From the dark, murky hallways of a space ship called Destiny in STARGATE UNIVERSE to the sun-drenched beaches of CEDAR COVE, Elyse Levesque brings a gaiety and liveliness to her characters that simply captivates. In her new role as MaryEllen, a young curator of the local art gallery in Cedar Cove, Elyse is just as eye-catching and fun-loving as ever. In a recent exclusive interview, Elyse shared what drew her to the heart-warming series and what she has learned and appreciated from her diverse roles both on STARGATE UNIVERSE and CEDAR COVE.
What did you see in the script that caught your interest for CEDAR COVE and the role of MaryEllen?
ELYSE: When I first read the script, what I really liked about it was that it was just a nice story about people. It wasn’t super racy or going for shock-value. It was just a wholesome story, I guess you could say, about these people living in their small town and the relationships that these people had. What I really loved about MaryEllen was that she was sort of a quirky, fish-out-of-water living in a small town dreaming to herself of being this big artist who goes on to do great things outside of Cedar Cove. She’s a scattered, all-over-the-place, silly, funny, a bit self-centered, yet means well, and puts her foot in her mouth a lot, so to speak, kind of girl. So I thought she had a lot of layers and would be a lot different than other roles I’ve played.
You described her as a fish-out-of-water, yet she was raised in this community. Does that means she’s trying to burst out of it and move on to the big city?
ELYSE: Absolutely. She dreams of being an artist in New York City and she thinks she has always been meant for something more. She sees herself as part of the art world and part of a big gallery, while still being quirky. She sort of pushes the envelope in that regard. It’s her way of expressing herself.
MaryEllen always looks really put-together and artistic. Is that specific look something you worked with the wardrobe department with on CEDAR COVE?
ELYSE: When we first started shooting I did a fitting and they grabbed a bunch of great stuff. I think they did a fantastic job. Usually I’m not too excited about my wardrobe, like I’ve done sci-fi things and it tends to be very basic stuff and not how I dress in life. So this has been a fun time to play with fashion. They did a great job. They got a lot of stuff from TopShop, which I love. They wanted to make sure that although she’s sort of fashion-forward that there’s always something about her ensemble that doesn’t quite work. So she’s trying to be hip and fashionable, but she’s always just kind of missing the mark a little bit. It’s in the details maybe, like the shoes are kind of crazy or something doesn’t match, or maybe its a fashion faux-pas and she’s rocking it anyway.
Do you feel comfortable in a role where the character is supposed to have a lot of art knowledge?
ELYSE: Actually, when I graduated high school, I traveled for a few years and spent a lot of time in Europe and Asia. So I was lucky to go to a lot of museums and learn about art, and then in college I studied for my Bachelor’s with my major in Visual Arts. With that I took an art history course, so I am at a bit of an advantage because I learned a lot about art through my time at school. I was very excited to do this character because I never got to show that part of myself before. I love the arts.
This role sounds like it is closer to who you are in the sense it is a more fashion-conscientious and art-oriented role for you.
ELYSE: (Laughs) Absolutely. It’s a happy coincidence.
As CEDAR COVE develops, we’re starting to see the romantic interests ramp up. Yet it seems like MaryEllen is determinedly on her own. Is she flying solo this season?
ELYSE: There’s definitely a new love interest upcoming that consumes a lot of her emotional energy throughout the course of the season. Without giving away too much, it is a nice little arc for her. But it’s not going to work out the way people probably think it’s going to work out.
Just generally how would you describe her perfect guy?
ELYSE: I think she’s a sucker for the tall, dark and mysterious type. I think she has this idea that she lives in this Bohemian world where she has her artist lover and they will inspire each other. So she goes for the sort of dark, brooding, artistic soul type of guy.
What is one quality you most admire about MaryEllen?
ELYSE: Her tenacity. You see it more as the season goes on, particularly in this relationship with this other character. She’s definitely not afraid to put it all out there, which I think is very admirable and noble of her. It is so much easier said than done in the real world. So that’s definitely one of the things I most admire about her. She’s not afraid to say out loud what she wants.
If you were able to sit down and have coffee with MaryEllen, what advice would you give her?
ELYSE: (Laughs) I give the advice that I should get, which is: “Take it slow. Let it unfold. Don’t try to rush things. All good things come to those who wait.” If only I could take my own advice!
