The new Atlas Shrugged lead dishes expert and doable tips on how to raise children who are conscious of what’s going on environmentally in the world today
K: Tell us about your years growing up in Canada, and your best memories from that.
L: I have to say, just running wild—literally running around with friends, building forts in the woods and just waiting for that, “Dinner!” call from far away. You all sort of think whose parents will call first, and then that they’ll have to go, and they’d be all bummed that they’d have to go first.
K: I remember those…
L: But then the other parents would call, too. That sort of freedom of—I don’t wanna be too nostalgic or downbeat, but I don’t know that that’s totally available to kids now.
K: Yeah, absolutely.
L: Depending on where you live. You know, it was kinda different.
K: It’s a completely different time. Like we used to climb up tall trees.
K: Now, I freak out if my kids even think about going up one. I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re gonna fall. How many stitches will they need?” You know?
L:Yeah, I know. Are they wearing a helmet? Everybody needs a helmet now and everything.
K: So, I was told you also have family in the entertainment industry.
L: Not really. Gerald is my father, and my sister was a newscaster. She was well-known in Canada because she hosted a news show.
K: Okay, that’s probably what it was.
L: I wouldn’t call it so much entertainment… And my dad was a politician—that’s not entertaining people.
K: Not at all, haha! I read you’re from Nova Scotia?
L: I’m from Nova Scotia, but I went to University of Montreal, and then I moved to New York because I wasn’t a Drama major at Miguel at Montreal but I wanted to be, and I was kind of in my second and a half year when I realized I wanted to be a Drama major. I did my Junior and Senior year away—I just left. I went to New York, and I made some arrangements with the Dean and I sent him my credits then I started studying acting in New York. I just forged my own path from there.
K: So you already knew you wanted to be an actress long before moving to NYC.
L: Yes, I knew I wanted to learn about drama. I wanted to try to do plays but I was just saying these words because I didn’t know anybody who was an actress. I didn’t know anybody who had ever been in a television show, or in a movie. It was such a far concept to me. It didn’t really seem like something I could really do. I wanted to try, but I didn’t have the first idea how. But once I got to New York—I was on a student visa at first—and right away, I knew that was what I wanted.
K: From Canada to New York, how was the transition like?
L: I’ve always loved big cities, I love New York, London, Paris. I just felt like I belonged, like a ‘This is where I was meant to be,’ kind of thing. It was not a difficult transition at all, except nobody would rent an apartment to me.
K: That is insane.
L: Because I was Canadian—I had no credit.
K: That’s right.
L: The worst part is the horrible sublets in one corner of somebody’s closet that I could occupy from Monday to Friday. And then every Friday I would be thinking, where am I gonna stay, I don’t know where to go.
K: Whose couch am I gonna bum off? And you were how old at this time?
L: I was 20.
K: When people see you, what do they normally say? “Hey you’re that girl from…?”
L: Sometimes they say Mad Men or any number of the scary movies I’ve done—usually Dead Silence or They. But you know what? It’s a very funny business. The first time I had a big movie come out in theaters, I was like, “Oh my God, it just came out, it’s Friday night!” Three days later, I was at a little supermarket in New York, a little deli on my corner, and I went in and a guy’s like, “Hey, I saw you. You’re…” I was all excited thinking, “Oh my God, he saw the movie!” And he was like, “Uh, you were that blonde in Law and Order.” Or probably worse, like, “Oh, you were in that Tampax commercial.”
K: Thank you for pulling me back to the ground.
L: Yeah, “Uh oh, you didn’t see my movie.” Oh, okay.
K: Haha! What is it like being in successful shows like Mad Men? What lessons do you take from those experiences? First as an actress, and later as a working mother?
L: Everytime I work, I learn something new because every project is different and you’re always with different groups of people. Every set has a different kind of pace, a different feel, and especially if you’re arriving as a guest star, you kind of have to find your footing pretty quickly. You arrive and you’re on set with a 150 new people whom you never met before, and you have to be comfortable. I’m constantly learning and reminding myself to find my way around a new set. But as a mother, that’s interesting. There’s not a lot you take from Mad Men about good mothering, really.
K: In general, what has being in the industry taught you about being a better mother? On time management, or patience?
