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Welcome to Rachel Skarsten UK: A fan website for the actress Rachel Skarsten. Rising to fame on Birds of Prey and then the breakout role of Tamsin on hit show Lost Girl - Now starring on the TV show ReignRachel has a long list of credits and achievements. Rachel Skarsten UK is the first fansite for Rachel that is not only social media based. I hope to bring you the latest news and gossip !
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Actress Rachel Skarsten on hope, small change and grace.

Audiences of CW’s Reign know Rachel Skarsten as Queen Elizabeth I, the fierce scarlet-haired British monarch. Off-screen, the actress holds court as a change-maker.

“I think sometimes it’s overwhelming for people to think about changing the world because there is so much left to do to make it better,” says the actress, who counts among her causes the Children’s Book Bank and NightLight, an international support network for survivors of human trafficking. “But small actions ripple out and reach farther than you could even imagine.”

As a board member of the Nyantende Foundation—an Ontario non-profit organization that her brother Jonathan helped establish in 2010 while a student at Queen’s University—Rachel is doing her small part to help children in the Democratic Republic of Congo forge their future.

Through donations made to the foundation’s education fund, the cost of enrollment into academic institutions is supplemented for youth living in Bukavu and the Greater Nyantende area. Today, in partnership with 17 regional schools and universities, the charity has empowered 217 students with education.

A passionate advocate for equal rights, Rachel speaks with infectious enthusiasm when sharing her motivation. “I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a country where education is a right, but in so many places in the world, it’s a privilege—especially for women. This incredible privilege—the gift of knowledge—has never been lost on me,” she says. “When you are fully educated, you’re armed in a different way. It changes everything. I think ignorance breeds everything bad; it breeds intolerance; it breeds cruelty; it breeds fear and then hate.”

The Nyantende Foundation is steadily growing, boasting chapters at Queen’s and McGill. With plans to expand across the country’s campuses, Rachel is confident in the possibility of a future where every child has access to education.

Hope is in the results. She recalls the experience she shared with a young man she helped send to university through the foundation. “It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life,” she gushes. “That’s what’s so exciting about kindness in any way. No other accomplishment—nothing—can give you a high like that.

Energized by her endeavors, the actress grips tight to the knowledge that change can begin small—it can begin with helping one person. “I don’t have to change the whole world or move mountains all at once. I just have to start with one.”

Read on to find out why Rachel is happy to be “a single muscle in the greater body of change,” as she makes strides towards closing the education gap.

To read the Q&A – go to the WEBSITE

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Rachel has taken part in an art project called ‘This Body Project’ which is currently exhibiting in Toronto. Here is her picture and the words she has recorded to go with it. To hear the speech please click HERE

photo by scarlet o'neill

I am a woman. I am an actress. I am in the business of beautiful.
What is my relationship to my body? To be fully transparent and vulnerable, it is a constant battle of dualities.
When I saw this photo my first thought was “I look fatter than usual”. Then as quickly as those words came to mind, I also remembered that day. I didn’t feel fat at all. I had just fallen in love. I was with my inspiring friends creating something I believed in. I was in the city that I feel at home in. I had just booked a great job. I felt liberated and free. I was happy.
Growing up, my father always told me God made and gave me a beautiful body. He would then follow that up by saying that even more importantly, he gave me a beautiful spirit. These words gave me a confidence about who I was inside and out. Worthy, precious and whole. I never questioned or challenged his words until years after he passed away and I had just turned 16.
I filmed a movie on location in Nova Scotia. I had hit the point where what I’d once mindlessly ate caught up to me. I probably gained about 10lbs, but I don’t remember feeling uncomfortable or self conscious…until I returned home. I don’t even think he remembers, but my uncle made a passing comment about my weight. Like a left hook out of no where, it crushed me. But it would not be the last assault, or the worst. Now, his words didn’t not crush me nearly as much as the producers who told me I was fat. The boys who told me I was disposable. The impossible expectations of the people who didn’t matter. And the worst of them all, the moments I told myself I was unworthy of anything other than that effortless wholeness I’d once felt.
Those years started what would be a battle between two voices. Between loving my body and hating it. I became, in a sense, a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a woman of dual mind. It wasn’t more difficult growing up in Hollywood, just an added “bonus”. For a girl, the business of beautiful is everywhere.
Reflecting back on it all now, I ponder the power of words. The power they have to dictate a relationship with oneself. The ability of words to be the life blood of self love or the cancer of self loathing. The weight of a comment or phrase to shift like tectonic plates the foundations of how a woman sees herself. The words my father said to me, the words of my uncle, the words I said and say to myself.
Which brings me to this moment. I’ve lived so long in a business of exterior beauty, both in vocation and gender, that I often forget my body is only one half of what my Dad had always told me. It is only one half of what God has given me, and for sure the most temperate and fragile of the two. Each day I need to be reminded of this.
So when I look at this picture a second time, hanging on the wall as you see it, I’m hoping my first words to myself will be look at that beautiful body and the beautiful spirit the shines through. Worthy, precious and whole. Full stop.

