Caroline Dhavernas was first introduced to U.S. television viewers through FOX’s short-lived series Wonderfalls, but she’s got quite the following in her native Canada (“like Britney Spears,” says co-star Katie Finneran, much to Caroline’s dismay). While the network cancelled the clever and sharp series after a mere four episodes, that was enough time for many fans to become as madly enamored with her as they had become with Wonderfalls itself. Luckily for them, the full 13-episode series of Wonderfalls has been released on DVD, and fans can also get their Caroline fix in several indie movies set to come out later this year.
Before she sets off to film a new movie, Caroline talked to PopGurls about her Wonderfalls co-stars, her greatest fear, and what she learned from playing Jaye.
I’ve been spending the last couple of days watching the unaired episodes and commentaries and it breaks my heart to know that there’s no more left.
I’ve been watching them, too, in the last few days — I’m trying to find scenes to add to my demo [reel], so I’ve been watching all 13 [episodes] and it’s very heartbreaking to me because these episodes are so good.
They’re brilliant. When I got the DVDs I watched the last four episodes until about 2:30 in the morning, back to back on my laptop, thinking “this is so good, and so sad that there is no more.”
It’s heartbreaking but we’re trying to get over it. As disappointed as we were, I think that somehow you have to find a way to think that it happened for a reason. At least, I’m very happy that it’s going out on DVD because if it wasn’t for the fans who signed this petition and were really ongoing about how they loved it, we wouldn’t see this DVD right now.
What you said about it happening for a reason goes along with the theme of Wonderfalls. As bitter as fans may feel — and I’m sure the cast and the crew felt similarly — hopefully something will come out of this that no one would even be aware of.
Exactly. They’re talking about a movie I don’t want to hold to that because in this business you can talk about things for years before they get done — god knows if the financing would happen. I know that people are still thinking about it, so we’ll see what happens.
You said that several times you’d go online to see what fans were saying about the show. Do you remember reading anything in particular that either hit home or made things a little bit easier?
“Caroline’s hot” — stuff like that. (laughs) No, that was just really funny to me because obviously they were younger fans saying that.
Why do you think they were younger fans? Did they use six or seven Ts at the end of HOTTTTTT, and a million exclamation points?
Well, I don’t know — it was just the way they were talking to each other and to me it felt like they were maybe a little younger than I was — to have boys talking that way, I was like “oh my god! That’s so weird!”
But also the serious comments [about Wonderfalls were great to see] as well: “This show is so great, let’s continue talking about it so FOX doesn’t pull it off the air.” And everyone was getting mad at FOX and it was quite exciting to see that fans were trying to make things happen and they did, with the petition. It was just great to hear any kind of feedback on the show. Especially considering the fact that I was in Montreal with a French-based community where people watched it but they didn’t get every single joke. It was just nice to see the fans pick up on a joke or on a line and they would share their thoughts about that line — It was great for me to see that.
I read that there’s already been 25,000 units sold of the Wonderfalls DVDs.
Is it 25 now?
25,000 — I think that number just came out today.
Oh, that’s awesome because last week it was 14 [thousand] — I’m so, so happy because that means the number of people who signed the petition actually bought the DVDs. That’s so great!
And probably even more because with the word of mouth — I think it’s so much easier, Instead of just saying to people “there was this fantastic show and they canceled it,” you can lend them your DVDs to show them why it’s so fantastic. And if you get more people hooked on the show, then they’re going to go out and pick up the DVDs.
Because now [Wonderfalls] is still alive because of the DVDs. You’re absolutely right — instead of talking about it like a show that was canceled, you might as just well say, “look, it’s still out there if you wanted to see it.”
The commentaries on “Wax Lion,” “Lovesick Ass,” “Safety Canary,” “Crime Dog,” “Cocktail Bunny” and “Caged Bird” were great. Were there any episodes that you would have loved to do a commentary on but didn’t get a chance to?
I did love “Totem Mole.” I’m not a very good commentary person because I just lay back and watch the show and forget that I have to say something because I love it so much. And some of the episodes that we were doing commentaries on, I hadn’t seen — they had been sent to me but for some reason I didn’t have the time to watch them — so I was really like a spectator watching my own show. I think six was just enough for me. It was great to get together with Todd and Brian, and Katie was there. It was a party for us to get back together.
