AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEX APPEL
We’re so thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Alex Appel this month! Alex and Louis worked together in Season 3 of 1-800-MISSING where Alex played FBI agent Janey Cooper opposite Louis as her boss, Assistant Director John Pollock.
Louis was happy to share a few thoughts on Alex. Listen to the sound clip here:
LF – We met on Missing and always got along and clicked. She was different, the best kind of different, a very creative person in every way, and very unique, and along the way every time we ran into each other, it’s that kind of friendship where you just pick up where you left off.
She joined the show and I loved the character she played and how she played it and she was just a sweet person who had obviously had a very different upbringing certainly than I did but we just clicked just because I find unique people unique! And she’s definitely creatively very different and that’s how I see Alex.
Alex has her own take on things and is very in tune with who she is which I admire greatly.
Alex met up with us at Dragon Con last year and was delighted to join The Friends of Louis Ferreira.
Listen to the sound clip here:
FF – Hi Alex, and welcome to Ferreira Fest.
AA – Hello. I’m happy to be here.
FF – Wonderful, we’re so glad to have you. Now, many of our readers will actually be familiar with your face, but to start out, just tell us a little bit more about yourself. Who is Alex Appel and what gets you up in the morning?
AA – Well, usually it’s my cats that get me up in the morning because they want food. They usually like to walk on me and pat at my face until I feed them.
Other than that, I’m an actress, I’ve been working as an actress for, I guess, about twenty years now.
I’m also a producer, it’s something I’ve been doing probably for the last eight to ten years. Just slowly trying to produce stuff and probably have been focusing on that a lot more lately than acting, to be honest. Just because it’s a lot more work intensive to try to get films off the ground and that sort of thing.
FF – Right, right. Now, how did you get started in acting? When did you get bitten by “the bug”?
AA – Well, I was a really angst-y teen. I was also a goth, and I was at a private school where I wasn’t very happy because anything that’s different is not looked upon very kindly. But I had this really great drama teacher, and it was a class that I usually didn’t really take very seriously but she came in and she had like bright red hair, and I related to that right away.
She encouraged me to audition for the middle-school play. And I did and I ended up getting cast as the lead and I, after doing that performance, just loved it. Loved it all, and aside from being angst-y I think I was also always very shy. Not among people that I know, or situations I’m familiar with, but probably was on the more quiet side so I think that coming out of my shell was very freeing.
And she had recommended some young people classes outside of school. Through this theater, Tarragon Theatre, and so I started doing those, and just kept going on that track. I finally got out of the private school and went to an arts high school which I was so much more happier with and I wasn’t the funniest looking person so…. I was always told that I was just wanting to be a rebel and noticed and stuff and I was like, hmmm, maybe, is that right, I’m not sure.
And then I realized, when I was at the art school and certainly there were people that looked much more outrageous than I did and had more colorful hair and mohawks and all that stuff, and I actually walked down the hall without getting noticed, and I was like, it was just, for me, it was a way to express things, not really a rebellion. And I was a lot less angry.
FF – Right.
AA – Once I was put in a situation where I didn’t feel like I was so singled out and ostracized, I guess, in a sense. And through the young people’s program I met Bruce McCulloch, who was an actor and creator of this Canadian comedy troupe, Kids in the Hall, and they had a TV program.
And he started getting me on the show, just as sort of an extra. Which was so much fun. And then, I think that The Kids in the Hall was my first official acting credit. I was pregnant with the flying pig’s baby.
FF – Ohhh!
AA – And that was my first official union credit.
FF – Wow. That’s awesome. So, you got into this by a mentor? A teacher, right?
AA – Yeah. Yeah, I would say, I would definitely say that, I could look back, being at camp, and wanting to be part of plays. So, I could probably see I had an inclination for it earlier, but I didn’t really understand politics at the time and so when I got cast in camp just to move furniture that was pretty much in the play instead of being in it, I took that as an extreme sign of failure.
And I forgot about any desire to act until I guess I was probably like fourteen/ fifteen when that teacher really influenced me.
FF – Wonderful.
AA – Yeah.
FF – So, going back, to that teacher again, so what role has mentorship played in your life and career? We discovered that it was a teacher that gave you sort of the initial impetus to really pursue that.
AA – Right.
FF – What other instances can you recall where mentorship was really important to you to get you ahead?
AA – Yeah, I think right at the beginning, it was a lot of that, it was that teacher, of course, that got me on the track of this young people’s program in the theater, and made me make that jump to go to an art school. But, at that theater program there was the woman that ran it, she’s a producer now, we’re still in touch.
