Since making the move from French films to English projects, Evelyne Brochu has found herself playing some seriously strong women. First as scientist Dr. Delphine Cormier on Orphan Black and now as a 1940s undercover agent on her new show X Company. We caught up with the Quebec native to chat about her stunts, learning German and being a total kickass woman.
Photographer Anouk Lessard (l’Eloi)
Stylist: Sara Bruneau
Hair & Makeup: Julie Cusson for Chanel
What is the premise behind the show X Company?
The show is actually based off a true story. We’re in 1942 in the middle of WWII. In those years Great Britain, Canada and the United States didn’t have a solid CIA so there was a camp in Whitby, Ontario called Camp X where they’d train men and women as spies for a sort of a resistance to fight the Nazis. My character is one of them.
Tell me about her.
She’s a Jewish German and French Canadian and in a weird way, her being a woman helps her to avoid suspicion. She was a journalist working in Paris before the war started. Her actions as a part of the resistance got her recruited by the director of the camp, played by Hugh Dillon. I get to play a sergeant, pretty special for a woman in the 40s.
What were some of the challenges you had to take on?
Stunts mostly. I had to learn how to fight with a knife, fire a gun and drive a 1940’s truck. I also had to learn how to speak German. One of the biggest challenges though was running in heels on cobblestone streets. I can’t believe I didn’t break an ankle. I felt like Superwoman.
What kind of training did you have to go through before or during filming?
It’s weird. There’s a magical thing that happens between action and cut. No matter how hard you practice, or don’t, the stunts are always somehow better when you’re shooting a real take. It’s almost like it has to be good so it just becomes good. Making the show is what got me into shape.
Do you find that it was a little easier to learn German being bilingual?
I think languages have to do with having a good ear and I have to thank my mom for that. She’s a cello teacher and she got me involved in music really early. I never really made music my think but I think it helps develop a better ear and that’s why I think I picked up English faster than other kids and probably why I managed to speak German pretty well.
How did you get involved with the show?
I feel really lucky because I started my career in Quebec and it’s been situated here up until a couple of years back. I had done a few French movies and my manager thought that since I’m bilingual I should start taking on more English roles. Soon after, I was cast on Orphan Black as Delphine. The producers who cast me on that show went on to make X Company and they asked me to audition.
With the show taking place in the 40s, what were some of your favourite aspects of that era?
I mean, obviously the costumes! It seems as though clothing was really made to compliment the silhouette of human bodies – both men and women – and make them look their best. I think some eras worked against the body, but the 40s had everyone looking so good. Our costume designer was absolutely amazing. The production value and the beauty of the sets really shows.
You mentioned working on Orphan Black. Can you believe how popular it’s become?
Yeah! And not only in Canada or the States. One of the show’s producers told me that it’s broadcast in 170 countries and will possibly go to 190. It’s everywhere! It’s amazing to be a part of something successful, but it’s also so important to be a part of a show that you respect the values of. Orphan Black really respects the intelligence of its viewers. It’s something I’m proud of.
Both X Company and Orphan Black are shows that have women playing such strong characters instead of only having them around as beautiful wallflowers. How do you keep from getting typecast?
Maybe I’ve just been lucky. I’ve been lucky to play different types of characters. Or maybe the whole scene is just changing and it’s not only my career, but everyone’s career that is becoming less and less just about being the love interest. The woman who kisses the man after he’s won the football game or the battle. Strong, kickass women have become the focus.