 

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Part One

…..

Did you worry originally that because you were in a sci-fi show that you would be type cast and not get other roles such as Elizabeth?

I think there used to be a bit of a stigma around sci-fi, people who did sci-fi were put into some sort of category, just do sci-fi. I don’t think that exists anymore. First of all in conventions you have these huge mainstream movie stars coming to conventions now. People like Benedict Cumberbatch doing conventions now. I think there’s actually a lot of really great television and original programmes being produced by networks like Sci-fi. So I’m not so concerned about that, just really wanting to do a completely different character, and could I do that on a sci-fi show? That opportunity didn’t present itself on a sci-fi show, but it did right away with ‘Reign’.

Do you think studying English Literature and Classical History at University helped with your role on Reign?

I think studying English Literature helped me with life in general (laughs) I feel that it taught me how to think in a different way. It introduced me to so many authors and characters, plays and stories. I don’t know how much it specifically helped me for ‘Reign’ although I read so much that was written during that time period. So I had a greater knowledge because of that.

It’s a very specific type of language

Absolutely. It was exiting for me because it opened this opportunity for me to be able to buy 10 books about Elizabeth and read them for work and get very nerdy about it! (laughs) So I loved that.

I would just say, traditional eduction, going to university it isn’t for everyone but I think if it is for you I encourage everyone to get an education and it is such an invaluable tool.

I learnt more about life than studying when I went to university.

Oh! I’d say 75% of what I learnt in university was out of the classroom. How lucky I was to have that opportunity.

Do you think women’s roles in society have improved for the better or worse since the times of Elizabeth 1st?

I think that it’s hard to be a woman. Women still face challenges. I think they face the same amount of challenges as they did then, it’s just in a different capacity. Back then it was extremely hard to be a woman because you weren’t allowed the freedom to have the opinions that we have today. You couldn’t have a career. Part of the problem for Elizabeth was that no one thought she was legitimate, not only because of her parentage but because she was a woman. She couldn’t take the throne because how could a woman possibly be in that position of power? That must have been incredibly frustrating. They were so limited even by their clothing, that now women have the opportunity to have that power. We still have to battle, especially in film against getting paid less then men, but I do believe that it’s changing. Even ageism. Women face other challenges such as what if I want to be a mother and have a balance between being a mother and having a career and doing all of those things that I want to do in my life and how do I do all of that and do it successfully?

I think women are so extraordinary. They’re such extraordinary creatures. Even just getting the chance to talk to my grandparents generation and see what was easier for them or more difficult and then talking to my girlfriends now I feel like we’re quite resilient beasts.

Do you know if your film The Red Dress will be released in the UK?

No I do not know the answer. (laughs) It’s being released all over the place. I’ve seen it, but I just saw it at the directors house, we just watched it. I know that it aired in Malta. I think it aired in the United States. It should eventually find it’s way to the UK, but I’m not sure.

Finally do you have a message for you fans?

Yes! Honestly I am continually humbled by, and grateful for all the support. I feel entirely undeserving of it. It’s so overwhelming. Most of it truly is from ‘Lost Girl’ and that was one of the great gifts and legacies that ‘Lost Girl’ gave me, that I had never ever anticipated when I signed onto that job. Even you doing the site. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you would do that for me. I’m so appreciative.

END

That’s it folks!

Finally a big thank you on behalf of all the fans to Rachel and her team for letting me do this interview !

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On Friday 6th November 2015 I got the chance to conduct a 15 minute phone interview with Rachel Skarsten. Here is the transcript for part one:

My voice is in purple and Rachel’s in white

………

 As the finale has now aired a lot of people have had mixed reactions to Tamsin’s storyline. I’m somewhere in between. I didn’t want her to die but I could see that when she did she was content and was ready. What is your take on Tamsin’s ending?

Well Michael Grassi who was the head writer on last season took me out to lunch before the season began, and asked me, (which I’ve never really been asked before) ‘What would you like for Tamsin?’ I said ‘Whatever it was I wanted it to be big’, so whether she went down in flames or found the love that she had so been searching for, I just didn’t want her to fade into the night and I felt that he gave me both, because that’s how Tamsin lives her life. Nothing is grey for Tamsin, big personality, things are very black and white for her, she wears her heart on her sleeve and I find that incredibly endearing about her so I really loved the fact that she found that love, that legacy that she desired. When we had a big get together to watch the finale and live tweeted, the creator Jay Firestone was there and there’s been lots of talk about doing a film and we were talking about that and I say ‘Well I’m dead so I guess I can’t do it’ and Jay said ‘Well if you notice that you see in the CG [Tamsin] flying up’ Originally I go into stardust but you can sort of see Tamsin so he said it wouldn’t have to be the end of her story, which I thought was cool, he had added that in afterwards. So who knows. So that’s the beauty of sci fi!

I died in the 3rd season but then I came back! (laughs) So one never knows.

Lost Girl finished filming over a year ago, but other than at conventions do you keep in touch with your cast mates?

