INTERVIEW: Suzanne Cyr Is The Headmaster in Night Raiders
Suzanne Cyr has been acting for over 20+ years and she might be one of those familiar faces you have seen on your screen, which shows under her belt like USA Network’s Suits and Covert Affairs. Next, you can watch Suzanne in her film, Night Raiders. Find out more below!
Hi Suzanne, thank you for answering our questions today! Can you tell us about your film, Night Raiders, and your role as The Headmaster? What drew you personally to its story?
Night Raiders is the story of a Cree mother Niska who is on the run and has been living off the land, hiding her young daughter Waseese for 11 years. It’s set slightly in the future and there’s been a war after which children are taken from their parents and put into state run institutions where their spirits are broken and they are turned into “good soldiers and citizens” who work for the state. There’s a science fiction element to the film as drones are able to track and hunt down and capture any children who are on the run. Niska ends up having to surrender Waseese to one of the institutions. All of the elements of Night Raiders are taken from Canada’s real-life history of the attempt to colonize Canada and the residential schools that existed until very recently. My character, Headmaster, runs the academy that Wasesse ends up in. The character of Headmaster is representative of the priests that ran the real-life residential schools.
What was the most challenging part for you when taking on the role as The Headmaster? What kind of headspace did you have to dig into to embody a character like her?
To play Headmaster I had to understand how a person like this would think as this would be driving their behavior. My character considers herself superior to Waseese and the people she comes from. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, I’m helping her see the right way. The breaking of her spirit is something that I see as good and necessary, I will use whatever tools I need to accomplish this. My character is into power and control and I don’t see the children as people, they’re objects to me to control and break to my will.
What do you hope the audience will come to feel while watching Night Raiders and what do you want them to take away after watching it?
I hope the audience will come to a greater understanding of the reality of Canada’s past, I hope the film will move people and create more empathy toward Indigenous people and more awareness of the real life struggle they are experiencing in trying to overcome the tremendous amount of trauma that is part of their history. I found the sound of the Cree language which is spoken throughout the film very emotionally moving.
Tell us more about yourself! When did you know you wanted to become an actor and what was the journey into the industry like for you?
As a child I was always either drawing or doing some kind of acting in plays, either back yard, school or church productions. I was accepted into art schools in Switzerland and Toronto and then I was approached by a modeling agent. I was longing to get out of the small town I grew up in and start my life so I jumped at the chance to come to the big city and try modeling. During my modeling career, casting agents and photographers would tell me that I had the face of an actress and that I should study… I’d forgotten how important acting was to me when I was young. After a while I needed a new challenge outside of modeling and decided to listen to them. When I stepped into my first acting class all the feelings came back to me and I knew I was in the right place, doing what my heart desired.
Do you have any favorite moments or memories in all your years working as an actor?
I always remember my first acting job, it was a scene with Alan Arkin and Armande Assante in a made for TV movie called Deadly Business. I had 2-3 lines and during the shoot Alan Arkin kept running around saying to everyone on set, “Look at her, look at her, she looks like a young Joan Collins!” I know I was super shy and nervous; they were so kind to me, it was a great first experience.
Do you have a dream role or project on your wish list to this day?
I would love to be on a series created by Shonda Rhimes!
Finally, if you were to wake up one day with one super power, which would it be and why?
I would love to have the super power to make my senior dog live a healthy life forever… anyone who has a dog knows they go far too early.
Follow Suzanne on Instagram.