Tara Spencer-Nairn Previews Lifetime’s The Preacher’s Sin [Exclusive]
Lifetime has an escapism formula that works, and we can certainly use that this weekend. Tonight’s new film, The Preacher’s Sin, actually isn’t quite so far-fetched when you consider some of the salacious headlines of late. Teen Wolf‘s JR Bourne and Tara Spencer-Nairn star as a celebrity preacher and his wife who hit a significant bump in their marriage. I chatted exclusively with Spencer-Nairn about the role, her recent appearance on Saving Hope, and the new wave of opportunities in her hometown of Toronto.
“One should always expect a lot of drama from Lifetime. I play the preacher’s wife and we have this lovely perfect family. My sister [commits suicide] and we take custody of her daughter, who is played by Allie Gonio [from The Red Road], who is such a fantastic actress. She’s amazing,” explains Spencer-Nairn about what we can expect from the film. “All of a sudden this perfect family has what my husband would call a bad seed. She’s causing turmoil in the family while his [career] is on the rise and he is focusing on things that aren’t important in his life. And the Lifetime journey will take you from there.”
While this was their first film project together, Spencer-Nairn and Bourne go way back, and that familiarity came in handy as they crafted the story of a marriage in crisis. “JR and I grew up in Vancouver and went to acting class together in 1997, 98. We were doing Ivana Chubbuck, which I don’t really do anymore, but did then and it was really intense,” she says. “We knew each other from scene study, but we’d never had a chance to work together. So it was interesting to show up and [find him there]. I knew he was going to be in it. I don’t think he knew I was.”
“It was awesome that there was already a chemistry there and we knew how we each liked to work. When there’s a history, there’s an immediate honesty. It’s really nice. We discussed the project [but] we didn’t have a huge amount of time [to prepare]. We both really loved the relationships and wanted to focus on bringing as much honesty and truth as we could to the relationships…so that people could feel grounded in the story. It was nice to have someone who’s on the same page as you. We had a really fun time working together and we would keep a banter up between scenes. There was a such a great energy and chemistry and I hope that people see that, and that they truly believe us in our journey in what is happening.”
Viewers might recognize Spencer-Nairn from one of her long-running Canadian series. She was a regular for eight seasons on Corner Gas [which ran on WGN America in U.S.] and recurring on The Listener [which has been in rotation on ION]. Spencer-Nairn is grateful for both experiences. “[Corner Gas] was interesting because the characters never really [had arcs],” she says. I loved Karen and the people and I had so much fun on that project and what it did for me and Canada was so awesome. In The Listener, I came in on season 2 and it slowly evolved for her to have the relationship with Oz. I never really knew what was going to happen.”
Spencer-Nairn enjoys going back and forth between regular and guest roles and appreciates the completeness of the one-off appearances. “There is something great about coming in and coming out and knowing where your arc is going. With the procedurals, sometimes the most interesting characters are the guest stars who come in and have these interesting arcs with a beginning, middle, and end. The Listener was a procedural so it wasn’t focusing too much on the relationships,” she says.
“Sometimes it’s great to do a movie or an episode of a TV show. I just did an episode of the [fourth] season of Saving Hope [which is in its first season on ION in the U.S.]. I got to come in and play a junkie. With episodic, there’s so much room for great characters with wonderful arcs, and you get to go in and go out and be done with it. On the other hand, to sit with a character [for so long that] you can just walk on set and just do it [is] awesome. It’s like when I’m doing drama, I like comedy and when I do comedy I like drama.”
This year, the Vancouver tax credit was dropped, prompting an uptick in the number of projects coming into Toronto, where Spencer-Nairn lives with her family. She’s thrilled for the local opportunities that allow her to go home at the end of the day. “I do love it. It’s hard being a woman in this industry when you want to be [close to home]. I’m a mother of two boys, my husband works here, I’ve got a home. You get to a point where you need to make it work here. I can’t keep running round,” she says. “Life changes and priorities become a little different. It’s awesome [to have so much work here]. I’m so happy about how busy this year is. There are a lot of great shows happening and more coming. It’s great to see all my friends working, and it’s great to see everyone busy.”
The Preacher’s Sin airs tonight at 8/7c on Lifetime and repeats throughout the month.
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