Actress-Musician Miranda Frigon answers questions by OH! Entertainment's Nightfly about Primeval: New World, her music and more!
Primeval: New World, the long-awaited spinoff of the U.K.'s spectacular dinosaur drama, bursts onto the Canadian television landscape tonight (10/29) @ 10E/7P on SPACE! The dynamic new action series boasts a talented cast of genre thesps, creatures of land, sea, air and sand, and no less than seventy (70) visual efx shots per entry in each of its thirteen pilot season episodes.
For the uninitiated, the Primeval franchise revolves around the detection, mapping and termination of temporal anomalies (a.k.a. time portals) through which prehistoric and futuristic threats, most often animals, cross into our time and raise havoc. As the anomolies begin appearing in Canada inventor Evan Cross forms an underground tactical response team of scientists and animal experts, collectively called the Special Projects Group, to address the dangerous phenomena.
Leading the Vancouver based team is visionary inventor Evan Cross (played by Niall Matter, Eureka), supported by predatory animal expert Dylan Weir (Sara Canning, The Vampire Diaries), security specialist Mac Rendell (Danny Rahim, Young James Herriot) and comely physics prodigy Toby Nance (Crystal Lowe, Smallville). Additionally aiding the Special Projects Group is Lt. Len Leeds (played by Geoff Gustafson), former head of the Canadian government's decommissioned department responsible for investigating alien life and other supernatural mysteries.
Key to keeping Evan Cross' efforts afloat is his longtime friend and confidante Ange Finch (played by Miranda Frigon, Heartland). Obsessively organized and financially pragmatic, Ange's the buttoned-down CFO of Cross Photonics who has long yearned to be so much more. With the sensuality of a long-simmering unrequited love, Ange battles her heart's desire while Cross and his team battle paranormal threats in the field.
Complimenting Miranda Frigon's impressive acting filmography is a musical career that's seen the accomplished singer-songwriter land original songs in numerous feature films and television shows. Beyond writing for artists throughout the U.S. and U.K., Miranda has two previously released albums of her own under her belt with a third on the way in 2013.
With the first season of Primeval: New World already done filming, I was honored to interview Miranda Frigon (who is currently on location shooting a new film) about her music and the new dino-drama. I began by focusing on the beautiful Canadian-born thesp's acting endeavors and Primeval: New World....
Nightfly for OH! Entertainment: I read in a recent interview (available here) that you prefer comedic roles to dramatic ones yet it seems a majority of your work has been in dramas, particularly sci-fi dramas. Are there generally more acting opportunities in the areas of sci-fi and dramas, or is it mere happenstance that you've appeared in so many supernaturally themed programs?
Miranda Frigon: I love performing in any genre and challenging myself to play any kind of character, but I just happen to love making an idiot of myself so comedy is a natural fit! I find that being an actor in Vancouver, you naturally end up doing a lot of sci-fi as most of the sci-fi is shot here. I’ve been living in Los Angeles for the past 8yrs and there’s a much bigger comedy market there, so I tapped into that niche over there. Now being back in Vancouver, it’s back to dramas and sci-fi!
OH!: Is there a particular actress or actor you can name that either directly or indirectly inspired you to pursue the craft of acting?
MF: I had been watching Meryl Streep since I was a kid as my mom was also a big fan. She is just everything I strive to be as an actress; incredibly versatile, chameleon-like and absolutely compelling to watch. She’ll always sit on a high pedestal in my books as the kind of artist I aspire to be. But I had the acting and performing bug from a very young age, so watching any favorite movie got me excited. I didn’t even know that it was TV and film I would eventually end up doing.
OH!: You previously worked with Amanda Tapping in front of the camera on Sanctuary, and now with her as a director helming episodes of Primeval: New World. Did her attitude, approach and/or style change significantly along with her new behind-the-scenes role?
