“I really like memorizing. I don’t like auditioning with my sides in my hands… I try to get the vibe of the character as much as I can.” – Laurence Lebouef on Auditioning
French-Canadian actress Laurence Leboeuf made a big splash in America this year when her Canadian television series, the medical drama Transplant, was picked up by NBC. The show follows an ER doctor (Hamza Haq) who has fled his native Syria to work in Canada. Lebouef plays Dr. Magalie “Mags” Leblanc, a character who Lebouef describes as the “Hermione Granger of the ER.”
In this interview, Leboeuf, who also starred in the film Turbo Kid, talks about the show, going to medical boot camp, auditioning and why she likes being “surprised” by her character.
I like the show, it’s really good.
Laurence Leboeuf: I’m glad to hear that.
It was originally airing in Canada, but then NBC picked it up?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, exactly.
When you got that news, it must have been so exciting.
Laurence Leboeuf: Oh my God, it was. I mean we had heard rumors that maybe this was going to happen, but it was just so rewarding to hear it. It’s the best reward you can have to have the show travel. and you
Can you tell me about your character, Mags Leblanc?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, so I play Mags Leblanc, she’s a resident doctor at the ER. She’s the first of her class, she needs all the data. I’ve been saying this often, but to me she’s kind of the Hermione Granger of the ER. And she’s very dedicated, very passionate about her work, to a fault sometimes. I think she’s lacking a bit of a personal life which is the balance she’s trying to gain in the show.
I read that you didn’t have to audition for this.
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, exactly. They offered me the part. I read the script and I fell in love with the story and then I agreed to embark on this beautiful journey. I was very honored and flattered that they would trust me with this role.
That must have been the greatest feeling ever to be offered the role like that.
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, it really was. People that you love and that you want to work with, and they trust you with this thing and they’re like, “We know you can do this and we want you.” It’s just it’s really flattering and honoring.
When you get this part, do research doctors and go to ER’s? I also saw that you guys did boot camps?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, we did. We had boot camps and that was amazing because we got to rehearse the biggest medical scenes that we had to do. We had the chance to rehearse them before them and choreograph it, because that’s what it is. You have to be able to manage jargon, with the manipulations that you have to do and then you have to act. You have to know where you’re going, and you have to make it quick and fast and natural. So, the boot camps were amazing for that.
We got a chance to go one night at the ER. It was me and Hamza [Haz]. Went from like one to four in the morning. Thankfully, nothing bad happened. But just to have the feeling of what the doctors are like, the mood and ambience and to see them in their element, that was amazing.
I played a couple doctors before and the hardest thing was to say all the medical jargon and make it sound like I said them a million times.
Laurence Leboeuf: Exactly, yeah. That’s the thing. And with Mags, I really wanted her to speak really fast, so I wanted those words to just come out as if it’s like she’s spitting them out. And sometimes we had really big chunks of medical stuff to say and it was a challenge.
After you played her for a whole season, do you still have trouble like getting those words out of your mouth?
Laurence Leboeuf: The more you rehearse them… it’s like you learn them phonetically. So, the more you rehearse, the more you have it down. But for sure, it’s always a challenge because it’s different intonations, it’s very complicated terms. So, it’s hard to grasp that.
At the end of last year, when we finished shooting, it was obviously a bit easier. There were some terms that kept coming back. And we knew what we were kind of talking about. It was easier at the end.
Playing a character for a full season, do you like knowing what’s going to happen to her so you can create an arc? Or do you kind of like to find out as the season goes, script by script.
Laurence Leboeuf: Well, we kind of find out script by script, block by block actually. So, like a chunk of three episodes and then another three. So, we kept having information throughout the season. And I kind of like that because then you’re not… you understand what your character is about, but you get surprised, just like in real life. Things change, just like in real life and you have to adapt. I like that. I like not really knowing everything at once.
Did you ever decide on something like, “Oh, she hates cheese,” and then find out that she wants to really work in a cheese factory?
Laurence Leboeuf: I think the one thing, I think I said it before, but it was the fact that I really wanted her to talk fast. I think that’s one little thing that took place when we started shooting and I felt that was her. She’ll talk fast and she won’t stop. And that became like a bit… we then discover she’s a bit socially, maybe awkward, sometimes and I like that. I kind of play on that too.
Your parents or actors? That’s how you got your start?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah. My dad owned a stage theater for like 18 years, so I kind of grew up backstage at the theater. And then my mom also was working on TV, so I guess I was swimming in it for a long time. Before. So, when I was when and I asked my parents to audition, it had been part of my life already. So, I guess that influenced me, for sure.
Did they give you any advice when you started out?
Laurence Leboeuf: I’m very independent about my stuff and with my parents, it was always that way. You know, I guess this really let me do my thing. My parents are both very down to earth people and very respectful. I think their ethics from them. How to be respectful to everybody on set and everybody backstage. I think that’s what I got from them the most.
When you get an audition, what are the first things you do to prepare? Do you memorize the sides?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, I really like memorizing. I don’t like auditioning with my sides in my hands. I learn lines, I try to get the vibe of the character as much as I can. I also just kind of go with the feeling… I’m not a very big researcher, you know? I kind of go with my gut feeling, with the instinct and what happens during the audition in the audition room.
What’s been your worst audition ever?
Laurence Leboeuf: Oh my God. I mean, there’s a few but I can’t say I’ve ever had like a really catastrophic experience of like forgetting lines, not being able to do something or a really bad director not being nice or whatever.
You just know when it’s really not going that well. You start to get sweaty and you’re nervous, that’s happened a couple of times. I don’t have anything specific except for those moments.