I do actually. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a project where- usually you’ll take one person with you from each thing you do – and this show I’ve actually stayed in touch with everyone. I was talking to Rick Howland the other day, Zoie and I were texting. I probably see Paul and Kris the most when I’m in Toronto and when I’m in Los Angeles I see Anna a lot, and then Ksenia sort of flutters by back and forth between everywhere.

She’s sort of everywhere!

(Laughs) Yeah! I usually just keep in touch with her more via the phone. I mean, we’re all genuinely friends. Everyone keeps in touch with everyone too, so its this community now long after we’ve finished filming.

Are you looking forward to meeting your UK fans at the convention in January?

Oh absolutely! The fans in the UK I think.. (laughs) I hate to say are one of the best fans but it was such a surprise to me because it is a Canadian show, but Canadians are very reserved so I hardly ever get recognised in Canada or if I do they don’t say anything. The Americans are much more forward so I tend to get recognised a there quite a bit, but I expected those places to have a fan following of ‘Lost Girl’, I had no idea…The first time I went to London there was this overwhelming fan base of people who loved ‘Lost Girl’. I was actually just in London a month ago and it was funny because I was going to see a play with a guy who’s on ‘Reign’ now with me, and he got recognised for Reign and I didn’t. Which I expected because I wear a wig and I just started the show but then I got recognised for ‘Lost Girl’ 3 times in the space of 2 hours! And he said ‘What IS THIS SHOW?!’ (laughs) It’s Crazy! And I was like ‘I know!’

I didn’t start watching the show until about a year ago and I had never heard of it before. I can believe how big it is now I’m ‘In it!’

I know! It’s wild! We were on the tube and someone was like ‘Is that Rachel Skarsten!?’ (laughs) I’m like ‘Oh my gosh!’

I’d be too embarrassed to go up to somebody

I know some ‘celebrities’ don’t like it, I think they’re mental. I think it’s so lovely to meet people. That’s some of the reasons I love doing conventions because you really get the energy and get to hear what they thought of your performance and we get hold up in Canada working away and then you never know. You just send it out into the atmosphere. ‘Lost Girl’ is such a special show and impacted people’s lives and empowered them and their decisions, which is wonderful and I love that.

What initially attracted you to the role of Elizabeth 1st?

When I finished ‘Lost Girl’ I sat down with my agents and I said I want to do something that is completely different from ‘Lost Girl’ because I had become so comfortable with the character of Tamsin and taken a lot of my own personality and put it into her and I felt that I didn’t want to do another show and just be Tamsin again. Of course I take myself wherever I go but Reign presented different challenges in that it was a period piece, it was an actual historical character, and there was an accent. Just with those it is so different, and I also got quite used to playing a powerful woman on ‘Lost Girl’ and I didn’t want to go to playing someone who was wishy washy so Queen Elizabeth brought that (laughs)

Part Two

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Rachel Skarsten graduated from Queen’s University in 2007 with a degree in English. Eight years later, the actress is playing the Queen of England on TV.

[Photo of Rachel as Queen Elizabeth]

The Toronto native has a successful career in Hollywood and currently stars as Queen’s Elizabeth I in the TV show Reign about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. People may recognize Rachel from other shows such as Lost Girl, L.A. Complex, and Flashpoint. Most recently she appeared in the hit film 50 Shades of Grey, playing Christian Grey’s assistant.

Her acting career was already established – thanks to a starring role on the WB TV show Birds of Prey – before she decided to take a break and come to Kingston.

She considers her Queen’s education “invaluable” to her acting career because studying alongside some of the best students in the world taught her to work hard. “I thrived in that (competitive classroom) environment and it prepared me well for the same reality in acting,” says Rachel.

She took time out to talk about the importance of following your passion, the importance of a supportive family and give some advice to actors looking to make it big in Hollywood.

Q: Your father was a doctor. Was your family supportive about your acting dreams or was there pressure to pursue a safer career such as doctor or lawyer?
A: What a great tragedy it was for me to see so many of my friends being pushed in to “suitable” careers. Two of the greatest gifts my parents gave me were the requirement in our house of going to university and the freedom to study there whatever I wanted. Between them they had six degrees, so education was of paramount importance. They always said, however, as long as I was truly happy they would support my career choice. What an incredible privilege and freedom I had! I credit much of my success to that start.

Q: Your started acting in your teens and your career was starting to take off, but you chose to attend Queen’s. Why come to Kingston for four years as oppose to moving to L.A. to focus on your career?
A: I had missed most of high school because I was acting and I felt very strongly that the school experiences you have in your teens and early twenties can’t be duplicated later. I think so much of the learning you do in university is outside of the classroom, figuring out who you are and where you fit in the world. So I left L.A. to come to Queen’s for that and I’m grateful I did. I made a lot of mistakes at Queen’s, but I saw my peers in L.A. struggle making those same mistakes on a world stage. I felt blessed to come back to acting with a greater knowledge of who I was and with a degree that enabled me to know I had other options.

