Liane Balaban Brings Another Tale from the East

Liane Balaban and Taylor Kitsch in The Grand Seduction.
Liane Balaban and Taylor Kitsch in The Grand Seduction.

Audiences may recognize Liane Balaban as Joshua Jackson’s impossibly patient fiancée in One Week, or as Sam Winchester’s tragic love interest in Supernatural season 8. But odds are you remember her as the spirited 15 year-old Moonie Pottie in New Waterford Girl.

These days, one can find Balaban on the big screen as Kathleen, Taylor Kitsch’s love interest in The Grand Seduction, now playing nationwide. The one inhabitant of Tickle Head with a modicum of common sense, Kathleen sees her stance against conning a doctor into moving to Newfoundland wobble, as she meets the easy-on-the-eyes physician.

The Toronto native stopped by her hometown to promote the movie. Currently a Los Angeles resident, Liane jokes about how often American productions bring her back to Canada to do movies and TV shows. “Every time I go to Newfoundland I fall in love with it. I was seriously thinking about uprooting my life, from L.A to Trinity.”

– Is it feasible?

– If I were a really famous movie star, perhaps. But I think I need to stay in L.A. for now. I can dream though.

– Your character in The Grand Seduction seems to operate at a different beat than everyone else. How did you shape it?

– The back story I built for Kathleen was that she was from that community, but went away for years because of school. In a way it parallels my life: I shot New Waterford Girl when I was a teenager in Cape Breton, move back to Toronto, kept working there and all over Canada, and now I’m back in Newfoundland for this movie.

– Did you watch Seducing Dr. Lewis (La Grande Séduction) before doing the Anglophile adaptation?

– I saw went it came out about a decade ago, not ever knowing I would be in the English version. I didn’t revisit it. I remembered it, it’s such a good film, it stays with you. I believe our adaptation captures the same spirit, funny, heartwarming tone.

– Did you have any concerns tacking a character with these peculiarities?

– Yeah, why did she keep slamming the door in Taylor Kitsch’s face? He’s cute!

– How is it different to be directed by an actor, in the case of The Grand Seduction, Don McKellar?

– It’s the best, because they know what’s to be in the other side. A good director has a general idea of how to approach actors and is quick to realize what would work for a particular individual. Actor-directors are the most collaborative type. They give the performer a sense of ownership over the project and their part, which leads to a better result. The worst is when a director treats you like a puppet and yells at you.

– Has this happened to you?

– Unfortunately, it has. Sorry to name drop, but Dustin Hoffman told me if I get a piece of direction that doesn’t feel authentic, just ignore it. That’s easy for him to say, but I understand where he is coming from. Communication with directors who don’t act is not always as efficient. Performers have a shorthand. Don McKellar creates a very playful atmosphere on set, in which everyone feels relaxed and curious.

– How do you deal with pilot season in L.A.?

– Pilot season is strange. It used to be a very concentrated period of time, but now is year round. I always get frazzled during pilot season. As an actor, you build your profile by being based in L.A., but at the same time, you end up working more in Toronto and Canada in general.

– What do you think happened to Moonie Pottie, fifteen years later?

– I think Moonie Pottie is an installation artist living in New York. Does it make sense?

– Sure does.

The Grand Seduction is now playing at the Galaxy.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.

3 thoughts on “Liane Balaban Brings Another Tale from the East”

  1. That’s the guy from HBO’s The Normal Heart. He was really good in that.

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