Tag Archives: Janet-Laine Green

This Life’s Janet-Laine Green on her tough scenes in “Well Fought, My Love”

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have seen This Life Episode 209, “Well Fought, My Love.”

On Friday, Janet-Laine Green told us about her experience playing Janine Lawson on CBC’s This Life. In the second part of our interview, Green tells us about receiving the news her character was going to pass away in Episode 209, “Well Fought, My Love,” and what it was like to portraying her final scenes of the series.

Several of your cast mates told me they were shocked by the events in Episode 209. When were you told Janine was going to pass away?
Janet-Laine Green: I think a couple of weeks before I went down to shoot, and it just tore me apart. It just broke my heart. Honestly. I think because of the reasons that I said before, that it’s such a special show. It’s rare in a series—and I’ve done a lot of series—that you actually have the sense of family and real joy to be on the set, and we just all connected so well, the young people and my kids on the cast, and shooting in Montreal was just a joy, so beautiful. So when I got the word, I went, ‘Why? Why would you do that?’ And I couldn’t take myself out of the character. And it really is, that series, like any series, it’s all about storylines, story plots, what’s going to shock the family, shock the audience. And because it is a family, when something like that unexpected happens, that’s a great storyline. But I totally took it personally. I really went, ‘Oh, it doesn’t really matter if Janine’s in the show.’ Now I know that’s not true and having some time away from it, I went, ‘I can see why they would do it.’ But it really makes me very sad not to be in the show. Really sad. Because we like each other so much. I think that, more than anything, it was a really special combination of people.

It was definitely a shock.
It is shocking. You’re not set up for it at all. And that’s I guess what I mean by living your life to the fullest is, one doesn’t know when you’re going to die. And when there’s illness, it gives you such a different perspective on life and death. When one has been ill, you’ve been dealing with life and death quite a bit. And you’re looking at, ‘Have I done everything I wanted to do?’ and ‘What do I want to do?’ But when something like that happens that quickly, there is no looking back, there is no preparing, it’s everybody else who has to deal with the fallout.

I haven’t seen the episode, but I was there with Natalie, and I was there with Gerald, but I didn’t see how anybody else reacted. And that doesn’t matter really, it’s just being on the other side. Playing dead was awful. It was awful. Because you want to say goodbye. You want to say goodbye to your kids. You want to say goodbye to your husband. You want them to say goodbye to you. But there is no goodbye. And I think that’s even more shocking than if you have some time if you’ve been ill.

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What was it like to play a body in the episode?
It’s very hard, because, for one, Peter as Gerald is trying to resuscitate me. So they had built this contraption, and they had paramedics there—real paramedics—and he had to pound on my chest to try to get me back. And they had built sort of a metal contraption to sort of protect my body from the real strong pressure that you have to give. And I went, ‘No, I’m just going to do it, and I’m not going to wear the contraption. Just, Peter, do what you need to do.’ But the hardest thing is holding your breath and not showing your breath. That’s really hard. You have to hold your breath for quite a long time. Because the camera sees it.

And then people are really sad around you. You can’t go, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’ And after I had finished playing dead, the director said, ‘Oh, I much prefer you being alive. You’re a much better actress when you’re alive!’ [Laughs.] But that was Louis [Choquette] again. Louis shot my last episode, so it was really nice to start with him and finish with him.

Do you have a favourite scene of the season or the series as a whole?
I loved the scene in 209 where Peter and I are just kibitzing in the kitchen and making tea and just being sort of silly, and he had to go to work and I wanted to go for a walk. It was so natural and everyday, and yet a couple who had worked through their marriage and were just having a cup of tea and were happy to have time for each other. That was actually a really beautiful scene. Even if I didn’t die, it had such a nice quality to it, and then she walks out into the sunshine.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your time on This Life?
Thank you. Thank you to CBC for greenlighting this production, and thank you to the wonderful cast. I adored working in Montreal and all the people that made me feel so welcome and comfortable. It has just been a treasure in my career, doing this show.

And what’s next for you? 
We’re going to Mexico for a month in about a week, and then I’m coming back and doing a play called Peace River Country at the Tarragon (Feb. 7 – March 19, 2017), which is a brand new play about fracking in Alberta.

This Life airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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This Life’s Janet-Laine Green on mothering the Lawsons

Janet-Laine Green feels completely at home on CBC’s This Life.

“It’s rare in a series—and I’ve done a lot of series—that you actually have the sense of family and real joy to be on the set,” she says. “We just all connected so well.”

Her character, Janine, is the loving but slightly overbearing matriarch of the Lawson family. Throughout the series, viewers have seen her attempt to be there for her four very different children while struggling not to impose her conservative views on them.

“I think what Janine has been learning over these two years is actually to accept [her children], to really look at the way they all are living their lives, and to not be as judgmental, and to not try to push her structure and religion onto them,” Green says. “I think that’s been Janine’s journey.”

When she landed the part, Green—who is well-known to TV viewers for her roles in She’s The Mayor, This Is Wonderland, Anne Of Green Gables The Continuing Story and The Beachcombers—says she was not only drawn to her character but to This Life‘s universal storyline.  

“We all have disease or accidents or kids who go off the mark,” she says. “We all have that in our lives, and I think that’s why audiences relate to it so well, because it’s not foreign at all, and it’s not a fairytale story. It’s actually quite real.”

Joining us by phone from her home in Tottenham, Ont., Green tells us what it’s like to mother the Lawsons.

