Powerhouse of an Actress and Woman
More from Jennifer Copping’s Magazine Article in Cut Frame Magazine’s June Issue 2021
Check out the first part here
Yes makes sense. Your marriage and children are important to you. You have a twenty one year marriage, is that right?
Longer. We are coming up on twenty three. (she beams)
Congratulations on that. It’s not easy. How do you balance family life with your career?
It’s been oddly somewhat easier during this past year when we were home a lot more. Easier and the
harder. Easier when there were less places we all needed to be at the same time, you know, someone’s
at soccer, someone’s at basketball and who was picking up who and all of that. Now that everything’s
normal, by no means normal but starting to be, it’s harder when you have to be in three places at once.
Trying to take Sundays off as a family day is pretty important to us. It doesn’t always happen, we try.
And through Covid times, how did it affect you, it sounds like there were positives. Did you bake more?
(She laughs.) Sure. I’m really not much of a baker. (We both laugh)
Everyone seemed to bake bread or something!
I will eat it! My neighbors brought some over and I ate it but no.We did get a lot of food delivery kits and try new recipes. It was just nice having the time to cook you know, without coming home at six o clock
and “Oh” (she shows panic) and “Ah” (relaxed now) I can start cooking at five and maybe have a glass of
Considering the show is a sci- fi show and with lots of unexplained happenings, do you believe in aliens, ufos and other realities?
Oooooh. (she ponders) I do believe in other realities, I don’t know what that means. Maybe I believe
that people can create their own realities. I don’t really believe in ufos, no. I don’t , I think there’s
definitely got to be other …It’s funny my husband asked me this..(she is trying to find the word)
Yeah. Species maybe out there. I don’t know that there are other humans out there, I don’t know. Do
you think so?
I think so.
You do hey?
I do. Yeah I do. Well.. I’m someone who actually saw a ufo at one point but that’s a whole other story. An unexplained flying object, we never know what that is, I just wanted to know what it was, you know. It made me think. (getting back to the next question!)
Is there one director you would particularly love to work with?
I think I would say …..Greta Gerwig. I loved Ladybird. I loved Little Women. I think she’s got an interesting take on things. I’ve read interviews with her. That’s who comes to mind.
Hopefully soon. Put it out there. (she agrees) What roles have you enjoyed playing the most over the last thirty years, which ones? You were in Fargo, Bates Motel..
Those two actually were my very favorites, yeah. Good picks. Those are on my demo, I love them so
much. ( she giggles)
Why? Why did you love playing them?
Both times it was the caliber again of actor that I was getting to act, explore with. They were just very
very experienced and powerful people. It was Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton.
(I can’t help but interject) Oh my god.
Actually there’s a third ..Stephen Root. I played his wife. I mean.. that one scene I just looked around,
“Someone pinch me, how did I get here?” So that was cool. And Freddie Highmore that was the last
episode of the last season of Bates Motel so it was “The Finale”. So talk about it feeling real. I walked
into Bates Motel, it’s on the door, walk into the scene, he’s behind the counter. I’ve seen every episode
so I feel that weird out of body feeling like “Am I in a TV Show right now? Yeah (it dawns on her), I am in
a TV Show right now but it feels really real” Very strange,. And he’s just so in his character, again, I didn’t
have to act. I was just like, wow, this feels very surreal. It was such a good episode. They nailed it with
that show. Incredible.
I want to mention one other role. So much fun. I worked on James Gunn’s feature Slither with Nathan
Fillion and Elizabeth Banks. He had written in and directed it. That was one of the best times I ever had
and its’s become a bit of a cult classic and Elizabeth has gone on to have an incredible career and James
with The Guardians of The Galaxy and he’s got a show he’s doing here right now. I honestly can’t leave
that one out, it was so much fun!
Fun because of the energy from those people or the role?
The role was hilarious, her name was Margaret and she was a small town cop, a lesbian, “ma Southern
accent” (with her Southern drawl) It was so fun and all the big actors were so funny, he just cast it really
well so we had the best time, we just laughed constantly. It was the most fun month shooting I think I’ve
Amazing. You started acting at a really young age, when did you know that that was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
I feel like I knew really young but maybe specifically in terms of theater and musical theater, when I was
eighteen I was asked to audition for Les Miserables. I auditioned here in Vancouver , they flew me to
Toronto to have a callback and after the callback they gave all of us who had flown in, tickets to see the
show. The show was already going then and they were going on a tour and having some new actors
because some people were leaving the show. I remember sitting in the audience and just weeping, I was
so moved by this piece of theater the thought of being asked to be up there with them, the possibility of
that and giving that gift to the audience that I was getting in that moment, it all kind of hit me. I went
“That’s why I had to do this, for that experience, that exchange, you know. So when you work in film, it’s
different but it’s similar in the sense that when the cameras are rolling you do feel that audience there.