So what’s going on with the relationship with MaryEllen and her mom. With her parents going through a divorce, what’s their relationship like?
ELYSE: It’s the one thing we don’t actually see a lot of, that they talking and dealing with that. I think it’s just one of those things that’s just going on within that world and they don’t show it on the show. MaryEllen and her mom are incredibly close and share everything and have this sort of banter with each other. And even though they are both very upbeat and have a good sense of humor, where they differ is that MaryEllen is more all over the place, whereas her mom Grace is a lot more grounded and centered. But they’re best friends and that’s something we see more of as this season unfolds.
CEDAR COVE offers a “girls club” kind of vibe. What’s it like working amongst all these wonderful women?
ELYSE: That’s been one of the best parts. We definitely have a wonderful cast with beautiful, smart, funny, intelligent women. That’s been one of the things that I’d take away from the first season: the relationships I’ve made with these women. We always have so much fun, and hopefully, we’ll get to do it all over again.
With the show filming in Vancouver, do you film on location a lot because the show looks absolutely stunning on the screen?
ELYSE: I know! I don’t know if you’ve been to Vancouver, but it literally looks like that. I think it is one of the prettiest cities in the world. Some of the show is shot in Vancouver, mostly in Deep Cove. But most of what Cedar Cove looks like is shot out at Fort Langley, which is an older part of the suburb of the Vancouver area. It’s a quite quaint, charming little area. Then we film at White Rock and we film a little bit in Vancouver, but mostly we’re outside of that. It’s beautiful and our DP does a fantastic job of lighting it.
What did you find to be the most fun working on this kind of show?
ELYSE: What I love the most of any work experience is the people. The relationships that I make over the course of it. Coming to work every day and becoming a family, like the days we were all on set together and there would be a big group scene. Those were the best days ever because we’re all laughing between takes and we have our inside jokes and all that stuff. That was definitely one of the highlights. Then, for me, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do material that allows me to be funny and quirky, so that was both challenging and a really fun thing have the opportunity to play with.
It’s quite a different role than your role on STARGATE UNIVERSE. This one seems to be much lighter. As you look back at STARGATE UNIVERSE, is there something you feel specifically you learned from that experience.
ELYSE: Oh my gosh, STARGATE UNIVERSE was a magical experience. It’s one of the projects that I’m most proud of. The whole thing. I don’t think I could pick one thing. The whole thing across the board was wonderful and life-changing. I got to do so many cool things that I had never done before because of being on the show: conventions and traveling places to promote our work, and all the stunts and CGI work, all of it. It was just a massive learning experience and I’m still close to people I worked with on that show. Whenever I see them — ’cause being back up here in Vancouver, I see a lot of the same people, a lot of the crew and every now and again, or someone you worked with on the show comes and does an episode or whatever. Gosh, there are so many things. It was a wonderful experience.
It’s kind of a trip to now see Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin on ONCE UPON A TIME and you do a double-take thinking, “oh my gosh, is that the same person?”
ELYSE: I know! He’s doing so good. It’s funny ’cause they actually shoot that on the exact same lot that we filmed STARGATE UNIVERSE.
What else are you working on, or are you working on CEDAR COVE exclusively right now?
ELYSE: I’m done with the first season of CEDAR COVE and heading back to Los Angeles. I’m going to start working on a short film that I’m producing called “Fruitcake.” I’m acting in it as well and we’re hoping to start shooting in September. Then I start rehearsals for a play called “Burn This,” by Lanford Wilson, which should be up and going in November.
What is your film “Fruitcake” about?
ELYSE: It’s a short film and the idea was inspired by one of my girlfriends, who is co-producing and she was a psychology major, and she learned about this story of a doctor in the early 1950’s who drove around America in a van, giving housewives lobotomies. So the thing that sort of sparked this idea was that it is less about the doctor and more about these two housewives and their relationship. It’s a bizarre, darkly disturbing little piece of work. (Laughs)
Are you going to be up for a second season of CEDAR COVE if Hallmark gives it the greenlight?
ELYSE: Absolutely. We’re all hoping that.
To see more of Elyse as her character MaryEllen’s romantic prospects heat-up, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of CEDAR COVE on Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.
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