Q: How did Queen’s help prepare you for the cut-throat world of Hollywood?
A: There isn’t a school as competitive as Queen’s. It is bursting at the seams with some of the most well rounded and intelligent students from around the world. I remember during frosh week we were told in an assembly that while we were all accustomed to being in the top 10% of our class, half of us would now be in the bottom. I thrived in that environment and it prepared me well for the same reality in acting. I also believe that the education I received, while not specific to acting, taught me how to think in a different way, how to articulate myself and how to discipline and focus myself and my thoughts. It has been invaluable.

Q: What has been your favourite TV/movie role so far?
A: The one I’m doing now! I play Queen Elizabeth. Is there a more interesting, dynamic or powerful woman of her time one could play?

Q: This year you appeared as Christian Grey’s personal assistant in 50 Shades of Grey and Queen Elizabeth in TV’s Reign. What’s your next big project?
A: Reign keeps me pretty busy. We film for 10 1/2 months out of the year. So aside from working with my brother Jonathan’s charity Nyantende (which started at Queen’s), I’m focused on that.

Q: Any advice to Queen’s alumni who dream about moving to Hollywood and becoming actors?
A: If there is anything else you could do and be happy, do that. Acting is so much more than the art itself. It is a difficult, heartbreaking and ruthless business at times. If there is nothing else that sets you on fire quite like acting, don’t let anyone dissuade you from your dream. I believe, above all, in following your heart.

[Photo of Rachel at Queen's University]

TOP PHOTO: Rachel Skarsten as Queen Elizabeth on TV’s Reign.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Rachel (middle) during her Queen’s University days,
with roommate Stefanie Hurst (left) and cousin Maggie Ranson

 

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Source Canada Hello Magazine

‘Reign’ star Rachel Skarsten dishes on playing Queen Elizabeth I

Taking on a historical figure such as Queen Elizabeth I can be a daunting task for an actress, but Toronto native Rachel Skarsten tells Hello! that she was nothing but excited to step into the iconic shoes for the current season of Reign (Thursdays, E!). “I went to Queens University and studied English literature and this was the first time that I ever played a character that was a real person. I got to sink my teeth into studying her and reading everything that I could.” The Lost Girl star admits that she was nervous to join the show in the third season but “everyone was so incredibly welcoming of me.”

Here, Rachel reveals her affinity for Cate Blanchett, the joys of wearing 16th-century costumes and her idea of the perfect day off in her hometown.


Reign is filmed in Rachel’s hometown of Toronto.Photo: © Getty Images

Was it easy to master Elizabeth’s accent?
My audition for the show was the very first time I have ever done a British accent out loud and my main concern the whole time was not to look like an idiot [ Laughs]. But it’s been fairly easy. I had two very lovely dialect coaches who have helped me perfect it.

Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?
Cate Blanchett’s rendition of Queen Elizabeth is probably one of my favourite performances of all time. So I watched that until I think I memorized every line. Laurie McCarthy [the creator of Reign] had a very clear vision of how she wanted Elizabeth to be played and I really liked it. It’s this sort of new approach and the idea of meeting Elizabeth when she was early in her reign and still quite a young woman and dealing with all of those things that you deal with when you’re in your early 20s and you’re certifiably insane [ Laughs]. While I tried to observe other people and how they played Elizabeth and things like that, I wanted to make her my own as well.


Rachel wears the heavy crown of Elizabeth I in Reign. Photo: © M3

The costumes are stunning! What is it like getting into character?
I remember putting [on her first dress] and just thinking “This is the most lovely thing I have ever seen. If I ever get married I will wear this dress on my wedding because it’s so gorgeous!” Going into that wardrobe to have my fittings is probably one of my favourite parts of this job.

Since Elizabeth was such a strong woman, who are some women you look up to?
I always looked up to my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was an absolute force of nature. When she was 30, she was not married and she decided to go to India because it was her dream to change the world. So she went as a missionary. And I think of it even now, the pressure that I feel at 30 to have a life that looks like what people expect it should look like, and that not necessarily being the life that I want for myself. I always think of my grandma and the voracious appetite that she had for adventure and to set the world on fire. I feel very proud to have come from that.

What is your idea of the perfect day off in Toronto?
Going to Ezra’s Pound, my favourite coffee spot, getting a coffee and a croissant and going to the botanical gardens which I love and have loved since I was a little girl. Then going to a book store and sitting and reading books [ Laughs]. I have a super geeky day off! And then maybe going to Fresh or something and getting some food. Definitely those two things. Anytime I’m feeling down or a little overwhelmed you can find me either at the botanical gardens or at Chapters.

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Stuff.co.nz interview

Reign’s new queen Rachel Skarsten

Move over Mary – there’s a new queen in town.
Introduced at the end of the second season, Canadian actress Rachel Skarsten’s Queen Elizabeth I will be a major factor in Reign this time around, actively plotting the Queen of Scots’ (Adelaide Kane) demise.

