Tag Archives: Kristin Kreuk

Kristin Kreuk previews Burden of Truth’s “emotional” third season

Burden of Truth is billed as a legal show, but in reality, it’s an intricate family drama that uses a deeply flawed—and systemically unequal—legal system as its highly-effective backdrop. 

This character-driven approach has been a big hit with both critics and viewers. It’s also one of the reasons series star and executive producer Kristin Kreuk initially wanted to do the series.

“I wanted to do something serialized, and I wanted to be able to delve into the lives of the people affected by these cases as well as our regulars,” Kreuk tells us in a phone interview. “On our show, we just happen to have legal cases that trigger all of our characters, and as the seasons have gone on, I feel that all of our leads are related to each other, like they’re all family in a way, so we kind of get to be This Is Us, but also a legal show, which I really like.”

Over the course of two seasons, Kreuk’s character—corporate attorney-turned-socially woke lawyer Joanna Chang—has experienced some This Is Us-level personal drama. At the start of Season 1, she was an emotionally disconnected corporate attorney working at her ruthless father David Hanley’s (Alex Carter) big-city law firm. However, after she teamed with small-town lawyer Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney) to investigate an environmental case in her rural hometown of Millwood, Manitoba, she discovered she had a secret step-sister named Luna (Star Slade), who was the product of a sexual assault committed by Hanley. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, in the second season, Hanley was murdered, and Luna was falsely accused of the crime by racist cop Sam Mercer (Paul Braunstein). In the taut Season 2 finale, Joanna proved Luna’s innocence and—in a huge display of personal growth—gave up a posh corporate law gig in Singapore to pursue her budding relationship with Billy in Winnipeg.

During the Season 3 premiere, which airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, we find a year has passed since Joanna missed her overseas flight, and she and Billy are in love, living together and running their new socially-conscious law firm, Crawford Chang. It all appears blissful at first glance, but as usual, there are new legal issues brewing that could shake things up.

“The beginning of Season 3 is this crazy time for Joanna,” Kreuk explains. “She’s started a business, and it’s probably not the smartest business choice to start a boutique law firm in Winnipeg and work primarily on cases that speak to a social conscience.” 

The fledgling law firm’s precarious position is immediately highlighted when Joanna and Billy lose a workplace negligence case, devastating their clients, forcing them to cut staff, and causing Joanna—who has never lost a case in her life—to be plagued by self-doubt.

“Joanna is being forced to reckon with the parts of herself where she perceives herself to be weakest,” Kreuk says. “She’s not as good at the things she’s chosen to do as the things that she’s done before, and she has a lot of people who are relying on her in a way that working in corporate law didn’t previously come into play. She’s the most vulnerable that we’ve ever seen her by far, and she’s starting to have a bit of anxiety rumble up.”

That anxiety is made worse when Kodie (Sera-Lys McArthur), an old high school friend, has her children taken away by Millwood Family Services, forcing Joanna to delve further into unfamiliar areas of law and, worse, face more family skeletons.

“There are some secrets in Joanna’s past that affect the way she perceives everything and that she’s kind of buried,” Kreuk hints. “Joanna’s mom was taken from her—not in the same way as Kodie’s kids are taken away—but her mom was taken away. And Joanna’s really mad because she thinks it’s her mother’s fault that her mother abandoned her, so there’s all this personal stuff with family for her: Who gets to have the kids? Who gets to keep them? Why did Joanna’s father get to keep her? What makes it possible for someone to raise their children and why? Who decides?”

Kodie’s struggle to regain custody of her children also continues the show’s exploration of the way the Canadian legal system treats indigenous individuals and communities.

“I have to be delicate here, but in Canada, in the foster care system, we have a lot of Indigenous children, and this storyline will represent that to some degree,” Kreuk explains.

In addition, she says that Owen Beckbie (Meegwun Fairbrother), who is now the Millwood police chief, will be increasingly pushed “to the edge” in Season 3, as he comes to terms with the light prison sentence his former boss Mercer received for causing the death of an Indigenous man. Meanwhile, Luna will be dealing with the aftermath of her false imprisonment, “trying to find her place in the world after seeing the reality of what her situation [as an Indigenous woman] in the country is.”

