As one of Canada’s busiest young actors, Emmanuelle Vaugier has been causing quite a stir in the film industry. This year saw Vaugier in a high-profile projects like the Lions Gate blockbuster Saw II, Fox’s North Shore, Sci Fi’s Painkiller Jane, and as Charlie Sheen’s love interest on the popular comedy series Two and Half Men. She has also graced the cover of many major magazines including Maxim’s Hot 100 issue, and was recently digitized for the lead role in the latest installment of the Electronics Arts franchise Need for Speed: Carbon. Infamous sat down with Vaugier to hear her take on her roller-coaster ride and find out what’s next for the Vancouver-born starlet.
Infamous: Maxim cover girl, and #31 on this year’s Hot 100; Femme Fatale cover girl and voted #5 among the sexiest women on the planet. In the face of all these accolades, what helps you stay grounded?
Emmanuelle Vaugier: (Laughs) My dogs! My dogs, my friends and my family. I just take it day by day. That stuff is all very exciting but you can’t read too much into it. When it’s happening, you kinda go ‘Wow! That’s fabulous that’s happening right now, to be on the list for the year,’ but next year whether I’m on the list or not I’m still the same person at the end of the day, so it doesn’t change a lot in my life. It’s career-oriented and stuff that’s good for work.
INF: Do you ever have the time for parties?
EV: Yeah, sometimes, I try to make it out to certain ones. Such as the Maxim One Hundred Party; they were hosting in Vegas and flew us all out there. They honoured me with a spot on their list so I try to go and support. But lately I haven’t had a lot of time for parties.
INF: Growing up in Vancouver, what was the first thing that drew you towards acting?
EV: In the second grade I did a school play, where I played an angel and I didn’t speak a word…but then I was understudy for one of the narrators and she was sick one day and I ended up being the narrator for that night. I just remember getting such a rush from being onstage and being able to speak and do something there, so I caught the acting bug in second grade.
INF: You started modeling shortly after?
EV: When I was 14 I started modeling. It’s kinda funny I started out taking modeling classes, and now when I look back on it I think, ‘Right, did I really need someone teach me how to walk and talk and wear certain types of shoes?’ I originally got into it because I was interested in learning how to do my makeup and that kind of thing. I got scouted by an agent that sent girls to Japan, and I went on my first trip overseas when I was 16. I modeled on and off for three years from contract to contract. I would come back for a month or two between, and did a lot of traveling.
INF: What was it like when you first made your move to Los Angeles?
EV: It was exciting and very daunting because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really know anybody down there, but I moved down there with a boyfriend at the time and luckily we had each other, which was nice. I think if I’d been all by myself it would have been a lot tougher because it takes a while to get your own circle of friends going. But now I have a great group of friends and I love being there; the weather’s nice and it’s fun.
INF: Any advice for local actors that are planning on make the move?
EV: Yeah, keep in mind it’s tough move, as far as some people get lucky and book a pilot or a movie right away, but that is definitely not the norm. But it’s numbers game, the longer you stick around, eventually if you do good work and you are consistent it will happen, but you have to be there. The best way, I would suggest to move down there is if you’ve done a project up here that’s large enough that it takes you down there. In that sense you have something behind you and something under your belt that they have to sell you with. Otherwise, it can be very difficult and highly competitive. You may be the really great-looking guy or beautiful girl in Vancouver where you are one of 20; there you are one of thousands.
INF: So gain some experience up here before…
EV: It’s still a tough market in Vancouver, but it’s a much smaller pond and your odds of booking work are much higher. We have an incredible opportunity to work consistently in Vancouver, whereas in LA it takes a longer time to establish yourself. There are many talented guys and girls down there, and many great character actors that run the gamut and have been around for 10 years longer than you have. So you are really starting from scratch when you go there, even though you say, ‘Well, I’ve done all this work’ and they say, ‘In Canada? That’s great….so anyways’ (laughs).
INF: Recently you played the lead role of Nikki in the new Need for Speed: Carbon game coming out in November from Vancouver’s EA Black Box. What was it like playing the lead in a video game?
EV: It really opened my eyes to a whole different area of my career. It was a fascinating experience in the sense that I’ve never done anything like it before; it was new and challenging in different ways. It was a little frustrating at times because you are on a green screen where there is nothing for you to act with or respond to. You are imagining these cars and these people around you and a lot of the time you are speaking just directly to the camera because you are talking to the player. To try and find a connection and make it real was part of the challenge.
INF David Footman, who has worked on some of the largest scale CG FX films recently – X-Men, X-Men 3, iRobot, and Fantastic Four – directed the green screen shots for Need For Speed: Carbon. If anyone could make you a superhero, this guy could; what was that experience like, working with him?
EV: It was really exciting. David’s like a big kid: he has so much energy on set. He was running around and jumping up and down with ‘Yes! Yes! That’s right, great! More of that!!’ The experience of working on a video game is really different because the video village, which is where the director and everybody sits and looks at the little monitor, is completely different than what it is in a movie set.
INF: It must take a lot of imagination to help an actor respond in the green-screen process.
EV: Yeah, David sat down with me before we started shooting and showed me last year’s game and showed me the virtual world they were creating for this year’s game. This stuff is so far beyond my realm of comprehension as far as computers and graphic design, I thought. ‘These people are geniuses.’ It’s pretty incredible what they can do.
INF: What was it like the first time you saw yourself computer-animated?
EV: I’ve only seen a couple renders of myself and it’s a little freaky. Because it’s not fully animated, it’s enhanced and you look air-brushed and angular; the lines are very clean and sharp. It’s a little odd, but very fun at the same time.
INF: It’s coming into style more recently as we see rendered actors, such as in A Scanner Darkly.
EV: It’s all very cool.
INF: it seems that the industry is making up for killing your characters so many times over they ears, from Ripper, to Wishmaster III and the most recent hit Saw II, by casting you as Painkiller Jane with special healing powers.
EV: (laughs) Yeah, now they can’t kill me ‘cuz I can heal myself with special healing power – so even if they tried…
by Graham Pence