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Banff World Media Festival: Kristin Kreuk talks Burden of Truth, finding fame when young and her plan to walk away from acting

Kristin Kreuk at the Banff World Media Festival. Courtesy, Kristian Bogner.
Kristin Kreuk at the Banff World Media Festival. Courtesy, Kristian Bogner.
BANFF, Alta. —

For fans of actress-producer Kristin Kreuk, the revelation that her days in front of the camera may be limited might come as a surprise.

But the star of Smallville, Beauty and the Beast and, currently, CBC’s legal drama Burden of Truth, says executive producing on the new series was not a one-off move to get a pet project off the ground. It’s her future.

When asked directly if she sees a point where she won’t be acting anymore, Kreuk doesn’t hesitate.

“I would love to get to that point,” says Kreuk, in an interview at the Banff World Media Festival where she was holding a master class on Burden of Truth and also received this year’s Canadian Award of Distinction. “I mean, I love acting. But it takes a lot of energy to act, not that it doesn’t to produce. But it would be nice to let my grey hairs grow out and not think about it and not go into hair and makeup every day. I think I become too self-aware when I’m acting. I’d love to not have that anymore.”

Granted, taking on the lead role in Burden of Truth, now entering its third season, may seem an odd exit strategy. But Kreuk has been heading in this direction for a number of years. She was credited as a producer for the tail end of Beauty and the Beast, the CW sci-fi police procedural where she played NYPD detective Catherine Chandler from 2012 to 2017. She also executive produced and starred in 2012’s goofy sci-fi comedy Space Milkshake and has her own production company.

With Burden of Truth, she saw an opportunity to be a creative producer on the ground floor of a series.

“I love the story side of things,” she says. “I love finding stories, I love trying to understand people and experience and I love shining a light on things that people may not know about or giving people voices who don’t often have them. Producing allows me to do that. And this was a show that I thought we could do this with and I’d be able to have fun acting in because I really liked the character.”

Kreuk plays Joanna, a corporate lawyer with a troubled childhood and complex relationship with her authoritative father. In Season 1, she was working at her father’s law firm and representing a big pharmaceutical company, a case that has her returning to her small hometown and delving into the mysterious illnesses of local teenage girls.

Season 2 had her joining a new firm in Winnipeg, where a case exposes her to a shadowy world of hackers and political activists. A violent tragedy befalls her now estranged father, further complicating her relationship with him and her past.

“The most important thing for me with the show is maintaining this exploration of intergenerational trauma,” Kreuk says. “Every character on this show has gone through some sort of trauma, whether through their parents and the way they were raised, through mental illness, through societal structures, racism — especially when we are looking at the Indigenous communities and Indigenous characters in our show. That isn’t what makes up their personalities, or their lives or their struggles but it influences them. Underneath that umbrella are other things we get to look at.”

As for Season 3, Kreuk did not want to reveal too many plot points. American audiences, who watch Burden of Truth on the CW, are only a few episodes into Season 2 at this point. (In Canada, Season 2’s finale aired in late February.)

But Kreuk will say that her character will be dealing with complex feelings about her father.

“A lot of people, based on my research, who have had a loved one die violently can come up against something called Complicated Grief Syndrome, that is often manifested in post-traumatic stress syndrome, or depression or anxiety to a degree that is debilitating or detrimental. That happens a lot in cases like this because it’s so hard to reconcile the violence with which somebody was killed. Relating to intergenerational trauma, for her it’s about if she can ever forgive herself for the parts of her that are her dad.”

While Kreuk has often filmed in Canada, the Vancouver native has not done a purely Canadian show such as Burden of Truth since her first series, the teen drama Edgemont. Kreuk was plucked from obscurity at the age of 17 to star in the first season of that Vancouver-shot CBC show. Within a year, she was cast as Lana Lang in the blockbuster hit Smallville. By the age of 19, she was a superstar. She even appeared with co-star Tom Welling on the cover of Rolling Stone.

She admits the sudden fame was overwhelming for a 19-year-old still living with her parents in Vancouver.

“At that age, I couldn’t see it any other way but through my own eyes,” she says. “That meant I felt scared and felt more alone. I valued my anonymity so much and I had lost it. Now I feel very differently about it. There are people that took so much from that show and it influenced their lives and it was fun and it was great. They were never trying to hurt me, they were never trying to take from me. I just felt like that when I was young and didn’t know how to say no or to say yes and move on with my day.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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