Luna’s journey of self-discovery—which includes working at Crawford Chang—will also cause some disagreements with her sister.

“Joanna is very strong-willed and can put a lot of pressure on people, like her father before her,” she says. “Despite her growing humanity, she still feels that the job is the job is the job. You do what it takes to make sure your client wins, and that is the most important thing. How you feel about it is irrelevant. And Luna isn’t that person—which is good in who she is—but that will result in conflict.”

The events of Season 3 will also be hard on Billy, who is unaware of the family secret that is driving Joanna to take on Kodie’s “unwinnable” case.

“She’s obviously choosing this for emotional reasons, but she won’t tell him what it is,” Kreuk says. “And indeed the audience won’t know the real reason until probably the end of the season.” 

The situation will lead to “the most intense period of difficulty” Joanna and Billy have ever experienced, she says, but despite this, their arc “is really gorgeous and culminates in a very moving way. This is the most emotional case that we’ve done.”

Burden of Truth airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk reflects on her past and looks to the future

Kristin Kreuk has, literally, grown up on television. The Vancouver native, who landed roles on both the Canadian teen drama Edgemont and The WB/The CW superhero series Smallville in 2001, has seen steady work since.

Her current role? Playing Joanna Hanley on CBC’s Burden of Truth, where she also serves as an executive producer. With Season 3 of the CBC legal drama in production for a winter return, we sat down with Kreuk during the Banff World Media Festival, where she received the Canadian Award of Distinction.

How do you view it when it comes to women being represented either in front of the screen or behind the scenes? Obviously, there’s an issue. Do you feel as though it’s getting better?
Kristin Kreuk: Absolutely. Are we there yet? No. We’re not. I’ve said this many times, but prior to, I think I’ve worked with two female directors on my seven and a bit years on Smallville. Maybe one more than that. So going from that to, I worked with a few more on Beauty and the Beast, and with Burden, we don’t get a lot of directors but for our first two seasons it was like 50:50. Now it’s not, but a part of the reason why it’s not is that so many women are hired across the board until mid-2020. So that’s great. It just means that there are spaces now for the young ones to come up and fill that void. And they need to be supported to do that. And given the chances.

But yeah, I think that it is changing. And in Canada, I feel like we may be a little further ahead and I don’t know for 100 per cent because I haven’t worked in the States for a while, but from what I hear anecdotally you can still end up in a writers’ room in the U.S. and it isn’t even close to par. It’s very much weighted towards male voices. So I know that they’re working on it too.

It feels as though, to me, this has been a natural evolution for you, to move towards being an executive producer. Has it been a conscious decision?
KK: It was a conscious decision for me. I was just joking with these guys. I have been saying for years that I’m done with acting. I want to produce. And I’m moving in that direction. And so it was a decision I made because A, some of this is very practical. I have no other skill sets. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 years old. I understand, I’m going into my 19th season as lead on a television series, which is so insane to me. So I have all this experience with storytelling and I’ve seen how you start a story and I can kind of imagine where it’s going to go and how it might fail or what might happen to it. So all of that lends itself to moving into a more creative producing role.

A woman looks off into the distance.It’s still hard for me to make the transition. I think that it will be a process over time to the point where I can take on a show more on my own and not have other producers that I need. I will always have people, I think because I’m not a money person and just it’s not my skill set yet. Maybe it will be one day. As of now, I don’t feel like I have the entire skillset required to do the job, but I think that I’m getting closer and closer.

Directing? Does that interest you at all?
KK: You know what, it doesn’t. And I wish it freaking did. I wish that’s what I wanted to do. I think I’m a visual person. I think I’m just uncomfortable handling a set. I think that it’s a very specific environment that I just don’t… And it’s not even out of fear. I just don’t want to do that. I don’t think. I mean, never say never, I suppose. But I have friends who are like, ‘Yeah, I want to direct,’ and they’re former actors who are moving into other fields. Women especially want to move out of acting because as you get older, sadly, you sort of age out a little. Which we can also change when we’re in positions of power. But yeah, I wish, I wish, wish. Directing, I wish, directing.

