Playing a reporter at a British tabloid wasn’t a complete stretch for Liane Balaban.
“I took journalism at Ryerson for a year,” says the Toronto actress, who stars in the CBC miniseries Abroad. “I always wanted to be a writer from when I was very young. But I ended up wanting to do something else — acting.”
In Abroad, Balaban plays Amy Pearce, an ambitious young Canadian writer who uses her connections to get a job at a high profile British tabloid. Unfortunately, the job proves less exciting than anticipated, as Amy is relegated to fetching tea and doing uncredited research for her editor.
Things change when, out of anger over a failed love affair and her crummy job, Amy pens a front page attack on all British males. That act makes her into a mini-celebrity, and only causes her more problems.
“I describe Amy Pearce as confident and ambitious but slightly lacking in the social department,” says Balaban, who made her first acting splash in the 1999 indie hit New Waterford Girl.
“And after coming up against office politics, she has to learn to reassert and reinvent herself.”
Based on the life of Globe and Mail columnist and series co-creator Leah McLaren — and shot in Toronto and England — Abroad is best described as a fish-out-of-water Sex In The City.
“She (McLaren) is a very interesting person and writer,” says Balaban. “Very divisive in what she writes. She has her supporters and detractors. A real provocateur.”
Should the two-hour movie prove a hit, CBC is considering making it into a series that would focus on Amy’s office and social life in London. “I’d love to be a part of that,” she says. “I think the characters are interesting and the stories are endless.”
Not that she needs the work. Balaban — who recently appeared as Dustin Hoffman’s daughter in Last Chance Harvey — has a number of projects in the works.
She’s also thrilled to have a film she stars in — The New Tenants — nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. (The film won its category at Sunday’s award ceremony).
“It’s so exciting to have something at stake for once,” she laughs.