When we were offered the chance to speak to Lara Jean Chorostecki, the deliciously amoral ‘Freddie Lounds’ on NBC’s Hannibal, I jumped at the chance. We’d been watching the show since the premiere and it had gained the distinction in our house of being the only TV show that made me scream in horror… and keep watching. DAMN YOU SHOW.
Although the entire cast is wonderful, it’s particularly fun to see so much of Toronto in the show, including our actors. Lara Jean has been working in television in and around Toronto for some time – you might recognize her from Copper or Camelot. She not only has fun playing a sneaky and fabulously dressed reporter, but enjoys travel for both work and leisure. Lara Jean had a bit of a cold the day we spoke, but was amazing with her time!
Hannibal’s second season starts on Friday February 28th at 10 PM. AIEEEEE.
This interview took place last spring, but technical difficulties caused delays. Our apologies.
Nicole: I am really excited to chat! We’ve been watching your show and it’s been really really great.
Lara Jean: Even I’ve been enjoying it!
Nicole: I’m glad you too! It’s been kind of crazy to see you and Scott Thompson in it too, I was just like “Is that Scott Thompson? Oh my God.” But it has been so beautiful and amazingly shot and really fun to watch.
Lara Jean: It is. The DOP should win awards for this show, what I have watched of this show, because he has done such an amazing job.
Nicole: Everybody looks great, everything is beautiful. So, I wanted to ask, I read that you really enjoy finding hidden spots in Toronto – and we also really like funding fun hangouts and hidden spots – so are there any places in and around the city that you take your castmates when you were shooting?
Lara Jean: I’m trying to think… Not that I took, no, not really, not that we took the castmates, because we generally pick different spots together, and places that I enjoy the Beltline, up, kind of in Midtown, the Evergreen Brick Works?
Nicole: So you just like walking there, or running or…?
Lara Jean: Walking. I do a lot of walking, if you start at the belt line you can do like a 20 kilometer walk if you really put your mind to it. That gets you all the way down in to the Brickworks and then kind of loops itself back around again. That’s one of my favorites: when I have international visitors, I always go to Ward Island. And to the Rectory Cafe, that is one of my favorites… Those are kind of my favourite spots to go for some tranquility in Toronto.
Nicole: Yeah, for a little bit of nature. Were there any locations used on the show that you were surprised by or you that you looked at in a different way afterwards?
Lara Jean: We went up to the observatory. Is that in Richmond Hill? It’s awhile ago now. Dunlap Observatory? And we were on location for a couple days up there. And that’s not Toronto proper but you know, GTA, and that was a great place, I have never been out there. So it was just a lot of fun just to spend a few days up there. I think they use it for a bunch of different things, but we stayed out there a couple of days, it was great.
Nicole: What was interesting about it, just you’d never been up there before?
Lara Jean: I’d never just been up there, but just being inside the observatory itself was very fascinating, and I wasn’t unfortunately there at the time they used the telescope, but I know a couple of times they let people look through the telescope and see different planets, and that really exciting to me. It’s a great day at work when you get to look, and see planets at the same time. It’s really fascinating.
Nicole: I would’ve been mad! I would be like ‘Man! I missed that!’
Lara Jean: I was so upset that I missed it! I heard the next day that everybody was looking at the planets and I totally missed out on that, I was very upset.
Nicole: I can imagine. So Freddie is just fabulous and awful and wonderful all at once, and people are really enjoying her character. Did changing her from a tabloid reporter to a blogger, with all the pressure for immediacy, and getting the story out there right away change your take on the character at all?
Lara Jean: Well, in the novels, he is really ruthless and obnoxious, and kind of approaches trying to get his story just as much as I do now, but of course there is something to her attack mode of trying to get the story out because of this immediacy that we now have in the media. I also think a lot of it in a lot of freedom, because people know that it is going to be read immediately. It’s almost, sometimes bloggers, they don’t have power and sometimes they have a ton of power, depending on the readership, and I get the feeling that because everyone seems to know of course what ‘Tattle Crime’ is that she has quite a big readership, and with a big readership on a blog comes a bit of power.
