Just like shifting a kaleidoscope reveals new patterns and art in motion, so does watching Charlotte Sullivan transform into each of the characters she portrays. ROOKIE BLUE fans are going to be mighty surprised when introduced to Charlotte’s new character Nicole in the new drama series MARY KILLS PEOPLE because Charlotte immerses herself so fully that she is nearly unrecognizable. But even when inhabiting a stunningly different facade, it is impossible to hide Charlotte completely. Whether it is a timber in her voice, a certain look in her eyes, or just a hint of the woman within, Charlotte commands attention on the screen. In order to try to get to know the elusive character that she portrays in MARY KILLS PEOPLE, in an exclusive interview Charlotte reveals what attracted her to the show as well as sharing the joys of where her career is now.
What initially appealed to you about the role of Nicole Mitchell and working on MARY KILLS PEOPLE?
CHARLOTTE: The fact that she’s covered in tattoos and likes playing with guns was a pretty nice draw. Strictly from an esthetic standpoint, I was very excited.
How would you describe who Nicole is?
CHARLOTTE: A mix of Geena Davis from “Thelma and Louise” and Steve McQueen circa “Bullitt.”
What do you most admire and/or like about Nicole?
CHARLOTTE: I like how protective she is about Mary. She loves her sister so much and I know she would kill for her.
What is it like working with such a strong ensemble cast?
CHARLOTTE: They’re lightning in a bottle. I’ve loved playing opposite Caroline. She’s such a compelling artist and a class act.
You have a number of scenes with Caroline Dhavernas and Jay Ryan. What was it like filming those scenes with such an under-current of sexual tension and verbal sparring?
CHARLOTTE: Despite how intense the subject matter was there were quite a few giggles on set. I certainly wasn’t around when things got really intense between the two of them. Thank heavens. I wouldn’t know where to rest my eyes.
The show insinuates that Nicole may or may not have participated in a homicide. Are viewers supposed to view Nicole with an uneasy eye that she could have committed murder and could again?
CHARLOTTE: Nicole is harmless and wouldn’t hurt a snail. Insert menacing evil cackle here (mwhoaaaaaaaaaaaa).
What has been your favorite part about working on this project?
CHARLOTTE: Working with the women who conduct and orchestrate our show. They have brains for days.
What you have learned from the show and its thought-provoking point of view on the right to die?
CHARLOTTE: The right to die with dignity should be respected. The mere idea of me being a vegetable and having someone bathe and feed me is heartbreaking.
What has been the one thing you as an actor haven taken away from working on MARY KILLS PEOPLE?
CHARLOTTE: Life is short. Art is long.
What do you hope viewers continue to take away from watching MARY KILLS PEOPLE?
CHARLOTTE: I think our show does a good job of questioning the morbidity of death and dying. I think most of us can speak from experience when we’ve held on to someone for too long. I remember when my grandmother was fading. Some of her favorite things were reading and listening to opera. When she went blind and lost her hearing I still held on really tight but she needed to go. This show makes us dissect past decisions and question how would you like to die if given the choice.
Did working on MARY KILLS PEOPLE require a bit of a brain-switch as you portrayed a police officer on ROOKIE BLUE for so long?
CHARLOTTE: I’m often in a bit of a drunk funk after a project is over. Especially one like ROOKIE BLUE. That was a beautiful moment in time. My stage fright is getting worse so anytime I start something new my butterflies are moonstruck.
Your character Nicole has such elaborate hair styles. Did you have any input into that?
CHARLOTTE: Yes!! That was the most thrilling part. I collaborated with the entire team of original artists aka Stephen Lynch (Makeup artist), Patricia Cuthbert (Hair Stylist), Sarah Millman (Costumes) and Tassie Cameron (Executive Producer). I would send inspiration boards and women of influence. Even the tattoos were incredibly personal to me. I loved creating Nicole with those guys. You have no idea how talented they all are. I was a lucky slug.
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
CHARLOTTE: Sometimes a project can derail your confidence and erode your heart. The lessons I’ve learned from those experiences have been beautiful ammunition for the next chapter. Having those bad incidences have been really helpful in putting me on the path of quality control.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the amazing variety of roles and projects you have worked on?
CHARLOTTE: I’ve learned a lot about artistic confidence and saying no when something doesn’t feel right.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
CHARLOTTE: My daughter and husband come with me wherever I film. I know a lot of moms who don’t have that opportunity so I feel quite lucky. We’re traveling gypsies.
If there were one role you would like to revisit, which would it be and why?
CHARLOTTE: I did a film called “Citizen Gangster,” where I played a woman who would dress boys up for their bank heists. I had an epiphany after I shot that film about how I could have played her differently.
You seem to take on roles that are very challenging. Do any of your characters and the situations they find themselves in ever leave a lasting impression on you?
CHARLOTTE: I go home at the end of the day and relive the scenes over and over. Sometimes it’s like a record player stuck on a loop. I do feel like I’m losing my marbles. Has there been any great advice you have gotten?
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
CHARLOTTE: I heard the Coen Brothers say “the only real power the actor has is to say no.” So much of it is out of our hands. You don’t have a say in how the whole thing comes together. You have no idea what take they will use or if you’ll be cut out of the entire thing all together. The real art is not the outcome of the piece it’s the whole experience. If the film doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped no one can take away your experience.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
CHARLOTTE: I have a film called “Radius” that I shot last summer with a husband and wife directing and I’m currently in Chicago working on NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE.
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
CHARLOTTE: My dear girlfriend works at UNICEF and I know they are struggling with fundraising. One million people are on the brink of famine and a quarter million are severely malnourished. If no action is taken to curb the food crisis, 5.5 million people will be food insecure by July. In South Sudan, UNICEF is working hard to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition through rapid response missions. During these Rapid Response Missions, the World Food Program delivers food, while UNICEF treats severely malnourished children, provides health services and vaccinations, safe water and sanitation, registers unaccompanied children so they can reunite with their families and supports basic education. Please!! Please!! Please!! Spread the word and help UNICEF avert a catastrophe. Go to www.UNICEF.ca
To see how Charlotte’s enigmatic role unfolds, be sure to tune in for the premiere of MARY KILLS PEOPLE on Sunday, April 23rd at 10:00 p.m. on Lifetime. Then also be on the lookout for her new film “Radius” and appearances in CHICAGO FIRE.