Kristin Kreuk has been a favorite among fans ever since most U.S. audiences first discovered her work as Lana Lang on Smallville. Following that WB/CW superhero prequel, Kristin appeared in some movies and then starred in another successful show, Beauty and the Beast, also airing on The CW. Now, her latest series, Burden of Truth, premieres tonight (July 25) at 8PM ET/PT on that same network, a serious drama in which Kreuk plays a lawyer who returns to her home town after a series of health scares among young women and uncovers mysteries that have been lurking for quite a time.
We were able to talk to Kristin Kreuk about her new role, and in the process, of course we got in a Smallville question or two. Enjoy!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: What can you tell us about Burden of Truth?
KRISTIN KREUK: Burden of Truth is the story of the character I play, Joanna Hanley. She’s a Toronto lawyer. She’s a great corporate lawyer, she’s great at her job, and this file comes across her desk that deals with a group of sick teenage girls in her old hometown of Millwood. They are having symptoms like twitching, and she is called to go quash this thing. So she goes back to her old home town to deal with this case, and as she’s working on the case she also begins to confront the mysteries of her past. Her family left Millwood mysteriously, basically in the middle of the night when she was 14 years old, and she never knew why. And so, as the case unfolds, so unfolds the mysteries of her past.
What do you think makes the people of Millwood more uneasy at the start – the notion that she’s a lawyer for this company, or that she’s a Hanley?
I think that probably the fact that she’s a Hanley is something. It’s kind of a poisonous duo; Hanley and lawyer, and her father is a lawyer, so she is just a Mini-Him to them. Joanna doesn’t know this, but he really didn’t do much good in that town, and so the fact that she’s a lawyer against these girls who are their girls, their daughters, their sisters and such, I think is also very problematic for them.
You’re also an Executive Producer on this series. Did that allow you to influence the storyline or help build this character?
Absolutely. I was on board from the pitch document phase, so I came on board quite early. We brought the show to the CBC and pitched it to them – myself and the creators of the show. And so, I’ve been able to shape themes and the character, and I feel very close to this show. It feels close to my heart.
Can you talk about what it was like to play a role who wasn’t tied to a sci-fi genre for this show?
I’ve played in sci-fi, and I love being able to explore metaphor through sci-fi, and not have to explore stories so on the nose. You can just do things a little more covertly. But with this, it’s so fun for me to just not play the stakes being so high. I mean, they’re still high, but they’re a real life high, and that feels like something that’s really important to me. I want to look at the world through the lens of all of us. It’s not as fun as an actor, but it’s really gratifying.
Was it emotionally taxing to deal with the strong content in Burden of Truth?
It was in a way. Dealing with Joanna — I realized when I’m doing the first season of a show and I’m trying to find the character, I get emotionally in it in a way that perhaps I don’t need to be, but she’s not an easy character. She’s incredibly closed off, and she’s terrified of emotions, and her world really does start to crumble through the process of the series. That was taxing in a way. It was tiring. But I also love it. It’s what makes acting fun; when I go to work and I’m really nervous and scared that I can’t make something work… that makes the day really satisfying for me.
Joanna is really clever and even somewhat manipulative as a lawyer. Once she and Billy are on the same side, will she still be using those clever skills to uncover the truth?
I don’t know that Joanna will ever stop using those skills, because I think that’s how she was trained as a lawyer. As long as you’re not doing anything unethical, this is what you do. It’s part of the job. And that’s something… she’s just really great at it.
Joanna definitely has a moral compass, and that moral compass becomes stronger, I suppose. Billy’s also very by-the-book. He’s very different from Joanna, so they kind of balance each other out. She pushes him to go further, and he pulls her back.
Can you talk about some of the cast that you get to work with on Burden of Truth?
Peter Mooney plays Billy Crawford, and he is the loveliest human being ever in the world. He’s the nicest man, and I really love working with him, and he brings a lot to that character. He’s a very smart actor. Luna Spence is played by Star Slade who is a newbie actor. I think she’s 18 years old. She is amazing. I love her so much. She’s such a special person, and it’s fun being on set with someone who’s brand new; it just reminds me of when I started. And Luna’s such a freaking awesome character who just gets better and better. She’s one of my favorites on the show.
And then we’ve got Meegwun Fairbrother who plays Beckbie, and Diane. Diane is played by Nicola Correia-Damude, and she’s the best. She is someone that I adore. She is such a great actress. Diane is Joanna’s high school friend. Joanna doesn’t have a lot of friends. And really, probably Diane was the last real friend she ever had in her life. I love their dynamic because Diane kind of forces Joanna to confront her humanity, and she’s really the only one that can shake Joanna back into her teenager self.
Are you suggesting Joanna might loosen up a bit more as the season goes on?
Yes. Compared to other humans, not so much.
Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum recently said at a convention that they’d be up for a Smallville animated feature. Is that something that might interest you?
Yes, totally! Somebody just talked about that; I didn’t know that they had said that, but absolutely. If that was something that came up, I would do that for sure. That would be really fun.
Is there anything about Smallville’s Lana that you might not have appreciated as much 15 years ago that you appreciate more now?
You know, I’ve always appreciated how much she grew. I think we all got annoyed with her for doing things that were right. Like, she always wanted the truth, and demanded an equal footing in her relationship, and I feel like that’s really fair. She stood up for that. I really do appreciate that in her, and the effort she took to become a better person was pretty extraordinary, and I have always loved that about her.
On the subject of growth, you have fans who have grown up with watching you on shows like Smallville and Beauty and the Beast. What do you hope those fans will get from watching Burden of Truth?
I feel like this is the first real adult show I’ve done. Even though there are a lot of teenagers within it, I feel like I’m playing a real adult; a person who’s lived a very difficult and complicated life, and those scars are very present in the way that she exists.
If people have followed me for a long time, they are also getting old [laughs]. I think that this show can bring us all into that part our lives where things are a lot more gray, and far less easy to categorize into good or evil, like back in the old days when we were on superhero shows.
Is the Season 1 arc of Burden of Truth self-contained, or does it tee up anything from Season 2 which you are now shooting?
We are now shooting it. It is both. It is self-contained, and also with cases like this – with class action suits, where there has been an effect on individuals – it never quite closes. No matter what happens in the first season with the case, these girls are still going to have to deal with the ramifications, and so will the town. The effects on their bodies and also with their relationships with the people around them, because there were people who were complicit in getting them sick, and they’ll have to reckon with that. So there are threads that are left untied, and a lot of them are emotional. Season 2 will bring us to a new case, but our characters are still dealing with what happened in Season 1.
The CW is full of superhero series now. Would you ever be interested in appearing in any of them, and if yes, which one would it be?
Totally, I’d be interested. I don’t know which one. I admit I have not watched all of them. I’d like to be a part of the most fun one, whichever that one is.
Burden of Truth airs Wednesdays at 8PM on The CW.