MF: Amanda is straight up just the coolest chick you’ll ever meet - in front of the camera, or behind it. I always have such a blast working with her. We get along so great and have the same sense of humor so it makes for a lot of fun on set. What’s so great about Amanda as a director is that she not only brings a unique sensitivity to the table, being that she is a woman, but her directing approach is that of an actor's perspective so the storytelling and the relationships in the scene are high on her priority list. Every director works differently but we, as actors, get really excited when we get an “actors director”. Amanda really spent time with us making sure the dialogue flowed, that the words made sense, the characters' relationships were on the right track and that we felt really comfortable with the scene. It was a treat to work with her again and she’s not only an incredible actress but is really making her mark as a director now too.
OH!: Were you a fan of the original Primeval series? And if so, who's your favorite character and why?
MF: I had actually never watched the original until I was offered the role on this show, then I started to watch the episodes on the web. I found myself getting addicted to it! I think Hannah Spearritt, who plays Abby, is absolutely gorgeous! But my favorite character has to be Connor (Andrew Lee Potts) whom I had the pleasure of working with on our show. I was so into the show that when he was in town and we were all at a BBQ on the beach on our day off, I slipped up and called him Connor instead of Andrew. I felt like such a dummy!!
OH!: Primeval's original creator (Tim Haines) has indicated that there will be some crossover between the original series and New World, and that some meaningful developments would move between the two shows. Can you confirm that? And do you foresee your character possibly crossing over to the original series?
MF: Oh my god that would be amazing to cross over to the original series!! I’m not sure that would happen but I guess anything is possible when you’re dealing with time portals. There is definitely crossover between the two shows being that Andrew Lee Potts' character was able to crossover into our world and, yes, there is some really cool stuff that develops in the finale that will get the fans very excited for a Season Two (fingers crossed that happens)!
OH!: Is Potts the only original series cast member that will be on P:NW's first season?
MF: I can’t predict the future seasons and who will show their face, but so far Andrew has been the only one to join us in the New World.
OH!: Speaking of Andrew Lee Potts (a.k.a. Connor Temple), can you talk about his role on Primeval: New World?
MF: Andrew is fantastic and a really great actor. I had a number of scenes with him but not as many as any of us would have liked! Even with the few scenes we had, there is a nice arc to our relationship from our first encounter to later in the series. That’s all I’m going to say so you’ll have to tune in!
OH!: I've read that your particular role on P:NW keeps you out of harms way more than the other team members. Would you like to see Ange potentially go out into the field and get her hands dirty more if the series gets a second season?
MF: Well, I am really up for anything. I love playing the boss and ordering people around but I also love acting in anything involving action. So of course I’d love to get out there and get in the middle of all the chaos and join the rest of the team!
OH!: I understand you're in a couple fewer episodes of Primeval: New World's pilot season than other castmates. Were you cast from the very beginning? Or did you just have a couple epis off?
MF: We were all onboard from the beginning. We shot 13 episodes and I appeared in 10. I think only Niall and Sara appear in all 13. The rest of the cast members each had a few episodes off.
OH!: Amongst your P:NW castmates, with whom did you have the most scenes with? And what was it like working so much with him/her?
MF: Geoff Gustafson has been my partner in crime on P:NW and I couldn’t be more thrilled than to have most of my scenes with him. He is easily one of the nicest and funniest guys I have ever met. He is constantly giving me compliments and doing and saying ridiculous things to make me laugh. What more could a girl want?!! He’s not only an amazing guy who’s so much fun to be around, but he is a mega-watt actor/comedian to boot.
OH!: Is there any individual or couple of individuals that you've become fast friends with from the P:NW cast that you hope your character can spend more time with in the future?
MF: The whole cast became fast friends immediately. It was really quite amazing actually. I’ve never experienced such camaraderie on a set before. Every now and then we might butt heads but it would be worked out and over so quickly. It’s only natural when you’re spending so much time together for differences to come up. It truly felt like a family though, like we were brothers and sisters. I love this cast and crew and miss them already! Of course I wish I had more scenes with my favorite girls Sara Canning and Crystal Lowe. Sara and I became good friends and we’re yoga buddies. Crystal and I also became super close and we like to go out and hit the town for drinks. We always have a blast. She’s awesome. Then there’s Danny Rahim who is one of my most favorite people on the planet. He's the craziest guy I’ve ever met and he can break even the most uptight person down. Our characters got to butt heads in the show so that was fun, but it couldn’t be further from our off-screen relationship. He is such a wonderfully energetic, playful, compassionate and ridiculously hilarious person and I don’t think it’s possible for anyone on the planet to not love him.
