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CBC's Murdoch Mysteries Star Hélène Joy

Updated: Nov 20, 2018


Hélène Joy photo by Susan Findlay


Hélène Joy Murdoch Mysteries Star

Interviewed by Blaine Schlechter


The first thing I want to say is congratulations on season 12, not many shows even make it to 10 and you guys are on 12 already! Did you imagine the first day you walked onto the set as Dr. Julia Ogden, that you would still be playing her 12 seasons later?

Of course not, that’s just not how actors think (laughs). It’s normally one day at a time…one year at a time, so that’s just not something that you expect. It’s not something that you expect anywhere in the world, particularly in Canada. We just so rarely get more than three or maybe four. It’s certainly not to be expected ever.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC, the CBC TV streaming app.


Never expected but always hoped for?

Even then, I don’t even know if I would have. It’s just something that never would have even occurred to me that it would be this way, so it’s still surprising.


Is there any one moment, episode or guest star that really stands out to you as a personal favorite in the past 12 seasons?

That’s a hard question. One thing that’s really interesting about working on a show for this length of time is how it all runs into one. It’s like one long train. It tends to be what’s most fresh in your mind because it’s such a long stretch. Right now I’m really enjoying the reoccurring character of Ruth Newsome, played by the actor Siobhan Murphy. I just think the Newsomes were incredible and something we can only do after this many years really. They’re quite larger than life and very broad comedic characters and I think they’re just really wonderful performers. But also it’s such a great thing to be able to do on a show especially after this many years, to just add that level of comedy. They keep finding new ways to bring back Ruth Newsome and now Julia and her are working side by side a little bit in the hospital so that’s been super fun.

Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy on screen of CBC's Murdoch Mysteries.


Your character of Dr. Ogden is a strong woman and has been through a lot in the show. She has also become a role model to many young females. What does that mean to you?

It’s incredibly flattering. It’s always surprising; you can’t imagine that that would be the case. If someone showed me Dr. Ogden the character on paper and said that she would be that, I would have found that hard to believe. Its Victorian times, it’s not extremely relatable to modern woman, but it seems that it is. At that time there were all kinds of challenges for woman – we couldn’t vote, we couldn’t work in the same way that men do, we had difficulty wearing clothing that made it easy to live – all of those very strange things. However, on its basis there are some weird similarities still prevalent today as we can see with all the things happening in recent history to do with women and the need for empowerment. They find that the fact that she is in such a repressed society and living with such confidence and such daring and sort of ignoring the rules in the way that she does it sort of stands to reason that she would end up being that role model for modern audiences.


Murdoch Mysteries is set in the late 1800/early 1900’s and the costumes and props are almost a character on their own. What is your favorite part of filming a period show like this and what is the most frustrating?

They go hand in hand strangely (laughs). My most favorite part is being transformed which has to do with hair and makeup and costuming. It’s rare as an actor to be able to step out of yourself to this degree. I look different and I’m not recognizable outside of costume. I know that for a fact because when I wander down the street I hear people talking about my show…I hear people talking about my character and they don’t know I’m standing next to them. I don’t look at all like Julia. So that is the amazing part of being able to do period shows, especially for the woman. It’s such a drastic change from what we have now. But that’s also the worst part (laughs), working in clothes that restrict your movement, day after day. Even the hair restricts your movement. If I want to have a nap it’s sort of difficult. That kind of restraint really wears down on you when you’re working 12 hours a day, you can’t get a really nice, deep, deep breath. You can’t move in a way you would normally like to move when you have leggings on in your normal life.

Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy on screen of CBC's Murdoch Mysteries.


I never thought of the constrictive nature of the clothes, I always thought about how thick and hot they were but never thought about the restrictive nature.

It’s for the women primarily, the men have it great. Every now and then I have to dress as a man on the show and I think ‘you guys…this is fantastic!’ because they don’t even have pants that fit right, it was all suspenders, so the pants are just hanging off you like clown pants…super comfy. It’s not like that for the woman at all.


Speaking of the male characters, the on screen chemistry between Dr. Ogden and Murdoch is easy to see. After 12 seasons, I assume that Yannick and the rest of the cast/crew have become like a second family to you?

Totally. It’s not unlike acting school in this way and the process that happens over three or four years at acting school. You all fall completely in love with each other off the top, and then you kind of get like ‘ok…you’ and then it becomes a very business as usual kind of relationship. We all have very separate lives; we don’t have a lot of time. When we’re not shooting we never see or hear from each other, it’s just business as usual. Then the moment we begin working together it’s like we never left off. It’s not unlike a family in that way. People talk about on screen chemistry and of course you have the fans who I think may have a secret fantasy that Yannick and I are actually involved in person. It’s funny and amusing and I know it’s because they are invested in them as a couple but that’s just not how it works. We have cultivated a chemistry that is really a completely professional relationship.


That just speaks volumes for the talent that you guys possess. The show is popular around the world, including your homeland of Australia. Do you get back home very often?

I usually go back every couple of years. These days I’ve been going every year. I head back in about a month for about six weeks or two months. It’s also summer there, that always helps.


The new season of Murdoch Mysteries is currently airing Monday nights on CBC. When season 11 ended, things were looking a little bleak. What can fans expect as the season moves forward.

We have started this year with a whole new freshness, so we decided not to linger in that darkness. Obviously those issues and those story lines will continue and will be picked up, but we kind of came back with a new, sort of invigoration. For me, personally, Julia comes back and she’s once again starting a whole new chapter and so she’s moving into becoming a surgeon, which is a really great story line because obviously it’s a male-dominated arena once again and she’s putting her nose where it’s not wanted. So, there are a lot of fun story lines to come from that and she really has a sense of purpose. It didn’t work out for them when it came to the child; does that mean their life is over? No.


As a fan of the show and speaking for all fans, we all look forward to seeing how Season 12 all plays out.

We just had a really fun episode. It’s funny; we had audiences who were very confused by it. Some audience members are very attached to the show and the format and we stepped outside the norm, not unlike how we do the Christmas movie and the Halloween episode where everything was completely different. We were basically all taken over by aliens and there was no mystery to solve in the end and that was the story and I think there were a few that just couldn’t understand that we did something different. But tons of people loved it as well, so we’re hoping the audience will understand that we want to do something here and there, like the Christmas movie. They don’t play into the rest of the story at all, they are in and of themselves so that was super fun, I thought it was a really great feature of this year’s season.


You have to keep us on our toes! Thank you so much for your time, I enjoyed chatting with you.

My pleasure.

Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy on screen of CBC's Murdoch Mysteries on CBC and Netflix!

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC, the CBC TV streaming app.


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