INTERVIEW: Inspired by Nature, Lara Jean Chorostecki

Photo by Shaun Benson
Photo by Shaun Benson

The character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter has sliced his way into pop culture and with the new series on NBC entitled Hannibal, he is not leaving any time soon. This new series, developed by Bryan Fuller, also introduces us to new interpretations of other characters from the books and movies. One of those characters is Freddie Lounds, previously played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Stephen Lang. This time Freddie is played by Canadian actor Lara Jean Chorostecki. Ms. Chorostecki took the time to chat with us about her character Freddie, what it’s like to play a role that has been gender switched, her poetry, her love for the outdoors, and then we kind of go off topic on cyclops cats and Hugh Jackman. You know, the important things.

It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Ms. Chorostecki and just like the character of Hannibal Lecter, I expect that we’ll be seeing lots of Ms. Chorostecki for years to come.

What inspired you to become an actor?

I saw a production of Les Mis when I was eight years old and I was so engrossed the entire time! My parents took my brother and I and I went to church the next day and I ended up drawing a storyboard during the service of the Les Mis story. I also performed the entire soundtrack, lip synced, for my great grandfather, who I believe was 96 at the time, very shortly after I saw it. So, I would say that musical theater inspired me to be an actor and that show in particular, seeing it at such a touching young age was incredibly inspiring.

Fabulous! Tell me about your character on Hannibal.

Freddie is fearless, she is very good at her job, she is intelligent, she is brave, but she doesn’t really have much of a moral compass (laughs). She’ll basically do whatever it takes to get the story. She used to be a he in Thomas Harris novels, so Bryan Fuller has changed Freddie quite significantly as well as changing Alan Bloom to Alana Bloom played by Caroline Dhavernas. Freddie is also, as Bryan told me, based a little bit on the journalist Rebekah Brooks who ran News of the World who also has a ferocious mane of red hair.

What’s it like to play a character whose only been previously played by men?

Freeing actually, really freeing. If Freddie had previously been played by women, especially in such iconic films, I think it would be a little terrifying, in fact more than a little terrifying. It’s already terrifying enough that Philip Seymour Hoffman had played him, never mind that if Philip Seymour Hoffman was a woman that had played him than it would be even more so, but because the gender switch happened it becomes so freeing because any kind of comparison to previous incarnations of this character dissipates pretty easily strictly because of the gender switch. I don’t have to worry as much about being compared and I can just draw inspiration from the previous ones and make her my own.

Hannibal FreddieIs there anything you have adopted for the character based upon those earlier portrayals?

Not from Stephen Lang or Philip Seymour Hoffman, no not particularly. They’re just so different. The way Bryan writes her is so different. The only thing I would say is there’s this great nonchalance attitude that Philip Seymour Hoffman has and certainly I think Freddie possesses some of that. Whether or not it’s exactly true she gives the air of being able to handle anything and not particularly caring or being unflappable, I guess. I would say more so I drew my inspiration more from reference of Rebekah Brooks and reading all about her rise to fame and her disposition dealing with that.

What is it that attracted you to the role?

I think because she’s so different from me. I think it’s so much fun to play characters that are so different from you. I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty solid moral compass and that I’m a pretty caring person and to play a person who is 100% out for herself is a lot of fun. It’s kind of fun to throw those manners that are engrained in you from one, just being raised by a good family but two, being Canadian out the door to playing something completely different. I consider myself a strong woman and I am attracted to those extremely strong characters that get to have a lot of fun.

What can you tell us about the show without getting into too much trouble?

Well the show starts off with Mads and Hugh, so Hannibal and Will Graham meeting each other, and I think there will be a lot of interesting things that the audience will be really excited to see in regard to how the interact because it’s something we have not seen before. Red Dragon touches on it a little bit at the beginning when you see Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins kind of before just as Norton figures it out. We’ve never really seen that pre-Hannibal’s captured time and I think that’s really exciting to see. I don’t think I can say a heck of a lot (laughs), but there are a lot of twists and turns, it’s very exciting. The whole feel of the show and the format of the show is just incredible and Hugh Dancy’s work in it is outstanding and Mads is of course incredible as well, but Hugh is just beautiful in this part and so interesting in this part. I think people will be astounded by his work.

Earlier you said you love playing people that are so different from you, so what would be your dream role?

Ooo! I think I have to go somewhere in the territory of Shakespeare because I love him so much and really, speaking of switching genders, I would love to play Hamlet.

Really, a female Hamlet? That would be awesome.

Yeah! It’s been done many times before, so it’s not quite breaking all these boundaries, but it would be so fantastic. It would be such a great part and he’s broody, I guess I’m not that broody, so he’s different enough from me and certainly different in the gender switch as well and it would be fun to switch in the opposite direction.

Hannibal - Season 1If I am not mistaken you are also a published poet. How long have you been writing poetry?

As long as I can remember, since I knew how to write. I grew up camping a lot with my family. We went to a lot of Ontario parks and I drew a lot of inspiration from nature. I’ve been writing what started out in my youth as little poems about all of the beautiful trees and the beautiful water, and now I’ve become a bit more experimental with thoughts about environmentalism and nature and our place in regards to nature. It’s kind of grown from there. The poem that was published in the “Great Lakes Review” which is a wonderful review that publishes local poets from Toronto, Chicago, and Buffalo. It’s about Casa Loma, which is a landmark near where I live, and it’s about a date that my partner and I went on, but it has a lot more to do with exploring urban nature and exploring Canadian outdoors and what it’s like to find our place as people on this planet.

