Legal Aid: Interview with Motive's Laura Mennell

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CTV/Bell Media

Laura Mennell as Samantha Turner in Motive

It was back in 2011 that the beautiful and talented Laura Mennell was cast in her first regular TV role playing Nina Theroux, a woman with the ability to mentally “push” other people to do precisely what she wanted in Syfy’s Alphas. Prior to that, the actress appeared in several other series as well as made-for-TV movies and a variety of feature films including Watchmen and Elegy. This past month, she made her debut as Samantha Turner, a star prosecutor working with Vancouver’s Metro Police Department in season two of the CTV police procedural TV drama Motive. The series stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn and a few other faces that were already very familiar to Mennell.

“One of the nicest things for me about starting work on Motive was when I came to the cast read-through of my first script,” recalls Mennell. “There was this wonderful sense of familiarity with many of the other people in the room. Warren Christie [Sergeant Mark Cross] was there, who I’d worked with on Alphas, as well as Lauren Holly [Dr. Betty Rogers], who guest starred on Alphas. Another fellow actor/friend of mine, Brendan Penny [Detective Brian Lucas], who I had worked with on [the movie] Hard Ride to Hell, was there, too, along with one of Motive’s producers, Rob LaBelle who played Wally Weaver in Watchmen.

“So there were a number of recognizable faces all around me, which is always a good way to start the day and a new project. Also, my first scene was with Warren and Kristin, who is fantastic as Angie. I love her character; she plays this great kickass detective and at the same time manages to bring an amazing sense of humor to her performance.

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“I had previously tried out for another character on Motive, and I’m guessing that’s why they [the show’s producers] brought me in to play Samantha Turner. My character is involved to a certain extent with Mark Cross, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be terrific to work with Warren again, but what are the odds?’ So I just went in there and enjoyed the audition process. Everyone was super-sweet and I was pleasantly surprised to land the job.”

Introduced in the second season Motive episode "Deception," Samantha Turner is working on a high-profile criminal case involving Sergeant Mark Cross, with whom she subsequently becomes romantically involved. Samantha is well-respected by Angie Flynn and the other detectives, but she can sometimes be on the opposite side of the fence when their respective professional interests clash. Angie was also once romantically involved with Mark, and because she and Samantha tend to disagree when it comes to the sergeant, it creates a bit of on-the-job tension. Although Mennell’s character is totally at home in a courtroom, it took the actress a little time to get used to being a legal eagle.

“Samantha is a strong, intelligent woman who is highly committed to her job as a prosecutor, and playing a prosecutor is something new to me,” explains the actress. “There are always pieces of jargon that come with the territory, and that was a fascinating challenge to wrap my head around as I went through the education process of learning about my character.

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“Samantha is very specific to the storyline,” continues Mennell. “I don’t want to reveal too much, but throughout the season, my character works alongside Angie as well as Detectives Vega [Louis Ferreira] and Lucas. She might not always have the easiest time obtaining the necessary information for the important case that she’s working on, and things get more interesting for her as we get closer to the end of the season. I’ve had a great time playing her. I’m in eight episodes, and it’s been a pleasure to come into a well-written show with a talented cast and just enjoy my time there. What I especially love about Motive is that it’s a Canadian series that is actually set here, in this instance, Vancouver. It’s a well-written production that looks fantastic and has been doing really well in the ratings, so it was a joy to be a part of it.”

As she is currently doing in Motive, the actress made quite an impact onscreen as Nina Theroux in the aforementioned Alphas. Mennell has nothing but fond memories of her involvement with that series.

Alphas was a really unique TV show to be a part of,” she enthuses. “Honestly, we had a wonderful group of people and we, the cast and crew, always loved working together and enjoyed one another. I thought my character of Nina had a terrific story arc, and I especially loved the second season when she started to revert back to her darker, more problematic behavior, and as a result, we got to learn more about her past. Nina was just an interesting, intricate individual, and I will always treasure that part of my life and working on Alphas.”

Motive currently airs Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST/PST on Canada's CTV Network. Please note, all photos above copyright of CTV/Bell Media.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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