Taking the Lead: Interview with Motive's Kristin Lehman

By , Contributor

Bell Media/CTV

The cast of Motive (l-r): Brendan Penny (as Detective Brian Lucas), Lauren Holly (as Dr. Betty Rogers), Louis Ferreira (as Detective Oscar Vega), Kristin Lehman (as Detective Angie Flynn) and Roger Cross (as Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom)

It was in 2001 that I first had the pleasure of meeting Kristin Lehman on the Vancouver set of The Outer Limits. The actress was guest starring in an episode of the Showtime sci-fi anthology cable show. Prior to booking this job, she had appeared in a number of feature films as well as other TV projects including a series regular role in Poltergeist: The Legacy.

Over the past 12 years, the Canadian-born Lehman has continued to build upon her long and impressive acting resume. Currently she is starring in the new CTV police procedural drama Motive. Her character of Angie Flynn is a divorced woman trying to bring up a 16-year-old son while working as a homicide detective. Each week, Angie and her fellow detectives investigate a case that partly unfolds from the victims’ as well as killers’ perspective. No stranger to playing strong female characters, what were some of the initial challenges Lehman found stepping into Angie’s shoes?

“This is going to sound strange, and I mean it in the absolute best way; I would say the acting challenges I’ve had aren’t with the character but more with the police procedural format,” she explains. “In the course of telling a story and pushing that story along, there are certain things that are necessary as well as important to have been told by a certain point in an act or commercial break. Keeping that in mind and playing out an act with dramatic intention but still keeping your performance natural is, again, probably my biggest acting challenge on this show.

“One of the things most compelling to me from the beginning when I read the pilot script was Angie’s relationship with her partner, Oscar Vega, who is played so beautifully by Louis Ferreira. During our first screen test together, Louie and I immediately connected in a very easy way. We both genuinely understood these characters. Angie has a very symbiotic relationship with Oscar, as would anyone who spends a great deal of time around another person in close quarters. You come to know one another quite well.

“Someone recently asked me, ‘Do you think anything romantic is going to happen between Angie and Oscar?’ and I said, ‘definitely not,’ because I feel like the degree of understanding that’s shared by Angie and Oscar is more intimate than the superficiality of romance in this case. So their relationship explores caring about another person at all levels and wanting them to succeed at their job as well as in their personal life and wanting their good work to influence your good work. All that partnership-based stuff is very rich between Angie and Vega, and then sort of branches out from there with mutual respect to the other members of my character’s team.”

Before coming on board Motive, the actress delivered yet another unforgettable performance in the AMC TV series The Killing. Set in Seattle, Washington, the program chronicled the murder investigation of a local teenager. Lehman played Gwen Eaton, the lover of and campaign adviser for Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), a politician running for city mayor.

The Killing was such a gift, and a master class in working with just sheer joy every day,” recalls Lehman. “I worked with two dear colleagues, Billy Campbell and Eric Ladin [Jamie Wright] — we used to carpool in every day. Because everyone had such a strong and deep love for the material, we became a company of actors quite quickly and always wanted to service as well as respect the material. So it was really great to go to work and act with reverence.

“The writing was wonderful and at times might not have felt totally natural, which made for a great acting challenge. My character of Gwen was very different from me, whereas Angie in Motive is someone I can slip right into. I’m not at all like her in my personal life, but I just really get her. I eventually came to ‘get’ Gwen. I didn’t really understand her at first. I was constantly trying to find her, and the way I did that was through the mirrors of my co-stars. I did most of my stuff with Billy and Eric, so it was a very intimate experience and a pleasure to get to tell a story from beginning to end.

“We all felt it really mattered that we had the chance to bring everyone’s story to a conclusion, so I’m forever grateful to [executive producer] Veena Sud and everyone on that show.”

With over 18 years of acting gigs under her proverbial belt, what has made a career in the industry rewarding so far for Lehman? “I think the moment that I came to understand the difference between commerce and art and when I came to feel and find real value in being a journeyman actor is when I began to feel much more [creative] freedom,” she muses.

“To have been able to make my living for as long as I have by getting to act and fulfill a creative existence is a tremendous luxury as well as blessing. At a certain point I realized, okay, this is my skill set. It’s not a question of is this an Academy Award-winning film? Is this Emmy-worthy television material? It’s that I am a journeyman. I have a craft along with a bag of tools and this is what I do. There’s a real pride in that. So I’ve come to feel extremely proud of the practical skills that I have. I think if you’re going to make a career in this industry, that’s a very strong stance to take, and understanding that you’re a journeyman is, I feel, important."

Motive airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on Canada's CTV network and will premiere in the States this summer on ABC. Please note, all Motive photos copyright of Bell Media and CTV.

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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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