Nicole: And there is probably some ability to kind of change the story as it goes along?
Lara Jean: Absolutely, within in the realm of truth, I guess, to an extent. I mean, certainly she tries to get all the details so that she can bend the story in her own way, but certainly the media sometimes does that for sure. Certain blogs and certain papers will do that to get their story out.
Nicole: I think she should have a Twitter. I was thinking that, the other night, does Freddie have a Twitter?
Lara Jean: I think a couple of people have, you know the way that people put them up, the fans? I think that there’s a couple of Twitters out there already but I have not looked at them yet. But I’m pretty sure there’s a Freddie Twitter.
Nicole: There should totally be an official Freddie Twitter. I also know, she has certainly done her research on Will, she knows a lot of about him – this might be something you can talk on or not. Has she done sort of the background work on Jack, or Hannibal or the other investigators?
Lara Jean: My impression, when we enter into episode two and [exec producer] Bryan Fuller might disagree, but I don’t think so, is that it is the first time that she is meeting Hannibal, that is certainly how I felt.
Nicole: That was a great scene.
Lara Jean: It is a good scene. Mads (Mikkelsen, ‘Hannibal’) is amazing to work with, he is so generous. Freddie and Jack clearly have a history, in the first time you see the two of them interact, she knows exactly who he is when he comes in, she says his name, there is clearly a history that goes on, and even in the pilot, he mentioned that she has posted something on Tattle Crime. I think there is quite an understanding between the two of them and I think she is probably, for want of a better analogy, poked the hornet’s nest a couple of times before, and perhaps been warned before and when he came in in episode two she got a little far. She and Jack definitely have a history. So Will is a new thing for her, that she’s done some research on and decided to take a stand on. Jack and her definitely have a history and Hannibal is new so that territory and those interactions are all new and exciting and coming from the ground up for her.
Nicole: As I said before, the show is beautiful and I love Freddie’s style. It is so interesting and kind of fits with the character really well. The little caplets and stuff are kind of amazing.
Lara Jean: I love that caplet. I don’t know of you can see in that episode that it actually has red lining.
Nicole: I love that everything is so red.
Lara Jean: It is just beautiful. I was watching the episode, and I don’t think you get to see that red lining. It’s my little lining secret, but that caplet has beautiful red lining in it.
Nicole: So do you have much input into that, or is it…?
Lara Jean: Chris (Christopher Hargadon), our designer… So we use Bryan (Fuller), and David (Slade, exec producer), and Chris, and everybody, of course, when you do the camera test, which is kind of is testing how things are look on camera and how to light you, etc. etc. and when we did that, we kind of played around with — The hair was always the number one, that was always in there, and then from there I think we just kind of grew. So her makeup is quite subtle, but the clothing is quite a statement, and that way, she’s not really trying to be incognito, she is more incognito than other times, but she is always trying to make these statement. And Chris, our costume designer, who’s incredible, had a lot of fun, I know because he told me multiple times, going out and finding new Freddie clothes. So I would basically come in and he would have a ton of options. I get input of course on things, you have a little input as an actor if you really think something is not fitting with the character, but he just did such a great job that nothing he presented to me was ever something that I did not think she would wear. And then we would decide together, kind of which scenes, what would play, so do I need a coat in this scene or is it practical for her to be needing a handbag, little things like that, accessories, does she need to tone herself down because she is going to meet so and so, or such and such. Usually, the answer for Freddie is ‘no,’ she doesn’t generally tone down her look, but yeah, so in that sense certainly input in what I liked from the beginning.
But like I said, he is so good. I mean, he is so good, as you see with everyone on the show and the way he is dressing everyone speaks so well to each individual character, that there is nothing he puts in front of you that you want to say no, and because it’s just all great.
Nicole: That is great. Does it really help you make the character when there’s that much work put in?
