TIFF Rising Stars series
We’ve only been chatting for 10 minutes, but the man beside us in the TIFF Bell Lightbox is already peering over his newspaper in curiosity. It doesn’t take long to discover that L.A.-based actress Emily Hampshire is charmingly candid, a bit self-deprecating and wielding a resume that would perk ears across the room.
“I haven’t been home for more than 22 days since February. I told my director that and he said, ‘Oh, the carney life.’ I realized that’s what I always wanted,” says Hampshire.
This has been a big year for the Montréal native, who just wrapped up shooting Rookie Blue, The Returned and All The Wrong Reasons. Prior to that, she hit the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote My Awkward Sexual Adventure. The title still makes her cringe, but when it became the first film to sell out in one day at TIFF 2012, she had to admit it worked.
Hampshire’s own frankness works in her favour, too. It may be the names of her former cast mates, including Sigourney Weaver and Paul Giamatti, that hook an eavesdropper’s interest, but it’s Hampshire’s honesty that reels them in.
“I’m giving away all my nerdy, embarrassing actor secrets,” she jokes as she explains the process for getting ready for a role. “I have this file called ‘my character box’. I made it when I was 14 and I still have it. Every time I read a magazine and see an image that is inspiring to me, be it someone’s face, what they’re wearing or a time period, I file it away. When I’m doing a role, I go through that whole box and pull pages to make a binder for the character.”
Her latest entry was a Louis Vuitton advertisement, where the model’s haircut caught her eye.
Outside of her character box, Hampshire’s personal style is a self-described “bipolar” mix between casual and Red Carpet glam, depending on the day.
“My favourite look was at the Trotsky premiere, it was a Andy Thê-Anh dress. I used to wear a lot of Andy Thê-Anh, but it’s like he doesn’t exist anymore, which drives me crazy!” she says. “The dress that got its own press was the Stella McCartney one I wore to Cannes.”
Looking at the glamorous Cannes photos of Hampshire beside Cosmopolis cast mates Juliette Binoche, Robert Pattinson and director David Cronenberg, you would never know that she often turns to her “lazy pants” on days off.
However, while in Toronto, the actress takes full advantage of showing some homeland pride when getting dressed up.
“I especially like dressing for TIFF because it’s an opportunity to wear Canadian designers. I love the guys at Greta Constantine,” she says. “You have to know what photographs well and it’s also about relationships with the designers. I am learning that those things are important and make a difference.”
While her ties to Canada bring her back for work, Hampshire fell in love with L.A. years ago and never looked back. After working in Toronto and visiting L.A. for pilot season, she decided to make the full-time jump and move there with her husband.
“I used to be ashamed of how much I loved L.A. because you’re supposed to kind of hate it. It’s about making a commitment to it and making it your home,” she says.
Hampshire admits the same can be said for the love of her profession. After the holidays, she will be heading to Vancouver to film That Burning Feeling and also producing a movie.
It may be a carney life, but between Toronto, L.A. and Red Carpets around the world, Hampshire seems to be right where she belongs.