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Interview: Murdoch Mysteries’ Hélène Joy lets her hair down

It’s not often that Hélène Joy is able to really let her hair down. On Murdoch Mysteries it’s always drawn up in a no-nonsense tousle, part of the restrictive look of the times sported by Dr. Julia Ogden and the women of the 1900s. The hair and the wardrobe are so extreme, Joy says, she’s rarely recognized out on the street.

And while Dr. Ogden may be constrained by her wardrobe and the time’s social mores, Joy certainly isn’t. In this wide-ranging chat from the set, the Perth, Australia, native talked about her arm injury—suffered while biking in Toronto—the upcoming season, meeting fans (and how far some will go to meet the cast) and her interests outside of Murdoch Mysteries.

How is your arm?
Hélène Joy: I have a plate and 10 screws in it. It’s so nasty and it’s still a bit stiff. It’s at maybe 85 per cent of what it was. I’ve got a really good swing in softball now, I’m stronger than I used to be.

A young fan was on the set today and excited to meet everyone. What is it like meeting people who love this show and these characters so much?
Being here on the set working you sometimes forget the impact that you have on people when they watch you on the television. We were in Ayr, Ont., filming and somebody tried to get access. They pretended to be somebody’s brother to get into the makeup truck. It got a little rowdy.

The running joke is that I never get recognized in public because I look so different. With my hair down, it’s more of a transformation than it is with the guys. But when people do recognize me, it’s like, ‘Whaaaattt??’ I’ve met fans as me and they stare at me, like, ‘Where do I know her from?’ It happens to me all the time. I’ve met people who have told me I look 20 years older as Julia. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not!


I’ve met people who have told me I look 20 years older as Julia. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not!


Showrunner Peter Mitchell told me at the end of Season 8 that this upcoming season will feature more of William and Julia.
We did give the fans some of that last season, but they wanted more. What they did get, they loved. We’re allowed to play and flirt and be completely open and there is way more of that this year because we know how much the fans love it.

The next step for Julia and William is a baby…
I think that would be amazing. I think it would be hilarious because I think they’d be terrible parents. They’re a couple of nerds who don’t really have any idea what they’re doing. Neither of them would stop working, so how would they balance that?

You’re a member of Women In Film & Television. Do you feel as though women are being given more opportunities in TV and film than they were?
It’s always changing. If I think back 10 years ago, when I first came to Canada, my agent told me, ‘You haven’t made it, but you’ll work. There will be less roles for you as you get older, but you’ll work.’ That was the attitude that I came into. Like, if you’re not 22, it won’t be that easy. And I wasn’t 22. It’s no longer that way at all. The best roles for women are in their 30s and up. I’m glad to see that no one is buying into that and that directors aren’t buying into that.

People want to see lead women and women’s stories. I think the future is really bright.

What about producing and directing. Is that something you’re interested in doing?
Not producing, I’m not really interested in that. Directing is something I’d be interested in, but I’m not one to step onto a set and direct. If anything, I’d be directing my own short. I have a short that I’d like to make that I wrote some time ago and I have a support system to do it but it requires time. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know what I’d want.

What is the short about?
It’s set in Australia on Valentine’s Day in the heat, but because the seasons are different [between North America and Australia] maybe I’d set it in L.A. It’s a weird love story with a dark twist and not a lot of dialogue. Only one scene of dialogue, actually, and it’s very intense. I can see all of the camera work; it’s all done in my head. Now I just need a bunch of money!

Season 9 of Murdoch Mysteries returns Monday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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6 thoughts on “Interview: Murdoch Mysteries’ Hélène Joy lets her hair down”

  1. I enjoyed your interview with her but it was a bit short?! I was at a small event where we actually had an opportunity to chat with her for a few minutes. Just my luck she spent most of her time at the other end of the venue. However, she is so fascinating! In a matter of a few minutes I found a ton of info out on how she ended up here in Canada, that type of thing. Also calls her hairdos, Shirley her hair designer agrees, very dating. She says they are works of art, but she is “well over it” and they DO make her look much older, but back then young girls were trying to be women and were married off to have families. Sign of the times. I would love it if you would do a bit on her colleague Arwen Humpfries, who plays Sergeant Brackenreids wife. She is Canadian and truly talented, and the fans have been begging for, and getting more screen time by contacting Shafsbury and communicating through fan groups. Roll on October!

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