Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with multi-award nominated Canadian actress Maxim Roy. Maxim is best-known for her roles in ReGenesis, Heartland, Defying Gravity and 19-2. This month fans will se her portray Jocelyn Fray on Freeform’s highly anticipated fantasy series Shadowhunters. To find out more about Maxim, read our interview below.
To start things off, you’ve been acting for quite some time. I’m not going to put a number on it (laughs), but how did you get involved with acting? What made you realize it’s something you wanted to do for a living?
Oh my gosh. I knew very, very young that I wanted to act. I have three older brothers, who are much older than I am, and they all went to theater school. I think the first time I saw my older brother on stage he was doing a Molière. I think I was 6 years old. I just thought, that’s what I want to do. That was it. I’ve always known. I’ve never questioned my desire or my choice. Although, my parents wanted me to be something else. (Laughs).
They thought, we’ll get one of our children to get a real job. But, I’ve never questioned my choice. I’ve always wanted that.
Did you go to theater school as well, then?
I wanted to. My dream was to go to National Theater School of Canada. I started to work on some auditions when I was 18. That was my plan. My whole life, from the age of 6, I was like I’m going to do theater. I’m going to be a theater actress and that’s it. My roommate was an actress. She took me to an audition one day, and she said “You know they’re looking for younger girls for this movie. Maybe you should audition.” So I auditioned, I got the part. An agent saw the movie, and asked me to be in her agency, and I just never went to theater school. (Laughs). It never happened. I just started to work really young.
Tell me a little bit about your audition process for 19-2?
I actually asked to audition. 19-2 is based on a french series.
Did you audition for both?
I didn’t. I wanted to audition for the french version, but I never got an audition for it, and then when I found out that they were doing the English version I said, “oh well, that’s why I didn’t audition for the French.” This is for me, and I asked my agent. I said, “I really want to do this because I love this character and this is amazing.” He got me the audition and I got the part. So it was a pretty standard audition process, and I got the role.
Both Isabelle and Jocelyn have been portrayed by other people in other mediums, did you find it challenging to take on a role that someone has already played?
Yes, especially the Isabelle character. Although it’s a smaller market, it’s only 19-2, 8 countries only for Quebec. There’s so much pressure here. 19-2 is such a huge success here in french. There was a lot of pressure to do it justice. The bar was very high. I know the girl that plays her in french (Julie Perreault), she actually played my sister in a movie. So it was really intimidating. It was more intimidating than playing Jocelyn. I don’t know Lena Headey, I love her. I think she’s an amazing actress, but there was one movie done. There wasn’t like 3 movies. The pressure is high but it’s not for me, personally, it’s not as high as being in my own. Montreal is like a village, everybody knows each other. It’s kind of like going into politics in your hometown. It’s the same thing. If you do wrong then somebody’s going to come up to you and say, “You suck.” (Laughs). In a bigger market, oddly enough, I find that the pressure is different to me. There is a lot of pressure, but it’s not personal. Out there it’s just business for me.
It definitely makes sense! So we know season 3 of 19-2 is going to premiere in 2016, and we also know that it’s not going to follow the french version. They’re telling their own stories now. What can you tell us about Isabelle’s arc in season 3?
I can’t really because I think people are really going to be shocked. From episode 2 in season 2 it took on a totally different task than the French version. It’s completely different. We did shoot the school shooting, it was the same director that came and shot the school shooting, and that was pretty much identical. Then starting the second episode they really wanted to do their own thing, and distance themselves from the french version. Season 3 is a completely different ball game. So I can’t say much about Isabelle, because people are going to be shocked, but there is a really interesting arc from 1-10. Then for season 4 there is going to be a big…I can’t say anything. (Laughs). It’s really complex. I’m going to say this, Isabelle’s not present as much, but it could build up for season 4. That’s as much as I can say.
Did filming overlap between 19-2 and Shadowhunters?
19-2 worked with me on that one, everything worked out really well that I didn’t have to overlap as much. The shooting of 19-2 only started in August, late August, and I was almost done with Shadowhunters. So it worked out well.