It was interesting watching those Season 1 and Season 2 clips again this morning because, specifically the Season 2 clips that I made note of, where the camera was in tight. I feel like that’s different from season one.
KK: It’s new. We made a conscious decision to change the look of the show between Season 1 and Season 2. And then Thom Best, who was our Season 2 director of photography, and director Grant Harvey got together and kind of pitched a whole look. And they were like, ‘We want to get more intimate close-ups of the characters,’ which we had certainly not done and I’m always like, ‘Blah, I don’t want to be that close.’ But it really was effective. Really effective.

Not only that, they shift compositionally. So they changed the compositional palette of the show and the colour palette, too. The whole thing is a little more cinematic versus season one, which was also beautiful, but much more like small-town and warm and glowy and I think that the shift was really great for the story that we were telling for season two.

You mentioned Edgemont so I have to ask you about that. It’s on Encore+. Have you gone and looked at any old episodes?
KK: God, no. I can’t do it.

Isn’t that incredible that this show that you made is now available on YouTube for people to stream any time they want?
KK: It is so bizarre to me that Edgemont was and continues to be popular. It was so popular. Not just in Canada. In France, it was massively popular. I would get recognized for Edgemont in France. So funny. And I was on Smallville simultaneously. I did both those jobs at the same time. And I think that it’s great. It’s such a fun small little show and we did five seasons of that show. And it was great. I loved it. I mean, I hated it at first because I had no idea what I was doing and I felt so uncomfortable, but I grew to love it.

A woman, looking angry, talks to a man.What would you have told your younger self?
KK: I would’ve told myself to take classes. I would’ve told myself to make an effort to develop a deep relationship with acting because I didn’t have one and I didn’t understand it. I had only done theatre. So when I started acting, I didn’t know how to be smaller. And then when I did smaller, I lost all of my feelings. And so it was this weird thing and instead of just going like, ‘I’m uncomfortable and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to go and work really, really, really hard.’ I got scared. And I was like, ‘I’m not doing this any more.’ And it turned out that I just kept doing it and I never really gave myself the time to develop a craft. And I did it all on set. Which is fine, I guess, in the end, but it put me through a lot of discomfort of being like, ‘God, I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck.’

There are just so many things I would’ve told myself. Also, ‘Don’t stress so much,’ is great too. I think the big lesson, too, is getting over the hump of caring too deeply about what people think of you in a negative sense, because when we started on Smallville, there were no social media. Thank God. But there were forums on the Internet and, I forget, there’s actually a technical term for it, but when you’re drawn to reading the worst things you can about yourself.

It was just something that I was compelled to do. It was almost like I was trying to numb myself to this thing. But why did I care what these people thought? If they thought my eyes were too far apart or they thought that I looked too young or they thought whatever. Or that I was this or that. I’m like, ‘Why was I obsessed over this?’

Season 3 of Burden of Truth returns in winter 2020 to CBC.

Feature image courtesy of Kristian Bogner. Other images courtesy of CBC.

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Kristin Kreuk and Jonathan and Drew Scott win 2019 Rockie Awards

Canadians Kristin Kreuk and  Drew and Jonathan Scott were among the winners celebrated during the Rockie Awards gala on Tuesday night at the Banff World Media Festival.

Hosted by Jann Arden—who kept the night light and upbeat with tales of bad relationships and once suffering from diarrhea onstage during a performance in Berlin—the festival honours outstanding talent and executives from the industry.

“We want to extend a giant thank you to all of the people who made this possible for us,” Jonathan Scott said. The pair were given the Innovative Producer Award, which recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. The Scott Brothers have amassed an empire of television programs through Property Brothers and spinoffs, as well as launching programs under their production banner like Menu Match-up, Reno, Set Go and Half Price Paradise. Past honorees of the Innovative Producer Award include New Metric Media, Wolf + Rabbit, Don Carmody and marblemedia.