Part Norwegian, the 30-year-old Skarsten was previously best known for her work on supernatural drama Lost Girland a small role in this year’s Fifty Shades of Grey as Christian Grey’s assistant Andrea.

Fairfax caught up with her recently by phone.

What is it like joining an established series?

I’m no stranger to joining a show in the third season, I joined Lost Girl at the same stage and that was a wonderful experience. I had no idea what to expect though and I felt the pressure of the part, but Adelaide was so welcoming. It wasn’t five minutes after it was announced that I got the part that I got a message from her welcoming me to the show. That was so cool and that really set the tone. They really are like a little family here. I say this completely genuinely. I feel truly blessed to have been welcomed into their little crew and it has been seamless.

This season of Reign will be 22 episodes long. How do you pace yourself to work on something for that long?

It is a little daunting. I’m figuring that out as I go along because I’ve never been part of a project that’s been longer than 13 episodes. You can definitely throw yourself into 13 episodes and just kill yourself for five months. But when you’re looking at 10 months, it’s a very different situation. I think it’s just about getting as much sleep as you can and enjoying each and every moment, because when you do something for so long there can be a monotony regardless of what and how exciting it is. I’ve been through periods where I haven’t worked and would have paid someone to give me a job – I think that’s really helped me feel very grateful to have a job, even when I have a call time of 3.30am. My Mom laughs when I text at 4am saying “I love my job”.

Rachel Skarsten plays Queen Elizabeth I on Reign.

Rachel Skarsten plays Queen Elizabeth I on Reign.

What about the costumes? How have you coped wearing 16th century outfits in 21st century Canada?

Don’t forget, I also wear I wig. I’m sure I’ll be grateful in the wintertime, but there were times I was thinking my face was literally melting off of my body. I was so hot with the corset and the dress and the petticoat, with a jacket over the top. That is very challenging, but I grew up in Toronto so I’m no stranger to the severity of the change in the weather and it’s just part of the job. We have an amazing crew and the make-up and wardrobe people are so supportive and helpful. They have little fans and are doing whatever they can to make you more comfortable.

With Queen Elizabeth being both an historical figure and someone portrayed on screen so many times, how did you find a unique take on the character?

For my original audition, I saw an incredible vulnerability about her and played up on that. I think that really resonated with the writers. She is so profoundly known for her incredible strength of character – she was like a force of nature and arguably one of the greatest leaders of all time. To deconstruct her and show her vulnerable side, that’s what everyone identifies with and that’s the language we all speak as humans in any situation in life. Even when you’re doing incredibly things, you can feel scared, overwhelmed and humbled. I’ve enjoyed playing that part of her.

And have you found your double degree in English Literature and Classical Studies handy for the role?

I know getting a degree in those subjects might to some people seem pointless in this day and age, but I’ve found it invaluable. That wealth of characters you are introduced to – I did whole courses on Shakespeare and Restoration Literature so I’ve absolutely drawn on that. Having said that, I believe everyone has a job for a reason and I think I trust that the writers do their thing and do it well. That’s their piece and mine is to take what they have written and bring it to life.

Rachel Skarsten says her Reign costumes were difficult to wear during the summer months of filming on the third series.

Rachel Skarsten says her Reign costumes were difficult to wear during the summer months of filming on the third series.

On that note, how far ahead do you get the scripts on Reign?

We discussed the arc of Elizabeth before the season started and I have a general idea of where she is going, but we don’t get the scripts until the day before. It’s a little bit nuts and it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me because of having to learn the accent and digest all of that dialogue. Normally, learning lines is fairly easy for me, but when you add an accent onto that it adds a complexity that I had not anticipated. I remember Megan Follows (her fellow Canadian and Reign actress) said to me that it will get easier, “you will get into a rhythm and familiarity with the character”. That has been true and that was really great advice. However, much to the chagrin of all of my agents, I never studied accent, had a coach or went to school. It’s funny because I actually value being educated in everything I do and take pride in that. But I really like the sort of off the cuffness of acting. While I deeply admire actors who deeply prepare, it’s just not something I do. It is now a tradition that I will look at the lines the morning of the edition – it lends a freshness to what I do. Everytime I try to really study, people see it as being contrived. For me then, this scenario is perfect. It’s like the wild west of acting. Get the script, jump into it and do it. I really am sort of set on fire by that.

So how long are you planning on sticking around on Reign then?

I always joke with Adelaide that it’s “only a matter of time deary and it will be off with your head”. I’m in it for the long haul. I remember saying to the show’s co-creator (Laurie McCarthy) that this is the one job where I know that if I get killed off I must have really messed something up because I’m supposed to be the last person standing.

 

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Interview: Rachel Skarsten On Reign’s Queen Elizabeth & Birds of Prey

Interview: Rachel Skarsten On Reign’s Queen Elizabeth & Birds of Prey

Rachel Skarsten has joined the cast of Reign for its third season which premieres at 8PM tonight (October 9) on The CW. Skarsten is playing Queen Elizabeth, and her presence will surely shake things up for the show’s third season.

