Interview With Actress Gabrielle Rose, “Maudie”

By Ruth on June 30, 2017 in Interview, movie
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Being a woman myself who is certainly not a spring chicken, I am always greatly intrigued by women who are unashamed of the fact that they are aging–gracefully or not–and they are willing to embrace who they are. It’s even better when this woman is an actress with such a long list of impressive credits that it practically baffles the intellect. Gabrielle Rose is no stranger to the stage nor screen, and recently she agreed to answer some questions about a new film that just premiered this month in New York. However, that was only a springboard for all sorts of wonderful information that she shared about the beginnings of her career, her notable works through the years, and especially her outlook on the business as a whole. 

RH: What inspired you to become an actress?

GR: My Grandfather, L Arthur Rose, was a playwright, producer, and performer. He wrote the original book and some of the lyrics for Me and My Girl currently playing at the Shaw Festival and which enjoyed huge success in London’s West End in the 30’s and again in the West End and on Broadway in the 80’s. My father was at one time a child actor before becoming a doctor…so I was actively encouraged to go to plays and then I showed a bit of talent to become an actress. I think the moment I wanted to be a part of the profession was when I was six and was watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Regent Park and Puck jumped out of a tree and landed right next to me! I had the thought right then, “ Oh! I want to do that!”

As one who has had a steady working career beginning back in the 1970’s, what are some of your most memorable works up through the years? On a side note, I notice you were in On the Other Hand, Death with Chad Allen and Sebastian Spence. I’d love to know any of your memories from that film.

I really started my paid career in England after training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and I joined the Bristol Old Vic theatre company after graduating. Peter O’Toole was in the company at the time and though I didn’t get to work with him, I did get to dance with him at a party once!

My first “break” came with being cast as Brenda in a sitcom in Britain called Rising Damp, starring the then renowned Leonard Rossiter.  I soon discovered that big breaks don’t necessarily last a lifetime, or even a couple of years, haha!

I guess the most memorable film jobs were in the eighties and nineties when I got to work with Atom Egoyan on Family Viewing, Speaking Parts, The Adjuster and of course my favourite The Sweet Hereafter. It was a huge learning curve for me to be able to a part of his ensemble throughout the decade or so we worked together–great roles, complex and conflicted. Atom is a collaborative and brilliant director!

ON THE OTHER HAND, DEATH, Sebastian Spence (back left), Chad Allen (front left), Gabrielle Rose (center), Margot Kidder (second from right), 2008. ©here! Films

Yes, of course, I remember Chad and Sebastian very well! I love working with Ron Oliver, the director and playing Margot Kidder’s lover and partner was a hoot from start to finish!  Both Chad and Sebastian were absolute gentlemen! Suave and witty, and so good-looking, they left me tongue tied.

In recent years, Hallmark viewers have seen you in a myriad of Hallmark films. Any special memories from any of those films?

Jesse Hutch, Candace Cameron Bure, Alan Thicke, Gabrielle Rose, Dan Willmott Crown Media Press

 

Let it Snow was one of my favourites. The director, Harvey Frost, I was so very sorry to hear that he recently passed away, was a real character who loved Christmas with a passion! He actually celebrated fifty-two days of Christmas in real life and his business cards had him as Santa on them!  He definitely inspired the Christmas spirit in all of us. Allan Thicke, as well, was in it, so that was my one and only chance to work on the same set as him, very funny and charming. Candace Cameron Bure, with whom I worked with again on Aurora Teagarden, was generous and talented on both occasions!

I worked with my husband Hrothgar Mathews, in Kiss At Pine Lake, which was a blast as we don’t get that chance too often. He played the handyman and I played the cook. Such fun, and a lovely location. Brennan {Elliott} is such a good actor!

Wedding Planner Mystery was my second chance to work with Ron Oliver, who also directed On the Other Hand, Death; he is a great wit, and wonderful to work with.

You have also been seen in Once Upon a Time as a recurring character. What have you enjoyed most about working on that show and playing your character?

Such a well-loved show! I think the thing I love most about playing Ruth is working with Josh Dallas. He is a lovely, talented man, a true gentleman. He always has time to make me feel at home and welcome.  Being cast was an honour. I loved the episode where I died; it was a great acting challenge. Ruth died a nice long death, and I got to work with Ginnifer Goodwin as well, a big bonus!

And you’ve appeared in feature films as well. What do you see as the differences in being cast in a feature film as opposed to a TV film or show? 