L: Once I had my first baby, I just felt like there was an extra dose of fulfillment that I really would miss otherwise. I really love being able to do both. I love being able to work, and I feel like when I arrive at home, hopefully it’s a working day where I actually get to be home for the kids’ dinner and bath—which isn’t always the case in the entertainment industry, so that’s tricky. When you miss bedtime and bathtime—which is such a great end of day, being able to tuck them in—that’s hard and sad. Assuming that I do make it, then I arrive home with so much more energy. I don’t arrive home like I’ve gone to work all day. I arrive home so much more energized, and the change of scenery is so good for anyone who’s dealing with young children, I think.
K: It’s like you still get to keep a part of yourself— have the best of both worlds.
L: It is the best and it is tricky—I’ve been a pumping mother for the last 10 and 1/2 months now for my little girl—which is a whole other thing because everybody thinks that you go to your trailer and get maybe half an hour to eat lunch. Well, you gotta pump and clean your pumping stuff, clean the bottles and freeze the milk, and sterilize it. By the time you sit down and you’re with the fork ready to take a bite of lunch, that’s when then they go, (knocking) “Touches!” Then they take you back to the makeup trailer. Everybody’s like, “Did you have a nice lunch?” and you’re like, “Yeah, had a nice lunch.” The movie Atlas Shrugged I did when my baby was just 3 and 1/2 months to 5 months old. She wasn’t eating food, just sort of thriving on me. That was time management—boy, I had to be on top of it because I was the lead of the movie. I was practically in every scene, and they didn’t have spare time. Luckily, I had help from a girl who became my assistant—she was amazing. I’m just sitting there, pumping away, people were coming in, and the minute I was finished, I just put everything down and she would deal with it. The next time I worked, I wasn’t the star, so I had to do it all myself. I was like, “I really miss Tiffany. This is really hard.” And no one knows what you’re doing either. They’re kind of just sitting outside thinking, “Ugh, she’s taking so long. This actress is such a diva.” Another thing from the entertainment industry I would take is, you just meet such a wide variety of people all day long, so many women have done it differently. My hairdresser on the last thing I did, she had 5 children and her youngest was 14, and I asked if she needed to be home for dinner, or will the older ones take care of the youngest. You hear everybody else’s story of how they made it work, and you take a little bit from everybody—and you feel empowered to be back in the world, creating something.
K: You mentioned that your baby was about 3 months old when you were filming. Did your kids get to be on set with you?
L: My son was 3 at the time, he came to visit and he loves that. He just came one time because he hadn’t really done a lot of set visits before, and he’s a little bit of a loose cannon. What are you gonna say to your 2-year old? “Be quiet, we’re rolling…”
K: I totally understand because my 2-year old son is all over the place.
L: My son thinks I drive a truck, basically. He saw all the trucks and rode up the hydraulic grip thing, he loves pressing the buttons…But I didn’t bring the baby to the set because it was too disruptive for her. A 4-month old does a lot of napping, and she needed to be in an environment where the environment could be about her. So there was a lot of sending milk home…
K: That’s nice to hear. Is your husband also an actor? How did you meet?
L: No, he’s a producer and director. We met at a play in the Flea Theater in New York, and they were doing a production of a Japanese Kabuki Theater. We met through a friend who brought him along, and I think she may have had in mind that we would hit it off. Neither of us really watched the play, mostly we watched each other in the audience kind of, like, trying to eye each other in the dark and see what each other looked like.
K: That’s funny. Your son, Tadius, is now 3 and 1/2. What’s it like raising a boy?
L: It is wild, and full of injury and bruises. People will ask, “Where did he get that bruise?” I’m like, “I don’t even know which one you’re talking about.” It’s getting on your knees, playing with cars in the dirt, yeah. I think raising a boy is the biggest adventure. It’s high octane. It really is all about trains, cars, building sites, and tractors…Oh, and my son had just entered this stage where he just wants hugs like every 4 minutes. I think, “Oh my God, I’ve gotta have him as much as I can now, because he’ll get to a stage where he’ll be like, ‘Ugh, stay away mom.’”
K: They say boys are sweeter to their mothers.
L: You know the funny thing about my son is that he has a trait I have, which is not that great—I am a real klutz, a real spaz. I’ll break my toe on a coffee table that hasn’t moved in forever, or I’ll bump into a wall or door jamb that’s always been there. My son is like that, he can fall down just standing there. The baby is creeping around on the floor, and he would fall down. It’s never boring.
K: Same here, I’m very clumsy. I was told you have a huge passion for green living. How did this come about?