Rachel is also familiar to a lot of fans for one of her earliest roles — she was the first actress to ever play DC Comics’ Dinah Lance on television in the modern era, with the short-lived but well-loved WB series Birds of Prey.

We spoke with Rachel this summer about her new Reign role as well as her Black Canary legacy.

Reign -- Image Number: RGN_Rachel_10103rb.jpg -- Pictured: Rachel Skarsten as Queen Elizabeth -- Photo: Jordan Nuttall/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: What kind of drama is Elizabeth going to bring for Mary in Reign Season 3?

RACHEL SKARSTEN: Lots of drama. It’s going to be very interesting, because Laurie McCarthy’s establishing two courts – so it’ll be both the English court and the French court that Mary’s still at. So, how those women are going to interact, and how they’re going to impact each other’s lives is still a bit of a secret, but I am sure that she will bring lots of drama.

There’s an alliance with Queen Catherine, I hear?

Well, we don’t know yet if Elizabeth’s taken the bait for the alliance with Queen Catherine, but I do think that those two devious women are going to come up with some good plots, so I’m excited.

BOP-0395A number of actresses have played variations of Dinah Lance since you portrayed the character. Have you been paying attention to that?

I know! You know what? I tune in to Arrow to see Katie [Cassidy]. She does a great job. It’s interesting to see other people’s interpretations… although, [Black Canary]’s a very famous character in her own right, so there are similarities between all of us. I’m just proud to have been the first.

Would you ever be open to appearing on Arrow at some point?

You know, actually, I am really good friends with Stephen’s cousin Robbie. I’ve met Stephen before. They’re both lovely, so, absolutely. I would totally appear on that show.

You did a Birds of Prey reunion earlier this year [at the Hollywood Collector’s Show]. How did that go?

It was crazy seeing Ashley and Dina…. I mean, I have almost doubled in age since I was on Birds of Prey… and to see them, and the three of us being back together, and how fun it was that the dynamic was basically the same so many years later… it was so nice.

For Birds of Prey, you were the youngest in the cast, and now you’re more among peers. Can you talk about that?

Both on Birds of Prey and on Lost Girl, I was the youngest, and I didn’t think that I would luck out a third time, having cast members who were so generous with me. Truly, they’re all so lovely. I’ve been dying to hang out with them… I just want to hang out with my new friends! They’re so lovely. I’m stoked to be on this show.

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Rachel Skarsten – Reign

Q) What initially drew you to the role of Elizabeth?

A) I mean, I think anyone would be crazy not to be drawn to the opportunity to play a character like Elizabeth. She’s this formidable powerhouse of her time that it would be like turning down playing Coco Chanel or Michelle Obama or something. She’s just so brilliant and it was also a really attractive option for me because I had just come off of a show, Lost Girl, where I played a valkeryie. It’s such a different vibe, she had this incredible humor to her and she was very clumsy and sort of brash. I was really concerned about jumping into something that was similar because I didn’t just want to play Tamsin again. So, getting the opportunity to play Queen Elizabeth, doing a period piece and having an accent – these are all things that are just so vastly different from Lost Girl and I love that.

Then I had the opportunity to talk to the creator and I actually watched all forty-three episodes of the show before the episode that I was on. [laughs] People would call me and I’d be like, “Can’t talk! Watching Reign, bye!” I actually shot myself in the foot doing this because then I became a fan of the show and I had to go work with these people and it was sort of embarrassing. I’m like, “Hey! I’m a big fan!”

Q) We know Queen Elizabeth is this big iconic role and she’s kind of been present during the first two seasons without actually seeing her. How did that play into your preparation for the role?

A) It’s funny because as I was watching the show, I sort of started to get a little bit nervous because they mention Elizabeth so many times. “Queen Elizabeth did this!” or “Elizabeth did that!” and I’d get nervous because they were talking about me. It was sort of like my dream come true because this is the first time I’ve ever played a real person that has existed. And as an English Literature major, I got to research and read on all this stuff and then I proudly waltzed into Laurie McCarthy’s office and said, “I read six books so far on Elizabeth, Elizabeth relationships and Mary!” and Laurie sort of smiled at me and said, “Well don’t get too attached to that.” [laughs]. So, that was sort of my preparation shot to hell in a hand basket ,but watching the show and getting the general vibe for it were all things that I did. Then, of course, I had to. 

I hadn’t done an English accent before. I walked into the audition sort of winging it and I suppose it was good enough, but I did want to get it perfect. I went in and met with a lovely accent coach and she helped me to perfect it.

Q) Already knowing Elizabeth’s earlier experiences, especially with her family, how do you think that’s going to impact her way of ruling? She comes off so stoic and very aggressive, almost passive aggressive in a way.

A) Totally. The thing I like about Laurie and what the writers have done is that, first off we’re seeing Elizabeth very early on in her rule. So, she’s probably in her early 20’s. While she is definitely the Queen, obviously Mary (Adelaide Kane), Mary being married to the King of France and being a Catholic is very threatening to her rule. She’s struggling having all these men who are much older than her on her council, not taking her seriously as a leader. So, we get to see those struggles and her vulnerability in that. And, of course, we have sort of her famed love story with Robert Dudley, the whole were they or weren’t they.