For years now I have worked on “indies”-.low budget Canadian features.. ever since the aforementioned films with Atom Egoyan, one led to another. I think they are my favourite thing to do on screen, quite different from the higher budget films and from television; they are all their own entity. Low budget often affords you greater scope in being part of the creative team. I have done films recently with directors like Carl Bessai, improvising our dialogue and writing our own story lines and, Bruce Sweeney, where I am part of the process from inception and at one point even became a producer.

Higher budget films such as A Dog’s Purpose and If I Stay.. you are part of the team, but the machine is bigger; your job is to fill your character’s shoes. I loved working with Lasse Hallstrom on A Dog’s Purpose, a truly marvelous director!

Stacy Keach, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Gabrielle Rose, Chloë Grace Moretz, Liana Liberato, and Jakob Davies in If I Stay (2014)

I had a very small role in BFG.. and huge budget film.,  What actor in the world doesn’t want to say the phrase “ Spielberg called”?. Marvelous to see such an enormous production work like that! It was fantastic to watch the work of Mark Rylance and Penelope Wilton. I was very much an observer on that set. If I Stay was another excellent experience, loved working with Stacy Keach! I have been very fortunate with my experiences in that regard.

When you work on series television, it is a little different; things move more quickly, depending on the budget, you perhaps don’t have the luxury for multiple takes. Sometimes you are coming in to play a guest in a very well-oiled machine; sometimes it’s a pilot and you are all just trying your best. You have to be well-prepared for all eventualities.  Some of the most interesting work right now is in the television world. In both mediums, you are working intimately with the camera. In all mediums, honesty is key, feeling from within, letting the material flow though your character

You also have appeared in The Man in the High Castle. What do you think is so appealing about this show? Will you be back for season three?

Such a great show! I did a little dance when they included me last season! I think that in these times, the thought that North America might have been run by a different regime had the war turned out differently is fascinating. To think how things would be different appeals to our fascination with a possible dystopian future or in this case dystopian past. In terms of my future with the show, I am not able to comment.

Let’s talk specifically about Maudie. What can you tell us about your character and the story? What is about this story that has already resonated with so many people?

Oh, I just love Maudie! I am so very proud to be a part of it! Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke are absolutely brilliant in the piece. Their chemistry is so delicate and beautiful to watch as it unfolds. Sally Hawkins is one of the best actresses I have ever been privileged to work with! She brought such a depth of character to Maudie and her performance resonates with everyone who sees it. I really challenge anyone to see if they can get through the film without a Kleenex, or maybe three! I know I can’t.

When I read the script, my heart skipped a beat. It was so very human. Aunt Ida was such a recognizable, solid, self-righteous character, deeply flawed and strong and challenging. I loved her on sight. Those women with many sides to them just make me salivate. I think audiences want to see flawed people; it helps their self-esteem. If everyone is perfect in a piece, it is a lot to live up to, but when we see people make mistakes, we can relate.

Aunt Ida (my character) lives in small town and she has taken in Maud after Maudie’s parents have died. Maud suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis. Aunt Ida is a battle axe, and Maud finds living with Ida untenable after Maud’s brother abandons her and sells the family home. Maud escapes by getting herself hired as a live-in housekeeper to a strange reclusive fish peddler who lives in a tiny one-room house far out of town.  Maud reinvents and brightens her difficult world through her art literally and figuratively. She and her art help heal the hard edges of the man she is living with and a love story starts to emerge.

A truly beautiful piece, beautifully directed, by the great Aisling Walsh.

As you also have an impressive stage career, what do you appreciate about being on the stage? What do you appreciate about being on film/TV? What are the challenges to both?

Stage is my first love and I return to it on a regular basis. I would recommend that every actor does a play every once in awhile. Stage is where you interact with an audience in real time; you learn to hear their every whisper, breath, cough, laugh and you find your sense of timing.  On stage, the actor is the last word. In film, the medium really belongs to the director, producer or editor; you have little to no control what take they will use or if indeed the scene will remain in the film at all. On stage, you work from A to Z through the script. In film, you bounce around; often the order of the scenes is dictated by location or weather or how many in the cast. You might start right at the end, then move to the middle, then do the beginning at the end of a shoot. I love that challenge, in fact. I love puzzles; it can be challenging to construct your performance that way.

Some of my more memorable performances were plays such as Elizabeth Rex playing Elizabeth the first and more recently- my very favourite role as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? These parts let me explore the depth of female power and vulnerability. ..both flawed, brittle, full-blooded characters and both so soft on the inside.

