Posted: February 23, 2017
We're incredibly happy to post this interview.
Delighted because it celebrates a fresh, creative, female force in Canadian television and thrilled because that force hails from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Jane Maggs is Co-creator, Co-show runner, Executive Producer and Senior Writer of CBC's new dramatic series BELLEVUE - and if the response to this past Monday night's premiere is any indication Ms.Maggs and her team have a hit on their hands.
While hers are all 'behind the camera' credits on BELLEVUE, you're right to say that lovely face is a familiar one. Jane's on screen roster include indie films like Sherry White's CRACKIE and Joel Thomas Hynes' DOWN IN THE DIRT, along with TV roles in hit shows like MURDOCH MYSTERIES and REPUBLIC OF DOYLE.
As you'll soon read though - these days she's more comfortable behind the scenes - writing and watching the 'action' as it all plays out.
And if you're thinking that name Maggs rings a bell - you're correct again. Jane's sister Adriana Maggs is the writer/director behind the award winning NL film GROWN UP MOVIE STAR. We'll touch on that and more in our Q&A with Jane Maggs, but for now...
Back to BELLEVUE - her eerie new series that tells the tale of "a brazen cop - always at odds with her hometown - who unravels the disappearance of a transgender teen with the help of a dangerous mystery man." WATCH...
SABS: Well first off let me just say - I've only seen the first two episodes and I'm completely hooked. And who's kidding who - pretty freaked out on top of it. When did you first get the idea for the dark and mysterious BELLEVUE?
Jane Maggs: I was in a writing class and we were asked to modernize a fairy tale and I always loved Rumpelstiltskin (for it’s dark weirdness) and SOMEHOW it morphed out of that tiny idea. I guess it came from the idea of this person speaking to you and until you figure out who he is – you are weirdly indebted to him. Thinking of how to put that into a modern context was a sort of brain exercise that got some wheels turning.
SABS: Naturally we get to sit back and enjoy the show - but no doubt there were many stages from conception to 'greenlight'. Did you ever imagine the day would come when you'd have your very own series premiering on National TV?
Jane Maggs: There were many stages, yes. I spent a long time working with Adrienne Mitchell (co creator, producer, director) before we even went to networks. Then we began pitching and CBC came back with a development offer. It took a while before we heard from them and truthfully, at every stage of this project I have felt it die and come back to life. That was one. And then we went into development with CBC who, creatively, has been amazing - truly. But there was a point when they decided not to order the series. So we mourned again. And then they resurrected it and we made it. So, it’s been an emotional roller coaster and I never really believed it would happen until the first day of shooting. And then the pinch me moments rolled out. There were all these incredible people working on a show that I had co-created. Everyday was equal parts crazy stress and incredibly surreal ‘is this my life?’ moments.
SABS: There are a whole lotta layers to your heroine Annie Ryder and honestly I can't figure out if she's completely fearless or constantly afraid - but I do know she puts herself in situations that would have me running for the hills. It takes a special kind of talent to carry off this powerful role - how did you come to cast Anna Paquin?
Jane Maggs: I think she’s a pretty human character and for me that means she’s fearless AND afraid and in a lot of ways, she has this psychological thing of – the best thing she’s got going for her is how far she is willing to go. That was a trait that we really loved about her. Anna, in the best way possible, actually exhibits so many of the traits of Annie. She’s a total force, she’s in control of every room, she’s funny and sweet and self deprecating. She was the first and only person we offered the role to. She’s an incredible actor and so obviously the opportunity to get the scripts in front of her was amazing. We were working with WME (William Morris Endeavor Entertainment) to sell the series and they are also her management. That’s how we got the scripts to her and she read and kept asking for more. She was attached at script stage and came on as an executive producer. Anna has an incredible intelligence and emotional intuition. She just got the character so beautifully. We are extremely lucky.
SABS: As HUGE fans of NL's award winning and wonderful Shawn Doyle we can only imagine you fell in love with his talents during GROWN UP MOVIE STAR and said "When I write my TV show I will have a role for that fella!" - is that pretty much the size of it?
Jane Maggs: Absolutely. I’ve been a huge fan of Shawn since GROWN UP MOVIE STAR. He broke my heart in that movie. He was in my head from the day we started talking about casting Peter. I knew he had the charm, and depth for the role. And Peter is a very active chief and so someone who can pull off the physicality of him is essential as well. But truthfully – I knew who Peter was and that’s why I wanted Shawn for the role but I think Shawn was a bit confused as to why I wanted him because the Peter that was in my head wasn’t fully on the page when Shawn came on. He is hugely responsible for shaping the character and for bringing Peter to such an intriguing place by the end of the season. The story really becomes equally shared between he and Annie by the end. That was also in no small part to the fact that my co creator, Adrienne and I were watching Shawn and Anna play off each other and we realized we were watching something really special. They are amazing together.
SABS: While not quite as prominent as Tarantino or Hitchcock - it was cool to see you make a very brief cameo in episode 2 - will we see more of you in this first season?
Jane Maggs: Yeah – no – not quite a Tarantino moment but yes that was me. I don’t know if you see me later. I was in a scene in the BG but I think I may be on the cutting room floor. Other than that – I am happy happy behind the camera on my little chair next to the director. Acting is hard! I wish there was an amazing detail on how I came to be in that photo but it’s truthfully that our amazing props master Annie Regol was so tired of having to find people to put in photos that it had to be me. We have a lot of photos in our series…
SABS: Before we let you go - tell us what viewers can expect when they tune into season 1 of BELLEVUE.
Jane Maggs: A complex human drama dressed up as a thrilling mystery. It’s about loss, pain, rage, mistakes and outsiders. And at its core it’s about love - desperate love and the way that love can take us over, can drive us to our most extreme selves and can blind us. It’s also about how that love is the only thing worth being alive for.
For more info on the series and to watch full episodes visit cbc.ca/bellevue
And follow the series on Twitter @BellevueonCBC
While you're here...
SABS Note of Noteworthiness
If you're following NL's Shawn Doyle on Instagram @shawnydoyle like we are then you'll have already seen this lovely picture of the BELLEVUE star with Ms.Maggs. In light of the high praise Jane had for Shawn in this interview - we thought it only fitting confirm via his Instagram post - the respect is well and truly mutual.