Date of publishing: 5th
Canadian actress Erica Cerra has been a popular supporting
player on several hit television series. Viewers of
the SCI FI Channel might recognize her as Maya, the
mother who adopted the human-Cylon hybrid child of
Sharon Valerii at the end of Battlestar Galactica's
second season. Fans of the acclaimed Showtime series
The L Word know her as Alice's seductive vampire lover,
Uta Refson. Cerra's other guest-starring roles include
turns on Smallville, such USA Network hit shows as
The 4400 and The Dead Zone, and the Showtime series
Huff and Dead Like Me. Other series on her résumé
include the Canadian police procedurals Cold Squad
and Special Unit 2, and the supernatural thriller
series The Collector. Her feature-film work includes
roles in Man About Town, The Long Weekend, and Blade:
Trinity. Erica now plays detective Jo Lupo in Eureka.
Linda Craddock: Tell
us about your introduction to the series and the audition
Erica Cerra: I was in L.A. at the
time. I live in Vancouver and I was in L.A. for the
pilot season and it was kind of a funny thing, I had
just signed on with a new agency and they were sending
me out for a lotof comedy, which is wonderful because
I love to do comedy. My manager in Vancouver emailed
me the script for “Eureka” and she was
like “you know, Erica, I think you ‘d
really be good in this role” and I was like
ok let’s get, me in for this. And then when
I got back to Vancouver, it was actually quite quick
after I got to Vancouver, say on a Friday and I auditioned
for it on Monday and I got the call back, what was
it, I think it was on a Saturday and I ended up booking
it at like two days later It was just one of those
things where she (my agent) and I both felt it was
the right right character for me because I am I think
deep down inside a "tom boy" so and she
knew that about me and she was like “this would
be good for you”. (laughs) I ended up booking
Erica Cerra: Yeah (laughs)!
Linda Craddock: Your
character “Jo Lupo”, is quite dedicated
to the job of deputy. She is strict and an expert
in weaponry, but has also displayed her feminine side
on occasion. Tell us about the feedback you receive
from fans in your role?
Erica Cerra: It’s such an interesting
reaction from people. There’s one reaction like
who is this tough chick, who the heck does she think
she is kind of thing. I think with “Jo”
it’s kind of a love or hate relationship kind
I find that a lot of women admire her because she’s
strong and the men, I think tend to veer towards the
other side of things, like she’s a little too
tough for my liking. In “Purple Haze”,
I think people liked to see that different side of
her, when she went a little crazy and I think people
enjoyed that, to see there was a softer side to “Jo”.
But as far as your question, no there wasn’t
a whole lot of reaction from the couple of episodes
that she dressed up. I don’t know (laughs) I
should have more of those, I suppose (laughs) come
Linda Craddock: You
handle some pretty fancy weapons on the show and seem
to enjoy teaching the sheriff the fundamentals of
the firepower at his disposal. Talk a little about
that aspect of the show.
Erica Cerra: Yes, there’s definitely some severe
weaponry. The thing that’s really neat though
is filming with them. In the first season, a lot of
the guns I used were real but they were just kind
of filmed up and made them look a little more exciting,
I suppose. And they’re heavy, I’m not
going to lie, I fake that there not, but they’re
a bit heavy. I have to learn to take the guns apart
and put them back together. We had an armor come in
to teach me more about the guns. I’m still supposed
to, which I am excited about, go to a shooting range
and actually experience a bit more of the fire power.
There’s one scene where I actually got to shoot
a gun and of course there were no bullets in it. I
still got the kickback in the bigger gun. Yeah, that’s
some power. Its fun because I’m definitely a
“tom boy” but I’m not someone, who
– I have no real experience with any sort of
guns at all so it was an interesting learning process.
Linda Craddock: That
was my next question, your experience with them.
Erica Cerra: Yeah, it was an interesting learning
experience. Like when I got to take apart and put
together, that was a lot of fun. I think I got to
spend 3 or 4 hours on a couple of occasions, trying
to get my timing down. One of the armors was really
funny because I think putting it together, taking
it apart and putting it together, was it 14 seconds
or something, it was something really ridiculous and
he was like some of the armors at the armory can’t
even do that. Well, there ya go!
Linda Craddock: It
comes across quite well (laughs).
Erica Cerra: And it's funny because
yes, it's film but I really could do it quickly which
was kind of cool, so for me, it was a huge challenge.
Whenever I’m using any of the guns, it’s
really important to me that it appears to be real
because I really want there to be some truth to it.
