Exclusive Interview: Sara Canning talks A Series of Unfortunate Events
Fascinated by the human behavior in all its facets, Sara Canning graduated from Vancouver Film School and got several television appearances in minor roles untill 2009, when she joined the Vampire Diaries‘ cast, playing aunt Jenna as regular for two seasons. Since then her career has never stopped and Sara shone in several roles, often as leading actress, along the way: Primeval: New World, Remedy (for which she won a Leo Adwords in 2015), The Right Kind of Wrong, Eadweard and On the Farm, positively acclaimed by critics and public. Canning’s credits include also Supernatural, Republic of Doyle, Hell on Wheels, Motive, Black Field and indie I Put A Hit On You (of which I’m a proud supporter). Full filmografy here.
From 2017, she plays Jacquelyn Seleszyka in Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on Daniel Handler’s books. I’m delighted to have interviewed Sara about this latest projects, aiming some light on one of the most mysterious (and loved) character of ASOUE. The interview will be published in Italian on FantasyMagazine, part of the publishing house Delos Book.
Enjoy the reading!
The first emotions reading the script: what fascinated you most about your character? Were you familiar with Snicket’s novels?
I didn’t know much about my character when I auditioned for A Series of Unfortunate Events. I caught up on the first few books before we started shooting, and as Jacquelyn isn’t clearly established at the beginning of the story, I still didn’t know what to expect when reading the first scripts. And her ultimate journey remains a mystery. It’s exciting.
Jacquelyn is surrounded by an aura of mystery and she doesn’t have an exact match in the novels. Did you have some freedom in playing her?
The tone of the show is quite specific – Barry Sonnenfeld is a complete detail-oriented visionary. Though Jacquelyn is quite contained and poised, I used inspiration from iconic film women for the numerous situations she pops up in.
Fans have welcomed her … perhaps because she’s one of the good guys. Did you expect this warmth and enthusiasm from them?
The reaction to Jacquelyn has been so rad. I’ve loved every moment of playing her, so to hear that people think she’s a badass of an addition to the series is a real thrill for me.
Unfortunate Events has a surreal and wonderful location. How much post production there is behind sets and scenes that we saw on the screen?
Though there are certainly effects done in post, I think a great marvel of the show is the set design. Each set was spectacular, with new ones going up all the time to accommodate the Baudelaires thwarting Count Olaf and being moved to new locations.
What was your favorite moment on set or favorite scene of this first season?
Working with Neil Patrick Harris was wild fun. Also, shooting the stylized scenes for Zombies in the Snow and Hypnotists in the Forest was hilarious and surreal.
What can we expect from the second season, already confirmed from Netflix? What would you like the show explore?
I really love that the show couples whimsy with a real emotional weight, and I think that will expand in season two as we delve deeper into the lives of the Baudelaires. And there are many more outrageous characters and fabulous cast to come, no doubt.
This is a lucky time for you, despite the name of the show. What does this success mean to you at this time in your life?
I feel very fortunate to be part of the whole Unfortunate business. It’s a dream of a show to work on, with a wonderful team. That’s a lucky thing at any point in one’s career.
Recently, The CW aired the last episode of the Vampire Diaries and you were there. How did you feel playing Jenna for the last time, in that happy place?
It was great to join my pals for the series finale of The Vampire Diaries. Eight seasons is a huge accomplishment, and I was happy to celebrate with them. Many toasts were made, and a lot of hilarious photos from the early days of the show resurfaced.
Some other interesting project on your way?
I play a new ape character in War for the Planet of the Apes, which will hit theatres this summer. The next project I’m really looking forward to shooting is a film called Level 16, which will be directed by an equally great friend and director, Danishka Esterhazy.