Lara Jean: Oh, it’s huge. Yeah, it is really helpful. Freddie in particular feels to me sometimes the way I feel when I go in for the costume fitting for the period work that I have done in the past, and I’m doing Copper right now, so the period work I’m doing currently, where I put on the costume and really that just has to work for you and putting you in the mindset of the time period that you are in etc. But sometimes with modern, it’s not as easy to do that, but with a good designer, it certainly is, and good hair and make-up team because they finish up processing me for hair and make up and I’m already halfway there, I look in the mirror and feel more Freddie-like because she certainly, I would say, she is absolutely nothing like me, so it helps me to really get in that mode. And as soon as I put on the clothing too, because she is so put together it gives me this instant, instant of feeling of power in a way, whether it’s power she believes she has or power that she actually has. It is a great thing to put on those clothes and get into that mood instantly.
Nicole: It’s like armor.
Lara Jean: Yeah. It is like armor. She kind of puts on armor, and in fact you say that, I feel like Bryan said that to me once when we were starting out crafting her. That she does, she puts on this Freddie armor and the clothing is certainly absolutely part of that armor.
Nicole: Amazing. So you’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of travelling around the world and across the country for your work which is amazing – so what’s the favorite place that you’ve been to shoot so far?
Lara Jean: Well, favorite place I’ve gotten shoot is no contest, when I was doing Camelot, Ireland. We would shoot a lot on location in Ireland, but even not on location, the studios were amazing – but when we would going into the Wicklow Mountains, it’s just so beautiful. You just can’t beat the Wicklow Mountains and in terms of being able to spend your day riding a horse through the Wicklow Mountains… It’s pretty incredible, and learning to ride a horse also for that show was amazing. I had such a soft spot for Dublin, and a soft spot for those mountains, and my goodness if I could live there year round, it would certainly be something I’d be attracted to because it is just amazing. I mean, I guess in that way it’s like Vancouver. It is an amazing city where you can go get to those mountains within half an hour, and be hiking in them within half an hour and certainly in Canada, Vancouver has that. And really, I mean what it reminded me of too, is I did a Republic of Doyle in St. John’s and St. John’s feels like that of course too. Newfoundland is an incredible place in Canada and has very similar feel to the Wicklows that was close, a very similar feel to Ireland and the British Isles as well, the Maritimes feels very similar to both of those. But certainly yes, riding a horse through the Wicklows is pretty great.
Nicole: I can imagine. A moment you were like ‘This is my job.’
Lara Jean: (laughs) Yeah, it is a moment where you look down and go ‘this is my job, this is what I am getting paid to do right now.’
Nicole: So what is your favorite place so far all together for work or for fun that you have been to?
Lara Jean: There’s too many to count. I consider myself fairly well-travelled and then at the same time I consider myself not well-traveled because the world is so vast and social media and the internet in general has made things seem a lot more accessible and certainly planes are really fast and you can get places very quickly and I’ve taken advantage of that at times, when I’ve woke up one morning and decided I want to go in Europe and left the same day, because I happened to have a two weeks off, and thought, “why am I sticking around when I could be travelling?,” so I consider myself well-travelled but still not, but of the places I have been, which is quite a few in Europe, a bit in South America, a bit in States, in Canada, I’m going to sound like the British Isles are just my favourite place, but I love Scotland, and I love the Highlands.
I’m trying to think… a few years ago… three… four to five years ago now, I went through the Highlands by myself with a little touring company, that does backpacking tours and it was incredible. It was a great experience. I made friends with the tour guide, and he was lovely and a good Scot, and I’m Scottish Polish heritage and went just feeling right at home in Edinburgh, then leaving and going through the Highlands, and going over to the Isle of Sky, it is just… it is a place that speaks to me, and it does feel a lot like Canada in some ways, people are extremely friendly, and really in my travels made me feel like I was home. So it’s that weird feeling where I love it is because it’s home it is great but it’s great in it’s own right too and there is such breadth to that country, and those countries; the British Isles and Scotland, and Ireland, and Northern Ireland, there’s such breadth to it when you go there and such life to everyone to everyone who lives there and it is such a wonderful place to be. My other favourite though is Rome. You can’t beat Rome, Rome is pretty amazing, but I can go on and on, I also have spent a lot of time in Paris, and I thought I would hate Paris because I didn’t just want to be stereotypical because everyone loves it and of course it won me over, and because it is an incredible city, and there’s a reason everyone loves it, and I dated a Parisian for a while and when we were together we spent quite a good deal of time there, and walking around that city for sometimes six hours in a day is amazing, so… I can’t pick, I could just keep going!
