The Delightful Myriam Sirois - Loving Life and the People Around Her!

by Kees Boer

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Myriam Sirois plays the likeable Dr. Sarah Mitchell, the doctor, who had taken over from Clint Cassidy in Doc Harley Johanson's clinic in Montana. In real life, Myriam is one of the nicest actresses, I've ever met. She was just a lot of fun to talk with. She is very optimistic and when you walk away from a conversation with her, you just feel better about yourself and life in general. Myriam is a loyal friend, very family oriented and loves life and the people around her. She is extremely charming, spontaneous, and down to earth. At the same time she has quite an impressive acting resume from her role to DOC to her lead role in the latest Babylon V film.

We started talking about some of her fellow cast members in DOC like Richard Leacock (Officer Nate Jackson and Tracy Shreve and Timas (Beverly Jackson and Mattey). "Richard has become a good friend of mine. He's the best, absolutely, the best! And Timas is so adorable. I actually ran into Tracy right before Christmas. We have the same acting coach/teacher. We study with several different people, but one of the people that we both are very fond of. Timas has matured and is a little boy now. It goes by really fast. The minute, he was born, he was a little actor! He didn't have much choice in the matter. That was awesome. It's really a good thing actually. He was so good! He is such a great baby, so I think it was pretty easy to have him be a part of the set and he was with his mom and that was all wonderful too! There are some very cute and endearing scenes with him.

We then continued talking about how she had gotten started. "I was born at a very young age [LAUGHS] in a very small community up in Northern Quebec, which is a beautiful province in Canada. I like to think that all of Canada is beautiful, but of course I'm biased and I love Quebec. I didn't live there for very long and I moved away when I was about 3 years old. My parents were real adventurers and we ended up on the West Coast in British Columbia. My father was in the Mechanical Engineering business, so there was a huge paper mill industry going on in British Columbia, so we moved there when I was really little. So, all of my formative years were spent in Prince George, which is a small town in the interior of British Columbia. I went to school there and there was actually quite a large French Canadian community, so I went to an all French school till I was about 13, then we moved to Vancouver and then from the age of 13 to 23, I lived in Vancouver. That's where I started auditioning for film and television, because prior to that, I was just doing theater and live stage work. And being from Vancouver, the industry was really beginning to boom at that time, I followed some leads and signed with an agency and then I started auditioning for film and television."

She had just had her birthday the week before. "I was traveling back to Vancouver, where my mother and sister still live and some very close friends of mine still live. I was there last week and celebrated my birthday with my family, so it was really, really nice. I have no problems getting older. Things get better. I had someone tell me: 'It's so much better to live a longer life, to get to 85.' Everyone is so concerned about their appearance and their looks and not getting a wrinkle, but I think you earn absolutely every wrinkle and every wrinkle tells a story and I want to get to 85. I know since this birthday just passed, I felt very, very loved by all of my friends and family and some that I've had for the last 20 years. As an example, one of my best girlfriends, who has been in the industry with me and we actually met each other 15 years ago on an audition and for my birthday, she bought me some of these Martini glasses and at the base of these Martini glasses, she painted on the glass, she wrote 8 adjectives, that she thinks of me and some of them were honest, forgiving, friendship and fun was one of them. That's coming from my girlfriend. It was really, really lovely. It was very, very touching, because it was such a personal gift and it came from the heart and was really special to me. I think that's what's sustains me to keep everything in prospective. Not to say that I don't get disappointed if there wasn't a role that I would really like to have or do and it doesn't go my way, that I don't for an instance get sad, but at the same time, when I'm able to look around and feel all the love and the friends I've made, at the end of the day, I have a really good life… to keep the things in prospective."