And I just remember I’d always go early and stay late after her program because I’d just hang out in her office and she’d just talk to me like a human, like an adult not like a child with no opinion. And so she was definitely a huge encouragement and influence to me in getting into the career and of course she’s the one who introduced me to Bruce McCulloch who I would say also had a great part.
Because I think I went from angst-y goth to a theater snob. Thinking I would never do TV, I don’t even think I’d do films. They’re just not real acting.
FF – Right.
AA – And when I got the opportunity to go on Kids in the Hall, I was just enamored with the fact that, with such a real environment, that they create, down to like, you know, a ketchup smudge on a table, and it was just like a much smaller version of acting. Theater’s always, sort of, you think of it as big.
FF – Larger than life.
AA – And I really kind of enjoyed the kind of performances I really look up to, you know, it’s the more quiet performances that are just all in the eyes and stuff, which you kind of have to have a camera to make that happen.
FF – Right.
AA – Because, only a camera can get right in there for, to see that expression.
FF – Absolutely.
AA – So, yeah, I’d say those were the three really main ones that got me on the track to really go out there and get an agent after high school and start working.
FF – What do you think about now, do you still benefit from mentorship? And who are your role models right now, at this point in your life?
AA – I think now it’s more shifted into producers and filmmakers. Just because that’s what I’ve been mainlining to doing more, creating my own projects. And so the people that I’m getting stuff from, and drawing from, are all the behind the camera, above the line, kind of people.
FF – Right, right. That’s fabulous. We never really lose the mentorship approach. It’s just it sometimes shifts to different areas. And sometimes you don’t even realize, oh, somebody really is your mentor until sometimes much later.
AA – Oh, yeah, for sure.
FF – So, do tell us a little bit about your career and even future projects if you’re able to talk about them. What are your passions and causes? And I remember when we were communicating via e-mail, you mentioned starting a company. So, can you tell us a little bit more about Alex now?
AA – Right, as I said with the acting, and you know this is also, I would love to say, oh, it’s just all by choice, but you know acting’s a tough gig. And you can go from being a lead in a series, like Missing, to really having trouble getting the next job. And your next job is a few lines, or something. So, it’s just one of those careers where, unless you’re in that percentile that’s just really gets the momentum and keeps it going, it’s sort of feast or famine. So there’s a lot of down time to do other things. Which I think is a fantastic thing.
FF – Right.
AA – It depends on how you look on it, you know. So as far as acting, I think the last thing I did is I played a goblin, which was really fun, in Lost Girl. I always wanted to get on that show. Because sci-fi kind of shows are really kind of fun.
FF – Of course.
AA – It’s funny when your focus changes, I sometimes even forget things I’ve done. But I guess the easier thing to talk about, which has been taking most of my focus, is, I have a new feature. It’s a script that I developed, with a writer, my concept, and we’ve been developing for the last few years and I can tell you about it now because I think we’re far enough ahead that it can be talked about.
FF – Right, right.
AA – It’s called Modern Persuasion. And it’s a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
FF – Oh, okay!
AA – Which we’re setting in New York and I’m Canadian, and I am trying to make this film decidedly not Canadian, just because I really feel you always have to service the material and for me the best story was going to be in New York.
Now my problem as a producer is I’ve been an indie producer in Canada so I know how to do that, but, going the Hollywood route is definitely a little foreign to me. So I have an agent in L.A. and we’ve been bringing it to other producers. Because I’m looking for a producer that is a lot more established that, that likes the project and is just as passionate and can work with me to take it to the next level.
FF – Gotcha. Yeah.
AA – And, this means starting a company because I do have a few producers that are interested in making it. Too soon to talk about that. But, I was quite humbled by the level of what they’ve done and that they’re excited about my project.
FF – That’s great!
AA – And I’m in a nice position where I guess I finally get to make a decision on who would fit best rather than just take whatever… I mean, as an actor you’re just… people will say, how do you choose your part, and I’m like, pretty much someone says they want to hire me and I go, great!
FF – Yeah, I hear you! I hear you!
AA – So it’s always really nice when you’re in a place where you can actually make a decision on something.
FF – Right. When you get to choose.
AA – Yeah. So, you know, the next step with this is we need to do a polish on the script because it was written and developed by Canadians and it’s set in New York. And it needs to sound a little more New York than it does right now.
FF – Right, right, right.
AA – But I’m starting up a production company of my own because I’ll be coming together with a producer with their company and I need to have my own.
FF – That sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to hear more about it.
AA – Oh, it’s wonderful, and now we have to write a business plan.
FF – Yeah. Of course.
AA – That’s like teeth pulling.