That brings me right to my next question, which you’ve already answered a bit! What inspires you as a writer and an actor?

Well, there you go, that answers the first one! My main writing influences are my experiences in the outdoors (laughs). As to what influences my acting, I actually would really love to talk about this because I’m putting up a blog of my poetry online really soon, and in one of the blog entries I have a prose piece that I wrote when I was eighteen and it’s about a young man named David Bloom who was a good friend in high school. He passed away of brain cancer when he was nineteen and I was seventeen. He influences my work really, and of course there are other actors who influence my work, but he influenced me in a personal way with the desire to continue doing what I love to do. I was influenced by really knowing someone in my formative years who wanted to be an actor, singer, and dancer, he was a triple threat talent, who didn’t get the opportunity to do so. Thinking about him gives me a lot of inspiration.

Are there other forms of expression that you are into?

I would love to say that I am a dancer, but I am not at all! I do sing and in my youth I was more of a singer, and now I’d like to say I’m an actor who can sing, but music is a big passion of mine. I play the piano and sing and my partner is a guitarist and quite an incredible one, so there’s a lot of music in our household on a regular basis. Professionally I can act that’s about it (laughs). Singing and dancing would be amazing to add in a superstar form, but I think it’s maybe a little beyond me.

I also read somewhere that you are a self-proclaimed cat lady. Is this true?

I am.

We at the Defective Geeks are also quite the cat ladies and I would love to hear about your kitty cats.

Wonderful. I have two kitty cats and they’re both ten and I’m staring at one right now and he’s enjoying that I’ve opened the porch window. He’s a little ginger boy and I also have a little girl and even though they’re ten they’re little still. She’s a medium haired tortie with the grey type of tortoise shell and she has one eye because she had cancer when she was five and so we had to make the decision on what to do about that and luckily it was ocular cancer that was contained within the eye, which happens often with cats, so she has one eye and has adjusted incredibly well. They’re lovely creatures and they’re wonderful to hang out with and they’re quirky in their own right.

One of my kitty cats only has one eye as well!

Oh, that’s so wonderful! (A/N. EPIC cat lady bonding ahead).

LJ grey shirt smaller fileWe had a similar situation where he required surgery in his eye, so he is now our Cyclops kitty.

Aww. So did they take it out or did they leave it in?

They left it in, but it’s completely glassed over and so he only has vision in one eye.

Was it a detached retina, maybe?

It was something like that. It had something to do with the lens, so they removed the lens, but left the eye.

Cyclops kitties are lovely. With my kitty she’s a medium hair and she’s so pretty, so most people don’t even notice and quite frankly she doesn’t even notice.

Same here, he’s a happy kitty and around ten years old as well and as long as he gets to eat and sleep he is the happiest cat ever. 

Right? My ginger cat, he plays with straws, and this is pretty much his life. Eating, sleeping, and playing with straws. Oh man, you’ve got me talking about cats now, he’s also a hugger. That’s an interesting fact about the ginger cat. The grey cat has one eye and the ginger cat hugs you. If you pick him up he puts his paws around you and give you a big squishy hug.

That’s amazing. Obviously there needs to be a show just about cats where people come on and talk about their cats.

And the rest of the population will be terrified of us.

But we’ll understand.

Exactly, it will be fine.

Ah, cats. And for my last question, what is your favorite comic book movie? 

Oooo, I love comic book movies! I did love The Avengers. I did love The Avengers just because Robert Downey Jr. makes my life, he’s so fantastic. Oo, that’s really difficult because I love almost all of them. I think I have to go with The Dark Knight, though. I have to go with The Dark Knight. The Avengers was so wonderful, Joss Whedon is so great. I grew up watching a ton of Buffy as I’m sure you guys did as well. I read your blog and thought, “They’ve probably watched Buffy.”


Oh yeah, I was a total Buffy-holic.

Yeah! The Avengers had such a great tone to it, but at the end of the day there’s a quality and a darkness that they evoked in The Dark Knight and it is just incredible. It’s such a good movie all around. So, for pure fun and enjoyment I would definitely go with The Avengers, and for that deeper interesting filmmaking experience that can come also, I go with The Dark Knight.

Yay! I love The Dark Knight so much.

Christian Bale, he is just so good. I saw him in Newsies, did you ever see Newsies?

Oh yeah.

Okay, you and I are the same person. I saw him in Newsies and I started watching him from that point, and to see him play Batman and also play Batman so well, I mean Michael Keaton was amazing, but Christian Bale made it his. He is so good.

It’s kind of funny to watch Newsies now and know that he’s going to turn into Batman.

Or, since I’m a musical theater buff, growing up and watching Hugh Jackman as Curly from Oklahoma and then seeing him turn into Wolverine. There you go, two musical theater boys who turned into superheroes.


Make sure to check out the following links:
Lara Jean Chorostecki on Twitter
Lara Jean Chorostecki’s Facebook

Watch Hannibal Thursdays at 10PM ET/PT on NBC and City

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