You feel how you are hiding moments and making them kind of lean in and try to figure out what you’re
thinking and then you feel those moments when you’re just being vulnerable and letting everyone see
everything. The camera picks up such subtleties that good theater has the same thing it’s just amplified
a little differently with lighting or staging, right. (I nod in agreement) So I love how similar it is as
opposed to people focus on how different it is. I love how similar it is and you just have to amplify
vocally when you’re on stage, yes mostly that actually. I really don’t feel the two mediums are very
Right. I love to hear that. What’s been your biggest challenge in your acting career? Anything that stands out?
I think patience. You know when you are someone who loves to perform and then you don’t get the
opportunity to perform for an extended period of time which is normal for actors. You do a hundred
auditions before you book a job.
Yes. And what helps you get through that time?
The balance you were talking about. Family, friends, I teach, I mentor, I coach and those things I’m so
passionate about that it really balances out when I’m not acting in front of the camera or on stage,
sharing my knowledge and helping other actors reach their dreams, you know.
That’s really lovely. What was your first professional TV role?
I had done a TV show called 21 Jump Street with Johnnie Depp and Peter DeLuise but I had done it as a
dancer, so would be my first time. But the first time I had booked a role where I had lines was a show
called Booker and it was a spinoff show from 21 Jump Street and I played a hooker on Booker. (she
leans into me) Thank you. (She gives a full girly laugh)
That’s what I did! My first job on television was playing a hooker. There you go! That’s the truth.
That’s acting for you! I love it. You won the Best Actress Leo Award as Jade in Becoming Redwood. What was it like working with your husband Jesse James Miller and being directed by him?
Again in a different category, the best experience I’ve ever had. I didn’t put it in the other category
because that’s the one with all the unknowns, everything has to line up and then you’re the one and
then they give you the job. This, my husband had started writing that script when we were living in Los
Angeles and it was about twelve years later that we finally made the movie. So just seeing that journey
and being part of that journey always knowing I would play Jade.. I was kind of ok with how long it took
because I was the right age by the time we shot it, if we’d done it earlier it just wouldn’t have had the
same feel. It was a Summer movie, we had the best time, again great cast, it was a dream to go to work
I know you’ve acted in so much theatre. What are your favorite theatre roles that you’ve played?
I got to play the mom in The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Nighttime which was originally done in
London. I played the mom of an autistic boy. I loved doing the research for that, working on the accent,
your beautiful accent. (“Thanks”) I particularly loved that character,I never wanted that run to end. That
was a couple of years ago. I also got to play Jesus in Godspell.
Wow, amazing. (Is there any role Jennifer can’t play?)
Yeah. That was pretty special. The director had a vision and just put it out there and saw a few women for the role,
she saw mostly men. I think she particularly had a feeling that I was the right person and it
ended up working out, such a joy, so much fun. I love that show.
I’d love to have seen you in those shows. Now Jennifer, if you could have dinner with any five actors or directors who would they be?
I have to mention all of the greats of course. Francis McDormand, can’t leave her out. Meryl Streep. I
think Reese Witherspoon at this point. Every time I see her interviewed I want to meet her. She’s just so
cool, so sweet. Erm.. I think Oprah Winfrey would be someone cool to meet, have a meal with. And
hmmmm (she ponders further) I wanna get a good one. Ah! He won the Oscar last year for best film
Parasite. Bong Joon-ho. Every time I’ve seen him interviewed he seems like a hilarious person, great
sense of humor, incredible director. I’d add him in just to spice it up.
That would be a fun table to be at! I’d want to be at that one as well. (We both laugh in agreement) I’ll invite myself. Or maybe I’ll be the server!
No, you can just come!
Thanks! One day, one day, wouldn’t that be great.
You’re also a writer and director and have directed plays as well as for the screen, do you have any upcoming projects?
I do, as long as everything goes back to normal. I’m supposed to be directing a play in the Fall. I don’t
think I can announce that. The play is a sweet little three hander play that I was asked to direct. The
following Summer we’ll be doing Kinky Boots, they were supposed to do it last Summer, so two years
later they’re gonna do it. I’ll sing and dance my little heart out, it’ll be so fun. (her eyes light up in
If you could have any “super power”, what would that be?
(Jennifer sits back in deep thought) I think I would want to be able to help the teenagers right now in the
world that are really hurting and scared and just don’t know what the future is going to hold. I would
want to be able to zoom in on their little hearts, it sounds so cheesy, let them know how amazing they
are. Because you know, the more parents I talk to, the teens have really struggled during this pandemic.