We get to see Elizabeth as a young girl who is in love. Honestly now that I’m 30, I can safely say that when I was in my early 20’s, I was certifiably insane. It was this really difficult time of not being a child anymore but not yet fully being an adult. And so you have these moments of beautiful maturity and clarity and then you have contrasting moments that follow up those mature moments with being impetuous and wild and wanting freedom, but without having the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I think they perfectly show that and we have that dichotomy in Elizabeth and I love playing that.

Q) From all the previews we’ve seen so far Elizabeth just has this look about her, very dominant and stoic. Will we get to see a softer side to her down the road?

A) Oh, of course! I love playing the bad girl. I think those girls are so much more complex, interesting, juicy and fun. But those characters are only redeemable if you see their vulnerabilities as well. So, we will absolutely see her weaknesses and moments where she’s sad, lonely and sort of desperate. We didn’t see that in the trailer, but trust me when I say I’ve cried plenty thus far on this season [laughs].

Q) What can viewers expect between the Catherine and Elizabeth dynamic?

A) Oh man, Megan Follows, growing up in Canada she was obviously a very big deal and then watching her on the show before having met her – At the risk of losing some of my friends on Reign, she is definitely my favorite character. Getting to work with her was difficult to maintain focus because, as an actress, you’re sort of watching her and thinking, “Oh my goodness, she did that this way. That’s so cool I have to remember that!” and then you have to remind yourself to be present in the scene.

I love the dynamic between Elizabeth and Catherine because Elizabeth obviously grows up without a mother and Catherine is a sort of motherly figure, but Catherine also is a very dangerous adversary for Elizabeth. Especially the first episode, you meet Elizabeth and you sort of see how that relationship unfolds. I think it’s interesting for Catherine too because she’s never met another woman who really is on another playing field as her, if not has a one up on her, but is also just a girl. It was very fun to play that with Megan.

Q) Historically, we know that Elizabeth doesn’t die. How does that make you feel?

A) It’s kind of great as an actress because it’s like unless I totally tank this part, I’m not going to get killed off the show! [laughs]. Adelaide and I joke about it! I’m like, “It’s only a matter of time!” but it’s been a lot of fun so far and you never know what can happen!

Q) You’re right they’ve definitely thrown in a bit of the supernatural side so anything can really happen! I want to shift gears a bit to the Lost Girl because I know that last half of the final season aired earlier last month in Canada. I know that Tamsin’s character is so confident and has that naturalistic instinct to protect her friends, especially Bo. Were there any traits of Tamsin’s that you brought over to Elizabeth?

A) I think that every time an actress plays a character you bring parts of your own personality. You just sort of personify certain parts and exaggerate certain parts of your personality and maybe hide others. I think that’s part of what makes a portrayal real. 

Even on set, on Reign, they’ll say to me, “Okay Rachel you can’t roll your eyes like that. Elizabeth would never do that.” [laughs] And even some of the previews that came out [for Reign] all over Twitter there were people saying, “Oh there’s that Tamsin glare!” I think that as different as they are as women, I find myself sort of attracted to these characters of women who are incredibly strong and powerful. I’ve been so lucky to get to play women like that. But, like us all, we have a fatal flaw that tends to be our Achilles heel and sort of our underbelly and so both of those characters had that. Ironically or maybe not, but love is sort of the one thing they’re searching for but also seems to have alluded them because of the positions they’re in.

Q) I can see that. Tamsin’s really had a great storyline and her character development the entire time that she’s been on the show has just been incredible. Tamsin just went from this kick ass, I don’t care about anyone attitude to being almost at the beck and call of Bo.

A) Yeah I know [laughs].

Q) What are your hopes for Tamsin as the show comes to a close?

A) I sat down with the amazing Michael Grassi, who is the head writer of the show and he sort of said to me, “What do you want for the last season? What do you want for Tamsin?” I think Tamsin has always been searching for love, family and acceptance, a place to call her own. I wanted to see her go after that completely and either at the end be completely ruined for it or to find that contentment that she’s been looking for. Somehow Michael ended up managing to give me both of those things in a firework display ending. I absolutely love how he ended the character of Tamsin. I thought it was so brilliant and did so much justice to that character. I think everyone is going to be very happy.

Q) I hope so! It literally broke my heart last season!

A) Yes, well there’s more heartbreak, but there’s also very good things. I just cried! I cry all the time now apparently.

Q) Oh I remember the first time Tamsin cried on Lost Girland I just remember thinking, “Crap…Something bad is about to happen.”

A) [laughs] Yeah, that means the world is ending!

Q) Are you Team Lauren or Team Tamsin?

A) Ultimately, I really like Lauren (Zoie Palmer) for Bo. t’s been sort of a long-standing romance and truthfully I don’t know that Bo (Anna Silk) loves Tamsin back in the way that Tamsin loves her. So as much as I am inclined to say Team Tamsin, I think I’ll have to go with Team Lauren. Or just Lauren and Tamsin, they’ve got a whole cop-doc thing going on, forget Bo!

