Interview with Arctic Air's Pascale Hutton

By , Contributor

Omni Films/CBC

Pascale Hutton as Krista Ivarson in CBC's Arctic Air

Growing up as the daughter of two teachers, Pascale Hutton thought for sure that she would one day follow in her parents’ footsteps when it came to her career choice. While that did not turn out to be the case, her mother and father did have an impact of sorts on her deciding to become an actress.

“My mom was also a drama teacher and we were always putting on plays,” recalls Hutton. “In the summertime, she would round up all the neighborhood kids and we would put on a circus. So there was always an element of performance and, I guess, eccentricity to my childhood upbringing.

“I come from a small town, so quite honestly it never occurred to me to become an actor; I didn’t even really know that was something a person did for work. Then, however, I went to the University of Alberta and studied theatre. I thought I’d eventually end up working in the theatre, but as soon as I graduated I began booking TV and feature film work and never looked back. Once I began acting in front of the camera I felt that was the medium I was meant to work in and I absolutely love it.”

Currently, the beautiful and talented Hutton can be seen playing Krista Ivarson in her second season of the TV drama Arctic Air (airing Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on CBC in Canada). Set in the rural town of Yellowknife in the Canadian north, Krista is among the team of workers trying to keep the struggling Arctic Air airlines afloat, not only as a viable business but also as a lifeline for and to the local community. This particular role came along at just the right time in Hutton’s personal as well as professional life.

“At the time I had just had a brand new baby and wasn’t really looking at any projects quite yet,” says the actress. “However, my agent showed me the pilot script for Arctic Air and said, ‘I really think you should take a look at this.’ I read it and thought it was great. I was really excited about the script and felt it had tons of potential and longevity in terms of a TV series.

“So I auditioned, which went really well, and the producers were very keen on me coming back and doing a chemistry read with Adam Beach [who plays series leading man, Bobby Martin]. Adam and I read together and clicked right away.

“The two of us just had a very easy and comfortable rapport, and that’s somewhat rare given what our onscreen relationship requires. There’s not just that kind of spark and heat between Krista and Bobby, but they’ve also got a great deal of history together. It’s hard to meet another actor and say, okay, now we have a relationship that has supposedly lasted 30 years. However, Adam and I felt immediately at ease with each other, and after our chemistry read, I got a call offering me the part. So that was all great, and a couple of months later we started filming.”

In Arctic Air’s first season opener, "Out of a Clear Blue Sky," Vancouver businessman Bobby Martin returns home to Yellowknife after being away for several years and finds his late father’s airline in trouble. He butts heads with his father’s old business partner, Mel Ivarson (Kevin McNulty), who has ignored his own health problems in order to keep the struggling airline afloat. While trying to close an important business deal, Bobby is reunited with a childhood sweetheart and Mel’s daughter, Krista, and the two of them must help Mel after the plane he is piloting makes an emergency landing.

“A significant portion of the pilot was shot in Yellowknife, and that was my first experience in that part of the country,” says Hutton. “We went up there in September and spent almost two weeks filming. I just felt that really helped inform our characters and the show so much because now the entire cast along with the crew had tangible knowledge of this piece of the country that we were shining a light on. That was really profound, I think, for most people, and definitely myself.”

Whether dealing with a problem on the ground in Arctic Air’s offices or high up in the clouds and behind the controls of one of its planes, Krista is not one to back down when the going gets tough. She is no wallflower, either, when arguing a point with her father or Bobby, and Hutton would not have it any other way.

“One of the things with Krista is that she’s an incredibly fierce, independent and strong woman,” notes the actress. “The challenge with playing her, and, in fact, any female character who could be described using those adjectives, is how do you play that type of woman and still make her appealing and attractive to audiences. You don’t want to alienate viewers by making them think that your character is just a bitch. So you’ve got to walk that fine line and find those moments of, yes, she’s this strong woman, but also find those moments of vulnerability, sensitivity or insecurity and really mine those moments within the script.

“With any TV series, the pilot script is, of course, written without anyone cast or in mind, so it’s more of the writers' imagined notion of the characters. As the actors are then cast and the writers get to know them as well as vice versa, it becomes a much more fluid type of relationship and development of the characters. In my case, I inform Krista as a character, she informs who I am as Pascale, and it goes back and forth. I feel like my character has become closer to who I am by nature, and to go hand-in- hand with that, in the pilot episode, she was, I think, much harder around the edges. Over time, though, we’ve seen quite a few cracks in that strong veneer and she’s become more multi-dimensional.”