OH!: Does your character have many scenes with Sara Canning? Can you tell us a little about your off-screen friendship with her?
MF: I absolutely LOVE this girl. Her and I laugh non-stop when we are together. We had some scenes together but definitely not a lot. When we do work together all we do is make fun of each other and poke fun at anything stupid the other person says or does. We’re seriously constantly laughing. Her and I like to do yoga together when our schedules actually line up and allow us to get together. Sara is one of those girls that has it all; she’s beautiful, ridiculously talented, kind, compassionate, non-judgmental, and funny as hell. I can’t say enough good things about her. We were just texting a few minutes ago actually, she’s over in London for the show and I’m in Victoria shooting a movie, so we keep missing each other in Vancouver. I miss her a ton right now!
OH!: How was the experience of working with Niall Matter?
MF: Niall is awesome. He’s a great guy and is really on his game. I’ve never met an actor more aware of what’s going on at any given moment. He really understands lighting, camera angles, script analysis (etc.) so you always feel safe in the scene with him because if ever you’re confused about anything you can bet he’s thought about it in detail and most likely has the answer, lol. He will definitely make a great director someday. He really takes care of the crew and the cast, and has been a really great leader to our P:NW team.
OH!: I'd like to focus the next few questions on your musical career and background. Can you share the names of some of the artists you've composed for or worked with, and/or some of the specific shows and movies that your music has been featured on? Any that made you especially proud due to a specific scene or pivotal moment that your work scored?
MF: Writing for other artists has been newer on my list of music ventures but this past year I was developing former American Idol finalist Mikalah Gordon and co-writing some of the songs on her album. I’ve been writing and recording with Jim McGorman, who has been the lead guitarist/keyboard player and musical director for Avril Lavigne since she started touring, and he’s also the musical director for Weezer. He’s incredible to work with. One of my writing partners is Robb Vallier, who did the last Imogen Heap, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox albums. So between those two it’s been a really great learning experience. I’ve mostly been focused on writing for film and television in the past few years and I’m most excited about those placements. My first few placements were on the sci-fi series Jake 2.0 years ago which aired on UPN and Syfy; I had my song “Hangover” placed on the feature film Boy Toy and I played myself in the film and performed my song live in the movie. I recently had a song placed on the hit series Heartland, in another sci-fi feature called Death Do Us Part with Julia Benson (Stargate Universe), and you will be hearing my new song “Hiding Place” featured in an upcoming episode of Primeval: New World. The Executive Producers, Martin Wood and Gillian Horvath found my song and placed it in the episode without me knowing and Martin came to set and pretended to be showing us this great scene with me and Niall and my track started playing. I had tears in my eyes, I was so touched they chose to use my song. I can’t wait for you guys to see the scene. Niall is really great in it!
* Note: Learn how Miranda came to know Martin Wood here.
OH!: Would you care to talk about your previous albums and the one you have coming out in 2013? If you had to pick one, which of your three albums would you say reflects your most quintessential, or signature style?
MF: Well, by far my new album will reflect me, and my style the most. I’m the kind of person that only ever wants people to listen to my current music, never my old stuff. Yuck! When people tell me they still have songs from my old albums on their playlists I cringe and try to steal their iPods so I can delete the songs, haha. So to stick to that, I’m only going to talk about my new album! I’m sooooo excited about this one as I’ve been writing for so long and finally feel like I just really understand songwriting in a whole new way. I can’t wait to share this new collection of songs with everyone. I’m still in the writing and recording stages at the moment so I have not titled the album as of yet but it will be released in 2013. A few of my songs that have been placed on shows recently like “Hiding Place” and “All I Need is You” will be up on iTunes shortly, so people will be able to download them there. You can also hear my music and get updates on the release of my album on my new website which will be up and running very soon at www.mirandafrigon.com.