L: I’ve had it ever since I was probably 15, in high school, in a World Issues class. I was an avid recycler, and I’d say to my parents, “How many miles per gallon does that vehicle get?” When I was 15, I said I’m never getting a car and I might get a solar car. I didn’t totally hold to that because I got a Prius when I was about 25, or something. I had to buy a car because I was in LA, and it was pretty hard to get around. I’ve always been kind of like a running joke—like if you get a letter from me, you’d have to wonder what’s on the back of it because everything I do is on recycled paper. It comes to me as second nature because I think about it. It bothers me. Every time water flows from the tap, I think, where is this coming from? How are we so lucky that we have clean water, and how can I help if we use a drop more than I should? I’ve always kind of been like that, even when it wasn’t really cool, you know? When I was a teenager, we were aware of stuff like that and I am concerned about the teenagers now kind of aren’t. We didn’t throw things away. When we were in high school, we didn’t get a throwaway cup. We had water bottles that we carry. We had metal cans. I’ve been the person on set, who, if there’s no recycling and I’m on a movie, I’ll do the recycling. One time, I had a driver I overheard talking to one of the other drivers. He was like, “Ugh, it’s so annoying, my car always gets so smelly because she carries recycling.” I’d like to be like Kyra Sedgwick—she runs a very green set. She’s the star of the show and she leaves a box inside the stage for scripts for you to dump them and she recycles them. In our business, you can have vehicles idling as if gas was nothing, as if emissions weren’t anything. I’ll knock on the window and I’ll be polite but I’ll say, “Excuse me, would you mind not idling your vehicle.” Now if it’s their job to sit in the car and it’s -30 degrees Celsius, then you know, I understand they have to have heat on.
K: So you’ve got two kids, Tadius and Alma Rose. Do you think it’s possible for busy mothers to still have that lifestyle?
L: Definitely. I think you just teach the children. They are such little sponges, they want to do exactly what we do. You say something one time and your kid will repeat it, pick up on it. You say, “No this is a recycling bin and when we have a yogurt container, it goes in there.” Or whether it’s about running the water too much. My son knows, he’s 3 and a half, and he’ll say, “Yes, mama, the drought.” Sometimes he likes to play with the water a little bit too much, you know? They wanna behave the way you behave, so you really just lead by example. If you do things and explain to them why you’re doing it, that’s even better because they’ll understand that it’s real—they’ll take note, and they’ll really do it.
K: Absolutely. Any funny kid stories you care to share?
L:My son the other day said—it was the day after we did the photo shoot—he kept saying, “Smile for the camera.” We had some bees around that day, and we were talking about how bees are in decline—how they are important because they make honey and go for the nectar from the flowers, and so on. He was watching them do that, and then he felt something buzzing around his head and he said, “Hey bee, there’s no honey in my eye.” I thought that was just a funny little comment.
K: So cute!
L: My other funny one is kinda shameful if my son ever reads this, finds out that I said it in 20 years. He’s having some struggles going through the final stages of toilet training. Just fine on the peeing, but not so happy about pooing in the toilet. As an example, I just take my daughter the minute she starts making that face, I pick her up and even though she’s not walking yet, I’ll take her and sit her there. Later, I told my husband that she was so good that she did that! Making a big deal about it and my son said, “I’m so proud of that little girl.” And we’re like, is he ever gonna do it himself? He wants so much to be an adult. And then I’ll say, “Tad, when are you gonna be comfortable using the toilet all the time?” And he said, “Oh when I’m Dada’s age I’m definitely gonna use the toilet.” Oh, that’s great.
K: Good to know, haha! So adorable. Nowadays, what’s in your mommy purse?
L: I am terrified. Literally, crumbs in every crevice—you can dump the thing upside down, and you probably have a meal out of what came out of it—but it would not be very clean. There’s always a package of wipes, you know, for the disaster. A kid-friendly spray hand sanitizer. I don’t switch purses very well, so if it’s my purse I’m using at the moment, the mommy stuff goes with me. I’m in an audition trying to find a highlighter, and I pull out cookies and crackers and little toys that vibrate, or a baby teether, something for emergency starvation, stuck in traffic, and something for cleaning hands and dirty faces.
K: I love that. Lastly, if there are three virtues that you want your kids to have, what would they be?
L: Patience, generosity, and fairness. That’s what came to mind. The ‘patience’ thing isn’t going so well yet, haha!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANNIE MCELWAIN
INTERVIEW BY KARIZ TANYA FAVIS
MAKE UP BY AMY STROZZI
HAIR BY PAUL NORTON
AS SEEN IN BC’S ANNIVERSARY 2014 ISSUE