I think the most challenging thing about stage is for me, at any rate, are the hours. I am a lark; I am up with the dawn and stage is at night. It is hard on my sleep and, also, it requires enormous stamina to do eight shows a week! When I do stage, my family, husband and two sons, has to be patient as often the only thing I can do in a day is the show, particularly if the roles are large and demanding of a lot of emotion.

Any other upcoming works you can mention?

I am currently working on Angels of America. We completed part one in April and start rehearsal for part two in August. A great cast!! I love, love, love, them and it.  Beautifully written by Tony Kushner. The production has garnered nine nominations for the Jessie Awards here in Vancouver and I am fortunate enough to be nominated for one of those–Best Supporting Actress. {Sadly, Gabrielle didn’t win, but even being nominated is amazing!} We open at the Arts Club in Vancouver in September.

As a woman who has had a long, distinguished career, you seem to have beat the odds in a business that tends to be biased against women and especially older women. How have you seen things change for women over the time you have been an actress? What are your hopes for the future in terms of women and views on aging women in film/TV?

It is a tough business for anyone and, particularly for anyone over fifty and female. There are just not the parts. I look at blockbuster films and often women of my age do not even exist in their landscapes. There might be thirty men and two or three women, all of them under forty. Crazy making. Yes, it is improving, somewhat. But why are middle-aged and elderly women non-existent in so many of these stories? Women in reality often outlive men, so it is not so, in real life. Why are we, in North America, reluctant to see a woman aging? Why are lines and jowls and sags and bags unacceptable? Over and over I ask myself this. More and more the answer comes back to me, because we are unused to seeing women age on film. I guess it is time to change that. We must write our own stories. We must not be frightened to tell our stories. We must think our stories worthwhile, worth telling.  We must tell our children our stories. I love Maudie because it is one such story and it is told by women, for all.

What do you believe is the secret to your longevity in your career? What is your advice to aspiring actors in today’s society?

I have been lucky and because I have been lucky, that has parlayed into work, and work begets work. I have worked hard to become a good actress. I love my craft and I never stop learning how to do it. Styles change, cameras change. You have to stay flexible. You have to be able to get back up after falling, you have to take risks, you have to be tough and at the same time vulnerable and open. There are times of despair and times of intense passionate joy. There is terror and there is boredom and there is triumph and there is failure and sometimes you get all four all at once.  Failure is a part of success, each defeat informs the success.  I would say to everyone, don’t cling to the past; let the past inform your future, reinvent yourself at regular intervals, be honest with yourself, have integrity, stand up for what you believe in, leave your ego at home. Don’t take it personally. Be your very best self and above all enjoy the journey! It isn’t easy, but oh my goodness, when you land in the zone, it is so magical and rewarding!

I cannot even describe how ecstatic I was as I savored each answer Gabrielle gave in response to my questions. Her experience in the entertainment business is practically legendary, and while some actors in her position might consider retiring, there is no doubt that Gabrielle appreciates and enjoys every opportunity she receives. She has a passion for acting that is sometimes not seen in younger aspirants, and I believe that up and coming actors could learn from her wisdom and expertise. In addition to all this, Gabrielle is a sweet, charming, and gifted woman who does not appear to have lost her spunk nor her joie de vivre. I often look up to women like her, and I think it safe to say the following: “When I grow up, I want to be like Gabrielle Rose.” If I can possess even half her energy, creativity, drive, and enthusiasm as I continue to age in a culture that does not celebrate women who are past their prime, I will consider myself successful and happy! I am incredibly inspired as a result of this phenomenal interview, and I hope that my readers find themselves similarly inspired. Therefore, please check out all of Gabrielle’s links below, and consider looking up some of her past works. And for Hallmark fans, if you have not seen Let It Snow, you will have an opportunity during Christmas Keepsake Week! That’s right! Tune in Tuesday, July 18th to the Hallmark Channel at 2/1c, and you can watch and/or rewatch one of Gabrielle’s favorite Hallmark movie experiences! 

FOLLOW GABRIELLE

Twitter: @GabrielleRose79
Vimeo: vimeo.com/147236460
IMDb: Gabrielle Rose, Maudie (2016)Release Info

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. Tayler July 2, 2017 Reply

    Hi Ruth,

    I read your interview with the superbly, handsome Kevin McGarry and I would like to say that it was a beautifully written missive both pre and post interview. Thank you for your talents as a writer and the eloquence of which you share your craft. Kudos!

    • Author
      Ruth July 3, 2017 Reply

      Wow Tayler thank you so very much! I try to do exactly what you mentioned here. It’s always nice to know I’m accomplishing my goal. There will be so many more to come!

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