Interview with Cynthia Stevenson of "Killing Daddy" on Lifetime - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Cynthia Stevenson

Interview with Cynthia Stevenson of "Killing Daddy" on Lifetime 6/30/14

Cynthia was so nice and kind, very personable, in our interview. I've watched her on TV for years, so it was great to speak with her! This Lifetime movie was a lot of fun and she did a fabulous job in it.

Here is the our interview. I hope you enjoy it!

If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!

Audio

Here is the transcribed version by Gisele.

1. How did you get the part in "Killing Daddy"?

Cynthia Stevenson: Pierre David, the executive producer, had me come in and meet him in town, here in LA, and offered me the part. I asked him, "Why did you pick me to play this role?" And he said, "Well, there is a list Lifetime has of actresses that have dual citizenship, Canadian and American." So, that had a huge part to do with why they offered me this role. And I also love Lifetime. I did a Lifetime Christmas movie that I loved in Toronto a couple of years ago, and then I did Lifetime's first half-hour comedy in 1998. I loved doing that show called "Oh, baby." I love Lifetime. I always feel grateful to them. They do so many great things. I love their stuff.

2. What attracted you to the role?

Cynthia Stevenson: I really wanted to go and work in Canada with this group, because Billy Moses, a friend of mine, had worked with Pierre David before on many, many of his movies, and he said, "Oh, Cynthia, you've got to go. This is the nicest group of people you'll ever work with. It's a total family, and they'll really treat you well, and it's like going off on vacation. You'll have the best time." And it's true. It's such a nice group. It was a really, really nice group of people, and they all have such a shorthand together, because they've all worked in like 3 or 4 movies a year together, and I really wanted to work with Billy, because Billy actually was on "Hope and Gloria." He did a really funny turn on "Hope and Gloria." Billy's so great, 'cause he's so good at comedy and drama, so I thought that'd be fun. And then I did not know Elizabeth Gillies, but I'd heard about her, and she just seemed like she'd be such an interesting girl. Oh, my God, was she ever? So much fun to work with, and she, too, is someone to watch. She reminds me so much of Bette Davis. Oh, my God, she has such a young Bette Davis quality. I haven't seen the movie, which is so weird that we're talking about it, 'cause I've not been able to see it yet, but I was there certainly when we were filming it, and I was watching her, and I just thought, "Holy cow, this girl is a dynamo. And my role is such a weird role. I've never played anything like that before. I thought, "I've got to go for this." I got to play a Lifetime housekeeper? Crazy!

3. Was it difficult playing such a saintly character?

Cynthia Stevenson: Yes. It absolutely was. It was very hard for me to relate to. It's just that I'm a hugely caretaking person that someone who has made the life choices she made, there's something really sad about her. I just thought it'd be an interesting role to kind of inhabit for a while. It was all great. It was all really, really fun. I'm so happy I did it. I can't wait to see it. I just thought the tone was so interesting. And Curtis Crawford, who was the director, was just so fun and so open, and so game to try things. There was just a really nice feeling on the set, and that's always so great.

4. The ending of the movie kind of left things a little unclear. They kind of hinted at the beginning that Cassie's dad molested her, but then there was nothing. Was it all in her head?

Cynthia Stevenson: I think it was absolutely all in her head, and that's what's cool. We talked about that a lot. "Should it all be in her head or was any of it justified?" And Billy talked about it a lot, and I think absolutely all of it -- I think it was more interesting that it was all in her head. I mean, she really was crazy. And also, I remember the scene where her mom is taken out. How horrible, right? And how can your heart not go out to her. And you see it from that time on, her genealogy is what it is, but being that and not being able to interpret anything correctly after that. We thought the hurt was just too big for her.

5. Did Emma sleep with him or not?

Cynthia Stevenson: Absolutely, I think Emma and he were having a relationship but not until way later. Certainly not when she was a little girl.

6. I also wish they had explained about what happened with the will.

Cynthia Stevenson: Oh, I have to see that. I thought the lawyer had admitted to changing the will, and that's why he comes to the house.

7. What is it about Canada that you enjoy?

Cynthia Stevenson: I grew up in Western Canada. This was shot in Eastern Canada, but I grew up from age 10-20 in Vancouver, and then my husband and my son and I moved back when I worked there from 2001 - 2008, and I love Vancouver, and I love Canada. There's a different feeling in Canada. There just is. I mean, there's a different feeling in Northern California than there is in Southern California, so I just find some things familiar, of course, about Canada. And I also really wanted to work with -- I love working with a group of people that have such a shorthand with each other. You know, as Billy had described to me. There's no pretension. Everyone's very real and very open. It's just about the work, and I love that, you know? I really love that. Some of these movies are not giant budget movies, which makes it even better, 'cause you're just there to do the work. You don't have three days to do two pages of dialogue. It's like a rep company. You're just jumping in and getting the story told. I really like that 'cause I have such a TV background where you don't have the luxury of time. It's much more challenging, and I appreciate that. I really like it. And the crew was so supportive and great. They were right there with the story. It was really fun. They do like four movies a year, but this was my first one.

