15 Minutes With <em>Burden of Truth</em>‘s Kristin Kreuk

Actress and proud Vancouverite Kristin Kreuk shares the scoop on her new legal drama, what she’s learned since Smallville and what Canada means to her.

Kristin Kreuk in "Burden of Truth"Photo: Courtesy of CBC

In Conversation With Kristin Kreuk

Reader’s Digest Canada: Your career first began at the CBC and now you’re back!

Kristin Kreuk: It’s kind of funny. I never worked at the CBC in Toronto, but I used to go to work at the CBC building in Vancouver. It felt like home. So, in a way, it’s like I’m coming back to the people who gave me a chance in the first place.

You play an attorney in your new show, Burden of Truth. What drew you to the character?

Joanna Hanley is probably the most broken character I’ve ever played. She’s serious and striving to just be the best career person she can be, but she’s also very different. A lot of the other roles I’ve played, especially in television, have been very much tied to romantic relationships—a woman who finds her arc through a man. With Joanna, it’s more about how she defines herself.

Your character sounds, dare I say, neurotic. Do you share her qualities?

Well, I’m definitely not career-first! Joanna is, though she’s not as capable when it comes to her life. I guess you could say we’re both introverts. When I’m on set, I understand my role and how I’m supposed to engage. But when I’m not, it’s pretty hard for me to find my place.

Can you sum up the show for us in a few sentences?

We follow one case through the first season. My character ends up coming back to her hometown to solve this mystery and help a group of high school girls. It’s about waking up to systems that are in place to keep you down or even harm you, and how we can break out of that and find a way to fight back. It’s the classic underdog story we all love.

I’d imagine playing Joanna gave you some sympathy for real-life lawyers.

Our co-creator, Bradley Simpson, was a lawyer. He comes from that world. I have friends who are lawyers, too. Lawyers are completely consumed by what they do, and they don’t really relate to anybody outside of it, especially if they’re younger and making their way up.

How do you feel you’ve evolved as an actress?

Acting is a funny job, and a weird one. I was talking about my old Smallville days with a friend of mine the other day, and I remember reading the scripts and just being like, “I don’t understand this character,” or “Why isn’t she written this or that way?” Now I feel like I’ve come all the way around and know how to build a character from the beginning. That sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t understand that when I was 17.

And your work isn’t just in front of the cameras these days. 

I’m an executive producer on the show, which is great because I want to move into production. I’m also working on a short-form documentary about a couple of people that I met when I was in Syria. And I went back to school! I’m getting my bachelor’s degree at Queen’s University. Online, though—I’m not going all the way to Kingston!

Even though you’ve had a taste of Hollywood, your roots remain in Canada.

I love this country. And on a very practical level, my friends are here. I always struggled with Los Angeles. I didn’t know how to fit there. It didn’t feel grounding. Ultimately, I’d love to be able to live and work in my own country where I feel like I’m reflected in the community and the community reflects me. I don’t feel that in the States.

What do you miss about Canada when you’re not here?

There are traits that I embody that I feel are understood in Canada, but not understood elsewhere. If I’m a little polite or a little softer, people don’t judge that here. In the States, it doesn’t quite gel. It’s better to be bolder and be more of an individual there, and I don’t know how to do that.

Catch Kristin Kreuk on Burden of Truth, which premieres on CBC on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET.

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