Having to navigate the waters when you are part of the political “machine” is complex and tricky. Being the spouse of someone in politics is also sometimes difficult, especially when there is the hint of a scandal. In the season one Continuum episode The Politics of Time, Jim Martin, the leading candidate for the head of Vancouver’s local dock workers union, is a suspect in the murder of a journalist. Standing by Jim’s side, and perhaps knowing more than she initially lets on, is his wife Heather, played by actress Sarah Edmondson.
“Heather is quite a fun character to play,” says Edmondson. “I’m often cast as the girl next door, easygoing-type, but Heather is quite cold, and the biggest challenge is not playing her too bitchy. If you’ve seen this Continuum episode, there was also the whole question of is she innocent? Is she guilty? What role did Heather play in what happened? She’s there to support her husband Jim, played by Tahmoh Penikett.
“He’s the one in the public eye, but being his wife also comes with its challenges and trying to find that balance between how she relates to him and supports him was something Tahmoh and I spent a great deal of time on. The two of us are both very dedicated actors, and we looked at what it would take to fill out or flesh out our character’s back story as well as their relationship. I don’t know if other people picked that up, but I feel like it’s there, and Tahmoh and I built a very solid foundation that carried over very nicely to the second episode that I did this year.”
No stranger to the audition process, Edmondson had read once or twice for roles on Continuum, and although it took her more than one shot to ultimately book the part of Heather Martin, it was well worth the wait.
“Whenever I went in to read for the show I’d think, ‘Wow, what a great series,’ and I had a wonderful experience with the audition process,” she notes. ‘The show runner and creative mind behind the whole thing, Simon Barry, is often in the casting room, and every time I went in, he made me feel very welcome and safe. Oftentimes the audition process can be somewhat tough, but Simon is always very warm and kind, so I loved auditioning for them. By the time I went in for Heather, I felt like I was going in and seeing family, which was nice.
“As far as filming The Politics of Time, the first thing that comes to mind is walking onto the set and Simon giving me a big hug. I felt very welcomed and part of a team. It’s hard sometimes when you’re a guest-star or a day player in a project to find your place in the scheme of things. It’s like the first day of school, but in this instance I felt very much at home.
“The other thing that sticks out for me that prior to this job, I hadn’t been acting for a while but working on some other projects. At one point during the day, I turned to Tahmoh and said, ‘I’m having so much fun.’ It’s like I’d forgotten how much I love acting, and Tahmoh said, ‘Well, it’s rare to have a great script, a great cast and a great crew all together like this.’ Sometimes it’s a great project, but one of the actors is difficult, or the cast and crew are great, but not the script, so we were lucky to have all three with Continuum.”
In The Politics of Time, it is revealed that Jim was having an affair with journalist and childhood friend Alicia Fuentes (Pascale Hutton). She claimed to have dirt about his election campaign, so it makes sense that Jim as well as Heather, who knew about the affair, would be suspects in Alicia’s murder. In fact, members of Liber8, the show’s main protagonists, were responsible, and in the second season’s Second Guess, the two leaders of the now-splintered terrorist group are supporting Jim’s mayoral run. Heather, meanwhile, is still standing right by her man, which allowed Edmondson to reprise her role.
“I was thrilled to be asked back to Continuum, and this episode was especially fun because there was room for Tahmoh and I to play a little bit with our characters’ relationship,” says the actress. “Because my scenes on the show are often very quick, it’s sometimes tough to just jump in mid-stream, so Tahmoh and I usually improvise some dialogue right before the cameras start rolling in order to lead us into the scenes.
“It’s very subtle, but there’s an exchange we have at the start of one of our scenes where we’re walking out of Jim’s campaign office and I’m basically giving him crap and playing the controlling, nagging wife. There’s another scene where the two of us are standing on a stairwell and we’re about to be confronted by one of the bad guys. Again, it’s a conversation mid-stairwell, and Tahmoh and I have a go at each other and make up our own improv. He and I work similarly in that way. We’re not method actors by any means, but that just helps us get into the momentum of the scene.
