Q&A: Laurie Fortier on “HEMLOCK GROVE”
Despite polarizing reaction to its bravado-laden first season, HEMLOCK GROVE defied the odds to become a viable horror program on an instant streaming platform with a loyal (and vocal) cult audience at its behest. Now, with its second season available in full, HEMLOCK GROVE looks to expand upon the dark fantasy of the first while taking its characters into more daring, stranger territory than before. FANGORIA caught up with HEMLOCK GROVE’s own Laurie Fortier, who plays one of the series resident mortals in Marie Godfrey, and spoke about working on the series, the shift between seasons and the possibilities in her character’s future…
FANGORIA: So how did you first get involved with a project like HEMLOCK GROVE, considering it was the first—and so far only—horror series developed by Netflix?
LAURIE FORTIER: It’s actually a funny story. This goes back to season one, which was a couple years ago, but I read for a small part in the pilot episode. Then, the writer, Brian McGreevy, and Eli Roth saw my tape and thought I’d make a great Marie. Now, Marie wasn’t in the pilot, but they offered me the part anyways. So I said “Yes,” to the part, even though I had no idea who Marie was because she wasn’t written into that episode. So after that, I went out and got the book, realizing then that Marie was this great role. That’s how that came to be, and I was honored.
FANG: Did you experience the show thus far in the same way the fans have, via multi-episode binge watching sessions?
FORTIER: Yeah, absolutely. I had to experience it like everybody else when it went live last April. I binge watched all of it. I think people are getting more and more comfortable with binge watching, and I think HEMLOCK GROVE is the kind of show that really needs to be watched that way. The show is very non-linear, and it plays in some ways like an independent film.
FANG: I know that the second season of HEMLOCK GROVE had a different showrunner than season one in Charles “Chic” Eglee. Did that change the dynamic of the production at all?
FORTIER: Of course it feels like homeroom again, in that we’re getting back together with everybody. But Chic Eglee, the new showrunner, is really visceral and he works very visually. His writing really jumps off of the page, and his dialogue really plays out like a movie. So I think his presence brought something very unique in season two.
FANG Considering this is the first true genre project in your credits, do you feel that you had a little more freedom in terms of your performance in HEMLOCK GROVE?
FORTIER: Well, that’s funny because my character’s storyline is not necessarily privy to the supernatural aspects of the show. I’m more so playing mother as I’m trying to keep my family together in the first season, which obviously all fell apart at the end of that. I would say that gives me the freedom to put myself out there, especially in season two.
Marie emerges as a much darker character this time around, and there are darker tones to who I become. Her whole moral compass has been corrupted and destroyed by the death of Letha, as well as the death of her marriage. So I think the direction of the show has allowed me to start portraying her darker aspects.
FANG: Do you think this season gave you license to be a bit more emotionally driven than you could be previously?
FORTIER: Yeah, for sure. I really enjoyed working on season two because Marie’s gloves are off and now she’s confronting things. Marie is confronting Godfrey Industries and she’s confronting Olivia; it’s almost like she truly found her voice in season two.
FANG: With how the first season of HEMLOCK GROVE ended, so many fates were in the air and fans didn’t know truly what to expect this time around. Considering the supernatural elements of the show, do you feel there’s a certain flexibility with the fate of characters such as Marie?
FORTIER: Yes, absolutely. I think that supernatural possibilities may exist for anything dire that might happen to my character.
FANG: What was it like reuniting with the cast this season considering you might not have been sure who was returning or not by the end of season one?
FORTIER: It was so much fun. The cast is really great, and we also had a couple of newcomers this year in Madeleine Martin and Madeline Brewer. They’ve both added so much to the show. And once we all saw HEMLOCK GROVE for what it was, and how well it was received by the fans, we were excited to come back and proud to be a part of the show.
FANG: I know Eli Roth really shepherded the series in the first season; was this true for season two? Did you get to work with Eli directly again, especially considering the new wave of directors involved this season?
FORTIER: Eli has been there from the beginning and has a solid sense of what HEMLOCK GROVE is. Eli was there on set and actually brought in David Straiton again, who directed a couple episodes last season. So that was some consistency among the new roster of directors in season two. In fact, some of the directors here hadn’t done television before, so they had a different way of approaching the work. They were excited as well, which made the process that much more collaborative. Every new director brought their own unique vision to the material.
FANG: Are there any other projects you’re working on or awaiting release for at the moment?
FORTIER: Well, there’s a show for USA called RUSH, which I’m shooting up in Vancouver. It’s very dark but funny; it’s sort of like HOUSE, M.D. I’m actually excited to play someone who is sort of quirky and funny. I haven’t had those opportunities lately; every role has been heavy with drama, death and bad guys.
HEMLOCK GROVE, which features Laurie Fortier, is currently exclusively available on Netflix Instant Streaming. You can also follow Laurie on Twitter: @Laurie4ta.