I don’t want it to be all glitz and pretty and
stuff, I really want to be good if I’m taking
someone down I want to do it properly. If I’m
holding a specific gun, I want to hold it.properly
so there’s a lot of questions to be asked and
they’re (the armors) really great about volunteering
the information and showing me how to hold it and
the actual kickback that you would actually endure
if you were shooting off the gun so yeah, it’s
really quite neat.
Craddock: Wow, that’s
Erica Cerra: It’s fun, ya.
Linda Craddock: What
amuses you most about playing your character?
Erica Cerra: Oh, there’s so many things that
amuseme about “Jo”. Her severity, her
severe interest in the weapons, obviously. It’s
so fun and so much fun to play, there’s no room
for mistakes or for any screw ups, but I also like
to play the softer roles and the goofier roles. I’m
a goofball in real life, so any opportunity I get
to play that is a lot of fun for me as well. “Purple
Haze” was, by far, my favorite episode. The
director that we had at the time was great because
he told me to go to the extreme and we’ll take
it down from there. So that was a lot of fun.
Linda Craddock: What
characteristics do you, Erica bring to “Lupo”?
Erica Cerra: A lot of them. Well, I grew up around
my brother and my dad and we were really close we
used to always play sports and compete. I was very
competitive with my brother. My dad was really into
weight training and I took up weight training when
I was really young and I think when I was probably
about 14, I wanted to be a body builder. I think that
ended fairly soon, but I really wanted to be this
big kind of bulky girl. I think I was this really
small girl who thought I was this huge massive girl.
(laughs) So, that’s really fun to play with
“Jo” because there’s a sense of
that in me! I’m a strong woman, I respect myself,
like if I believe in something, I give it everything
that I have and I’m also, like I said, a goofball,–
I’m not necessarily the most feminine character,
I can be feminine, of course, but I’m silly,
I’m probably like a 5 year old dropped in a
20 some odd, we won’t name woman so it’s
fun, it’s definitely like there’s a lot
of stuff about “Jo” that’s definitely
Linda Craddock: If
you had the choice to change something about “Lupo”,
what would it be?
Erica Cerra: The only thing, it's
been a learning experience, obviously from the pilot
to the first season into the second season and in
a sense you’re still trying to find the character
so I think that they’re softening her a bit,
which I’m enjoying because she’s still
strong and she’s still independent and so on
and so forth, but I think they also want to bring
a bit more of a softer side to her and that I’m
really excited about. So it's not necessarily what
I’d want to change – but it’s the
different colors in the character that I’m actually
getting to research a bit and play with so that’s
probably the most fun for me.
Linda Craddock: So
what was the best gig or funny experience you have
had on the set of “Eureka”?
Erica Cerra: Oh, God, there’s too many to remember.
Well, no, again “Purple Haze” is the most
fun because the cast is so great, they’re such
characters in their real lives and that is always
fun. The crew is amazing. Our cast and crew, together
are really great. It’s really a light hearted
set most days, so it’s always fun; there is
always something funny happening.
Linda Craddock: What
do you think is the most unique aspect writing a show
such as “Eureka”?
Erica Cerra: It’s definitely an original series,
which is great. The most unique aspect, could you
clarify more, how so.
Craddock: For instances,
storyline, any particular character who adds a certain
dimension or two characters that feed off of one another
during the course of an episode.
Erica Cerra: Well, I think the fun
part about the writers, from the writers point of
view for “Eureka” is there’s not
too many boundaries so that’s one really great
aspect of the show, there are not too many things
you cannot do. The writers have the opportunity to
have a lot of fun with the show and there are not
too many boundaries. So that part I think is wonderful.
All the characters are so unique and interesting.
The “Carter” [Colin Ferguson] character
is just so much fun to watch because he’s still
kind of learning and everything is still new and bizarre.
He’s still shocked and surprised. Yeah, again,
it would be hard to specify but I enjoy all the characters
they are so strong. You know in some shows there is
just one tone, each character has the same tone and
when they’re all together, they all have similar
qualities. In this show, everybody’s so different
that when they get together, there is always room
Linda Craddock: You
never know what to expect from episode to episode,
that’s what I enjoy.
Erica Cerra: That is definitely one of the great qualities
Linda Craddock: What
kind of character development can we expect from your
“Jo” in season 2?
Erica Cerra: Well, they’re definitely doing
new things for “Jo”. The audience is going
to get to see a bit more of her life and where she
comes from and understand her a little bit more. And
like I said, I think there will be a couple more layers
of “Jo Lupo.” Viewers will get to see
more into her heart as opposed to just into her work.