8. You've done a lot of comedy as well as drama. Do you have a preference?

Cynthia Stevenson: I actually really love comedy, and I do prefer it, but there is definitely a challenge in drama. I got the enormous gift of playing one week in a show called "Scandal." Oh, my God. It was the most dramatic role I've ever done. It was a woman who was just beyond desperate. The episode started for me with a bomb strapped to me, like I'm going to take myself out if people don't do what I say, and it was so, so much fun, and it was as far away from comedy as you can get. So, I really do enjoy the challenge of both. Comedy is just so much fun. You know, it sounds so corny, but if you take that energy and you run it through your body, the energy that you feel in comedy is different as a vibration than what you feel when you're doing a drama. I find that I enjoy in my body the feeling of comedy more than I do drama, but drama is an enormous challenge, and it's the challenge of really going to always such a truthful place, which is such a hard thing to do, but you try to do it as often as you can so the audience gets to go with you, because when I don't go there, then the audience can't go there. You know, like when you watch someone's performance and you think, "Mmm, oh, darn it. I'm aware of that person's performance a little bit and not really in the story. To me, the biggest compliment I can give is to someone like Tom Hanks who always, literally always, is inside the story. I'm not aware of him. He makes me so comfortable. I love watching him, because he's just offering me the story, because he's so deeply comfortable in everything he's doing. You know what I mean? So that's the challenge as an actor, and I'm not always successful in doing it, but that's the challenge that I try to set all the time to try to really go there. So, this was a weird role in that this was a woman that on some level, I can't relate to at all. I mean, she's just had no life. She's sort of a parasite in this family. She's literally taken care of this family her whole entire life, which was so sad to me, so unrequited. She wasn't alive all the way. She'd never really given herself her own life. I feel really, really lucky that I have been able to do both comedy and drama. Sometimes it's easy to get pigeonholed in one, certainly if you start doing comedy, people will say, "She can do comedy; she can't do drama." I feel so grateful to people who have let me do both. It's a really lucky position to be in. I've always thought of myself as a character actor. That's always how I see myself. So, yeah! I like that. I do.

9. Anything else you'd like to tell fans about the movie?

Cynthia Stevenson: Just that I hope they love it, and they just get onboard with that Callie Ross (Elizabeth Gillies). She's such a cool girl. She's such an interesting, interesting person in real life, and I know we're going to see lots of things from her in the future. I think it was a great story. And you know, it's funny, not having seen the movie, I don't know if I'm going to feel this after I watch it, but to me, but what you saw with those girls, mental health is so misunderstood and so misaligned. People are ashamed of it, embarrassed to talk about it where nobody's embarrassed to say, "I have lupus" or "I have cancer," or "I have diabetes," but you're so embarrassed to say, "I'm schizophrenic" or "I'm bipolar" or "I'm really mentally ill." There's just a horrible, horrible stigma, and when you hear the statistics, like "One out of four people have some walking around mental illness." You say, "My God! Why aren't we understanding this more?" So, in a way, I thought it was actually quite a cool movie for that. I actually have a really good friend who I completely lost touch with because I couldn't handle it anymore, but she was really, really severely mentally ill, and she didn't have medical coverage. This girl, I mean, it would be a movie that nobody could watch, it's too bad, it's just too bad. And we don't have the structure yet to help people. Now I have to get on my soapbox to talk about all the horrible things that are happening, but mental illness is something we have to get a better handle on. People don't know how to figure it out. Even in the movie, when you see her at the home. I mean, that place is horrible, like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and you think if you're rich enough or you have fantastic medical coverage, you'd be in a better place, but most of us would not be. We'd be in some crap hole like that just rocking back and forth fully medicated. That's not such a great answer. I just like that the movie was dealing with it all, because, you know, nobody likes to look at it. Like in the story when you saw the flashback of when she was little, clearly there was something wrong with her. They probably didn't want to tell anyone that she was in that place. It's true. We're so embarrassed by it. Isn't that a funny thing?

10. What other projects do you have coming up?

Cynthia Stevenson: I don't have anything immediately. I just did an episode of a pretty cool show called "Navy Street" (now called "Kingdom" for DirecTV) for a man that I really like, that I worked with before, Gary Fleder. He produced the show that I did in Vancouver called "Life Unexpected" -- a series on the CW for a couple of years. He's doing a show called "Navy Street," so I just did an episode of that. It's a really cool show, cool and gritty. I'm really eagerly looking forward to being a regular on a sitcom again. It would be my dream come true with Bob Newhart. [Laughs] He is so tremendous.

