Filed in Alias Grace Gallery Updates Interviews

Sarah Gadon on Becoming the Next Margaret Atwood Heroine

Sarah Gadon’s latest project was at once the hardest thing she’s ever done and a “mind f–k all the time” at that. Luckily for the actress, the shoot schedule in her native Toronto meant both the comforts of her own bed to crash into each night and, of course, some help from mom.

“I don’t think I would’ve made it through the project if I didn’t get to sleep in my own bed and have my mom help me out,” she says.

Gadon is the lead character Grace Marks in “Alias Grace,” the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, which comes to Netflix on Nov. 3 on the heels of the Emmy-winning success of the Atwood-adaptation “Handmaid’s Tale,” done for Hulu.

The series tells the true story of Marks, a Northern Irish immigrant who worked as a housemaid in Upper Canada and was convicted of a double murder and imprisoned at the age of 16.

“The trial was totally sensationalized in the media — it was that generation’s version of the OJ Simpson trial. She was made infamous because she was this young working class girl who murdered above her station,” Gadon says.

That quest for her true identity is entirely what drew the actress to the project.
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Filed in Alias Grace Interviews TV News & Reviews

Toronto Life Q&A with Sarah Gadon

In the new CBC/Netflix series Alias Grace, Sarah Gadon plays Grace Marks, a real-life 19th-century housemaid who was convicted of murdering her employer and his mistress, spent almost three decades in the Kingston Penitentiary and eventually received a pardon. The six-part series is based on the 1997 historical novel by Margaret Atwood (maybe you’ve heard of her) and came together under producer Sarah Polley, who also wrote the screenplay. We spoke to Gadon—a former TIFF Rising Star and unofficial David Cronenberg muse—about what it was like to play an infamous murderess, how she handles selfie-seeking fans and why Margaret Atwood doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to sex.

How did you get involved with the project?
My agent sent me the script. When I saw it was a Sarah Polley project, I flipped out. Growing up in Toronto, I had always looked up to her as an actress, and I’ve watched her evolve into a director, producer and writer. I’ve always carried around a secret dream that maybe one day I might get to work with her. When I read the script, I instantly knew this was going to be really special and smart because Sarah is those two things.

Did you have to audition?
Yes. I met Sarah and Mary [Harron, the director,] the next day for lunch. Sarah told me how she had read the book when she was 17 and how it was the most important piece of literature in her life. She said, “I feel like this book has informed everything I have done since I read it.” And I thought, Oh God.
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Filed in Alias Grace Interviews

Buzz for ‘Alias Grace’ makes Toronto’s Sarah Gadon feel like a “silly pretender”

By 3:45 on Wednesday, Sarah Gadon and Edward Holcroft had been shuffled around Toronto’s new Bisha Hotel by publicists for hours.

It was the last day before the TIFF premiere of Alias Grace — the new miniseries from CBC and Netflix, based on Margaret Atwood’s Giller Prize-winning novel of the same name. And despite the co-stars’ glittering résumés, for Toronto-born Gadon, doing the whole press-and-publicity dance in her hometown is weird.

“I woke up today in my own bed, then I go put on some fancy clothes and go around a hotel,” said Gadon, 30, who was named one of TIFF’s “Rising Stars” in 2012. “It makes me feel like a silly pretender.”

Her family would be in the audience for Thursday’s premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre. More likely than not, she added, she’d know the festival volunteers working the event.

“It’s kind of like being the home team playing the home game,” she said.

And though their newest project is a brooding, gothic take on the real-life 19th-century story of accused murderer Grace Marks, Gadon and Holcroft’s interactions were light and teasing on Wednesday afternoon.

Read the full article on The Star.

The wonder women behind Alias Grace’s TV adaptation
Filed in Alias Grace Gallery Updates Interviews

The wonder women behind Alias Grace’s TV adaptation

I meet Sarah Gadon at the Drake Hotel. The first thing I ask the Alias Grace star after we pick a table and order some snacks: “Have you Googled Grace Marks?”

She shoots me an amused “Well, duh” look. Of course she’s Googled the 19th-century Irish-Canadian maid convicted of murder, sparking fierce debate regarding her innocence and pardoned after being incarcerated for nearly three decades.