Myriam always had a passion for acting. "I think I was born with it. I know it sounds corny, but I've never thought about doing anything else. Even when I was really little and before I understood that I could have a career and do this for a living, I literally would have done it for free for the rest of my life, that's how much I enjoy the friendship that I have with the other actors, directors, producers, and the people you're working with. I just love to pretend and play and ever since I was little, that's really why my parents asked me if I wanted to take drama lessons and actually do it seriously. And I said: 'absolutely, I just love it so much.' So, it started in a small way, just doing tiny things at school and just being comfortable in front of people. That's not to say that I don't get very nervous, because I do. But the incredible feeling that I get from being on stage, which unfortunately, I haven't done a lot of in the last few years. It's just an incredible high. It's the greatest thing, whether you're a singer or a dancer or any type of performer, it's always what I wanted to do. I find that with anyone, that's really passionate about what they do, whether it is in medicine or being a painter or an artist, whatever they are going to do, for me, it was all I ever wanted to do. And it literally goes as far back, as I remember. My mother will tell me stories of me being two years old and taking the salt and pepper shaker and entertaining everybody. My mother would say: 'Oh, you need to bow now, they are clapping for you!' And I would bow, but I was always like a total extrovert and just love to be around people and that's where it got started. Where that comes from? I have to believe that it is a God given gift."

I asked Myriam what would be her dream role to have. "I would love to do a comedy, to be really part of a story from beginning to end and to be able to really take a character from beginning and see its journey, its progression and to play the character. I've always had a flair for the dramatic, so something for me, I would also really like to make a movie that moves people and makes them think about something or sparks discussion. I think there is place for all types of films. Sometimes, just going to the theater and forgetting your problems at the door and be entertained. Things being blown up and all of that are very fun and therapeutic, but at the same time, I love to be challenged. I just saw the "Constant Gardner" the other day and to be part of a film, such as that would be my ultimate goal or dream role. That would be one of the biggest ones and the other one would be something completely separate from that and do a comedy and do something silly and show my funny side and my sense of humor. I have no problems laughing at myself. I think that would be fun too."

A sign of a good actor/actress is that they are so believable that the viewer doesn't notice the acting at all. "It's very hard for people to differentiate what you do on television. I actually have a funny story about that. When I first started I was about 13 or 14 years old. I was hired on a show that was all based upon improvisation. So, they had an outline of what you were going to talk about. It was a show called "Secret Lives." There was a psychologist and it was one of these 'let's look into the lives of these people.' Well, people started watching this show and actually believe that we were not actors, but that we were really the characters that we were playing. They didn't read the fine print at the end of the show, where it said: 'These were actors.' They thought it was a reality show, before all the reality shows came out. And I remember going back to school after I had been out of school for a month and I was playing this girl, who is sexually abused and it was like the parting of the sea, people didn't know what to say to me and I had a teacher come up to me and ask if I was Ok. I'm laughing at it now, but people had a hard time separating what was going on television with my real life. I had to explain: 'Oh, no, I'm an actor, and I'm pretending, none of those bad things have ever happen to me.' And then the next question was: 'Well, how can you cry like that?'

That was actually something that I had always thought was amazing. Some actors make millions of dollars a movie and in the midst of that they have the ability to truly cry. Myriam had some great thoughts on that. "People use different techniques. Some actually use drops. The camera stops rolling and they put these drops in. It makes your eyes water. I've also seen people, who are very method in their acting. They have pictures or albums of something that happened in their own lives. Or they listen to certain types of music that invokes those types of feelings. Everyone has their own way. I've never had a real method. I have an incredible imagination. I weep with a story on the news. I can really place myself there. Whenever a role calls for me to cry, I just imagine what that would be like. I put myself there and then it just happens for me. I wish I had a method. One day, I'll be on set and I won't be able to do it on queue. I think it is about shutting out the rest of the world and being really in your own mind and in your own heart and I think any time a character needs to cry, it is obviously a very difficult situation and I put myself in that. I don't really use any of my own experiences. More so, I put myself in that position of the character whatever it is. Some almost use a transfer and I've heard of actors transfer emotions to a paperclip and they'll keep that paperclip in their pocket and they've done their homework and they've associated something really painful with the paperclip, so in the scene where they get to the point, where they have to be really emotionally charged, they feel in their pocket and it will bring those types of feelings. People have really different methods! It's incredible. Everybody has their own way of working."