It sounded like you all were having a fantastic time.
We were. It was so much fun. You know when you say that a crew is like a family — this one, it really was. I remember the guest stars who came, they were always trying to find a new plot for their characters because they wanted to stay. It was really a great working environment.
I know that you’re from Montreal — had you ever been to Niagara Falls?
No, never. It was my first time.
I went to school in Buffalo for five years, and somehow only managed to get to the Falls once. And the one time I went it was so foggy you couldn’t see anything.
Oh great — that happened to us when we were shooting.
What did you think of Niagara Falls?
It’s funny because I think it also goes very well with the show. It has this reputation as being this love city where everyone goes to get married, but when you get there, it’s very corny and tacky. The Falls are beautiful, but other than that, the main tourist area is filled with Burger Kings and giant Frankenstein papier mache sculptures and Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums. It’s really funny that people would choose that as their romantic destination.
I know exactly what you were saying because I remember driving through and thinking it was really tacky. I was so surprised.
It is. And you would have never known because when you hear about it, it’s like the most romantic place that you could go for a honeymoon. But so many couples must be completely disappointed. I think Niagara-on-the-Lake is beautiful. I haven’t been there yet but I’ve heard about how great it is and all the wine — so I think people should head there instead (laughs).
One thing I learned that it’s good to have your ID with you when crossing the border. I almost had to recite the American Pledge of Allegiance coming back into the U.S. once because I only had my license and they wanted a passport.
That’s so weird. You hear stories like that of Canadians trying to get in, but when you go back home, you don’t expect that.
It was odd, I had to explain a lot of different things like where I worked and why I was in Buffalo. Do you have any quirky crossing the border stories?
Oh my god, each time I go. I have a work permit — each time I say I’m an actress and then they [ask] “are you going to search for work in America,” stuff like that and then they say, “what have you been in?” I always go for the Law & Order episode because they’ve all seen it and they love that series and they all know what it is. It’s very funny, it’s like their favorite show.
I’m a recovering Law & Order addict, myself. Was that an interesting experience to have that on your resume — to be able to say Law & Order and everyone knew what you were talking about?
Yep. Especially with policemen (laughs).
On one of your commentaries, you say that no one pines like Tyron Leitso. Can you give a line for the rest of your cast members?
Oh, those lines are so hard to find.
I know in Katie’s (Finneran, who plays Sharon) case, she delivers comedy like no other. I learned so much just watching her. Like, when she stumbles over a word on purpose, she does that like no other.
In Lee’s (Pace, who plays Aaron) case, oh what can I say? Lee is just a sexy man, you know?
That he is.
He doesn’t have to say a word and he just oozes sexiness. The other day he called me over the phone because we were supposed to meet up to go see a movie and he says (affects a raspy, sexy voice) “hi, how are you?” and he was just being normal. And I [thought] “oh my god, why am I feeling like someone is seducing me right now?” (laughs) He’s just that way, he’s a lucky man.
Tracie (Thom, who plays Mahandra) — she’s just great. When I was looking over those episodes, I was like, “she’s so amazing.” I was so busy during those seven months that sometimes I didn’t have that much time to watch what others were doing and they were all so great. She was just great at being that friend who doesn’t judge but at the same time has a lot of fun with what’s going on. I don’t know how I can phrase that.
Bill Sadler (Darrin Tyler) — (laughs) he was just perfect at being that naive dad who just wants the best for his kids but doesn’t have a clue at how it works at that age. Like he’s been 50 his whole life.
And Diana (Scarwid, who plays Karen Tyler) — it’s just that voice. There is no other voice like hers.
I, for whatever reason, fell in love with Mommie Dearest when I was younger and since then, I’ve always recognized Diana Scarwid in anything she’s done. I loved her on the show, and her delivery of each line.
Very sarcastic and dark.
I loved how, when she introduced herself, it was always “Hello, I’m Karen Tyler” so completely deadpan and perfect every time.
Exactly. And the look that she had — with all the jewelry, she participated in that. She came up to the costume designer with a brochure or a hat or something that she had found. She was really into that. And when she gives those really scared looks — I remember in that elevator when she’s stuck with that crazy, blue-raincoated woman [in “Cocktail Bunny”], and she just presses on that button and she has this look of fear in her eyes. That’s just the funniest look to me.