As Krista and Bobby have developed as characters, so has their relationship with one another. “When the series starts out, the two of them are a bit awkward with each other,” explains Hutton. “They haven’t seen one another in a long time, and things didn’t really end on the greatest note when Bobby moved away from Yellowknife. So there are a lot of unresolved feelings and issues between the two of them, and as the series develops, you see Bobby and Krista become reacquainted with each other and also I feel kind of settle into a level of comfort that you have with your other half.

“Whether or not Krista and Bobby end up together, stay together, hook up or don’t hook up, ultimately the two are parts of the whole and will always be in each other’s lives as well as be kind of the strength for one another. As the series has progressed, you’ve seen the two of them really settle into that relationship and remember how comfortable and safe that felt.”

Along with Arctic Air, Hutton’s other TV credits include Smallville, Flashpoint, Supernatural, Stargate: Atlantis and Fringe. On the big screen, she has appeared in such films as A Simple Curve, Fantastic Four, Ginger Snaps: The Sequel and Afghan Luke. The actress won a Gemini Award for her recurring role of Julianna Vejzna in the Canadian-made drama series Intelligence.

“That was the first time I was cast in a true character role, which was a real thrill,” she enthuses. “It’s very easy to cast me as a traditional female love interest or lead-type female character, but this was a Romanian prostitute/call girl who goes undercover and is torn between her loyalty to her john, who is taking care of her and genuinely loves her, and the people who are going to give the character her freedom. Of course, the icing on the cake is that I won a Gemini. That job is a landmark in my career, for sure.”

Prior to Arctic Air, Hutton played the recurring role of behavioral scientist and Special FBI Agent Abby Corrigan in the sci-fi/fantasy series Sanctuary. Her character became romantically involved with forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), and through him was introduced to the world of legendary creatures called Abnormals.

“Talk about the opposite end of the spectrum,” says Hutton. “Sanctuary was a very special effects-heavy show, so there was a learning curve in terms of technical acting. Seventy-five percent of the show was shot in front of a green screen, and as an actor your imagination has to create almost everything. It’s pretty wild to jump into that sort of world, but a great acting challenge. I loved that the quirks of the characters and the quirks of the relationships between characters were never sacrificed at the expense of the special effects.

“I thought Abby was the perfect antithesis to Will because she was his equal in intelligence. They worked in the same field and had the same training, so I felt like she could kind of confront him and challenge him on that level. Abby also had this very playful, silly side to her, which I think played off of Will’s more straight-man role quite nicely and unsettled him or ruffled his feathers a little bit, which was good for him. As for Robin Dunne, he’s probably one of my all-time favorite onscreen partners. I love that man and would act with him until the end of my days. We had a wonderful time together.”

Does the actress have a favorite Sanctuary episode? “I absolutely do,” she says. “It’s "Fugue," the musical episode we did. That episode was so special for me. Originally when they [the show’s producers and writers] were thinking about doing this type of episode, they were having some problems working out the plotline. I happened to be on-set working on another episode when they were hammering things out. I overhead they were planning a musical episode and said to Robin, ‘Oh, my God, Abby has to be in this episode. I’m a singer; this would be my dream.’ He ran up to the writers’ room and told them, ‘I have the perfect solution. You need to write Pascale’s character into the episode.’ They said, ‘Oh, this all makes perfect sense now.’

“So the whole episode ended up being rewritten around my character and I was given this amazing music to sing. I thought that the composer, Andrew Lockington, would maybe write some very easy, melodic songs, but it was like a full-on kind of opera where there was a lot of sung dialogue as opposed to traditional choruses and verses. It was really challenging music for me to learn, but I think it paid off. The episode was so exciting to do and the fans responded really well to it.”

When it comes to season two of Arctic Air, Hutton promises that fans will have plenty to look forward to. “Throughout the second season you’ll see a much strong component of action and adventure within each episode,” says the actress. “Each episode is definitely fraught with its own action, adventure and tension. I think audiences will really enjoy that as a ride to go on.

“All the character relationships have also progressed, and the intricacies of how those relationships intertwine and overlap is that much more complex. We ended last season with the obvious Krista, Bobby and Blake Laviolette [John Reardon] triangle, and I’m pretty sure I can tell you that things progress and get even more interesting with the three of them,” teases Hutton.

Please note, all Arctic Air photos copyright of Omni Films/CBC and Sanctuary photo copyright of Syfy.

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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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