Q) If you could describe the season opener of Reign in one word and the final season of Lost Girl in one word, what would it be?

A) I suppose just beginning and end. For me, Reign is a new beginning, a whole new character and a whole new adventure that I’m so excited to embark on. But at the same time I’m very sad about the ending of another character that I’ve inhabited for three years.

There’s a quote that I put up on Instagram that said, “And suddenly you know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.” I love that quote. With Tamsin,, I’m very satisfied with the way that I left her and therefore can be excited with how I started Elizabeth.

Q) What have you taken away from your experience on Lost Girl?

A) Apart from just the real friendships with Anna [Silk], Zoie, Paul [Amos], Kris [Holden-Reid], Ksenia – all of them who I still text at least one of them everyday, we get together whenever we’re all in Toronto or Los Angeles. The thing I feel that I really, really took away from it were the incredible fans. I had no concept of what I was getting myself into and how loyal these fans would be. They will follow you anywhere and support anything that you do. My heart has literally burst open with people’s generosity to my brother’s charity and how they’ve donated and jumped on board. 

It’s been this extremely humbling, beautiful honor to have such amazing fans. I mean the whole show of Lost Girl has been fueled by the fans. I think above and beyond anything that is what I took and still benefit from. I am very grateful.

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Rachel Skarsten on Her Recent Royal Transformation

When Reign returns to the CW on October 9th for its third season, the historical series—which centers on Mary, Queen of Scots’ time in France—will be adding a new queen to its mix. Fifty Shades of Grey alum Rachel Skarsten is joining the show as Queen Elizabeth I. Here, the Canadian former hockey champ—seriously, she was the goalie for the Leaside Wildcats—opens up about binge-watching, the art of pranking and how hockey helped her in Hollywood.

So, you’re going to be Queen Elizabeth! How did that happen? 

The process of booking Reign took place during pilot season, I had two auditions on one day. Honestly, my main concern was not looking like a complete knob with my British accent, because I have never done one before. I left the building and didn’t really give it another thought other than just, Whew, I didn’t completely mess it up! And then, a little time passed and I got the phone call.

How did you manage to learn the accent?

Actually, long before I ever auditioned for Reign, I had been completely enthralled and obsessed with Cate Blanchett’s performance as Elizabeth in both of those films that she did. When I first started filming, I would watch clips of her and would try to mimic her. For the actual audition, it was straight up YouTube. But now, Reign is lovely enough to have two dialect coaches. It also helps that 50 percent of the cast is actually British.

So, what intrigued you about the character?

Queen Elizabeth is such an iconic character. To have the real honor of playing someone who is just so complex and so brilliant and so well known has been such an exciting new challenge for me. It was kind of a homecoming for me too, since I had been on The CW with my first show ever when I was 16 years old.

What type of research did you need to do to prepare for this kind of historical role? 

I immediately went to the bookstore and bought all these books on Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary. I did sort of all my own research. And then, of course, they cast me and right away said could you come in and be the teaser for the last episode of our second season, which we are filming in two weeks. I thought, Oh my goodness! I need to watch all these episodes! There were 43 episodes. And I was like, OK, I’m just going to do this! My friends would literally call me and I would be like, ‘I can’t talk to you right now. I’m watching Reign.’

What is your favorite part about playing Queen Elizabeth so far?

I love how they have written her because there is sort of this dichotomy of vulnerability and being quite ruthless, which is always very fun to play. Just superficially speaking, my absolute favorite part of this character is the transformation I get to make. I have this beautiful red wig. The costumes are so stunningly beautiful. The designer, Meredith, is just an absolute genius. I love how it’s sort of pulled from current runway and then mixed with vintage. Every time they call and say they need to bring me in for a fitting, it’s like Christmas.

I heard about a certain prank war happening on set. Can you tell me more about it? 

I burnt myself on a hair curler in the makeup trailer by accident and it formed this scab. Toby Regbo, who plays Francis, was originally really grossed out by this scab. Growing up with a brother, if my brother was ever grossed out by something then I wanted to make him eat it. So, Rose Williams, who plays Princess Claude, and I decided to take photos of it and got them printed out in the production office. We lured him out of his trailer and just put photos of it all around his trailer. He was so mad at me, but it was totally worth having him not talk to me for an entire day. Toby would love to think that he could retaliate. But Rose and I are the supreme queens when it comes to pranking.  So, he knew better.

Dance and hockey were a huge part of your life. Do you miss being a part of a team at all?

I always say hockey saved me, because [acting is a] business where the whole focus was on being skinny and not strong, and a business that sort of pitted woman against each other. Hockey is the opposite of that—you worked together and you all had your place on that team. In the right situation, you can have that in this job as well. I think this show is actually a pretty good example of that. It’s a little bit different; you don’t get to body check anyone into the boards in the show.

 

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