Were you able to take anything from the set when you left?
Yes, during the pilot, they gave me a little toy from the shop. It’s like three little moose in a boat, paddling. It’s very cute. And I got to keep some of the clothes.
The very heavy jacket that you had?
No — that, I wore too much. Because I’ve worn it days and days, so I can’t stand the sight of it anymore. I [have] shoes and boots and leather coats and stuff. I didn’t take that much but it’s just nice sometimes when I put something on and [think] “woo! That’s Jaye’s.” It says so inside with some tape and a marker.
In one of the DVD commentaries, you said that you found yourself incorporating Jaye into your own personality. You gave the example of getting in between two people fighting. Do you have any other examples of that?
Maybe not particular situations but I remember when I was shooting, not so much now because it’s been such a long time, but I just felt stronger, as a person. Like if something happened on the street, if someone attacked me for some reason, I felt like I would have reacted in a much stronger way, instead of a victim way — just fighting back and not being scared. Because that’s what I was doing every day for seven months. Talking back and being quite aggressive about stuff and not giving a care in the world about anyone. So it was more, I think, that way and I think that’s what happened in that party when I stood in between two people. Of course I do have that somewhere inside me to play that character, but it was very much brought out there because of Jaye.
Out of all the characters you’ve ever played, who is the closest to who you are?
That’s so hard. Jaye is so far away from me, so it couldn’t be her. It’d probably be characters I played a long time ago, but I don’t have anyone in mind. You really have someone else’s words when you play a character — it’s never very close to you, I have to say. I never felt like “oh, this is totally me.” That’s why I do this job, (laughs), to take a break from me.
You said that “Lovesick Ass” is your favorite episode. Why?
It was just a fun episode, and I think it worked really well. Todd Holland directed it and we loved him so much. The other directors that came in to “guest direct” were great, but it always great to have “Daddy” on set directing. Part of it was that, and I loved our guest star, Magdelena, who played the mail order bride — she was fantastic. The little boy, Spencer Breslin, it was just so great to have a kid on set. He is talented, he’s a pro. He’s been doing this for years, I think he started when he was four or five. It’s always fantastic to see that in a kid and you don’t know how to react and behave around these kids because they’re just as much of a pro as you are, but they’re children. So if they’re doing something wrong, you can’t talk to them the way you’d talk to an adult, but they don’t do anything wrong — they just make you look bad (laughs). It was really great to work with him.
I just love the storyline, I thought it was hilarious — I loved that part when we opened the door, we all look ahead and we have to look down and see that we’re actually dealing with this little boy who did this horrible thing of ordering a wife through e-mail.
It’s a really well-written, well-paced episode. And of course, for the fans, who have been teased and prodded for about five episodes — you finally get that bit of Eric and Jaye.
Exactly, I think that’s why it felt so good for us too. We have to get these two together. Sometimes, when I was reading episodes where the writers were deliberately making them farther apart, like Eric was going to leave, I was like “NO! You can’t DO that to JAYE! It’s all she’s got!” As an actor, you get really protective of your character, even though you know [the drama is] going to make the series more interesting.
Had you ever given Jaye a backstory about why Jaye was such a heartbreaker?
Maybe because she doesn’t try so hard to seduce and impress, I guess that’s why some guys fell for her. Because she’s so different and crazy and we all like a little bit of that in our life. She has her own little style and her way of living, and she’s very independent from her parents, she has her whole trailer park thing going on. I think that’s really cool when you meet someone who you connect with but who’s at the same time so different than you are.
Did you find that playing Jaye in Wonderfalls changed or shaped your view of fate?
Of fate? I thought you were going to say of clerks.
Like retail clerks. (laughs) Because it did. Sometimes, when you have someone behind the counter who’s supposed to assist you and help you out, just being completely bored and uninterested — sometimes it’s a little bit frustrating, you know? But sometimes I try to remember how Jaye was and see how funny that can be as well.
