Missy Peregrym of 'Rookie Blue' Doesn't Want to Be Famous
by Joel Keller, posted Jun 18th 2010 2:02PM
You never know when a simple statemetn can lead down an interesting path in an interview. When Missy Peregrym, who stars in the new ABC summer cop show 'Rookie Blue,' called me directly to do our interview last week, I told her that I was a bit surprised she didn't go through a publicist, like the vast majority of the people I interview choose to do.
She joked that she'll do that when she's "really famous" then said she was kidding. Then she told me that in reality, "I just don't want to be famous. I feel like there's a lot of sacrifice in that I'm not really willing to make."
What follows is a refreshingly honest interview from the down-to-earth Peregrym, who grew up in British Columbia being taught always to be herself by her parents (her father is a minister). The lesson has helped her since a modeling career led her to Hollywood eight years ago, and she landed the starring role in the short-lived WB series 'Black Sash.'
Peregrym and I talked about what she's learned in her time in showbiz, how much she loves her 'Rookie Blue' character Andy McNally, and how the comparisons to 'Grey's Anatomy' are fairly accurate. We also talked a little bit about 'Reaper,' where she played Andi, Sam's on-again, off-again girlfriend. Let's just say she doesn't think the CW had much invested in promoting the show. Our talk, and some clips, after the jump.
'Rookie Blue' debuts Thursday, June 24, at 9PM ET on ABC.
I almost never expect someone to call me directly. It's always their PR rep or something like that.
Oh really? No, it's just easier this way.
I think so too, but you know, that's ... you're one of the few.
Well maybe one day when I'm really really famous, then I can pull that kinda stuff. (laughs) I'm just kidding.
It'll be good for you, since you'll be famous.
No, that's not true. That's the last thing I want.
What, to be famous?
Yes. No, I just don't want to be famous. I feel like there's a lot of sacrifice in that I'm not really willing to make.
What's the sacrifice you're not willing to make?
You just don't get to ... you know, it's a weird thing I struggle with anyway. I think it's always difficult, because people say things about you regardless. That's one of my hardest lessons getting into this, because I was raised in a home of integrity and character, and all these wonderful things, and then I tried very hard to make sure that I came across the way that I am, and it just didn't even matter.
All of a sudden, people are like forwarding these blogs and all this stuff, and I'm going, what??? I was never like that! I've never done that! I'd never say that! And so it killed me at first. And then I was like, ok, you know what? I guess it just doesn't matter. I think that's why you have to have strong skin to be in this industry. You know, you have to ... my dad always says, you know, you don't take criticism to your heart, and don't let flattery go to your head. Because it's just so... it's a fine line.
Your dad's a minister, right? I read up on your IMDb profile a little bit, which looks like it was written by your sister, by the way.
It said "mini-profile written by Lori Peregrym..."
I don't even know who that is. IMDb is kind of weird, because people can put things on there, but then I can't change it. I actually haven't even gone on my profile for a really long time, so I don't even know what's on there. But that's happened before. I mean, I have Facebook things where other family members are connected to, and it gets me in trouble, because they think I'm talking back to them, and it's not me who's doing it.
But your dad was a minister ... that part's accurate, right?
Yes, that part is true. Yes.
When he found out that you wanted to become an actor, was he at all concerned? Was he thinking that it could lead down a path where you might have problems? Was your family all behind it?
They were incredibly behind it. I don't think anybody planned for me to be an actor. I didn't. I didn't know this was what I was going to do. It was opportunity after opportunity, and we kind of just went through the journey together. I know that he definitely got flack for me being an actress from some people. And also the church was upset that I was on this one TV show, 'Life As We Know It.' Because they thought it was just promoting sex, when that wasn't even the point and they hadn't even seen the program.
But you know, they were just so quick to say that it's a terrible thing that I'm doing. I've had people, when I first start going, you know, I was going to Hollywood, so that was it for me. I was going to have an eating disorder and drug problem now. I was going to change who I was. And that's just not how I've been raised. I mean, even in the church, it was never about conforming and being like everybody else, it was about being who I really was, and being me.
And my Dad just said, wherever you go, you know, know what to trust, just have character, have integrity, have the qualities that we've instilled in you. And I think my parents worked very hard to do that with us when we were younger because they knew that when we're older, that's it. They've had their chance to have their opinion, and now we're adults and we get to go where we're going to go. So it's been a journey.
Now that you've been in the business for a while, have you seen how these lessons have helped you out?
Well I felt like I shouldn't be here, actually. When I first got to L.A., I was shocked at how business was done, and how people ... it's like everything I was told not to fall for, I was surrounded by. And it was very difficult for me, because I just didn't like the industry at all. I didn't like that you go to parties and everybody's trying to look a certain way, and it was all like ego and who knows who and what do you do? And I was just like oh, well you obviously don't care to really get to know me, it's all about how I can help you.
And I just was never raised that way, and that really kind of bothered me, and it made me very shy when I first started doing publicity, because I never wanted to look beautiful. I never wanted to wear dresses and to do the shoulder turn on the carpet, which I still have an issue with, because I feel really dorky. But I just didn't want to be compared to all those people because I didn't want people to just put me in that group. "Oh she's an actress, oh she's on the red carpet, oh she dresses like that, she's trying to..." I just saw underneath all of that, and I didn't want to be put there with that.