FF – Yeah, and it’s like, you have corporations and a company and then there’s LLC and all of these various… it’s incredibly complicated out there but if you find the right business model that works for you it makes it so much easier.
AA – Yeah, and I think it’s the job of a producer anyway: your instinct is, what you don’t know, you find someone to do that. You hire that, you bring it together.
FF – Exactly.
AA – And I do have a friend that is very good at writing business plans. So she’s going to be writing it up for me and I have a meeting with someone I’ve met before who is very good at starting up companies and managing that.
FF – Oh, that’s wonderful.
AA – So, hopefully that will take a bit of the not-so-fun business-y stuff side of it out of my hands.
FF – Right, well, best luck with that. And we’re going to keep our fingers crossed!
AA – Thank you.
FF – And, I hope we’ll hear more about it in the very near future.
AA – Yeah. Hopefully it’ll be out on the big screen soon.
FF – Yay! We’ll be watching. What was your favorite role so far? And why?
AA – It’s hard just to pick one because, there’s something about each one that holds a special place like whether it be this was the first big part I played, or it’s the first time I did something like this, and it’s just a fun experience to work on. So, it’s something that always ends up being very difficult.
If I had to pick one, what would make the most sense is the lead I did in The Death of Alice Blue. I mean, not only did I produce that movie but it really is that role, it just had everything.
FF – Yeah.
AA – Because, Alice Blue is in every frame. She starts out very meek and a little bullied and, as she’s becoming a vampire, she becomes really strong and rock’n’roll and kick-ass.
And in terms of developing a performance that has a real arc and a lot of depth and layers to it, that certainly encompassed all that.
Another part which is more recent that I played, Stacy in Mr. Viral.
FF – Right.
AA – It was also another lead in that film and she was just so much fun because for the whole film she’s going through heartbreak which is, it sounds weird that I say that’s fun to play but it’s actually kind of cathartic to funnel all of that stuff out of your body as someone else.
FF – Right. Right.
AA – Her wife had cheated on her. Who was an actress and she becomes a bit of a stalker and a weirdo and she’s kind of a klutzy live wire. So, she was fun to play.
And of course, how we met, through Louis. Missing was a really big thing for me to play because I remember when I had the audition and Janey’s first scene, when she gets introduced, is almost a full page of dialogue.
FF – Right.
AA – And it’s all informational dialogue. Which I’d literally never done before.
And she was also so different from what I’ve ever played.
And, I kind of got stuck, learning it, there were points where I thought maybe I should, because I don’t like doing bad auditions, I thought, maybe I just should not audition for this because I don’t think I can play this part, like it just wasn’t clicking.
Sometimes when I fall asleep and wake up the next day, something clicks for me. If anyone wants to know my method of acting, it’s sleep.
FF – Sleep!
AA – Magical sleep! But, I woke up the next day and it just kind of clicked and I always had a fascination with Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair, and also Eve Harrington, you know, All About Eve.
FF – Right.
AA – And those characters, they’re so charismatic and you kind of like them and root for them, even though they’re really bad and evil and kind of bitchy.
FF – Mmmhm.
AA – There’s something you still like about them. I know from the audition I think a lot of people were going in and playing her as a little more two-dimensional bitch. And I went in there and made her a little quirky and funny, too, and it worked out well in my favor. I got to play her. But, yeah, that was the big thing because I remember when I started out, there was a point where I thought, I just can’t do this part.
FF – Oh, that’s wonderful. Because my first impression of Janey Cooper was, okay, yeah, she’s a little bitchy but she’s funny and she’s cute and needles everybody a little bit and really shakes things up. And so, to me, she never came across as an unlikeable person. Quite the contrary, but…
AA – Well, I’m glad you say that. That certainly was my goal because I think it’s so much more interesting when you have a character like that that you know they’re kind of doing bad and you’re not really liking what they’re doing all the time but you somehow still like them.
FF – Your character’s journey, from when we first meet her to when we lose her, was such an important aspect of season three, of that whole series. And especially how she affected the other characters on the show, both good and bad. And then the fallout of course is being dealt with over several episodes thereafter.
And, so, can you share a memory or two from the days of actually filming the series?
AA – Being on set, Mark Consuelos and Justin Louis, as I knew him then, were just hilarious. They were the most fun to work with between takes because they would just be running jokes and were hilarious.
FF – Right.
AA – And Janey was very serious so I’d have to disengage and so I wouldn’t be starting the scene too laugh-y or giggly.
FF – Right, right.