Switching gears, tell me about your audition for Shadowhunters?
Well, it was one of those things that I got the break down, and I was like, “never going to get this anyway.” (Laughs). Whatever. I booked my audition place, I had to do a take. There was construction and I couldn’t do the take because the noise was horrible. So, I called my agent said, “I can’t do this, so never mind it.” And he was like, “No, no you got to do this.” And I said, “Well, I can do it tomorrow.” Which was a Saturday, and I said, “I’ll do it at my friend’s house.” I came over to my friend’s apartment, and I shot it on my iPhone. I taped my iPhone to a book on a nightstand. It was ridiculous. Stupidest audition, it was so depression. I was like, I’m never going to get this. This is amateur.
Then my agent called me like 10 days later and said, “Remember that audition that you hated? Well, they want you.” I’m like, “What? What are you talking about?” And I got it, so it’s very strange. You never know, you just never know what you’re doing, what you’re sending out there, what the vibe is going to be, and what they want really. I’ve done self takes where I was like, “I’m nailing this. This is going to be awesome. They’ll love me. This is the most beautiful self take I’ve ever done.” And I didn’t get the job.
Now you’re going to have to be at your friends with your iPhone for every future audition. It will be the way to do it, after this one.
For sure! Now we call it the magical place to audition. We both put ourselves on tape in her apartment now because it’s the magical place.
Did you know what you were getting yourself into? Were you familiar with the books at all or the movie?
I admit it! I had no idea. I looked it up a bit before, when I went for the audition, what it was about. He said, “Do you know what this is? This is going to be big.” I’m like, “Well, let me look this up first, before I sign anything.” And I went online and I was like “Oh my god, this is amazing.” I love these worlds. I loved Underworld. I find that it’s sort of a mix between Underworld, and Twilight, and Harry Potter. I love those black and white environments. You know who’s bad and you know who’s good. You know what I mean? I feel like a child when I’m watching that. Lord of the Rings fan. I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings.
I really enjoy those worlds. When I looked at it I was like this is cool, and it’s a very complex world. I thought this is going to be cool. I’m going to be kicking ass. Jocelyn is such a cool chick. She’s a heroin. To me, she’s Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. That’s who Jocelyn is. She does everything for the right reasons. She’s a pure heart. It was a great character to play, and to dive into.
This is not your first book to TV adaptation that you’ve been apart of, because you did Heartland as well, which was based on a book series, also. Did that kind of help you? Did Heartland’s experience with having done a book adaptation help you at all in the role of Jocelyn?
The first big gig that I’ve ever done is based on a best-selling book. It was a period piece, and I had just turned 20. That’s why I actually never got into theater school. I got this beautiful period series. They republished the book and my face ended up on the cover of that book. There is pressure because you don’t want to disappoint people. That’s the great thing about reading books that you create your own world, and you see the characters the way you want to see them. That’s so amazing. That’s what reading is all about, and that’s what’s great about books
When you go and bring life into those books, it’s kind of terrifying. Especially something that’s been done before, then people have expectations, and you don’t want to disappoint. No, it didn’t help. (Laughs). It’s still really terrifying, and the fans are so intense. They are so in love with these characters, you just want to give them justice.
Since landing the role, have you picked up the books, or read the books at all? Are you deciding not to so it doesn’t influence your role?
No, I read the first one, but I’m just waiting to hear if we get a second season. I’m very superstitious. I don’t want to jinx anything. I’m just going to hear if we get a second season, then I’ll dive back into it. I don’t want to get into it and get emotionally involved and too much in love with everything and then get disappointed. That’s just 20 years of experience in this business of being disappointed.
In what ways are you similar and different from Jocelyn?
I think we have the same kind of heart. I’m an angel. (Laughs). I have people’s best interest at heart. I’m very protective of my friends and my family. Very much, like you can’t touch them. I’m like a mama bear. I think Jocelyn is that way. How am I different? I don’t have special powers.
There’s no Valentine in your life?
