Actress Michelle Morgan

When actress Michelle Morgan called The Dodgy from her Vancouver home, I told her she’s had two major accomplishments in her profession. First, she’s portrayed one of the few characters to survive a George Romero zombie film. Second, she’s played a character who’s had sex with Shane on The L Word. I think she thought that was cool. A lot of people think she’s cool in her role as big sister Lou in the hit Canadian TV show Heartland, currently filming its sixth season. Morgan filmed the pilot while still shooting Romero’s Diary of the Dead in 2007.

When Morgan auditioned for the lead role of Debra Moynihan in Diary she felt “really connected to the character.” She was waitressing at the time at a vegan restaurant in Toronto, where a day later a couple of the film’s producers and one of the leading male actors, Josh Close, happened to walk in. Morgan welcomed them. They looked surprised, looked at each other, and looked at her funny. Then it was Josh, she believes, who told her that she’d probably get the part. Morgan got a call back and then got the role. “I was so, so excited. It was definitely my first big role,” she says.

I asked Morgan if she was familiar with Romero’s other …of the Dead films. She said she hadn’t seen them all so don’t call her a die-hard fan. But she enjoys his films. “Actually, I think I’m one of the few people who liked Land of the Dead.”

Working with Romero

There wasn’t a big budget, Morgan says, but the thing with George – his team respects him, likes working with him, and therefore, he had a better crew than the budget could afford. “He’s a great director to work with. He’s one of those directors who sits back and watches a lot. He only gets real active in his directing when he feels things aren’t going right. He casts as well as he can and has faith in the actors being able to handle a scene. The only time I saw him get really emphatic and excited was when he felt there was a zombie moving too fast. I think in his mind zombies aren’t evil monsters that can move really fast. He said, ‘You know, you’re just going to go and bite him. That’s all you want to do.'”

We talked about Morgan’s fantastic (almost) kill during the hospital scene in Diary where she uses defibrillation paddles on the head of a walking dead. She’d definitely make my list of an all-star zombie survival team from the dead films. Now there’s a film.

Heartland

She didn’t think the series would last this long. “Oh, heck no,” she says. “It’s a total shock. But I remember the director of our first episode who said this show is going to last seven seasons because there was nothing else like it on TV. And he was right. We filled a void. There was nothing Canadian, or nothing in American television I can think of that was truly a multi-generational show. It’s entertaining, well-written and smart. It’s for the entire family.”

Morgan says she enjoys playing a character with real range. “On this show I really have an interesting balance. There’s drama, romance, and comedy.”

Morgan, however, doesn’t want to be completely associated with the character. “I hope to have a career afterward,” she says. “I don’t want to just be Michelle Morgan plays Lou.”

A few years ago Morgan appeared in a comedic web series called Bunny Hug. It’s about a couple that breaks up but still lives together. “There was talk about it being made into pilot,” she says. “I’m still attached to the project so hopefully it will go further.”

One of my favorite scenes in Bunny Hug comes in episode two when Morgan’s character (Celeste) visits a friend and describes the sex she had with her ex the night before. She describes a new move he did where he “crouches like a ptarmigan (a bird).” Her friend’s a little confused by this and Celeste has to repeat “ptarmigan” several times. Morgan sort of reenacted it over the phone so yea, I was thrilled.

Favorite television

“I love Up All Night. Having a new child (Mara), I could relate to it. I watch Game of Thrones and I’m currently on the third book. I love British comedy. On Netflix I’ve been watching The IT Crowd. I also started watching The Riches. I like Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

 Music

In high school Morgan was into punk rock and metal. While attending the University of Toronto she got into photography and starting working for a hip-hop magazine, Pound.  She says she’s softened up a bit since then. She’s a regular at the annual Sled Island Music and Arts Festival in Calgary. The Bronx is one of her favorite bands.

Etc.

So to end our chat, I continued a theme that started with Alex Karpovsky. I’ll recommend a movie for her to see that she hasn’t, and she’ll do the same for me. My recommendation to Morgan was 24 Hour Party People. I also, as a bonus, offered up Rodger Dodger. She recommended to me a Canadian film, You Might As Well Live, directed and co-written by a friend of hers from Toronto. She also recommended to me Freeway, which I’ve seen.

“I love that movie; I’ve seen it six times, so watch it again.”

Morgan’s beer of choice.

“If I could have one right now it would probably be a Stella.”

Morgan has been told she resembles Karen Allen circa 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. I kind of think she looks like The League’s Katie Aselton.

And congrats to Morgan, who called in the midst of not only filming Heartland but while putting the final touches on her wedding the following week.

Actress Michelle Morgan in George R. Romero's Diary Of The Dead

Advertisements