I think there are definitely more colors to see from
Linda Craddock: Well,
we talked about the writing aspect of the show, but
how would you describe the show to someone who was
not familiar with the series?
Erica Cerra: I still describe it is an “X-Files”
meets ”Desperate Housewives.” (laughs)
I think that’s the best description. It’s
a town full of quirky, interesting and sometimes crazy
characters all with a sci-fi twist.
Linda Craddock: You’ve
appeared in 4 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica”
in the role of “Maya”. Tell us about working
on the set.
Erica Cerra: Working on the set of “Battlestar
Galactica” is definitely a different tone, it’s
obviously a more serious drama. The people are all
really wonderful and I enjoyed working with all of
them. Mostly, it’s a different tone. It’s
a lot more intense. The scenes that I was doing and
the character “Maya” she was in the middle
of a war and I don’t think she quite understood
the severity of the situation. It was fun to be a
part of this really intense kind of environment.
Linda Craddock: Were
you a fan of the show prior to landing the role?
Erica Cerra: I did watch “Battlestar”
when I was a kid. I watched it with my Dad. My Dad
and I are both little sci-fi people. He loves sci-fi
and I used to watch everything with him. The new show
I hadn’t watched as much but once I got the
role, I definitely caught up on the show and I really
enjoyed it. It’s a really great show. And its’
not just sci-fi, its’ a sci-fi drama, it’s
a soap opera in space. I really enjoyed it.
a lot of depth.
Erica Cerra: Absolutely, there is
a lot of depth and they do a great job. I have a girlfriend
on the show, Kandyse McClure, so it was fun. Unfortunately,
I didn’t get to work with her, but it was nice
to be on the same show.
Linda Craddock: In
“Galactica”, you have worked with a baby,
and from a recent interview with Grace Park, she said
that it wasn't easy to work with a baby, how was the
experience for you?
Erica Cerra: It’s not, it’s definitely
not (easy) but at one point they had a mechanical
baby and that was really cool. It was so real, it
was almost scary. You could actually find those sympathetic
emotions, even working with this mechanical baby which
is rather scary (laughs).
Linda Craddock: Tell
us about the experience working with Mary McDonnell?
Erica Cerra: Oh, she’s brilliant,
she’s just brilliant and she’s was just
the sweetest woman from the get go. You’re working
on a new set with new people who have already created
a family and that can always be scary because you’re
the new kid in school. She was brilliant from the
moment I met her, “hi, nice to meet you,
so happy to have you”. I did my first scene
and she was nice enough to compliment me and is definitely
a pleasure to work with.
Linda Craddock: Excellent.
Erica Cerra: Yes
Linda Craddock: The
movie “Man about Town” with Ben Affleck.
How was this project presented to you and share a
little about your experience working with Ben.
Erica Cerra: I found Ben to be a pleasure to work
with. He’s really kind and, very funny. I don’t
think I actually realized how funny he was! One of
my very favorite movies is “Good Will HuntingHe
is definitely a character. He was a pleasure to work
with. Absolute pleasure for me. He was very kind and
made me feel very comfortable and yeah, I enjoyed
working with him.
Linda Craddock: In
the movie “Blade: Trinity”, you played
a “Goth Vixen Wannabe”. Tell us what that
meant to you at the time of your audition?
Erica Cerra: I went with the “Goth”,
you want to call me a “Vixen”, sure, and
the "Wannabe" I just ignored. I took the
character seriously and to me I was not really interested
in my job, not really interested in my surroundings
and just kind of, not to say that’s what Goth
people are, but for me, that was just my take on the
Linda Craddock: Your
experience working with Pam Grier and Jennifer Beals
in the HBO original series “The L Word”,
talk a little bit about that!
Erica Cerra: I don’t necessarily
consider myself to be someone who is a sexy kind of
– you know, it’s just not, well, you know
how you reach into yourself and say who am I and when
I think of me I think of a clown because that’s
my general character, but thankfully, the director
thought that I was sexy I suppose and she gave me
the role so it was a bit nerve racking for me! I didn’t
necessarily feel like that character but in one of
the scenes where we’re in, we’re doing
speed dating, at the end of the scene, she was very
sweet, she was like “you know, that was
really sexy” and I said “oh,
thank you”. And there was a love scene.
There were some nerves there, absolutely but everybody
was really great and very professional on the set
and it was definitely a good experience. It was fun.
Craddock: I understand
you started with commercials and then took a break
from acting. What prompted the break?
