Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helene Joy: 'Durham County' Is Almost A Mirror of Our Society

According to Helene Joy, Durham County, a TV series she stars in, is a slap in the face for those who believe that life is a fairy tale.

For this Canadian actress, the show's dark tone isn't exaggerated. In fact, this gives a "bleak theme to Durham County", something that she feels necessary. After all, even if our life more or less borders on a fairytale, Durham County puts us in front of truths about our society in her opinion.

In Durham County, Joy plays Audrey Sweeney, a nurse who lives in a fictitious suburb of Toronto and who is married to Mike Sweeney, a former homicide detective who is now the superintendent of the Durham Police Department. Besides, her husband is investigating on murders related to drug trafficking along the corridor of the 401 highway. Now that the dust has settled at the end of the second season, Audrey is expecting a baby and her relationship with Mike is fine. As for Sadie, Mike's and Audrey's elder daughter, she's about to graduate from the police academy. I sat down with Helene Joy and she talked about what it means to play in Durham County.

Anh Khoi Do: Given the dark atmosphere in Durham County, how did you react when you read the script for the first time?

Helene Joy: Before the first season was shot, I had a big reaction when I read the script. Besides, I even gave the script to my friends in order to know if I should star in the TV series. In the end, I accepted to join the cast of Durham County even though it's disturbing, because its creators smartly deal with the show's violence. In other words, there's no such thing as a shock value in the way the atmosphere of the show is presented to us. With that said, if I read a script of a Hollywood action movie, I would've just taken it for what it is.

Given that the leading characters' life in Durham County is rather depressing, do you believe that someone's life can be that depressing?

Yes. Having a depressing life also does happen to middle and upper class people. Speaking about these people with very depressing life, they exist. However, I got to say that only a small part of the Canadian population will live that. The fact that some viewers reproach Durham County of being gritty tells a lot about the society we live in. It means that we live in denial and don't want to admit that it's an ugly world out there.

Now that we've talked about the depressing life the show mirrors, what does Durham County reveal about any human being's potential capacity for being dangerous?

Well, I don't have that. Nevertheless, Durham County reveals how much we're intrigued by those kind of people. For instance, lately in the news, we've been hearing about Russell Williams, this former colonel of the Canadian army who got sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and rape just to name a few charges laid against him. Like some characters in Durham County, Russell Williams looks like a normal person on the surface. However, a person like that has a dark secret and even a double life. In relation with the third season, we can think about a character who, at the beginning, beats up his wife and hides it from his colleagues. More importantly, Durham County reflects the fact that we're more likely to be hurt by by someone we know than strangers.

Tell us about what we should expect to see with your character, Audrey Sweeney.

In the third season, she's a reborn woman and she's come full circle with her husband, Mike. The reason why she no longer contemplates divorcing from her husband at the beginning of the third season has something to do with a narrative choice made by the writer, Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik. As a married woman, Laurie knows that life isn't black and white. Moreover, at some point in your life, you move on.

How about the relation between Audrey and the character of Eva (Bénédicte Décary)?

I don't want to give away so many details, but I can say that there's a feminine connection between Eva and Audrey. This begins with a dance scene you see in a party in the first episode of the third season. Needless to say that the men around Audrey and Eva find it titillating. However, I wouldn't go as far as saying that Audrey will explore, in the third season, her bisexuality. In fact, this is just a relation between women who just talk between women.


Durham County is aired on the Canadian premium cable network HBO Canada on Monday nights at 10 PM. Note that this is the third and final season of this Canadian procedural drama.

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