One of the things that makes Motive immensely watchable is its humor in the face of immeasurable sadness and grief. It has moments of levity that keep the whole affair human, and real. Lauren Holly, who breathes wonderful heart and humor into Medical Examiner Dr. Betty Rogers, took time today to chat with us about creating her character, tonight’s new episode, which hits home for Betty, and her other many projects.
Holly came to the series when she met one of the producers for coffee, was given the script to read, and fell in love with the concept of the show, and with Betty. Her very first line in the pilot, a foxy double entendre, “Somebody told me you had a body, and I can see they were right,” directed at Brian Lucas, remains her favorite to this day. “Everybody knows exactly who she is from the first line,” she says. Betty also thought nothing of having Lucas zip her up in an episode last season. “It gets worse this season. I toy with him mercilessly,” she laughs. She says the sauciness with him is a mix of dialogue and ad libs. “The lines get blurred. I keep going til they tell me to stop.”
The character has evolved as mix of what is written with dashes of Holly’s own personality thrown in. “Hopefully it’s the way it always happens [in TV,]” she says. “That as the writers get to know you, they write more for you.” The glasses are a signature Holly trait–she says she usually has a pair or two on her person at all times. She enjoys the wardrobe, too. “I definitely have fun, and I definitely want the Fedora. ”
In tonight’s episode, we meet Betty’s mentor, Stan, played by Psych‘s Corbin Bernsen. [Spoiler alert: he’s the victim]. Betty’s particularly motivated to find his killer, but as with every episode of Motive, the answers she gets aren’t straightforward, and don’t rest easy with her. Unfortunately, we don’t get flashbacks of Betty and Stan together, but Holly says it’s entirely possible we could get those next year if (when!) we see a third season. While the resolution of the case lays ground work for a continuing arc this season, Holly says it’s not revisited after tonight. “It’s wrapped up, but she’s disappointed he didn’t have the integrity she thought he had, and she’s determined to keep hers.”
Holly was tickled to work with Bernsen because they have a nanny in common, so they were already family by association. “I’ve heard about Corbin and his family for years. We had shared a nanny and she was thrilled that we were finally working together,” she says. Tonight’s episode also marks the arrival of Laura Mennell, who worked with Holly on Alphas. “It was strange to run into her again,” she says. “It’s a small world.”
Like us, Holly is a fan of the Angie and Betty friendship, and she says that relationship will continue. “It only gets better as the season goes along,” she points out. “There’s no judgement, no competition, no gossip. We’re just there for each other.” Holly also loves the rotating guest star pool. “The guest stars love to do our show because it’s such a good part,” she says. “Every episode, we have had amazing people and they really make our show because so much depends upon their performance. We’ve been very lucky.” Like us, she also thinks she has it down figuring the plot out, and then the episode goes somewhere else completely. “I’m exactly like the audience,” she admits. “I think I’ve got it all figured out.”
Holly calls Toronto home, and she chose the city as an alternative to raising her family in LA. It’s been a good fit for her, as a home base and location for projects. She relished the flight time between the Motive set in Vancouver and home because it was forced down time. “I loved it because those hours were the only quiet hours in my life. [Once I land at home or at work,] I go a million miles an hour,” she says. “I get everything done on flights. It’s like my office in the sky.”
Outside of Motive, Holly worked on two projects for director Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer) last year. Hoovey is an inspirational film based on a true story about a high school athlete who survived a brain tumor. Holly has become close friends with the family, and Ruth who she plays, and says the plan is for them to go out on press tours and beat the drum to get the film out in the world. “I’m so proud of Hoovey. Somehow Sean thought I’d be good as Ruth Elliot,” she says. “It’s so good, and a really uplifting story. I’ve become so close with the family and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.” The second film, Field of Lost Shoes is a Civil War era film coming to theaters in April. It’s a true story about young cadets in Virginia had to fight an actual battle .
Holly is also involved in The A Fund, started in memory of brother, Alexander, and it’s grown to provide scholarships for students interested in the areas her brother had, at the college where her dad still teaches. “His favorite things were Architecture and Archeology and the scholarship is [awarded to students] who exhibit qualities we remember in him,” she says. “I’m really proud of it and it has grown into a big four-year scholarship.”
Holly is very active in social media and enjoys that real-time engagement with her fans. “It’s cool to get that feedback right away. I recognize so many of them and I feel like I have incredible fans. They’re just right there,” she says. “I was really upset about bullying and my fans got involved and got notice for that. You want to engage because as an actor you’re sort of meaningless if you don’t have fans. You want to encourage that, but you also want to be careful.”
Next up, Holly will shoot a Cinderella story set in the world of fashion opposite The Good Wife‘s Chris Noth. “I’m the evil queen and he’s my king,” she says. “I’m excited because I’m such a big fan of his.” Then she’s back home for a film adaptation of The Swearing Jar.
We also took a moment to look back a favorite flick of mine that rolls around on Lifetime regularly–Caught in the Act–another based-on a-true-story tale about a jilted wife turned PI that is a blast to watch [and permanently house on my DVR]. Holly produced the film after reading article about J.D. Holt on one of her flights. The funny story there is that they shot it in Luxembourg standing in for Nashville so she could get her first-choice director. “The only way I could hire the director I wanted [Jeffrey Reiner] was to go there for the tax credits,” she laughs. “Right after that, he did Friday Night Lights, and now he’s the go-to guy.”
Next season (stars aligning!), Holly would love to see Betty’s off hours. “I think we need to go home with Betty and see where she goes at night because I think it would make a great episode.”
We do, too! You can catch Motive tonight at 10 pm E on CTV.