LOS ANGELES — For many actors, performing is a way of gaining attention. For Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre, it’s an escape.
“My childhood had a fair amount of unpleasantness in it,” she says. “And I wanted to be somewhere else — which is something I hear a lot from actors. So it started from wanting to be somewhere else and just enjoying that reprieve in life. And as I got older, I started to realize the other side of it.”
The other side of it is the delight she feels when she’s targeting a complicated character. The actress who’s best known for “Under the Dome,” “Proven Innocent” and two of the “Twilight” movies, is reveling in that challenge now.
She plays a frantic wife adrift in a New Zealand fiord searching for her lost husband in “The Sounds,” streaming in eight episodes on Acorn TV.
“I like to play in the muck, something I find myself saying a lot,” she says with a chuckle. “I like the fullness of people. I like how they can be weird and complicated, and all the same. And every role I play I get to know myself better in the work I really enjoy. And also I always learn things from other people, no matter how different they are. I always feel more connected after those pathways have been opened.”
ALWAYS WANTED TO ACT
Ever since she played the Wicked Witch in the first grade, she’s never deviated from that pathway. Although she attended college majoring in literature and education, her eye was always on the prize.
“I always wanted to be an actress, but I wanted to go to school because I love learning. So I knew I wanted to do that. I also knew I wanted to learn as much as I could about the world and nature. I never felt acting was different.”
Lefevre says her parents — her mom is a psychologist and her dad teaches English — didn’t try to dissuade her from her chosen path.
“I never had any of those ‘how-are-you-going-to-pay-the-bills?’ conversations. They said whatever you set your mind to — not in an overly idealistic way, not in a my-baby-can-do-anything-way, but it was more of a work ethic.
“It really had a place in our house in the conversations I had with my parents. They both had fierce work ethics and a very strong sense of their own strength. And so I just felt like I was always encouraged to merge my own desires and strengths with a really good work ethic.”
The mother of a son, 4, and a daughter, 18 months, Lefevre remarks, “I would say to any parents with kids who want to be artists of any kind, I would say real suffering is having a fire in you for some creativity that wants to get out, and having it snuffed out before it even has a chance to exist.”
Married for five years to Chris Crary, who is the chef at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, Lefevre says she’s not afraid to cook for him, though she’s had what she calls “some embarrassments” in the kitchen.
“He’s not intimidating. It’s not his personality, he’s not a snob. Just because he’s a great chef, he doesn’t really expect everyone else to be.”
The two met on Twitter, and when she went to meet him for the first time at the restaurant, she took a girlfriend with her.
“I remember thinking that he was super cute, that was the first thing — in that button-up chef’s coat. And then I remember thinking that it was awkward. When he came out to the table from the kitchen, and I was sitting and he was standing, and I sort of didn’t know what to say. I thanked him for the food, but it was hard to have a conversation in the middle of a crowded restaurant.”
She and her friend stayed till quitting time.
“Then he came out from the kitchen, and it was lovely. I remember thinking he was shy, which surprised me. He was very confident when he came out of the kitchen, very comfortable in his environment, very comfortable in his chef’s coat and in the role of a chef, but when he sat down and it was just boy-meets-girl, I remember that he seemed shy.”
Lefevre admits that she’s timid too.
“I’m shy inside, but it’s not how it manifests on the outside,” she confides. “People who are shy and introverted, both internally and externally, I think they cover up their shyness; they’re afraid you’re going to see. They cover up their shyness by just not speaking and staying quiet and maybe you won’t notice them.
“Then maybe I do the opposite in that the bigger I seem, the less you’ll see of the inside. The bigger the outside, the more distracted you are by the smoke and mirrors of the outside, the less you’ll pay attention to the inside — which is terrified. More specifically, I’m not shy, I’m terrified,” she admits.
“I’m very comfortable being a character — whoever that is. I won’t cry as me. I would rather give myself paper cuts at home than have my real feelings shown in front of another human being, as ME. But as a character, you can have whatever you want. I can turn myself inside out for you.”