03/27/2014 04:39 EDT | Updated 03/27/2014 04:59 EDT

Lauren Holly On 'Motive' Season 2 And Spicing Up The Procedural


It might seem odd considering her job description as the resident medical examiner on "Motive," but Lauren Holly's Dr. Betty Rogers is actually the life of the party on the police procedural. While her character is busy dealing with the corpses (typically provided by that week's "lucky" guest star), it's Holly's responsibility to help balance out the grimness and gore by bringing a little levity wherever possible. Or "a little paprika," as she calls it. The result is a role that made her an immediate fan favourite as the show heads into "Motive" heads into Season 2.

Of course, Holly's weekly commutes from her home in Toronto to the show's Vancouver set means her screentime can sometimes be limited. But fans hoping to see more of Betty in action are in luck with tonight's episode, which offers the opportunity to learn more about what makes Betty tick, as well as her relationship with Kristin Lehman's Detective Angie Flynn -- which Holly points to as something the two co-stars have been wanting to expand on this season.

HuffPost TV Canada recently spoke to Holly about what else she'd like to do as the series progresses, including who she'd love to see show up on her autopsy table, and why her co-workers are probably better off if Betty stays behind in the morgue.

HuffPost TV Canada: Have you figured out a way to get the show to come to Toronto for an episode or two, so you don't always have to do that commute to Vancouver?

Lauren Holly: [Laughs] No, I haven't. It's funny, because last season there was one episode that supposedly took place in Toronto, but not with my character. And they doubled me, and I just was laughing about that. But so far, no. But to tell you the truth, I don't mind my commute, because I'm so busy at home and so busy when I get there that it's like the hours of the plane ride are my only quiet. And when I land I hit the ground running on both ends, so it's kind of nice. I catch up on my TV shows, I read, I learn my lines, so I don't mind it at all.

Did you enjoy getting to spend some more time outside of the morgue and getting to expand Betty's world a bit with tonight's episode?

It's a little more emotional for her. I really like it when shows go home with the characters as well as the crime scene, I love that on procedurals. So it's fun this season, because the show's doing much more of that. And this episode is one that I get to do that a little bit. So it's always a welcome change. I don't have to just be with the guest stars when they're naked on my table.

Will you be getting to do more of that as the season progresses?

Yeah, there's moments all the way through, I'd say. But for everybody, there's stuff going on for all the characters, so it's cool.

On a show like this, it seems like it's pretty important that the character arcs are just as compelling as the cases they have to solve.

I think so, I think people start to really invest in the characters, and we have some good ones and very real ones. So I think it's almost as important. Their hands are tied with me, because they only have a certain number of days for me to be there. But they're doing a good job. All the characters open up a little bit [this season], and we have two new ones.

How has the addition of Warren Christie as the department's new boss changed the dynamic for you guys?

I think it's been exciting for everybody, because bringing in the new characters, they're really good people, which is always good. I worked with Warren on "Alphas," plus he's really good friends with one of my best friends, so I knew I liked him before I even met him. But he and Valerie [Tian], the additions of them to our cast, just means that we all have more stories, so everyone was really happy to see them.

If there's any pressure, it's on Kristin [Lehman] and Louie [Ferreira]. It's a two-hander; they're the main people on the show. I feel like I'm a little paprika sprinkled on it. So it's more fun for me, because I just come in and do my thing and go.

The nice thing about adding the Mark character is that it seems like it helps provide an opportunity to deepen Betty's relationship with Angie, which we also get to see more of this episode.

It really does. And what's great about it is, we had started trying to do that on our own last year, and I think the writers really listened to us. Because we wanted to have a relationship between two women that you don't see a lot on television, in that we're confidants, and we know what's going on, but we don't judge each other at all. And there's probably a lot going on that we could make judgments about. But instead, we're just there for each other and we respect each other and we're both good at our jobs.

I like that our lead character is so fallible ... that she admitted to me that she had an affair with a married man, which is a really crappy thing for somebody to do. And our friendship continues, I don't tell her whether or not I condone it or I'm against it or whatever, I'm just purely there for her. And I think that that's kind of unusual, but way more true to life a lot of times. I know the friendships I have with women, how they are. They're not based on cattiness the way they like to make them seem on television.

Is there another co-worker that you'd similarly like to explore Betty's relationship with more as the series plays out?

There's some fun stuff that happens between myself and Brendan Penny's character, the young cop. He's a goofball, and there's some comedy to be had there, I think. So I'd like to do a little more of that, I'd like to bring a little more comedy to these dark shows.