AA – I remember it being a really nice set to work on and, I’ve done some recurring stuff before, but you do a few episodes and that’s it. This was the first time where I was really on a series intensively and I remember it being a really good, and sometimes not-great challenge, with the directors that would come in because you’re always getting a new director on. And some of them have different ways of working and they either work with you or not, and what you feel is right for your character or not. And some of them are great and it’s just like each one can bring something new to your character development, which is also exciting.
I remember that experience being really enjoyable. Whenever Janey had a scene it was just always so much fun because she got to say bad things, you know what I mean?
I remember there was one where I’m actually saying something to Caterina (Scorsone), my character refers to her as possibly being fat, I can’t remember the line.
FF – Oh, god, yes, I remember…
AA – When we got to that, in the read through – me and Cat actually got along really well.
I think she was a little worried about me at the start of the show because, when someone’s coming in and they’re new and…
FF – Right.
AA – …a new actress, and I’m playing a character that’s not so nice and I think she probably was a little reserved. But we definitely hit it off and I’d get to these read-throughs and I’d have to say these lines to her, and especially the fat one which I thought was ridiculous because I think she’s actually skinnier than I am. But that’s how Janey operates. I’d actually start feeling bad that I had to say these things to her.
FF – Right, right.
AA – I mean, it was fine while I was in character but when you’re just reading through or practicing, I’d be like, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!
FF – Yeah, I remember that one scene where, I think it was in one of the first episodes that Janey shows up where she says something about that and then says something like, “Oh, I wish I could gain a little bit of weight because it would give me more presence.” Or something.
AA – That’s it! I’m so glad you remember that line!
FF – Yeah.
AA – I love that line, I mean, it’s a hilarious line if you think about it, because what a thing to say to someone! But, it’s certainly not how I would ever talk to someone in a million years.
FF – Right. I remember I was just howling at that scene. It just gets me every time. It’s, you say something that’s presumably supposed to be nice but it’s the exact opposite, of course.
AA – Right. I mean, she had passive-aggressive down to a T.
FF – Yeah, yeah, so it’s just like whatever she says gets taken the wrong way. And you’re never quite sure whether her character actually means to do that or whether that’s just accidental and I think that’s part of the fun of the character. That she manages to constantly put her foot in other people’s mouths.
AA – Right.
FF – Or, if it’s actually, if it’s genuine, or if she really means to do that. And I think, to me, that was such a fun aspect of that character.
AA – Yeah, I always like to keep it on the line there, not make it so black and white on what the intentions were because, first of all I think it just gives the character a lot more levels, but, it’s also more fun and funny to watch. I think if you know outright if someone is just being an outright bitch it’s not funny anymore. You’re just kind of going, oohhhh.
FF – It becomes a schtick.
AA – You know? And, I can’t believe she said that!
FF – Right. Tell us a little bit about if you remember anything working with Louis on the show. You mentioned specifically that he and Mark Consuelos were just cut-ups between scenes. Anything specific you remember?
AA – I have such great memories of Louis. Whenever you’re coming onto a series, and you’re a new lead in the cast, and for that season it was me and Aaron Ashmore that were the newbies, when you’re coming into a season three, they’re a close-knit group.
And you’re sort of foreign. And I would say, Louis hands down was so welcoming and just coming to my trailer to say hi, and joking around and… It was really early on and I do remember going home and feeling really tense and a little upset and all of a sudden my phone rings and Louis had gotten my number from Production and he called me and he said, look, you know, you’re great and everyone really likes you, and you’re at home. And he’s just a very sensitive human being. He just picked up on what was going on and went right in there and tried to make me feel at home and he won me over almost immediately. I just thought he was so special.
FF – Here comes the question that each interview guest at Ferreira Fest gets: if you had to describe Louis in four words, what would they be?
AA – Okay. I don’t think that’s actually that hard. Hilarious. Warm. Caring. And talented.
FF – Those are great words, Alex. Thank you so much.
AA – Well, thank you!
FF – And, thank you so much for being with us today, and telling us a little bit more about yourself. And, I hope you have a wonderful evening.
AA – Thank you, you too.
FF – Bye-bye.
AA – Bye-bye.
Thanks to Casey for the transcript!
DISCOVER ALEX APPEL
The Death of Alice Blue
The Death of Alice Blue – also available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon
Friend Alice Blue on FaceBook
Watch the Alice Blue trailer
Mr Viral – also available on iTunes and other platforms
Friend Mr Viral on Facebook
More Movies with Alex Appel
Good Stuff (a short film Alex directed and acted in)
Everything Kills Me (a music video Alex produced and acted in)
Find out what guns Alex was packing as Janey Cooper on 1-800-Missing at the IFMDb.
Episode summaries for 1-800-Missing