Bad Blood: Anna Hopkins on “power-hungry” Teresa and the art of playing a great villain

Bad Blood‘s Season 2 premiere wasted no time in shaking up Declan Gardiner’s (Kim Coates) carefully laid plans. While the lone wolf mob boss’ grip on Montreal had been left happily uncontested by Ontario’s Cosoleto family for years, the arrival of fraternal twins Teresa and Christian (Gianni Falcone) Langana—the children of a bigtime ‘Ndrangheta boss in Italy—quickly threw a spanner in the works. After Declan declined their offer to become partners in the drug trade, the pair retaliated, intercepting his $5 million narcotics shipment from a Mexican cartel.

Playing the part of driven and calculating Teresa is Montreal-born actress Anna Hopkins, who stepped into the role just days before shooting began.

“I think it was a long casting process, and they weren’t finding anybody,” she says. “At the last possible second, [showrunner] Michael [Konyves] suggested me.”

Konyves was familiar with Hopkins’ work because he wrote the screenplay for Barney’s Version, her 2010 feature film debut. However, if he had been binge-watching Netflix series Shadowhunters earlier this year, he also would have been compelled to hire her on the spot. Her chilling turn as Season 3’s big bad Lilith demonstrated she has the onscreen presence and sophistication to believably portray a top-shelf Mafiosa on a series that echoes The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Sons of Anarchy. 

We caught up with Hopkins before this Thursday’s new episode, “A Grapefruit Worth 20 Million,” written by Konyves and directed by Jeff Renfroe, to learn more about Teresa, find out what it was like squaring off with Kim Coates, and get some hints about what’s coming up next on the series.

Teresa cuts an elegant but imposing figure in the season premiere, and I suspect that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as what’s she’s capable of. 
Anna Hopkins: Oh, yeah. She definitely keeps her cards pretty close to her chest. She’s one of those characters who is really powerful but doesn’t really need exert or show that power very often. So in the first episode, you get a sense of maybe what she can do, but her first goal is just to let the business expand. So she’s just sort of trying to be as nice and cooperative as possible, but when things don’t go her way, I think the extremes she can go to are a little further than most of us.

I love that Teresa is near the top of a traditionally male-dominated business—even if that business is organized crime. Did it excite you to get to play a mobster?
AH: I hadn’t really seen any female mobsters until I got the role, and then I was sort of researching and found a few characters that show up in film and television. But there really isn’t a lot, and so I was really excited to play the role. Sometimes with roles like this, it can be written like a male and then at the last minute, they just switch it to female. That happens a lot lately. But there’s feminity and it’s used a strength and it’s part of her unique mobster characteristics, so she’s a really strange and interesting character. Especially with her brother, with them as a duo, they’re kind of a very new, interesting type of antagonist—although, I think every character in this is an antagonist at some point.

Teresa and Christian seem to be unusually close, even for twins. What can you tell me about their dynamic?
AH: The backstory is that their father is the head of the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria, and at this point in time, even saying that word is essentially illegal in Italy. So the leaders of these factions are in hiding. The idea was that, when we were very small, our father sent us away together at various boarding schools, always with the intention of us eventually running things. We were pretty isolated in the fact that we weren’t necessarily making any friends in college, and we were really the only people that we had. So that’s how Michael [Konyves] built that relationship. Even from our father, we were always very distant from him. We’re very loyal to him, but really the only people we have in the world are each other. So there’s a closeness there that’s not very common, I think.

They’re a very intriguing pair to watch.
AH: They’re almost monarch-like, Game-of-Thrones-like power-hungry siblings, and there’s a closeness that is born out of that, in trying to gain a goal. Hopefully, they don’t get separated or turn on each other. So we’ll see what happens.

Episode 1 ended with Teresa and Christian nabbing Declan’s massive drug shipment. Can you preview how this will shake out in Episode 2?
AH: It’s one of those things like at the end of Season 1, where that little string is the beginning of the unravelling. It’s not going to be tied up by Episode 2. It’s just going to get more and more complicated, and the stakes are going to get higher and higher. So this is totally, just as you said, the tip of the iceberg of how these characters are intertwining and trying to gain power. It’s an intricate unravelling, and it’s just getting started.

The meeting between Declan and the twins was pretty intense. Will we see more face-to-face encounters between them, and what was it like squaring off with Kim Coates?
AH: Actually, it’s funny, it doesn’t happen a ton because we’re constantly in different cities in the show, so that is really one of only a couple of scenes where we get to speak face to face. And the way we shot the show, we were block shooting, so that was actually the last scene we shot of the whole series. So by that time, I had worked with Kim for three months. And to be honest, it was very intimidating coming onto the show and being, in a sense, his enemy, because he’s Kim Coates, and he plays the ultimate villains. But by the time we did that scene, we were just so relaxed, and we played a lot, and it was just really fun. I think it was one of our favourite scenes to do.

Speaking of villains, you just ended your run as Lilith on Shadowhunters, so you also know a thing or two about playing baddies. What do you think the secret is to playing a great villain? 
AH: I think the biggest thing is always having a character who has something to do and is doing it for reasons they believe are just and right. With Shadowhunters, even though it was fantastical, Lilith was trying to bring her son back. And if you believe in that, and you’re being told whatever you need to do, you do it. And I think it’s similar with Teresa. I think her father trusts her, and she wants to make him proud and she wants to get to the top of her career, even though that’s organized crime, and she’ll do anything that she needs to do. I think if the writing allows for the character to have a justified reason for doing what they do, then you can start to believe it and do some crazy things.

What did you enjoy most about working on Bad Blood?
AH: I think one of the biggest things is I love the writing. Michael did such a fabulous job, and having a shorter series of eight episodes really allowed us to develop our characters and the storylines. And, obviously, the ensemble of actors is really incredible. So we all really got to sink our teeth into something, and we all gave it our all. The environment on set was really creative and collaborative.

You also recently wrote and directed a short film, The Give and Take. Where can people catch that?
AH: It’s doing the festival circuit. The next stop is at the Austin Film Festival on Oct. 26.

Bad Blood airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

A.R. Wilson

A.R. Wilson

A.R. Wilson has been interviewing actors, writers and musicians for over 20 years. In addition to TV-Eh, her work has appeared in Curve, ROCKRGRL, Sound On Sight and Digital Journal. A native of Detroit, she grew up watching Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant on CBC, which led to a lifelong love of Canadian television. Her perpetual New Year's resolution is to become fluent in French.
A.R. Wilson
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