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June 13, 2016

Balancing Act

Lauren Holly talks about crime solving, how to plan an orgy, clothing for real women and life as as a single mom.

Karen DeLong
  • Courtesy Le Chateau
  • Courtesy Le Chateau
  • Courtesy Le Chateau
  • Courtesy Le Chateau

Film, TV, fashion, motherhood and a little writing are just some of the parts that the versatile Lauren Holly plays...simultaneously.

Now in her fourth season as Dr. Betty Rogers in Motive, Holly has become a fan favorite due to her character’s quirky personality and wit. Motive, unlike most police procedural dramas, reveals the killer and the victim at the beginning and delves into the motives and events leading up to the crime via flashbacks.

Holly describes Rogers as “Really cool, very real. She speaks her mind, she has a sense of humor and a great deal of confidence in herself as a person and in her job. I always joke that I’m the real crime solver on the show!”

The current season introduces Rogers’ relationship with Detective Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira). “This is a grownup workplace relationship, so the job affects the relationship and vice versa,” Holly explains. “It will be familiar to people who have met and fallen in love at their workplace,” she said, adding that she’s thrilled to have an on-screen partner who is so great to work with.

There’s something special about every role, and Holly finds Rogers and the study of forensics fascinating. “My props are crazy and cool, with wounds and special effects makeup,” she says, yet her preparation for the role was real. Holly visited morgues and met with real-life medical examiners to better understand the practice.

“It was an education,” she says. “I got weak in the knees. But after I got over the shock of it, I was amazed. [The medical examiners] are smart, with even more education than a heart surgeon. But they are also detectives. They are incredibly respectful, with a keen sense that every time someone is on their table, [finding out what happened] means something to someone.” 

In Motive, the victims on Rogers’ table are live actors tasked with the challenge of remaining very still, and they must hold their breath on camera. “I can tell they’re thinking, ‘You better know your lines or I will actually be dead!’” Holly jokes.

Like her character, Holly’s own warmth and sense of humor is evident. She says that immersion in a role affects one’s own personality traits, and that the same is true in reverse. “The writers get to know you and things [about me] sort of just appear in the character. The writers are the real heroes of our business.”

In fact, Holly shares that the writing is often what sells her on a part. Having appeared in film and TV in roles ranging from comedy (Dumb and Dumber) to drama (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) NCIS, Picket Fences and more, Holly says, “I don’t look for anything in particular; just something that speaks to me. 

"I’ve always jumped around, from comedy to drama and other things, and I think of myself as a character actor. I always keep finding those interesting roles, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to keep finding them for so long,” the 52-year-old actress says of her 30-year career.

Her latest work is in the independent Canadian comedy How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, starring Jewel Staite in the lead role as Cassie Cranston, a metropolitan sex writer who returns to her home town. Holly is cast as Maureen Cranson, Cassie’s mother. “It’s a small part, but an important character that helps set up the story,” she says.

Without giving away any spoilers, she notes that Maureen has an “interesting” relationship with her daughter. “It’s always such a crapshoot with the independent movies,” Holly says, “but this one is getting some notice and it’s cool.”

It certainly got the attention of Holly’s three boys, ages 12, 13 and 14. “They jumped all over the title right away,” she laughs. “Their only question was ‘Are you naked?’ and when I said I was not, they moved on, noting that one stated, “That’s good, because I would have thrown up everywhere.”

My boys are my priority,” says the single mom. “I’m the field trip mom and I’m on the 8th grade graduation committee. I always jump in when I’m not working.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, noting that she commutes from Toronto to Vancouver every week. “It’s a bipolar existence. In Vancouver, I’m the professional, on set, having dinner with friends. Then at home, I’m the mom getting kids up for school, just trying to keep my boys on track without too much disruption.”

She survives on post-it notes and lists, sharing that “If you’re honest, you think you’re doing it all and it’s perfect. Then you feel like you’re missing stuff, messing up. A lot of women go through that as we attempt to have fulfilling careers and we’re moms. It’s a learning curve, but so far it works for my family.”

Holly treats each of her boys to a one-on-one trip to Ontario each season, and another trip where they all go together as a family.

“My three are so different that they each had very distinctive things they wanted to do in Ontario. It’s important for them to know what I’m doing when I’m there and meet the people I work with,” she said, adding that she feels this familiarity with her work setting gives them more peace of mind when she’s away.

As if family, film and TV aren’t enough to keep her busy, Holly is also now curating her own fashion line, Lauren’s Closet, designed by the Canadian retailer LE CHATEAU.

It came about while she was making a movie called After the Ball, a Cinderella-type of story in which she played the evil stepmother who ran a fashion company. She loved her wardrobe for the role, and found out that LE CHATEAU provided the clothes.

“I didn’t know the brand until then, but I became a huge fan. I spent my entire per diem in there and got to know the people running the business very well.” She bought so much that she told them they should call the store “Lauren’s Closet.” The owners turned the joke into reality, resulting in a fashion line that works for almost any woman.

Holly says that the clothes have a European flair and that some are made in the same factories as Prada but at a very affordable price point. “I love the clothes and wear them all the time. My character wears them on Motive. This is not stuff that you need to suck it in. [The clothes are] comfortable, easy to wear and easy to take care of. I’m a normal woman, not a stick woman. I’ve got curves.”

Holly, who lives in Canada and maintains dual citizenship there and in the US, adds that the Canadian culture is “much more realistic about women’s bodies” than the US. “It’s a gentler place in all ways, nothing is quite as pressured or hysterical. It’s a very good place for my boys to grow up,” she says.

The future may hold even more diversity for Holly. She enjoys writing as a creative outlet and so far has only written for herself, but says, “writing is in my future. Once you’re in this kind of world, you lean toward the creative, and that can come out in all sorts of ways.”

There’s no doubt that Lauren Holly will succeed in her next chapter.

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