There has been, but let’s not get into that. (Laughs). There was at some point, but I’ve learned my lesson. Been there, done that. I cleared that one out. (Laughs). Everybody’s had a Valentine at some point. Everybody. That’s done. I think Jocelyn has learned, and she went for the werewolf. She learned to look for the strong guys, the grounded, protective good-hearted guy. I think in that way, I’ve learned my lesson too in my love life, I guess.
We know that 19-2 shoots a lot on location, but for Shadowhunters, did you personally shoot on location or was it more on a studio stage?
I shot on location a couple of times, especially for the first episode it was mostly on location. Then we went into the studio and we shot Valentine’s lair in the studio, and the Institute, obviously. I was lucky enough to go, especially for the opening sequence in the first episode. For the flashbacks when Clary’s very young, we shot that in a beautiful park in Toronto, and it was the first day of shooting. I actually posted a picture on Instagram of that first day.
I was cast on Monday, I got a phone call from my agent Monday morning saying, “You’re flying out tonight, and you start working tomorrow.” We had a read through the next day, Tuesday morning, with everybody from ABC and the cast. I was on set on Thursday morning, and that was the first day of shooting. It was the Jocelyn flashbacks of Clary when she was 5. It was really overwhelming. The picture that I just posted I think you can read on my face, “WHAT!?!” I’m now a redhead. In 48 hours I became a redhead, I had to learn to fight with my sword. It was craziness. I didn’t get much sleep in those 48 hours. It was a beautiful shot, a beautiful location in a park in Toronto. It was amazing.
Is that the fastest it’s gone for you, getting the role and being on set? Is this the fastest, kind of, turnover you’ve had?
You’ve had crazier?
Yeah! ReGenesis was like that. I got the phone call on a Sunday night and I was taking the train two days later, and I was starting to work. It was pretty much similar. Defying Gravity, I was actually on my way to Vietnam and I flew from Montreal to Vancouver, and I open my cell phone and it was 11 at night. I had a message from my agent saying, “When you come back from Vietnam on the 7th, you have to be in Vancouver on the 9th.” I was like, “What?!” So I called him at 11 at night and was like, “What are you talking about?” It was January. I had to fly back from Vietnam to Montreal, pack my bags, and then fly back to Vancouver two days later, and start shooting. I was totally jet lagged from Asia. That was pretty crazy too.
We talked about it briefly, Jocelyn is a bad ass, so what was your physical training like? What has become your favorite skill or move that you’ve learned?
Oh my god. I love doing fight sequences, I have to admit. I love the action. I did karate for four years, and I did boxing. I really enjoyed doing those things. Learning the fight sequences were really intense because we didn’t have time to practice. I had an amazing stunt double who worked with me, but most of what you see is pretty much me, fighting on-screen. It was pretty much, I came in, in the morning, I watched the stunt guys, my stunt lady do their thing. I watched it over and over again, and I said, “okay, I’ll try it.” The dude was like, “No, no let the stunt double do it.” And I was like, “No, I’m never going to learn it if I don’t do it.” I just dove into it and did it.
I like the kicks a lot, and the sword fighting was a challenge. They’re very heavy. They were the same swords they used in the movie, if the fans were wondering because I read a couple of comments on the boards. They said, “It looks fake. It doesn’t look as good as the movie.” And I was like, “Well, it’s the same swords that we are using.” They are very heavy, but very fragile at the same time. When you’re fighting, you can’t really hit the sword, you have to stop your movement. So it’s kind of hard, but it was fun. I enjoy it.
Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, we know you love Star Trek and Star Wars and you mentioned Lord of the Rings, but besides that what makes you nerdy and what do you nerd out about?
I read about science. I read about NASA. I’m addicted to everything NASA. I read a lot, I keep to myself, I’m not the most social person. I’m not, I’m really shy. I probably don’t look shy, but we’re on the phone. I think if I’d be in front of you, you’d be surprised. (Laughs). I wear glasses. I think I look like a typical nerd when you meet me. I don’t look like Jocelyn. I’m just, I’m a nerd.
Shadowhunters premieres on Tuesday, January 12 at 10/9c pm.