It’s hard on adults but it’s really hard on our kids. So I would just take all of that fear away (she uses her
hands as if she is physically taking away their fear, almost like a healer) make them all feel like anything
is possible again.
That’s really beautiful. How do you relax, de-stress from life?
Great question because my husband and I walk a lot now. So again, pandemic times when the gyms are
closed and the hot yoga class I used to do three times a week closed forever, we took up walking in this
past year. We were heading out for a walk last night and I said “We never used to walk much before this
past year did we?” And he said “No. It was more like you were walking to a destination. But now we just
walk for exercise, for fresh air, to de-stress, to clear our heads, to find some time alone together.”It’s
kind of an everything activity for us right now and I look forward to it so much.
Especially in Vancouver , it’s so beautiful there, so much nature.
Yeah. It’s my number one thing and then I do some classes online, work out classes, you know.
Is there anyone who jumps out who has inspired you during your acting career?
Yes. My favorite teacher through the years has been Larry Moss, he’s been a big inspiration to me. I’ve
worked with him in workshops over the years, I use his book when I teach, I use a lot of his exercises in
my own work. I say “his” but they are passed down from his teachers, he studied with all the greats in
New York. He’s one of the people who inspired me to become a teacher because he talks about the
reason he became a teacher, he didn’t want these teachings to be lost, he wanted them to keep being
passed on so I am trying to do that too.
Wonderful to hear that. Is there a fun fact about you not many people know?
My brain goes crazy when I wake up in the morning. I just have so many things I want to talk about and I
want to do. I want to get up and get them all done and I often drive my husband insane because he’s
more of like a “Don’t talk to me, I gotta have some coffee first” person. I’m just that hamster on a wheel
kind of person in the morning. People that know me might not know that, I’m a Gemini, like I’m a good
listener I’ve had compliments on that, I’m not that person who will interrupt and need to be heard, but
at home I tend to do that to him. I think it’s funny, I have that personality in the morning at home.
Jennifer you are a real inspiration. Thank you so much. Anything else you’d like to add?
Some of the things we touched on like patience, not waiting for the phone to ring and studying, keeping yourself engaged and learning that kind of stuff, the other piece of that is creating. Creating whatever you would love to
be doing, so writing yourself that incredible role. You hear it said but the truth is that even if you just chip away at a project on the side, it’s incredible how much you can get done. My friend and I wrote a play in the last three years,
just chipping way at it. We have a full play now. None of us had ever written before. We both got to a certain age where we were like “What are we waiting for, let’s write the roles we want to play, let’s write the plays we want to direct, you know. That would be my advice. Don’t wait for the phone to ring, write yourself that role, even if you never make it. The point is just to create, to open the possibilities.
Do you believe in the Law of Attraction?
I do. (she gives a warm smile)
I know a lot of successful people have had that vision for themselves, seeing what they want to play, seeing themselves in it, like you said. It’s almost like by doing what you said you are literally creating it.
And if you are writing a role that is something that’s going to pull at the depths of your abilities and your
experience, maybe it’s something traumatic that happened and you need to find a way to express it..
like I said you might not need to actually be the one performing that piece but when the role comes
across your desk like Julia when that came, there were just pieces from things I’d been working on
creatively in my own life that I was able to put into that, you know. (Jennifer gives another warm smile)
Is there anything you wouldn’t do as an actor, that you would feel “No I wouldn’t be able to do that” like sex scenes, something like that?
Yes, the few times that I’ve been asked to do things in that world, I’ve never done a sex scene or nudity, it doesn’t seem necessary to me it would have to feel necessary. I was asked recently to audition for something that would have potentially had some nudity in, I loved the project so much I did audition. It didn’t go my way and I was actually relieved. I realized I didn’t think long enough about it.
It seems that the sort of roles you enjoy playing are one’s with a challenge, you love to get really deep into a role, roles with more drama, emotion, am I right?
Yes, if I think about the last ten years of the roles I’ve done on stage and the ones that really resonated with me on film, they’ve all had a certain dramatic emotional edge to them and I just love coming home feeling spent from work,
I love that feeling, it’s the best. Yeah. (Jennifer’s eyes and smile shine brightly with so much joy, her love for what she does is so clear.) I’ll take a comedy! (she leaps up excitedly) I would love to do some comedy, I’ll put that out there that I’m open to that. It just hasn’t been what’s come to me in this last while.
You’re so good at it though, amazing! I can’t wait to see your final episode on Debris. It will be out by the time this interview is out, do you feel we will be shocked by what happens?
I do. If I’m going by the fans reactions on social media, there are some shocks in store for sure.
Lovely. Thanks so much for your time, energy, inspiration. I’m sure everyone, actors, directors etc will love reading this. The world need inspiration from women in your position.
I agree. We need to inspire each other.