“The reason that I am standing here today is in large part due to luck/privilege and other people who could see more of the playing field than I could,” Kreuk said. The star and executive producer of CBC’s Burden of Truth was given the Canadian Award of Distinction for a body of work that exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry. Past honorees include Sheila Hockin, Just For Laughs, Eric McCormack and Kim Cattrall.

“I never really set out with a plan to do any of this, and along the way, I have made some good decisions and some terrible ones,” Kreuk said. “There are times that I just wanted to leave and times I’ve been devasted by the toxicity of this business. And without good, solid people around me, professionally and personally, I would not have made it this far.”

Here is a complete list of the winners:

CANADIAN AWARD OF DISTINCTION:
Kristin Kreuk (Burden of Truth, EuroTrip, Smallville)

INNOVATIVE PRODUCER AWARD:
Scott Brothers Entertainment Inc.

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR:
Surviving R. Kelly

THE GRAND JURY PRIZE:
Sharp Objects

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE:
Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks, Ghostbusters, The Heat)

SHOWRUNNER OF THE YEAR:
Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard, Line of Duty)

A+E INCLUSION AWARD:
Kitti Jones, survivor and author, Brie Miranda Bryant, SVP and Executive Producer, Lifetime, dream hampton, executive producer, Tamra Simmons, executive producer (Surviving R. Kelly)

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IMPACT AWARD:
Justin Simien (Dear White People)

SIR PETER USTINOV COMEDY AWARD:
Bill Hader (Barry, Trainwreck, Saturday Night Live)

Image courtesy of Kristian Bogner.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk and Peter Mooney preview “dangerous” Season 2

The first season of CBC’s Burden of Truth was a pleasant surprise. At first glance, the series—with its vague title and legal theme—had the unfortunate outer markings of a bland procedural, a sort of brown paper bag among more colourful “Peak TV” offerings.

But in a wonderful sidestep, the series eschewed a plot-focused case-of-the-week format in favour of a single, serialized case that took its time and built its characters. Moreover, its environmental storyline involving big-time corporate lawyer Joanna Hanley (Kristin Kreuk) and a mysterious illness affecting high school girls in her hometown of Millwood, Manitoba, exonerated its seemingly punchless title. As the suffering of the girls became impossible to ignore, the weight of Joanna’s conscience—which her lawyer-boss father David Hanley (Alex Carter) proudly proclaimed she didn’t have—became heavier and heavier. This moral awakening led her to defect from her dad’s big-city law firm and help small-town lawyer Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney) investigate the cause of the girls’ illness. It also led her to discover that her father once preyed upon an underage girl, resulting in the birth of her sister Luna (Star Slade). This helped her to win the case but forced her to change her name.

The burden of truth, indeed.

In the show’s Season 2 premiere, which airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, that burden still looms large. Now working at a high-pressure corporate law firm in Winnipeg and using the last name “Chang,” Joanna is trying to distance herself from both her father’s shadow and the Millwood case. However, the events of Season 1 won’t be easy to shake off.

“I think Brad Simpson, who created the show, really wanted to be sure that we stayed with the lives of these people and to really instill that these cases don’t just end and that’s it,” Kreuk explains during a phone interview from Toronto. “There’s a lot of complexity and also a lot of horrible things happened, so they have to deal with the balance of that.”

For Joanna, that means having to deal with Millwood-related aftershocks—be they in the form of a visit from her estranged father or in the form of an unwanted Case of the Year award—while she is struggling to rein in her difficult new client, a hacker-turned-political activist (Varun Saranga). For the people of Millwood, that means finding a way to rebuild their lives after the closure of Matheson Steel, the source of the environmental contamination that made the girls ill.

While the series is admirably willing to delve into the aftermath of Season 1, Mooney assures viewers that there are plenty of fresh storylines and threats lurking about in Season 2.

“I think the danger in the second season is so much more immediate,” he says. “The onus in the first season was chipping away at these girls’ lives in a really tragic way, and this season is just as dangerous. But that danger is not a future danger, but a danger that’s present and right there in every day of the season.”

One major source of danger is Joanna’s new case, which involves hacktivists, shadowy corporations and Internet privacy.