We started talking about how Myriam approaches acting. "I can really talk about how I approach auditions, because I've had a lot more auditions, then I've had roles. If I have the opportunity to have a script, I read it front to back and back to front and then I really have incredible coaches, who help me dissect a character. I still go to them. It doesn't matter how old you are, or how long you've been doing it, you're always learning. So, I really go to them to help me, but I think with as much honesty as I possibly can. Even though I don't necessarily know about a subject, I try to translate it to something that I can relate to. I actually try to approach everything with a real open mind, because sometimes you can have an idea as to what you think a character would be like or how you want to play a particular scene, how you want to say certain things. I find that I like the team effort in making a film or a TV show and I'm open to that. I'm not someone, who is very stubborn about ideas. I'm more than willing to share them for sure, but at the same time, I'm almost like the clay in an artist hands, so I try to approach it with an open mind. Have my own take of it, but also be someone, who is open and malleable and able to change in any direction that the director or writer needs me to go into. Sometimes, if you come in to set in your ways, I think it can hurt the project more than help it. I come in with some really strong ideas but I'm also very open-minded about how a character should be played. I'm willing to be moved and changed into another direction and that's the fun of it."

Like any great artist, Myriam is eager to learn more about her craft. "I have so much to learn and I've been around some really amazing people that have been around the industry for such a long time. Even when I was a young girl, even as regards to life, I love to really listen to people, because you can learn so much. Even as a little girl, my mother would say: 'you were never really someone that needed to do it for yourself.' I have a sister, who is so incredible. She really has to get out there and see for herself. But I'm also like: 'if I trust you and you've been there before me, I really want to listen to what you have to say' and maybe it would save me some heartache. I love to listen to older people that have come before me. I think it is really important. Not that I haven't made a ton of mistakes, but I always try to listen, because it is just as important."

"I'll go into my acting class and I audit, which means that you're not participating in the class, but you just sit in the back of the class and be an observer, a fly on the wall and I love to do that, because it allows me to get out of my own head and watch and I observe and I learn so much that way, sometimes even more than by participating. Sometimes, you can get really caught up into your own mind and own issues and you miss sometimes really important key points and I love to just go and sit in the back of the class and listen to my teacher speak to the other students and exchange ideas and I learn a lot that way. I like to observe. It's good! I think both of us study substantially with David Rotenberg, whom I absolutely love and adore. He's brutally honest and I appreciate his candor and his honesty. It's refreshing, really nice. I love being in his class. It's really good to be studying and being around your peers. It's a support group as well. It can be a very difficult line of work.

We started talking about how she got the role in DOC. "Basically, I had auditioned for DOC late in the summer one year. I think they were in about their third season. I auditioned for Larry McLean, who is one of the producers on the show and also directed many episodes. I auditioned originally for quite a small role, nothing too substantial, just one episode a couple of scenes. Not anything life altering. After my agent called in and said: 'You didn't get the part, but I really wanted to give you this feedback. They really loved your work and they think that there might be something down the road that has more meat to it, more substance, or a bigger role that they would like to hold off and see you again.' So, when the show came back in September, I auditioned again for a second role and it was definitely a guest star on this episode, a wonderful part and I was on hold for it. All of a sudden, I didn't get it again. Of course then the wheels start turning. They told me they really loved me and now this is the second time and I didn't get the part. Then sure enough, third time was a charm. The character of Dr. Sarah Mitchell was written and it was a special two part episode, with possible recurring status the following year. And I auditioned again, and got word that they had picked me. So, I was of course really happy and I thought: 'You see how things work out?' Things just work out for the best and sometimes, you have to surrender that control that we sometimes all would like to have. I was so happy. I love the character. I love how it was written and I love that I was finally emerging into a young woman, a young actress, that would be able to play a doctor and be in relationships, because up until that point, it was a lot of playing college student, but it was nice that people were seeing me in a different light."

