living in Los Angeles, returns home to Montreal to be there for his sister and family in her time of need.
Viewers will soon learn that Oliver is very good at keeping secrets, particularly about what happened with his boyfriend, due to his strained relationship with his parents. The TV Junkies recently talked with Turner to get his thoughts about where Oliver is coming from, why he’s keeping secrets and whether or not the truth will come out during the rest of Season 1.
The TV Junkies: Oliver returns home to his family in this week’s episode. How does that reunion go and how does Oliver fit into the Lawson family dynamic?
Kristopher Turner: Oliver is the one who has isolated himself from the family. We’ve all got our eccentricities and Oliver’s connection to that is that he’s a very open and loving man. When he came out as gay to his parents, it didn’t go over well. It’s not that they were particularly mean to him about it, it’s that it made them uncomfortable enough that it made Oliver unsafe in that environment. As someone who loves so passionately and openly, he had to get away because it was shutting him down.
It particularly hurts when it’s Natalie who’s in trouble in this scenario. He and Natalie share an unspoken bond. It’s almost like they live the lives the other one wants to have. There’s a part of Natalie that wants to go out and be crazy, live an artist’s life, but she had kids.
TTVJ: From what we’ve seen so far, the Lawsons as a whole aren’t very good secret keepers, yet Oliver is holding onto some pretty big ones. Why is he hiding the truth about his boyfriend from his family and will we learn what it is soon?
KT: This series is so well written and to me it’s this slow burn that just builds throughout the season. You’re definitely going to find out about Oliver’s secrets and what he’s holding back about in the upcoming episodes.
TTVJ: He seems so close with his siblings, yet he’s holding this truth back from them.
KT: To me the irony of Oliver is that he’s the person who wants to be the most open and most loving, but he actually is the most shut down of any of them because of the rejection he felt from the family. It feels to me like Oliver is holding onto this secret as a way of punishing the family like, ‘You don’t get to see my heart. You don’t get to see what’s going on inside of me because when I did show it to you, you hurt me.’
He loves his family though and of course he wants to be there to support them. But there’s that other hand that kind of wants to punish everybody because of how he feels he’s treated. He’s very arrogant and entitled in that opinion as well, but it is something he holds onto.
TTVJ: Will we see Oliver confront his parents about their feelings towards his homosexuality and will there be any change in their opinions this season?
KT: The main drive for Oliver, as much as he’s there for Natalie, is the secret that he holds about his boyfriend is very much connected to his relationship with his dad. There’s definitely confrontations between Oliver and his parents and the past relationship starts to play out because of the secret he’s holding onto.
What hit me the most though was Oliver learning the damage that he’s been doing to the family and to his parents. Oliver very much comes in believing he’s the one that’s been wronged, but as the episodes progress he starts to realize the damage his removal from the family has had on them. It becomes a reality check for everybody involved.
TTVJ: Oliver seems to have a really great relationship with both of his sisters, but early on we don’t see much of him with his brother Matthew (Rick Roberts). What’s the story between those two?
KT: As a side note, the two of them are the most different in the sense that Matthew is much older, he’s a doctor and very much dad’s Golden Boy. Oliver couldn’t have gone in a much different direction. Yet, later on in the season, there comes a point where the two of them are each others only ally. It forces the family bond and shows it’s stronger than any of the other surface, ego trips that either of these characters are on.
TTVJ: Oliver is very close with Natalie’s children, especially Romy (Julia Scarlett Dan). Why do they have such a strong bond?
KT: Again it’s the paradox of Oliver to me. He’s the epitome of ‘I don’t want kids. I want to be an artist, live in L.A. and be free,’ but he’s so drawn to it even though it confuses him. Particularly with Romy, he identifies with her need for isolation. It’s that artist heart where you do your best work when you’re by yourself. I think Oliver sees that in Romy and identifies with it and she sees it in him.
TTVJ: You guys are dealing with such a depressing subject, how do you keep that from dragging you down?
KT: I know it sounds weird, given the subject matter of the show, but the script did a good job of balancing the somber with the humorous. So not everything is somber all the time, but also we’re actors. It’s what we love to do, even if it’s dark and it’s sad, if I’m finding something that’s true and I’m exploring that theme that makes me happy. Oliver is such a challenging character that I’d be much more depressed on set if I was bored.
Are you excited to learn what Oliver is hiding? Do you have any guesses about his secret? Sound off 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.