Nicole: I never can pick either. (laughs)
Lara Jean: I know, you guys are really well-travelled! I just cannot pick.
Nicole: And my husband was actually born in Edinburgh and we haven’t been back since, so he really wants to go at some point.
Lara Jean: You should, it is so… you should go during the Festival too, they have the Fringe Festival, it is really lively during that time, it’s really great time to go.
Nicole: Yeah, that would be awesome, and then in the summer too. So you can’t complain about the weather either. So what is next on your travel agenda? And what is next for you in general?
Lara Jean: Well, next for me in general right now is two more episodes of Copper, and then followed immediately for the summer by travel to Poland. I have not been. So this is my first, and it is the other half of my heritage so I am very excited, and my boyfriend is also of Polish heritage, so we are super excited to go to Poland, and see what it is all about there, and meet some family that we haven’t met. And we will also be taking some trips to Budapest, which we never been to, and he’s never to be Prague, and I have been to Prague so we are going to Prague again so I can show him around – I could start gushing about Prague right now too.
Nicole: I have heard amazing how things about Prague as well.
Lara Jean: But I think I am most excited for the, I’m not going to say it right, he can say it right because he speaks Polish but, the Tatras Mountains. The range between in the Southern Poland. We are really excited, we are going to be hiking a bit in there and am super excited to do that.
Nicole: So you’re are a big hiker, you enjoy a lot of that?
Lara Jean: Yeah, we do. We hike a lot, we do some around Toronto – you can go to Kelso, it’s pretty good place to go, but we camp a lot. I’ve been camping since… I think first time I went was eight months old, so since I was very young, and he as well, so we met and have been together a few years ago now, and when we discovered our mutual love, we go camping as often as possible and I’m very partial to Quebec actually. We love the Laurentians. It’s a pretty good place to go hiking.
Nicole: Yeah, that is pretty beautiful too. And very opposite to Freddie!
Lara Jean: I know. Every time I start talking about myself, I think, ‘Yeah, Freddie wouldn’t camp.’ Well, Freddie would camp if it would help her in some way, but I think she’d have a really hard time with it inside.
Nicole: And one last question from the internet, though I know that you probably can’t answer it but someone who does recaps wanted to know: Did Freddie actually know Nicholas Boyle was in the Hobbes’ house, and did she actually tell Hannibal he was?
Lara Jean: I can’t answer those kind of questions, she should know better, I can’t. It’s a little too specific, but the whole Abigail Hobbes storyline I can say will continue to unfold then be deeply ingrained into the rest of the season, so certainly tune in and you’ll get answers a lot of questions.
Nicole: Amazing. I know she and a lot of others were very interested as well in whether Freddie actually cared about Abigail or not.
Lara Jean: Someone just asked me that the other day as well! That is a common question and again, I’d say that’s a wait and see.
Nicole: I asked for questions and was told the first one was: ‘How did she become my favourite character all of a sudden?’ So people are really enjoying her and I think that’s great.
Lara Jean: She is a dividing character but I think in the right way. It is always exciting when people are having discussions, even if it is discussions about how much they hate a character, to me because everybody is different from me, it gives me a little bit of confidence to know that I am doing my job, I’m serving the story, and at the end of the day I think an actor just really wants to serve a story, especially when you are serving a story of the writers and the work of Bryan Fuller who is so easy to trust as an actor in terms of his imagination, and his storytelling so, if am doing my job there, and people are having those questions and hating her, or loving her, or however they are feeling is amazing. It’s great. And it means we are doing our job.
Nicole: Well, we’re not supposed to like her.
Lara Jean: Oh, no. Definitely not.
Thanks so much to Lara Jean – follow her at @LaraJeanC on Twitter – and Amira for setting this up!