5 Questions With Erica Durance
For six years Erica Durance memorably played Lois Lane on The CW's Smallville -- and as many actors associated with iconic roles have previously learned, shaking off the shadow of that character can be tough. But Erica looks to have found the perfect project to help her clear that hurdle.
As Dr. Alex Reid on NBC's Saving Hope, the Canadian continues to breathe life into a strong female character, but has traded snooping for healing -- and one love triangle for another. I caught up with Erica to talk about transitioning from Smallville to Saving Hope, find out the appeal of Alex and discover the obstacles facing her from this point forward.
TheInsider.com: Smallville has a very passionate following. Do you find it tough for fans to see you as someone other than Lois?
Erica Durance: I appreciate those fans more than words can say. But I remember that someone kept saying that I was playing the same character here. And the thing is, there will obviously be similarities because I'm the same actor and this isn't a period piece or anything. A long time ago, I got used to the fact that actors will get that no matter how much you try to change yourself for a role, but what attracted me to Alex was that she has such a different outlook on life than Lois. Yes, they're both strong women, but Alex looks at life in this very linear way. It feels very different to me than Lois.
Insider.com: What was the biggest challenge Saving Hope presented to you?
Erica: One of the biggest learning curves I had involved the emotional stakes she is in. As a person, I like to dive into every character and invest emotions. But I had to put Erica in the corner while playing Alex because how I would react and how she reacts are totally different. There were moments when all I wanted to do was bawl my eyes out, but I had to find a different way to convey those emotions because of where Alex was in her journey. It's been a great exploration of the different ways to portray different emotions – from the outside, anyone would think that Alex should be a basketcase all the time. But actually that is not true, so playing these shades was really challenging for me.
Insider: Your co-star Daniel Gillies talked about the difficulties in playing one-third of a love triangle where another member is in a coma. What do you like about the Joel-Alex-Charlie relationship?
Erica: I like that it's messy. Messy is good. In life, you always say the wrong thing at the wrong time. And it's really awkward. But I love playing with the awkward of it. It's adding one more thing to Alex's plate and slowly introducing that baggage is fascinating. What's lovely about Joel for Alex is that she's got someone around who has known her forever. She doesn't have to pretend around him – there are no pretenses. And that's a fun relationship to have, and play.
Insider.com: And what about Charlie? There must be a point where either he wakes up or there's a serious discussion about how long this guy can be kept alive while in a coma, right?
Erica: Yes. That does get introduced tonight – Charlie's ex-wife comes in and she has a totally different theory about what should or shouldn't be done. I love that we start to talk about what the best way to love someone is. It's a big storyline that starts tonight – we start to ask how long is too long and when does it become less about the other person and more about you? There's a whole lot of angst there.
Insider.com: The pilot episode had a lot of heavy-lifting to do in terms of introducing this world. Looking forward, what are you hoping for?
Erica: This is almost like an old school TV show – we don't have $10 million dollars to crash a plane on an island. We used to give shows time to breathe and grow, and I feel like that's what this show needs. It's so much about these characters – yes, there are fascinating cases, and there's Alex’s journey where she thinks there are improvements in her fiance's health, where she feels his presence. So I feel like every episode builds on the past one. This show grows so much week to week.
Saving Hope airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.