For fate, it goes back to the idea that I was saying that the show happened for a reason and everything. I do believe in it, I try to see life that way, how everything happens for a reason, but it’s very hard to think that way every day because when sucky things happen you’re like “THIS can’t happen for a REASON!” Of course when Wonderfalls ended I didn’t think that way right away. It took me several weeks and months to actually say, “you know what? Maybe I’ll go back to my film career, I’ll have more time for myself, I won’t be exhausted every single day of my life.” So yeah, I think I do believe somehow in fate.
I’m not a religious person, so I’m not a hardcore fate fan but I guess it’s got me thinking about that. I was very careful, though, not to link Jaye’s stories always to that. It was maybe also just a coincidence or her going crazy or someone playing an evil trick on her, or just the writers going crazy. I tried not to think too much of how it meant in the universe.
You’ve got a couple of movies coming out soon. Can you talk a little about These Girls and Niagara Motel?
These Girls, I shot in Canada, in Shediac, which is the lobster capital of the world.
Yes, they have this huge sculpture [of a lobster] when you enter the town. This bronze sculpture that you can actually climb on, it’s so big.
These Girls is the story of three girls from a small town living their last summer together after high school. And one of them babysits [for] some cute older guy, who is played by David Boreanaz. One night the two other girls, which I’m part of, are on a raid to steal his pot plants in his backyard and through the window, see their friend and this man having an affair.
These two girls start wanting the same thing because in this neighborhood, they know all the guys so well. It’s a small town and all the guys are just really boring to them. After many fights and alliances, they kind of work up this rotating babysitting schedule — not really “just babysitting” if you know what I mean. And therefore they start completely controlling this married man’s life.
And he just lets them?
Yeah, he does and at some point he gets really angry, but we bribe him and say, look if you’re gonna tell on us, we’re gonna tell on you and your wife’s not gonna like it.
It’s very witty and it’s great to see teenage characters have control that way. And you can actually hear about sex and pot and it’s okay, it’s not completely bad and you can’t say that to teenagers. It’s a reality. I’m not saying “teenagers, gather up and share the same man!” — but it’s a movie, it’s fun.
Before The WB, and sometimes The WB went a little overboard, in the U.S., a lot of the teenage roles were written with them being very naive. Sex is bad, drinking is bad, drugs are bad. Not that shows need to go out saying that everyone needs to smoke up and have orgies — but speaking about things in an honest way is one of the best ways to actually capture a teenager’s attention instead of preaching to them.
Exactly. I’m curious to see what kind of distribution it’s going to get because of that. It’s probably going to come out in a few theaters, it’s a small independent movie but I’m thinking once it gets to television — will it find a place on American television? That, I’m not sure.
Maybe not so much for the networks, but cable is pretty big these days and I’m always surprised to see independent movies doing so well on cable.
That’s great because I know as a teenager, I didn’t relate to a TV series where all people do is cheerlead and drink sodas on the weekend. So I think it’ll be great if it can be seen by a few people at least.
And Niagara Hotel?
It’s actually Niagara Motel — it’s a small difference, but you’ll understand why it’s important. George F. Walker wrote this movie and he actually wrote six plays that all take place in these crappy motels and he has different storylines that take place in and around the motel and restaurant of the motel. And these characters either bump into each other or live in the same universe.
I play Loretta, a young waitress who fled from Montreal after many boyfriends gone bad. And she’s there to think clearly and make important decisions in her life, and most of all, make money. She meets this porn producer who tries to get her in sexy movies — the producer is played by Kevin Pollack. He tries to get her in the production of this sexy movie, but they have no clue how to make one — while her new boyfriend is trying to get her out of it. It’s like a trio of people who don’t know what they’re doing and it’s very funny.
We’re kind of the comic relief of this movie because most of the stories are very dark. And that’s why these plays were so great, because it’s such a dark, dark universe that it becomes funny because it’s just too pathetic. (laughs)
The director, Gary Yates, had a movie at Sundance called Seven Times Lucky with Kevin Pollack too, and it was a great movie, very film noir. So [Niagara Motel] is going to be great — I can’t wait to see it.
You’re a very busy girl.
And I’m leaving in two weeks to do a movie in Europe and I’ll be gone for about two and a half months.
That’s exciting, where is it shooting?