“We were fortunate as well in that Simon Barry directed Second Guess. He’s very professional and knows what he wants, so there’s no lag time on-set. I don’t know what it takes to do what he’s done with Continuum, but at the [second season] wrap party, I told him that I rarely watch the TV shows that I’m a part of, but this is a show that I wait for on Sunday nights and look forward to finding out what happens next. I’m totally caught up in the drama of it. This series is fascinating, compelling, political, smart, current and quite cutting-edge. The writers are rather daring, actually with their storytelling and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Edmondson began her feature film and TV career in 1997. Prior to that, she studied at drama school and was involved in theatre programs throughout high school and university, but it was not until those latter school years that she decided to pursue acting as a serious career rather than simply a fun sideline.
“When I was at university I had to choose between majoring in England and psychology and following in the footsteps of my parents, who are therapists, or acting,” recalls Edmondson. “I also considered becoming a drama therapist and helping people through drama therapy, but ultimately I chose acting. I’ve done that professionally for a number of years along with voiceover work, but I still love working with and helping people. In fact, I run a center for personal and professional development when I’m not busy acting.
“One of my earliest TV roles was in a Canadian show called Are You Afraid of the Dark, which was like a horror show for kids. I did two episodes, one of which [The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge] wasn’t so much a substantial role, but I worked with Hayden Christensen, who most people probably know as Darth Vader from Star Wars, so that was pretty cool.
“In the second episode [The Tale of Many Faces], I played a witch who stole the faces of young women as well as the women whose faces were stolen. That was really interesting and probably the hardest role I’ve ever had to date in terms of going back and forth between different characters.
Stargate SG-1, Godiva’s, The Twilight Zone, Young Blades, Fringe and Psych are some of the other TV series in which Edmondson has guest-starred. She has also appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies, and played the recurring role of Stephanie, the love interest of fellow Vancouver native Grace Park in the popular CBC teen drama Edgemont. On the big screen, the actress’ credits include A Gun to the Head, Chaos Theory and Scary Movie 4.
Using just her voice, Edmondson has brought a variety of characters to life in such animated series as Transformers; Galaxy Force, Transformers: Cybertron, Geronimo Stilton, The Little Prince and Max Steel. This particular type of work brings with it a curious challenge or dilemma for her.
“I have a gravelly quality or grittiness to my voice, which makes it unique, but it’s also a challenge when I have a singing role,” explains the actress. “A couple of years ago I worked on my voice to try to become a better singer, but the more I did that, the grittiness went away. That is the type of thing that helps distinguishes my voice from other voiceover actors in the city. There aren’t a lot of people who have that, so that’s a struggle for me, to maintain that uniqueness along with the health of my voice.”
Away from the cameras, the actress spends a great deal of time on a venture that is very close to her heart. “Ethical Arts is a company that I started with my business partner Mark Vicente, who’s the director of a film called What the Bleep Do We Know?,” she says. “I met him at a film festival about eight years ago and at a time when I was feeling rather disgruntled with the film industry. I wanted to make projects and tell stories that had a bit more meaning and made more of an impact as opposed to being just pure entertainment. Of course, entertainment has its place and is totally fine, but I also wanted to do something and really be a part of changing the world in whatever way I can.
“So we run workshops and ongoing programs that essentially help people work through whatever emotional challenges, behaviors and/or limitations that are stopping them from being more effective or the most optimal as well as happy in their lives.”
Listening to Edmondson, it is obvious that she truly enjoys speaking with, learning about and interacting with those around her. Being a “people person” is a big part of what she finds most rewarding about her work as an actress.
“I love working with people, meeting new people, experimenting with different characters and trying different people ‘on,’” enthuses the actress. “When, for example, I get to step into the shoes of someone like Heather on Continuum, that’s a joy for me. She’s not me and I wouldn’t act like that in real life, but in playing someone like her, I get to explore different aspects of humanity. That gives me a richer life experience and, I hope, helps me to be more compassionate with other people in the world and understand that everyone has their own struggles.”
Sarah's second Continuum episode "Second Guess" airs on Syfy in the States on Friday, August 16th @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST. To find out more about her acting career as well as Ethical Arts, please check out her official website: https://www.sarahedmondson.com/
As noted above, photo by/copyright of Trevor Brady, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!