And it was hard for me. I feel like I went too far the other way. You know, I wanted to go on the red carpet with a baseball cap, t-shirt, and jeans. And I still do. Because that's really who I am. But you know, I just realized that I wasn't allowing myself to be the full person that I am, because you know, just as much as I didn't want them to judge me, I was assuming they were going to judge me and putting myself, I was keeping myself hidden as much as possible.
Was there any particular incident you'd want to mention that like gave you that thought, like oh my God, I'm really going to have to be on my toes to not lose myself?
Well, every time I do that, I go home. There've been moments where I just was tired of being in L.A. It was very difficult. I mean, you're constantly rejected. And that's OK, it's just really frustrating for me, because I try to read scripts and projects that have really great, deeper, meaningful qualities to them. It's not just for a laugh, or for shock, it's something deeper than that. And it was very hard to find that. It's hard to find characters for women that weren't just the girlfriends, you know? And just kind of like the pretty face in the thing. I wanted something deeper than that.
And I have to say that 'Stick It' was really important for me, and the same way, 'Rookie Blue' is huge for me. Because this is the first time I'm able to get into a character where she is so real and vulnerable, and does not have it all together, but her intentions are good, and she knows who she wants to be, it's just confusing on how to get there now because life is not black and white, it's gray. And that happens in life anyway.
'Rookie Blue' is the first serious adult role I've seen you in. When the role came to you, what stood out about it? Was it because it was a cop show?
Well, it's really not that. I think that's what I liked about it. Policing is just the backdrop for these characters' lives, and how they find themselves. But I really feel like (my character) Andy, first of all, the fact that I was a lead in that, and it was already focusing on her backstory more, and she wasn't just a girlfriend, was very interesting to me, and I loved that.
And second, I felt it was just like a really good, clean project, and it could go anywhere. Because you only ever read the pilot for a series, and you have to sign on for years, if you're going to do it. So it's a big decision. And after I met with, you know, the creators and David Wellington, who directed five of them, and some of the producers, I really, they were all on the same page. We were finishing each others' sentences as to who this character should be, and where they wanted to go with her.
So this time, I really felt like it was going to be more of a collaboration, and that's exactly what it turned out to be. And it just ended up being even better than I thought because of who they cast in the show. And because we filmed in Toronto, and this is really a Canadian show first, and ABC, it's amazing that they agreed to air the show. And now it's more of a collaboration with them too.
Does this show take place in Toronto, or just "large North American city?"
It supposed, we don't actually say Toronto, but it's kind of obvious. I mean, even our uniforms are a mix between the American and Canadian uniform and our badges, Metropolitan Police. But you know, you'll see signs that are in kilometers and you see the CN tower. It's not hiding it at all, but it's kind of a perfect backdrop, because Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, I mean, in terms of culture and area and everything it has to offer, there's so much to pull from. So it's kind of nice to see that we're not, you know, I'm used to being in Vancouver, but we're really in Seattle.
The one thing about the character of Andy that I did find interesting is that, now of course, we know a lot about her back story by the end of the pilot. Was that a pleasant surprise for you?
Yeah. I really liked that, actually. And I felt that there was a long way to go for that. And it was interesting to me because, you know, even though I came from a very different family than that, her issues are still the same. She and I actually have a lot in common. Perfectionist, Type A personality, likes to have everything organized, and incredibly empathetic.
So you know, when you're crying, I'm crying with you. If you're gonna laugh, I'm gonna laugh with you. I'm a pretty serious person and the fact is, we both like to save people. You know, we both like to restore things to its true glory. And she had that with her father, because he was an alcoholic and her mother had left. So she basically was just kind of raising herself and keeping that family thing together. And the hard lesson for her is to realize that not everybody wants to be saved. And it's so difficult when you love them so much, and they just don't want to make the changes necessary. And it's a very tough lesson to learn.
And she also has to deal with the fact that her dad was also a cop that burned out on the job, right?
Has a bad name. Yes. He walked out and left kind of a bad name. And it's a little bit embarrassing for me that I'm coming in there and it's my first day and I'm totally nervous, but people already have an idea of me because of him. But at the same time, I think I want to restore that for him. I think I want to say, you know, yeah, my dad did that, but I don't have to be like that.
There was a show that ABC did last year called 'The Deep End,' and everybody called it 'Grey's Anatomy' in a law firm. Does your show have that vibe?
First of all, I saw a few episodes of 'The Deep End,' and I think that show, that show was sexy. I don't think our show is as sexy as that. Because it's more, there's more vulnerability, and I think that comparing the two, that we are ... there's more on the line. It's life or death situations. And so, it's just the stakes are higher. Also, we are not a procedural cop show at all. It's more, that's why they compare it to 'Grey's Anatomy' as well, is because it's more about the relationships and you take the circumstances and situations, and it's more about how it affects our personal lives, and if we have what it takes to be there. We all are there for very good reasons.