Coming to a set the first day can be intimidating but the DOC cast was just so wonderful. "It was really wonderful and I loved the character, so I got the part and basically showed up on set one day and the first person, I saw was Ron Lea and he was so incredible. Because whenever you come on a show that is established, you come on a set where these people have been working together for three years and 13 hour days, so they know each other very, very well, and you come on as the new kid on the block and I tell you, I've never had such an amazing experience. Ron just literally took me under his wing. He crabbed my arm and said: 'Come on, let's go to set! Let's meet everybody!' It took all of about 10 minutes and I just felt like I was right at home, that I had known these people forever and it was just incredible and it only got better from there. That was literally to this day, one of the most incredible working experiences, that I've had. The people really were as special as everyone says that they were. The environment was just really special and it was great to come to work every day. It didn't matter how early it was. Everyone had a smile on their face, everyone worked together so well! Working with Billy was just absolutely wonderful. He is so funny. That was probably the one thing that actually surprised me. Because you know of someone, but you don't know them. To meet him was just incredible. I knew he was a wonderful artist and his reputation and everything that preceded him, but at the same time, I could never have expected, how genuinely friendly he was and how funny he is. He literally had me in stitches, constantly. And I ended up working with him probably the most. Most of our scenes were together and when you're together with somebody for 12 hours, you really get to know them and it was wonderful! He's really as funny as everybody says he is. It was just a wonderful experience and then Larry McLean was actually directing the two episodes and I'm so fond of him. He was so gracious and wonderful too. It was just amazing. Everyone! Everyone! The entire cast and entire crew was just a wonderful experience. They were a real family and they welcomed the new girl on the block with open arms and they are very appreciated. It makes working a lot easier, because you're nervous a little bit. You come on and you're not sure what to expect, especially, when everyone is established and they had known each other for so long and worked together for two or three years. There was no attitude. Sometimes, there can be a real sense of hierarchy or food chain. And I didn't get a sense of that when I was there. No politics, and everyone was just there to make the best show possible and work together. Everybody was just so gracious from people that were in hair and makeup, all the way to the grips, lighting, to the director of photography. Everyone was so great to work with!"

In the Sci-Fi film, "Babylon V, The Legend of Rangers To Live and Die in Starlight," Myriam played Sarah Cantrell, a lead role as a weapons specialist. "It's along the lines of a Startrek or a Starwars. I love the story, because sometimes you can get lost in the fact that it is Science Fiction. People say: 'that isn't possible.' They kind of toss it to the way like it is fluff. I have to say that a lot of times, when I was reading the script, or when I was watching the other episodes, the underlying theme is really relatable to everyday life. As funny as that sounds, because my character for instance is from Mars. And Martians are just like humans, but when you look at it, it is about friendship and loyalty. It touches on so many topics that are very relatable to everyday human life. I think that's why people get so into it and get so involved, because the stories are really great. They are fantastic and incredible but at the same time, they are very much rooted into something very real, that we can all identify with. The writer decided that people from Mars look just like human beings. I was very happy, because at 5:00 in the morning, I didn't have to sit in the makeup truck for 4 hours. That made me very happy. Although I did hang upside down on cables for a day. You win some, you loose some. A lot of the CGI effects, we shot with me in front of a green screen and basically my character was the weapons specialist. I would jump into a Pod and within this pod, I would kick and punch and all of my movements would basically send weapons like the missile from my fist or my foot. They had me in this hanger suspended many, many, many feet above the ground and spinning on these cables and wires that were hooked to this harness that I sat in and they put the pants over top, so that they could digitally remove the cables once they went into post. So, it was a lot of punching and kicking. Now, when I look back, I think: 'Where did I get the nerve to do this?' It was actually some of the most fun, I've ever had, because it was so different. I had never done any of those type of things before and I worked really hard on doing all of my stunts myself, so I was kind of proud of that. The whole stunt team was so incredible and I learned a lot actually. It was very physical and I'm proud that I was able to do it. It was hard work, but a lot of fun."

It was a role that was not unnoticed. "There was a lot of press that came from doing Babylon V, more than I ever expected. It was actually shocking to be doing a project. Because Babylon V had such a history and such a following, people knew of the show, because it had been a series prior to that and there have been other specials, movies of the week based on the storyline. With Legends of the Rangers, it was incredible, all the Sci-Fi magazines came out and I was doing interviews in between takes and I had never experienced that before. Television was coming on the set and I was constantly having my picture taken. It was sort of surreal. It was an experience that I had never encountered before. We all did work very hard on this film."

Not that Myriam is looking to be famous; she is truly an artist, who loves to act. "My dream has always been to be a working actor, not so much a famous actor. I sort of love the fact, that I work, and then I go home and I'm completely normal. No insanity around me. I think it would be really hard. I think you give up a lot once you become a star more than an actor. It's been nice. It's been a good balance."

She had a great time on Babylon V, but nothing will ever compare to her experience doing DOC. "I don't get PAX anymore, but I used to and when I did get DOC, I watched it all the time. That and Sue Thomas FBEye of course. So, I've almost seen all of the episodes. I've guest starred on other television shows and not that I've ever had a bad experience, but DOC is by far the very best! Absolutely!"