11. You're on Twitter and Facebook, but you don't post much. Too busy?

Cynthia Stevenson: Oh, my gosh. It's because I'm such a Luddite. Someone else helped me do my Twitter thing, and they just kept telling me how to do it, and, I swear to God, it would go in my left ear and pour out my right ear and hit the ground. I can't. This is not happening. Actually, Liz Gillies who is a major social media marvel. She just loves it. She has so much fun making fun of me the entire time we were shooting. She thought it was so funny that I really don't know how to do it. I don't know what it is. I have a huge block. I have Facebook and Twitter, but I barely do anything with it. Life's kicked me in the butt right now. I've just been not paying attention to anything. I've got to jump back in it. I'm just in my own little world here.

Cynthia Stevenson Biography

Cynthia was born in Piedmont, California. She moved north with her mother and brother, Gregory, to Bellevue, Washington and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she spent most of her childhood.

Cynthia took her first step toward an acting career in the University of Victoria's Phoenix Theatre Program. Cynthia returned to California to complete her training, attending the renowned American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco, and the Drama Studio London at Berkeley.

After arriving in Los Angeles Cynthia found roles with an improv group and in two local theatre productions, one of which was a long-running hit, The Ladies Room, written and directed by Robin Schiff and produced by Aaron Spelling, which brought Cynthia critical acclaim for her comedic skills. Because of this work, she landed an immediate job on a TV sketch comedy, Off the Wall, where she was featured in 26 episodes.

Cynthia quickly built her resume with guest parts on popular sitcoms, including Empty Nest, Teddy Z., Newhart, Major Dad and others. Next came her first starring role as Jennifer Bass in My Talk Show, an original, offbeat nightly series, described as "the first cult hit" of the 1990s. It proved to be Cynthia's big break, as director Robert Altman noticed and cast her as Bonnie Sherow, playing opposite Tim Robbins, in his Oscar nominated film, The Player.

Legendary TV producers, Cherie and Bill Steinkellner, chose her for a recurring guest spot on their iconic hit series, Cheers. The producers then tapped her for a co-starring role in their next sitcom, Bob, playing Bob Newhart's daughter. That performance inspired the production team to create a new show - Hope & Gloria - especially for Cynthia. Cynthia was the center of a talented cast, including Jessica Lundy, Alan Thicke and Rico Colantoni. When talking about her career path, Cynthia is quick to point out that it was the Steinkellners who gave it direction.

With a versatility that moves easily between TV and film, Cynthia had leading roles in character-driven ensemble features, such as the David Brown produced Watch It, Julianna Lavin's Live Nude Girls, Jodie Foster's Home for the Holidays, Billy Crystal's Forget Paris and Todd Solondz's Happiness. She's been a recurring guest on network and cable shows, including Ally McBeal, Monk, Six Feet Under, According to Jim and The L Word.

When Lifetime decided to enter into the half hour comedy business, they tapped Cynthia for the lead role in Susan Beavers' Oh Baby, an innovative, first-person take on single motherhood which ran for two years. She then relocated to Vancouver (known as "Hollywood North"), where she starred as the troubled Joy Lass in the long-running Showtime favorite Dead Like Me. While working in Vancouver, Cynthia was featured in several family films, including Agent Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London and six Air Bud comedies for Disney and in Richard Benjamin's A Little Thing Called Murder opposite Judy Davis. Her roster also expanded with roles in independent films such as Neverwas, Case 39 and Reunion.

Before returning to Southern California in 2008, Cynthia was a series regular, playing the feisty female sheriff on ABC's Men in Trees, and also starred in Lifetime TV's Christmas comedy, Will You Merry Me, I Love You Beth Cooper, Jennifer's Body, and the long-awaited Dead Like Me (The Movie). Since relocating back to Los Angeles Cynthia has had guest and recurring roles on such shows as Life Unexpected, Grey's Anatomy, Off the Map, and Scandal as well as co-starring in the ABC series, Surviving Suburbia opposite Bob Saget. Cynthia recently completed the soon to be released feature film Tiger Eyes. 

Cynthia lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and son.

Kingdom (previously titled Navy St.) is an American drama television series created by Byron Balasco. The series premiered on October 8, 2014, at 9 p.m. on Audience Network.[1] Season one consists of ten episodes.[2] On October 17, 2014, DirecTV announced that the series was renewed for an additional 20 episodes, 10 scheduled to air in fall 2015 and 10 to air in 2016. Kingdom follows a family with its mixed martial arts gym and the relationships and addictions of its members.


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