So you've heard the 'Grey's' comparisons?
Yes. And that's what everybody is saying, and it's just kind of funny that now we have their time slot this summer. So this is great.
So do you think the comparison's fair at all?
I do. I do. I mean, we're stuck in serious situations and there is a part of the job that is incredibly featured, but again, it comes down to the characters. Even with my character, it's very difficult because I have a history of kind of self-sabotaging myself with relationships, and I choose people that are kind of like my father. And it's my saving issue that I have with him that I try to do with other people, and so I kind of put myself in the same kind of relationship thing. And you know, it's tough, because I want the family so bad. And I feel like I can get it in this police force.
And when I get there, you know, you're not allowed to date your training officer. You'll lose your job. However, when you're going through extreme circumstances, and it's life or death, and you actually get through that because of the partnership that you have, naturally you're going to bond with that person. It's always confusing, and it always looks a bit murky. And so that's kind of how we get through these situations.
I have another love interest, obviously, Detective Luke, and I'm allowed to date him, and that's totally fine, except he is so much more career-driven. So every time I'm going through these situations, I'm in it first, and then he just comes to the scene afterwards, and that's where his interest is in. And then he doesn't make himself available to me to really care for me in that traumatic time.
And Luke's the Homicide officer?
Yes, that's right.
And I guess the other love interest would be...
The guy that I busted (in the pilot).
Because you said training officer in the pilot was someone different.
Sorry. I keep forgetting that I had a different one in the pilot. I was with Matt Gordon. But yes, yeah, it is the cop that I busted.
While you were talking about your dad earlier, a question came to mind about roles. What did your family think about 'Reaper,' where you played the girlfriend of a guy who works for the Devil?
Yeah. I called my dad, and I was like, "You're gonna kill me." (laughs) And he's like, what??? And I was like "Ok, remember when we got so much flack last time? Well now I'm on a show that it's with a devil." And I actually expected more stuff to come up, and I don't think it did. And if it did, he didn't tell me anything about it anyway.
It's not like I'm talking about 'Reaper' and going "You guys, you know, don't go to church anymore because our show provides a lot of really good knowledge." I mean, it's not what it is. It's such a, it's a comedic show, and it was more witty and funny, and Ray Wise was amazing in that role. He did that so well. And it was good. I mean, it still had the battle of good and evil, but again, it had everything to do with, you know, what are you going to choose to do.
What was your impression about how that final season went down and the CW's support or lack of support was for the show?
Well, I don't really feel like we were the show that they were trying to promote at that point. I mean, it was very much (a) 'Melrose Place,' '90210' (network), and our show did not have that kind genre to it. It's just incredibly different. So I think ours was more of a risk to promote, and I know that they were in a pretty precarious position, and needed to kind of create a new face for CW, and that's the route that they were going.
And you know, when it comes down to it, it's business. If they didn't feel that we were generating that, then it's just that simple. You just don't make it anymore. And I think that we also stepped on the toes of 'Supernatural.' It's unfortunate, I feel like we weren't able to really go into the other side of things. Because it would have been more interesting if you've got like the Devil, and then on the flip side, you have like The God, or whatever. And they just didn't want us to go there, because it's 'Supernatural'-y and all this stuff.
I wasn't in the original pilot, and I remember watching it, and going, this is hilarious. This is quirky, and it's offbeat, and it's funny, and I thought all those guys were so natural in their roles, and I loved it.
And it just took a turn where it was just like, every episode was "OK, there's a new guy (who escaped from Hell), and now you've gotta deal with it." That's it. And it's just, clean hands at the end of every episode. Which we didn't think that was going to be the case either. We really wanted to have ongoing dramas with maybe some of the souls, or really kind of drag some of the relationship stuff out. They dragged mine out with Sam in that show like two seasons. (chuckling) On that end, I was like, "Come on, let's make a decision. I can't cry every episode."
Did it feel weird to be on a network that was more identified with 'Gossip Girl' than anything else?
I didn't even notice it. It didn't even faze me. We're living in Vancouver. That job was great for me because I worked with really funny people, and I was at home. I was with my family, and that was really important to me. So just, the rest of it I just don't even really think about. I don't compare anything because you just don't ever know.
It just really, it comes down to business. And you can't really take it personally. The hard thing as an actor is that when you connect to a role, and I'm terrified about 'Rookie Blue' not going again. I was just in Toronto, and promoting it, and you know, you talk about it so much, and I fall in love with the project every time I talk about it. And then I saw all the people again from the show, and I just was so heavy, because I'm going, oh my goodness, (soon) we air, and we're going to find out what happens with this.
And I would be genuinely very upset if I couldn't work with those people again. Because I had such a great experience. And that's the hardest part about acting, is because it can be ... it's a risk. Every time, it's a risk. And you're always meeting new people, and you always form friendships and bonds, and then they can be gone. And as much as you can say "Oh, we'll definitely talk, we'll keep in touch," I mean, everybody has different lives and goes on different ways too and you're busy. So it just never happens that way. But this is the first time I really am like, my entire heart is connected with 'Rookie Blue.'