Exclusive Interview: Elyse Levesque Discusses Hallmark’s Cedar Cove, Rapping, and Her Favorite Shows

Given our strong contingent of science-fiction fans here at TV Equals, the name Elyse Levesque should be rather recognizable. Levesque spent three years playing Chloe Armstrong on Stargate Universe. She’s been off doing movies (in addition to her myriad of other interests) for a few years, but now she has returned to our television screens in the Hallmark Channel’s first original series, Cedar Cove. In this new series, Levesque plays Maryellen Sherman, the local art gallery owner.

TV Equals was fortunate enough to get to talk with Levesque about her role on the show, her favorite types of roles, and surprising rap career.

You’ve been doing movie work exclusively for a few years now. What led you back to television?

Elyse Levesque: A great opportunity. I wasn’t doing film with the intention of just doing film. Prior to the past two years I had done mostly television, and I love doing television. You’ve got work for x number of months. This opportunity came along, and it gave me an opportunity to work with some people I had worked with before. So it was kind of a no-brainer for me. And it brought me back home which was nice.

Who are people on this show that you’ve worked with before?

Elyse Levesque: One of the producers, Carl Binder. I worked with him on Stargate a few years ago. He was the one who suggested me to production for the role of Maryellen. So he fought for me, which was very flattering.

Tell us a little bit about Maryellen Sherman.

Elyse Levesque: She runs the local art gallery in Cedar Cove. She’s the daughter of Grace, who is one of the main character’s best friends. She’s very much like her mother. She’s this positive, funny, bright individual. The only difference with Maryellen is she’s a little bit scattered. She’s got a million things going on at once. I think sometimes she has a tendency to be self-centered, but she doesn’t do so intentionally. She’s just got so many things going on her mind that sometimes she doesn’t stop to think about the people around her, so she ends up putting her foot in her mouth a few times. But I think it’s one of the more endearing qualities of the character. She is a bit of bull in a china shop. You see her back pedaling and apologizing. She’s sort of clumsily endearing. She has dreams of living in New York and being an artist. She does a great job running the art gallery and is always seen wearing some kind of outrageous ensemble. So that’s been fun.

You mentioned that she’s clumsily endearing, and yet you are a talented person with a lot of different interests. How hard is it for you to play clumsily endearing?

Elyse Levesque: I have a feeling it’s not. I don’t know if I suffer as much from the foot in mouth syndrome, but I definitely have a million things going in my brain at once, and I always say I’m “present elsewhere” because my mind is always three steps ahead thinking about the next thing I have to do. So that wasn’t too hard to draw from, but I definitely had to say some terrible things that I wouldn’t say and deal with the repercussions of that. But it’s all done in a light, comedic sort of way. It’s been fun getting to know her in that way.

Hallmark has made a concerted effort to describe themselves as the wholesome part of TV in a television world that’s growing increasingly dark and cynical. Is that something that appealed to you, or did you just like the role?

Elyse Levesque: I really like the role. I haven’t had the opportunity to play something with some comedic strokes in it. Also, I was wanting to work with some of the cast that was hired. I thought it would be a really good opportunity to work with some of these artists that I respect. As far as what I watch, I tend to be drawn towards the darker stuff, but it’s been really nice going to a set where everyone is enjoying what they do, the energy is lighter, and we get to goof around a little bit. It’s refreshing.

Andie McDowell is obviously a tremendous actress. What was it like to get to work with her?

Elyse Levesque: Some of her movies are some of my favorite movies. Four Weddings and a Funeral was one of my favorite movies. It’s my go to if I’m in a funk and want to feel better about life. I was super excited to meet her, and I didn’t want to do the creepy “I love your work!” thing to her… but I did. She handles it so well, and it’s been really nice getting to work with her. She’s as sweet as you think she would be. Unfortunately our characters don’t have a lot of scenes together, so I only see her once in a blue moon. She’s definitely a great presence on set, and she makes the work environment a great fake place.

What are the roles that you really look for? Are there roles you get excited about sinking your teeth into?

Elyse Levesque: I’ve got pretty broad section with what I’m drawn to. I tend to get most excited for an audition that involves a character with an accent or a period piece. I love doing accents. Anything that’s a bit more charactery I tend to feel freer in and have more fun discovering the character. But also comedy which is why I really enjoyed playing [Maryellen] this character because I would like to do more of this in the future. It’s a challenge. I think comedy is one of the hardest things you can do as an actor. I’m determined to understand it.

Obviously, we have to ask you about the rap group. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Elyse Levesque: The other two members are my two of my nearest and dearest. Years ago, I was asked to do a rap for a gay pride event in Vancouver, and I roped one of the girls into doing it with me. The response we got was so positive. Everyone was shocked that these skinny white girls could rap. From there, we decided we should start writing songs and shooting videos. It’s addictive.

What other projects do you have in the works?

Elyse Levesque: I am producing a short film called “Fruitcake”. I’m going to do that when I get back to Los Angeles. I’m also doing a play called “Burn This” by Lamford Wilson in LA in November or December.

Last question: Let’s say we can insert you into any television program of your choosing. What show would you pick?

Elyse Levesque: I’ve just recently watched, and I love it, Orange is the New Black. I think it’s hilarious, and the choices that they made with the cast are fantastic. Or, and this is completely opposite, Downton Abbey.

And now I have a follow up: What kind of prisoner would you be on Orange is the New Black?

Elyse Levesque: I’d probably be like the main girl. I’d be terrified of everyone. I’m only a couple of episodes in, but I’m convinced she’s going to end up being the kingpin. I’d probably be “Easy E” and sort of gangster. That would be really fun if they’d let me do that.