Erica Cerra: I started acting when
I think I was, I don’t even know 6 or 7 and
I remember thinking “I want to be in the
movies” so it was something I’d always
wanted and I’ve always loved to make people
laugh and I’ve always been the one that would
do a dance if you asked me to, you know Erica do that
thing that you do! Ok and I’ll stand in the
middle of the crowd and I’ll do my silly dance
to make people laugh. I was on a show called “Kid
Zone” and I loved it and I had fun and I was
enjoying myself, then I did some commercials and then
I wasn’t working as much. I think more for me
it was about wanting to be 14. I didn’t go to
school properly, I was schooled on set so I wasn’t
in elementary school as much. And I didn’t necessarily
like all that and so it wasn’t the acting that
I didn’t want to do, it was just the living
I wanted to do. I wanted to be 14 with no responsibility
but I always wanted to act again. The only thing I’ve
ever enjoyed doing was entertaining. I bumped into
my agent and then she and I sort of hit it off. She
said you know what, you should really join my agency
and I said ok, then
Linda Craddock: Talk
about your experience working with top acting coaches
Larry Moss and Gina Chiarelli?
Erica Cerra: One of my first acting
teachers was Matthew Harrison and he was really great.
He kind of gave me, I guess the nerve to get back
into the job. He inspired me and believed in me and
Gina Chiarelli was wonderful for me when I got back
into taking classes again. I don’t necessarily
think of myself as a kind of a sexual character. Gina
was really great. She would push that out of me. Larry
Moss was a work shop that I did and he was brilliant
and inspiring, Yet nerve racking.
Linda Craddock: So
you were comfortable with the analysis when you first
started training with him?
Erica Cerra: No.
Linda Craddock: Ok.
Erica Cerra: You're comfortable,
and then you’re not at the same time. I haven’t
experienced too many teachers that really let you
get away with stuff, but he was really cool, they
really inspired me to do some real soul searching
and find out who I am and learn about yourself. One
of the scariest things for most actors is trying to
understand why you do what you do and when you have
somebody that takes a look at you, and says “why
do you do that thing”, you almost feel
naked because they’ve seen something about you
that you don’t think people know. Really interesting
and scary and wonderful at the same time because if
you want to learn and I love what I do and my goal
is to be as good at it as I possibly can and so I’m
always interested in learning.
Linda Craddock: What
do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Erica Cerra: I love reading. I love to read. I love
to paint. My best friend bought me an easel, which
I’m really excited about and unfortunately haven’t
used yet (laughs) I draw. I do a lot of drawing. I
do more drawing than painting which I think kind of
intimidated me so I don’t know what’ll
end up on that page. Anything like that, really and
probably more than anything, cooking. Sounds very
funny, but that’s my spare time thing. I love,
love, love to cook. My mom’s a really good cook
and she has a pasta manufacturing company on Vancouver
Island so I’m trying to compete with my mom
who is really good at making anything taste yummy.
Even if I’ve just made dinner or if I’m
in the kitchen trying to make a snack or trying to
learn how to make different things. Cooking to me
is like art. I just love making things that taste
good and I love making food, yeah. It’s my new
thing and it’s the one thing that if I weren’t
an actress, I’d probably be a chef.
Craddock: It sounds
Erica Cerra: Yeah I love it, and
it's funny because they have these commercials that
come on TV and their like do you love food do you
look at food in a different way than anybody else.
You should call the Culinary School and I’m
like I do, I look at food like that. I’m sitting
there and I’m like, that’s me, I should
call (lots of laughs)
Linda Craddock: You
have been described as possessing an effervescent
personality and infectious smile with star quality.
Having said that, is that what allows you to play
such versatile roles?
Erica Cerra: I hope so. I hope those
things are true. You know what, Angelina Jolie said
this in this one interview that I read and she said
“I think of myself as a schizophrenic with
50 different personalities and when I’m given
a role, I take away 49”. That’s kind
of how I think of myself in a way, I a bit of a character
like I have a lot of different personalities and I
think one of the most important things for me is that
if I frame them, its kind of ok, that’s that
girl, we’ll set her aside and we’ll use
her when we need and ok that’s that one. And
I find that the older I get, the more I understand
myself like the age I’m at now. Now, I’m
the most comfortable in my own skin. I am confident
and comfortable with who I am and why I do the things
that I do and I am confident in saying ok I am that
goofy, silly person and I am ditsy once in a while
and I am this and I am that and I’m ok withit.
Where years ago, it was like “oh well, I
don’t want to be that person” that
person’s like this. I’m just comfortable
in a lot of different roles and very comfortable with
different people. But who said that, that’s
so nice, tell them I said thank you.
Linda Craddock: I
read that on another, it was a review of you. Very
about this interview on the forum