Tag Archives: Peter Mooney

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 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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Preview: Burden of Truth goes on a “Witch Hunt”

After a break for the Winter Olympics, Burden of Truth returns with a new episode this week. (Read my feature interview with co-star Sara Thompson here.) I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on tenterhooks wondering what was going to happen next after the last instalment, “Family Ties.” Back then, Joanna discovered she and Luna are sisters and confronted her father over that little tidbit of information.

By episode end, Joanna had served papers to Ben Matheson signalling the case is headed for the courtroom.

Here’s what the CBC has revealed about this week’s instalment:

Anger over the claim against the mill pits the sick girls and their families against employees of the mill who worry that their jobs are on the line. When the local Pastor’s daughter becomes afflicted with the illness, he blames the girls themselves. 

And here are more details after watching the screener for “Witch Hunt,” written by Brad Simpson and Eric Putzer and directed by James Genn.

Trial planning begins
Now that the papers have been served, Joanna and Billy have got a lot of work to do and holes in their case to fill. Thankfully, they have Luna to help. Speaking of Luna, she’s got some big plans not only for herself but her mom. Meanwhile, Billy—who is used to the love and support of his community—feels the scorn of mill workers who don’t like the side he’s taken.

Cracks in the community
There is mounting hysteria in Millwood after the Pastor’s daughter becomes sick, causing the high school principal to make a rash decision affecting a key part of their teenage lives. Adding to the stress felt by everyone is the Pastor, who things sin is behind the sickness rather than poison. That’s always helpful.

The mill hires their own legal team headed by …
… I won’t spoil the surprise.

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

 

 

 

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Burden of Truth: Sara Thompson’s primetime character mirrors real life

To really immerse themselves in a role, actors must make a connection with their character. For Sara Thompson, that ended up being easier than she imagined.

The Winnipeg-born Thompson co-stars in CBC’s Burden of Truth as Molly Ross, a high school student and athlete who has her health threatened. Something in her small town of Millwood is making Molly and other girls suffer from seizures. Is it chemicals in the soil placed there by a local steel mill or something else? Lawyers Joanna Hanley (Kristin Kreuk) and Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney) are determined to find out. Meanwhile, Molly is struggling with the realization her promising athletic career is over, something Thompson related to.

“It was so easy to connect with Molly,” Thompson says, on the line from Winnipeg. “Because of her love for sport, it was very similar to my dancing career. I was the same type of person. And at the same age as Molly is I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I suffered from tremors and had to give that part of my life up. It felt like things were crashing down. I had to overcome the same things and it’s crazy how close to home this role is for me and why I fell so hard in love with this character.” In a strange twist, Burden of Truth‘s producers had no clue of Thompson’s history when they cast her. And what she initially thought would be a small role on the legal drama has turned into a major one: Molly has agreed to be the named plaintiff at the top of the case filed against the steel mill.

“They wrote the scripts as we went, so we didn’t really know what was going to happen,” Thompson recalls. “I didn’t really know where Molly was going and, initially, I didn’t think my character was as involved and as important as she is now. Reading a new script was like watching a movie.” The actress—whose next projects are on the big screen in I Still See You alongside Bella Thorne and Nomis with Henry Cavill—teases that things are only going to get more dramatic as Season 1 of Burden of Truth continues to roll out. Relationships will be threatened and Molly has to come to an uncomfortable realization about her future.

“Molly really wanted to break out into sports medicine and she really wanted to stay in that world,” Thompson says. “I think there was always a lot of pressure on Molly to always be the captain and this is the first time in her adult life that she has to really step back and realize ‘This could  kill me.’ And maybe being the leader all the time was too much on her and she was tired of putting her happy face on.” But Molly isn’t going down without a fight. As she was on the soccer field, Molly takes on the role of captain in the courtroom, leading the affected girls in a fight that threatens to tear the town apart.

Thompson, like Molly, is a team player away from the set as well. She’s involved in the Orange Daisy Project, a social action campaign supporting the mental health of young women around the world.

“I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to mental health: to not feel alone,” she says. “Even in the character of Molly. It shows how women can be so powerful when they just let go and lean on each other.”

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

Featured image courtesy of Cris Montecillo. Burden of Truth image courtesy of CBC.

 

 

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