Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
Ellen Dubin Talks The Collector
Recently at the Timeless Destination convention, I had a chance to meet the lovely Ellen Dubin.
Ellen has appeared in many productions ranging from Napoleon Dynamite to the fan favoite LEXX
Ellen is currently working on The Collector which is set to debut this Fall 2007 in America after earning much attention and acclaim in the nations
where it has shown.
How did you get into acting and who are some of your influences?
Ellen: I was never one of these little girls who wanted to be an actress all her life. I was a very shy quiet child and my parents enrolled me in ballet class to gain confidence and relate better to other kids.
While I was there we used to do an end of term ballet recital. I loved the feeling of communicating to an audience and feeling their immediate reaction while I danced on stage.
My ballet teacher always told me that I was able to move an audience to tears or make them laugh. I was never a great technician but I was so passionate that I could overcome that.
That began my love of stage and I ended up doing all different types of shows from musicals to Shakespeare and British farces to very heavy dramas. I was very lucky to avoid being typecast.
I loved to keep an audience on their toes – whether playing an Irish farm girl one night , a sexy British flight attendant the next night or a nerdy character. Keep them guessing was my motto!
My influences are generally not known people- my ballet teacher who taught me incredible discipline, my acting teachers who were extremely picky but encouraging and most of all my parents who although
in the beginning were wary of this very difficult business with lots of rejections , have grounded me and areextremely loving and supportive.
There are certain actors I admire- some of the chameleon like actors- Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Ben Kingsley and some who are so natural like Gene Hackman, and Sean Penn.
I also love some of the older classic actors like Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Judy Holliday.
You have done a solid body of work in the genre, were you always a Sci Fi fan or did it develop as your career unfolded?
Ellen: I am very lucky that within the genre, I have been able to play a wide variety of different characters and styles. For example in LEXX , my role was a very wacky over the top character and yet in DEAD ZONE, was a very straightforward person.
My love and appreciation for the genre grew as I worked in this medium. I now try to watch every show to get a taste of their style and writing.
You seem to have a knack for playing very strong characters that are independent. Are you drawn to this sort of character or would you say this reflection of your character coming outin your portrayals? As a follow up, what do you believe are the key points to capture when playing a character?
Ellen: Again, I am very lucky to get all kinds of roles. Lately, I have played the strong independent woman. But I find in the sci fi genre, these are the roles written and I am thankful for those kinds of parts. I think a strong intelligent woman is a sexy one!
In a more realistic kind of character, you must put your OWN heart and soul into a part or it will come off as acliché. That to me is the key to making a fully fleshed out part. Yes I am very into the physicality of a role (i.e. how a character moves, how she speaks, what she would wear) but in a more straightforward character you must show up and be YOU! as that is all we have as actors!
Even if you are playing a weird beast or alien. You must ground the character in some kind of reality or NO ONE WILL CARE!
The Collector is making a lot of noise now and is poised to really take off when it debuts in the States.
Can you tell the readers about the show and the character you play as well as what attracted you to the part?
Ellen: The show has won all kinds of awards including best drama and I was nominated for
a Gemini (the equivalent of a US Emmy) for my work in the show.
We are all very proud of our show creators Jon Cooksey, Ali Matheson and producers Larry and JB Sugar. We are also very grateful to the Chum Network for buying the show initially. We have also now been sold in 65 countries world wide.
The show is a supernatural drama about a man (Chris Kramer who plays MORGAN PYM) who collects souls for the devil.
I play Jeri Slate a passionate journalist who is on his trail and will stop at nothing to get to the truth. I am also a single mother who is raising an autistic child (Aidan Drummond who plays my son GABE).
Loved the genre because it is show that has a lot of humanity and faces issues that we deal with in our everyday lives. i.e. the choices we face every day.
I also liked the fact that I could show this ballsy fast talking reporter but also reveal a softer more vulnerable side with my character. It is a wonderful emotional range.
What have been some of your fondest moments on the show as well as your greatest challenges?
Ellen: Some of my fondest moments have been working with the little boy. He isn’t able to speak in the show so I wanted to show a loving humane relationship with humor.
I also wanted to treat the fact that he was autistic with class and not talk down to him. So I did research with families who have autistic children to present a realistic approach to the character.
I enjoyed creating an interesting relationship with Chris’ character so the audience isn’t quite sure if they are going to get together as a couple or hate each other!
How many episodes have you filmed so far and how has your character changed over the course of the series to date? As a follow up, how would you like to see your character evolve as the show moves forward?
Ellen: I am not going to reveal too much with this answer. But I have shot about 24 episodes.
Like all good writing, my character hides behind a mask. My particular mask is I am a tough independent gal. But as the show progresses and I start to get closer to finding out what the leading man is about and when it starts to invade into my
own personal life, you will see another side of
I unravel a bit which is fascinating to watch from an audience point of view. They will also enjoy the cat and mouse relationship I have with the lead character. The audience will be intrigued by my son as well because he may have ties with the devil!
What sort of things do you like to do in your free time?
Ellen: I love spending time with my family, going to restaurants, and I love movies and traveling.
What would you say have been your favorite parts over the last 10 years and why?
Ellen: Here is a list from the stage first=
JOSIE HOGAN – A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN by EUGENE O’ NEILL – this is the crème de la crème of roles a huge emotional arc If you can do this role, you can do anything. One of my first major stage roles that help shape the actor I am today.
JUDY TURNER – A CHORUS LINE- It was my dream to do this musical and I was thrilled to be a part of the Canadian touring company a show very close to my heart. Fun to die my hair red and be a good ol’ gal from Texas!
TV and Film-
LEXX- to be on a show that has become such a underground hit is very rewarding and to play four different characters on it and get appreciated it for all my roles is so gratifying and very different show and style of acting.
Loved taking wild risks in that show and being the sexy comic relief! You may not like it but you will never forget it.
We have fan clubs worldwide because of LEXX.
NEVER TOO LATE – this was a small Canadian movie but loved working with Oscar winners OLYMPIA DUKAKIS and CLORIS LEACHMAN – two great ladies! They taught me so much; I was like a sponge sopping it all up
When making “Napoleon Dynamite” did you have any idea that this film would become the cult classic it has and what do you remember about making the film?
Ellen: You know what I love about this movie- the fact that it was made with no A-list movie stars and no huge budget and look what happened. NO ONE KNEW that it would be this big. ND has become a part of the culture of our times. People are using words from it, the merchandising continues to grow. They just released the second DVD – I love it.
I loved the fact that it was so quirky on the page and one of the producers is a big fan of my workand asked me to do it. So I thought why not? I am grateful if anyone wants me to work with them.
Love working with new filmmakers. I am thrilled at the success of ND.
Have you ever thought about directing or writing as if so, what are some of the projects that you would Love to work on?
Ellen: I have tended my whole life to naturally put people together so eventually I would love to produce a film- a short film about relationships. But I haven’t found the ideal script yet. Must be something I am extremely passionate about so I can put all my friends in it.
Thanks for the fabulous questions!