So are you pretty much an expert by now when it comes to Betty's medical jargon, or is that still something of a learning process for you?

[Laughs] No, no. By no means. It's like, thank goodness for my dictionary app, to make sure I get things pronounced right. That's probably the hardest part of "Motive," sometimes the sentences that I have to say are so hard! Like just putting all those words together. Not even memorizing them, but just the words that I have to say next to each other, that I don't sound like all of a sudden I have a speech impediment. So we laugh over that, and I'm frequently saying them over and over and over out loud so that it just starts to come out normally. But no, I'm by no means an expert.

Do the cases or stories ever stick with you? Is it hard to wash this work off at the end of the day?

It's weird, because when I have people visit me on set and we're at a crime scene or we're in the morgue, they're usually shocked at how realistic everything looks. And I got a lot of backlash for a picture that I tweeted when my son came to visit once. My 11-year-old came and there was a crime scene of this really bloody bathroom, and I took a picture of him in front of it. To the casual observer, they thought that that was just horrible, right? But what they didn't realize is that we had been there watching them set it all up, and he was fascinated at how the special effects makeup gets done and all the set dressing. He was there from when it was nice clean room and was talking to the actor before they went through the whole thing, so it was more of a picture of like, "This was the finished product." It wasn't the least bit worrisome to him at all. So that's how it is, it's not like you take that story home, you're with these people when they come to work in their track pants and they're laughing. And then go through the whole process, so it's easy to leave it there.

Are you aware that your character has her own YouTube tribute video already? Have you seen it? It's set to the Edwyn Collins song "A Girl Like You."

No. Oh, that's awesome! I love that. I have the best fans. Honestly, I have a core group of amazing fans, and what's really cool about them is they range from high school to mid-sixties. It's all ages, pretty awesome. They arranged through Twitter, for my birthday, from all over the world, [they] put presents together -- and I'm talking from various countries -- in one big box and had it sent to my friend's store that she owns, so that she could give it to me for my birthday. Pretty cool.

Sounds like it's pretty nice to be a fan favourite on a show like this.

It's really nice. I went through a whole stalking thing in the '90s that was really scary, and all of a sudden, all these security people were like, "Don't send headshots, don't respond to letters, it opens up the door." And so you got kind of scared through all that. And then all of a sudden, years later, here comes Twitter, and it's fun, because I feel like I can communicate with [the fans], thank them, keep them involved. It's just a little bit different. And there are even some that I feel like I know them.

Obviously, hopefully "Motive" keeps going on season after season, but what do you think are the keys to longevity on a show like this? How do you keep things fresh year in and year out?

Honestly, and "Motive" has to make sure that they do this, just like any other show: it's all about the characters. If the audience gets invested in the characters, they'll tune in. It's not the crime. When I'm talking about a procedural, it's not any of that, they like the characters. That's what's important to them. So if the writers write for the characters and really develop the characters, it'll last.

So do you have any dream guest stars that you hope to see show up on your autopsy table maybe in Season 3?

Yeah, Meryl Streep. What do you think? Do you think I've got a shot?

She'd probably win an Emmy for it.

Yeah. But no, I'm always looking forward to seeing who they cast in the guest star spot, it makes the show. It's that week's story. So it's always somebody to look forward to, and we've had amazing guest stars. And I think "Motive" has become a show that people wanna do, because they get great parts.

It's not like on other procedurals where if you play the victim, you just show up as a dead body.

Exactly. There's always two parts that are really good. It's funny, because I saw somebody write something, a fan who hadn't seen the show yet said something like, "I just don't understand why I would watch a show where they gave away the secret at the beginning." Which I thought was interesting, because I suppose that's true, but the show's different, because you find out how it's possible. Whenever I see the show, it always seems like a weird match. Like, how did those two end up being the killer and the victim? And it's more interesting seeing how they do come together.

Although it's funny, because out of the entire team, you have the lone job that isn't really about figuring out the "why" so much as the more traditional "how."

I know, but the thing is, I give 'em all the clues. [Laughs] I mean, just watch the show, I really am the one who solves it all. I'm basically the brains behind the operation. That's what I've decided.

And if you get to go out in the field more like on this episode...

Yeah, but then I'd show them up. So it might be good if I stay back, wear some cool outfits and just solve everything. That's what I'm thinking.

Watch Season 2 of "Motive" on CTV on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

CTV's 2013-14 TV

Photo gallery CTV/CTV 2 Fall 2013-14 See Gallery