It’s shooting in many places, actually. It’s in French, so the title’s in French, but what it means is “Like Everybody Else.” It’s the story of a marketing company who finds a young man through some game show who’s the answer to their prayers. Because he is the answer to every poll or test group for a new product that you could have. He is the answer of the majority. So, they can stop making all these polls with test groups because they only have to present him a product and he will either like it or not and if he doesn’t like it, they won’t even bother to put it out there because it means the product will have no success at all. But if he does love something, it automatically becomes a best seller.
All this happens without him knowing — they actually install cameras in his apartment and hire this girl to get him to fall in love with her so that she can be in the apartment and present him products without him knowing. She works with the company. He becomes so important, this man, without knowing it that even the President of France will go to him for advice for his new campaign techniques. At some point the girl starts having issues with all this and sees how we’re all exploiting him. It’s a really fun plot and a fun movie so I can’t wait.
I really look forward to seeing it — it sounds really interesting.
It is, it is. And the director [Pierre-Paul Renders] did this great movie just before that was really funky and stylized so I’m thinking, the plot is great, but it’s probably going to look amazing. I’ll be a blonde for that movie — I’ve never dyed my hair before — I’m very nervous. (laughs) Because, you see, she gets herself to look like what a girl should look like to seduce a man. So she goes for the blonde color, even though we learn that she’s a brunette.
Speaking of being nervous, do you have any irrational fears?
(gasps) Yes, I have one! Driving over a bridge and falling in the water, in the car.
I have that fear, too! I hear you’re supposed roll down your windows.
Oh my god, what do you do? Because most cars now have electric windows, so you can’t open them. I heard that you have to smash the back window with your foot, but with all the water pressure, I don’t know how you can do that. I have no idea what to do it if it happens to me.
There’s a tool that you can buy in a hardware store, that will break glass.
Oh, is it that little thing?
Yes! I actually bought something at Sharper Image — it will break your window and it has this blade on it that will cut your seatbelt.
[ed note: This is similar, but not exactly what I have: LifeHammer]
But will they let you fly with that? Because I fly several times a month.
You could probably check it in your baggage. Especially if you get the thing that will just smash the glass.
That I would get for sure. Because I know exactly what you’re talking about. When I was 16, I was dating this guy, and someone gave him this little thing and he didn’t believe it would break a window. So he was just waiting for the bus and he just slightly brushed the window of the little waiting station — and the whole thing fell. Within seconds, the whole collapsed window was on the floor. So I know it works very well.
Oh good, thank you — you’ve found the answer to my biggest fear! (laughs) I actually had a big nightmare about it just last week.
Oh my goodness!
I realized as I was falling in the water that it was a nightmare and I said, “okay, I have to get up, I have to get out of this dream” and I did.
That’s a hard thing to do.
Yeah, see how scared I am! (laughs)
I understand, there is no mockage here. I’ve probably had this fear since I was about eight or nine.
Oh good. And it’s a legitimate fear. It’s not like I can’t touch anyone’s hand — that to me is just funky.
As we’re talking about what you pack with you, what three personal things do you bring on every trip?
I try to bring a pillow — a small, Brookstone pillow — because in some hotels they’ll give you the fattest, most uncomfortable pillows and it’ll just make your sleep horrible. I have a lot of muscle tension in my neck and I can just wake up with a headache every day. My little cosmetics, and what else? Scripts. I always have a script to read.
Do you have a favorite book that you often re-read?
No, I have so many books that I want to read that I never read the same book twice.
Really! Will you rewatch movies?
If I really love them, yes.
What movie have you rewatched the most?
I can’t think of anything right now but one that I will gladly watch again that I saw, maybe six months ago, is Napoleon Dynamite. I just loved it. And Donnie Darko I saw only once, but I definitely want to buy that DVD.
What is your favorite song to dance to?
Michael Jackson, I have to say. He’s not very popular right now but —
But he made great music.
He did. “Beat it,” I think, is my favorite.
If you were making a traveling mix tape as you were off to Europe, what would you put on it?
Right now, I do love the Garden State CD. I like Elvis a lot — I always have a little Elvis with me. I like Guns N Roses — it reminds me of my teenage years.
You know who I like that’s not very popular among the young generation is John Denver. Like, “Sunshine on My Shoulders” will give you a smile when you wake up.