OH!: I read on your MySpace page that you were dismissed from Canada's Royal Conservatory and found solace in alternate composition classes elsewhere. Can I get you to divulge a bit about your musical education? Where you studied and what musical subjects you favored or excelled in?
MF: I began playing piano as soon as I was tall enough to climb on the piano bench by myself, but even then I could just never reach the pedals... so it didn’t start really sounding good until I had long enough legs to hit the sustain pedal, haha. I did train in Royal Conservatory piano for about 5 years and went through all of my Classical Royal Conservatory examinations and passed with honors, though I have to admit I cheated a bit. When you are training classically, they expect you to be sight-reading the music you’re playing. Well, I would ask my piano teachers to play the song for me so I could hear it once, but I have something similar to a photographic memory - only it has to do with my ear and my memory for hearing notes. I can hear something, remember it, figure it out in a matter of minutes and play it back. But I would play it back and add a few notes here and there and “change it up a bit” cause I thought it sounded cooler. I’d trick my teachers because I would put the book in front of me and pretend to be reading the notes but was playing it by ear and memory. After being dismissed by a few teachers due to their frustration with me, my last teacher finally figured it out. She explained to my mom that she might want to put me into a composing class, as I seemed more interested in writing my own songs then learning to play songs written by others. And so, here I am!
OH!: Your MySpace page lists a diverse array of musical influencers. Artists ranging from Marilyn Manson to Michelle Branch to U2. If you had to narrow it down to just a handful of all-time favorites, who would you claim as your most potent musical influences?
MF: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I love so many genres of music and so many different artists for different reasons; it’s so hard to choose! I’d have to mix it up with a few oldies and newbies. I’d say Guns N' Roses is up there in my favorites, One Republic, Bon Iver, Ingrid Michaelson, Bruno Mars and Adele.
OH!: If you could only take the catalog of one artist to be marooned with on a desert island forever, who would it be? And why?
MF: If I had to pick one, hands down U2 is who I’d take with me to be stranded on a desert island. I will never tire of the sound of their music or the sound of Bono’s voice. Their music is ageless and I have so many memories tied to their songs. I think the first time I made out with a boy was to The Joshua Tree album so I can’t let that music go! It’s my youth!
OH!: Another artistic outlet you're known to be passionate about is jewelry design. Why are your creations no longer in stores?
MF: My jewelry line is dormant at the moment. I took my stuff out of the stores just because my music and acting keep me way too busy, but, I still do custom pieces and design all my own pieces that I wear to events and awards ceremonies. I will probably have a section on my website with photos of my stuff when the site goes live.
OH!: To close out this interview, I'd love to have you share a specific charity or non-profit organization that's close to your heart? Perhaps one that you've worked with or donated to in the past?
Miranda Frigon: I support and have donated my time to the non-profit organization Caleb’s Hope, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for vulnerable women and children affected by war, poverty and HIV/AIDS. Caleb’s Hope’s focus is helping women develop business and community building skills by creating fair trade goods and services that are sustainable, eco-friendly and competitive on a global scale, while providing assistance to their children via mentorship programs. The women of Caleb’s Hope spend their days creating beautiful paper beads. They then have select jewelry designers here in Canada and the U.S. take apart the necklaces and make one of a kind jewelry pieces (earrings, bracelets, necklaces) incorporating the beads along with their own materials and the pieces are auctioned off to raise money for the organization. I had the pleasure of designing 37 one of a kind pieces for them which were successfully auctioned off at one of their past fundraisers. For more info please visit their beautiful website at http://www.calebshope.org.
On that heartfelt note, I'd like to thank Miranda for generously spending her time answering my questions and to remind everyone to tune-in to her sensational new series, Primeval: New World premiering tonight (10/29) on SPACE @ 10E/7P (and coming to Syfy in 2013). Enjoy more pics and in-depth coverage by visiting its official site and show page at spacecast.com. Episodes will stream online at spacecast.com the day after they air. And you can also take Primeval: New World 'to go' for your iPhone or iPad by grabbing exclusive mobile apps coming to Apple's App Store soon (learn more here)! Follow the team's adventures on twitter and Facebook, and get psyched for tonight's launch by screening the thrilling preview video below.