What was your audition process like for This Life?
Janet-Laine Green: I went and I met Louis Choquette, who was doing all the auditions, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in an audition. Because the director usually doesn’t get up and work with you, and he just was on his feet, and he gave you different suggestions. So you’d do a scene and he’d say, ‘Try with this angle,’ and then he would totally change the whole the way you were playing it and give you an opposite way of thinking of the scene. So it was so fabulous I didn’t even care if I got the part or not. I was just thrilled to have this experience with this director, and I knew I really wanted to work with him. It’s really exciting when you have a good director who is passionate about the actor but also the character’s storyline.

Then I actually found out I got it, and I didn’t even know about the Montreal series, the French series [Nouvelle adresse], and I think the first night that I got there, Peter MacNeill—who plays my husband and is an old friend of mine—invited me out for supper with some Montrealers, and then they told us how popular the series had been in French . . . So I was excited about it, but I didn’t really know how much I would come to care about the series. I think because they cast it so well, and we as a group got along so well, that it became very easy to play the parents and the grandparents. It was not a problem. It was like no work whatsoever.

In what ways has Janine challenged you?
I think what intrigued me most about her was her faith. She’s Catholic, and she has really strong beliefs. I was raised Anglican, and it really was a more gentle sort of way I was brought up in the church. She sort of put everything into faith, and believes if you just have that faith, everything will be fine. And she’s really tested. I feel that the progression of Janine is that she pulled away from the church because of either the teachings or how the particular father in the church didn’t actually guide her the way she needed to be guided . . . So it was her struggle with faith that really intrigued me, because I didn’t have that in my upbringing, I didn’t have a really strong influence. So I had to really think about that and really examine it.

And Janine’s children really didn’t share a lot. There were a lot of comments through both seasons, like ‘Don’t tell mom,’ or, ‘Imagine what mom will do,’ so that was really hard because, as a mother, you want your children to confide in you, and you eventually become friends with your children. I think [Janine] was the disciplinarian in the family. So I sort of have to look at, ‘How am I different? How do I mother? How does Janine mother?’ I think she’s much stricter than I am, much more careful. I’m more carefree and believe in nature and how God is in nature, rather than in a church. So there were lots of things to challenge me, to make sure that I wasn’t playing myself but actually playing a character.

Of her four children, Janine seems to struggle most with Maggie, and she had a very hard time with Maggie’s marriage to Raza. Why do you think that is?
I think Janine sees huge potential in Maggie, and Maggie doesn’t see it in herself. She doesn’t stick with anything. So to support a child like that is difficult for any parent. All you want, I think, for your kids is for them to be happy and to feel fulfilled, and I think Maggie has always struggled with, she doesn’t follow the status quo, there’s no straight line for her to do anything, and I think, as a mother, you’re always wanting the best for your child, but also you want them to just get a job, be able to pay your bills, and be happily married. So I think with this marriage of convenience, it’s not who she married, it’s that she did it without understanding the joy of marriage, and the depth of feelings in marriage, and the responsibility of marriage. And she didn’t even tell [her parents], she just sort of invited [them] to a party.

So I think it’s really hard for Janine to actually see Maggie as she is and totally accept her. At the same time, I actually think Janine wishes she could be more like Maggie, in her freedom and her love that she has for people, her joy of living. I think that Janine’s life has been so structured that she looks at Maggie and is a bit envious of that. But I don’t know if Janine would ever say that.

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We just found out that Oliver is bipolar. How will that change her relationship with him? 
I think Oliver is her baby. I think she just adores Oliver and doesn’t really comprehend his dark side, and I think there has been a bit of, ‘He’ll be fine, he’ll be fine. We just have to nurture him more or love him more or look after him more.’ So I think there’s been a real blind eye to the real problem. And he’s had this since he was a child, and you tend to ride over the bad stuff and say, ‘Oh, they’re just wonderful.’ But to actually to get in and take them to doctors and try to find answers and then to actually put kids on medication, that’s a hard thing to do. A lot of parents have to face that, and I think Janine would say that God can help you, faith can help you, just go for long walks. I think the title ‘bipolar’ would really freak her out. I don’t know if she’d really accept it. I think that she would maybe blame herself for not loving him enough, as most of us do, as parents do. You actually don’t think there may be a chemical imbalance, it’s ‘I didn’t love them enough,’ or ‘I’m too hard on them.’ But I think, in her heart, she’s been protective of Oliver, and protected him from Gerald, as well.

Janine and Gerald seem happy now, but a few episodes ago, we learned they had at least one rough patch in their marriage. 
I think in any marriage, you fall in and out of love over the long period of time that you have, and I think there are times when one or the other gets to be too much—that’s not the person you fell in love with when you were young, when you were early 20s, that person doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Or, especially when you have kids, and when you have four kids, your belief system can go against what that other person’s belief system is. But I think they’ve had a very good marriage overall

How I see it, especially in this year, is that they really treasure each other, and they lean on each other. They support each other and try to be the best for that person. So, especially in Episode 209, just in sort of the beginning of it, you see that they’re very happy together.

I’ve been married for 35 years, and I look at sort of the ups and downs of our marriage, and as I get older, I fall more and more in love with my husband because I see really who he is without the kids being around. So I’ve used that sort of idea to what I bring to Janine with Gerald. And Peter and I just laugh all the time, he makes me laugh so much that it’s really fun to be on set with him. We’re very comfortable, and I’m thankful for that.

What can you preview about this week’s episode?
I would say living life to the fullest is the message of this episode.

This Life airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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