Google was the basic first step in Gadon’s extensive research on her Alias Grace character, which included reading and re-reading the Margaret Atwood novel that the miniseries is based on; learning how to perform tasks like cooking, cleaning and sewing in the exacting ways a 19th-century housemaid would have performed them; and practicing a Northern Irish accent to the point that it gave her migraines because the “tight-jawed” dialect worked muscles in ways most of us never have to.

Gadon spent many sleepless nights preparing for the role, and would sometimes have to go for a run just to sweat off the anxiety.

But what I meant was: Has she Googled Grace Marks recently?

Gadon whips out her phone and there at the top of the search is the Wikipedia entry for Marks, with an accompanying picture. But the image is not a likeness of a 19th-century Irish maid. Instead, it’s a glamour shot of Gadon with flowing platinum-blond curls.

As far as the Interweb is concerned, Gadon is now the face of Grace Marks, the historical figure consumed by the actor interpreting her in the 21st century. According to Gadon, Grace consumed her, too.

“This role has kind of taken over my life,” says Gadon, who wrapped post-production on the series just a month before our mid-July meeting.
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The Globe and Mail: Alias Sarah

The multi-faceted Sarah Gadon tells Randi Bergman how she tackled a uniquely complex role in the latest Margaret Atwood screen adaptation.

As a Canadian woman, it’s hard not to worship at the altar of Margaret Atwood. But lately, her pre-digital prose has felt like sustenance for a new generation of feminists persisting in a precarious era for women’s rights. Hulu’s television adaption of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has struck a chord, inspiring new dialogue and even protests with its dystopian depiction of womanhood under theocratic rule. The forthcoming Alias Grace, a CBC and Netflix miniseries based on Atwood’s novel of the same name, feels equally timely.

Alias Grace tells the story of a 19th-century maid, Grace Marks, who was convicted and then later pardoned for the double murder of her employer and his mistress. Through Atwood’s interpretation of real-life events, Marks becomes an enigmatic mix of murderer and metaphor for the female experience. Written and produced by Sarah Polley, the series represents a shift for the CBC, whose earlier portrayals of Canadian Victorian life (à la Polley’s pastoral debut in Road to Avonlea) could be considered reductive. Alias Grace, on the other hand, is more nuanced. Case-in-point, its protagonist’s plea in the opening episode: “I’d rather be a murderess than a murderer, if those are the only choices.”

The narrative of a complicated woman seems just what the world needs right now, and actor Sarah Gadon, who portrays Grace Marks in the six-part series that debuts on the CBC on Sept. 25, is ready for the challenge. I meet the 30-year-old on a discreet café patio in Toronto’s Summerhill neighbourhood on a summer Sunday afternoon. Fresh faced and with her hair pulled back, Gadon’s striking, Hollywood-ready beauty explains why she was plucked from relative obscurity to star in an Armani Beauty campaign in 2015. She’s magnetic, inquisitive and palpably excited about Alias Grace and, as she describes it, “the task of trying to crack Grace.”

“I got so wrapped up in whether she did [commit murder] or not and the various layers of preparation, that I’d wind myself up into this ball of anxiety that I would just need to go for a run,” she says of preparing for the role.
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The National Student Interview with Sarah Gadon

Sarah’s initial interest in being a part of A Royal Night Out was sparked after reading the script. “I knew that it was a lovely story and it was just charming,” she says. “It was a charming romance.”

After accepting her leading role as the young Princess Elizabeth, researching it further and “really discovering Elizabeth; who she was, what the family had gone through during the war”, she realised a deeper connection. She says: “My grandmother is British and she fought in the women’s Auxiliary Air Force during World War Two. She met my grandfather during the war, because he was sailing for the British Navy, and they married and immigrated to Canada after World War Two. So there was also that personal connection to the story that made me really want to be a part of this film, to recreate that moment in time that they were both a part of.”

This isn’t the first time that Sarah has portrayed a real person – she also played Emma Jung in A Dangerous Method and Lady Elizabeth Murray in Belle. She believes that by portraying a real person, an actor takes on a lot of responsibility: “You want to do justice to their memory, to their character, to who they were, or who they are in this case. I think you feel this tremendous responsibility to do them justice and I know that really inspired me to work as hard as I could.”

Read the full article here on The National Student.