“When the hacktivist stuff happens, it’s hard for her,” Kreuk says. “Not just because she doesn’t understand the Internet and she doesn’t understand privacy, but because she’s dealing with young people who are really emotional and really intense, and that’s really tough for her. I think, practically, that puts her into a space where her life is on the line and so are the lives of her clients.”

To make matters worse, the case forces Joanna to confront parts of her personality she would rather keep hidden.

“When people attack Joanna’s privacy, it starts to get into emotional profiling and the darkest parts of your psychodynamics that you don’t want to look at and you don’t want anyone else to see,” Kreuk says.

Meanwhile, back in Millwood, Matheson Steel victims Molly (Sara Thompson) and Taylor (Anwen O’Driscoll) are trying to physically and emotionally heal after their ordeal, while Luna remains troubled by the crime David Hanley committed against her mother (Jessica Matten). The town is also reeling from the closure of the mill—an event that is driving up unemployment and increasing tensions. This causes Billy to retreat to the outskirts of town, but his tranquil existence is interrupted when his impulsive younger brother (Andrew Chown) suddenly turns up.

“Billy got away pretty clear in Season 1,” Mooney says. “Anything from his past that he’d rather have avoided, he was able to avoid in that season. But in Season 2, it comes crashing back into his life and we meet his brother Shane, who brings us back into his history, and it’s tricky history. There’s a lot going on. We see a lot of different sides of Billy beyond the side that he usually puts forward.”

If all of this sounds like a Season 1-style slow-burn instead of the “immediate” danger Mooney spoke of, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. There is an early-season twist that turns everything on its head, and Kreuk says the fallout will challenge viewers and push them to “think about their place in Canada, or in the world, in a more nuanced way.”

Mooney concurs, adding, “We tell a really difficult story this season, and I think it’s really well told. I’m really proud of it.”

Burden of Truth airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Burden of Truth rests with two-hour season finale

What the heck will Billy and Joanna do now? When we last left our heroic lawyers on Burden of Truth, Joanna had been booted off the case, leaving Billy to fend for himself. Undaunted, Joanna sat down with Nate to take his statement. Looks like he’s willing to blow the whistle on Matheson after all.

Meanwhile, Owen was the victim of a massive beatdown at the hands of his boss, Mercer. Is he going to be OK, or did this whole case lead to a loss of life?

Wednesday marks the two-part season finale of Burden of Truth beginning at 8 p.m. on CBC; here’s what the network has released as episode synopses for “Home to Roost,” written by Lynn Coady and directed by Grant Harvey and Doug Mitchell, and “Cause in Fact,” written by Brad Simpson and directed by Grant Harvey and Doug Mitchell.

Joanna faces the one person who may be able to defeat her father: her mom.

Using the law to her advantage, Joanna herself reinstated on a technicality plays her trump card. When it’s not enough to elicit a settlement offer, Joanna makes it personal.

And here are some spoiler-free hints as to what else to expect.

The needle in the haystack
Matheson is compelled to hand over their files to Billy; now it’s up to he and Luna to find evidence Matheson’s parent company, PNL, knew illegal dumping was taking place in the field. That’s going to be tough, especially without Joanna to help them.

David Hanley takes one on the chin
Figuratively, of course. But it sure feels good to see it happen. We also get some major dirt on him. It’s pretty good stuff. Then David shows his true colours while building the case with Alan against the girls.

We get an update on Owen
And the news isn’t good.

Road trip and family reunion
Joanna and Luna hit the road to Winnipeg to visit Joanna’s mother. There are tears. And facts pertinent to the case.

The court case begins
We’ve been leading up to this point all season long. Emotions are high, bombshells are dropped and the payoff is huge. Congratulations to all on a stellar first season of Burden of Truth. And I’m excited to see where the show goes in Season 2 on CBC. Kristin Kreuk and Peter Mooney will both return as Joanna and Billy for eight new episodes written by showrunner Adam Pettle, creator Brad Simpson, Shannon Masters, Hayden Simpson, Eric Putzer, Felicia Booker and Renee St. Cyr.

Season 1 of Burden of Truth concludes with back-to-back episodes on Wednesday at 8 and 9 p.m. on CBC.

 

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