Jennifer Spence

Jennifer worked with Louis Ferreira on Stargate Universe. Read an exclusive interview with Jennifer, originally published in Ferreira Fest 51, below.

Visit Jennifer’s Facebook page here!

Watch Jennifer’s
Demo Reel.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at
@SpenceJen and on Instagram.
Read Jennifer’s
bio on the Down River page.

Here is Jennifer’s
Wikipedia Page.

Jennifer Spence in “Echoes”


Click on the sound files to listen, or read the transcripts.

FF – Hi Jen, this is Ferreira Fest. We’re going to do an interview and I need to get your express permission to record this interview first.

JS – Yes, you have my permission to record the interview.

FF – Fantastic! All right, well, let’s jump right in. So, most people on Ferreira Fest know you from Stargate Universe, which is also your connection to Louis. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your career, your hobbies, and something that people always want to know—who are your heroes?

JS – Oh, who are my heroes? Good question. You know, I think my heroes are actually, for the most part, people in my life. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but it’s true. Those are the best role models I’ve got.

My parents, my husband, my friends, you know, those are the people that do every day ordinary things and live their lives but they’re all extraordinary people. And they’ve inspired me in a lot of ways and helped me see the best way to be in life, you know. If that makes sense. Those are probably my biggest heroes and role models.

Source: IMDb
Jen and her husband during the filming of Down River

FF – Anything about your career, hobbies, yourself, that you want us to know?

JS – Yeah, well, right now I’m working on a show called Continuum which I’m sure a lot of your subscribers or followers will have seen. It’s a fantastic show on Syfy.

FF – Absolutely. Yes.

JS – It’s on Showcase here, but Syfy in the States. So that’s been a lot of fun and we’re in the middle of, actually, we’re not in the middle, we’re close to the end now. I think we’re episode 310. So the tenth episode of the third season. So we’re getting pretty far in and close to the end.

FF – Yeah.

JS – So, yeah, that will be airing, I think it’s April 4th, in the States on Syfy. So that’s been a lot of fun, working on that, and SGU was also a tremendous amount of fun. The cool thing about both those shows was that I was fortunate enough to be working with really cool people on both those shows.

FF – Yeah!

JS – I mean, that’s not always guaranteed when you work on a show. But with SGU it was such a family feel, such a tremendously close knit bunch of people. And, I was concerned it was never going to happen again.

FF – Yeah, you got lucky, with two in a row.

JS – Yeah, but thank God, it did happen again on this show.

FF – Do you want to tell us a little bit about Down River?

JS – Oh yes, I would love to. Yes.
Down River is a film, a feature film, that my husband, Ben Ratner, wrote and directed. And we shot that in 2012. And released it at festivals in late 2013. We’re just about to have our U.S. premiere at a film festival in San Jose called Cinequest.

FF – Yay!

Jen as Aki in Down River. Source: Down River website

JS – So that will be, the very first screening will be on March 6th. So we’re very, very excited.

FF – Absolutely.

JS – And then we’ll be releasing theatrically in Vancouver on March 14th at Fifth Avenue Cinemas. And in Toronto on March 21st. I have to figure out the exact cinema there, too, but if you look at my Facebook page online all the info will be up there. Or you can follow Down River on Twitter which is @DownRiverMovie and Down River also has a Facebook page, so there’s more info on there too.

FF – What attracted you to acting? What made you decide one day, or maybe it was over a course of time, that you wanted to be an actor?

JS – I always love this question because it’s just, okay, at what point did you decide to pursue this crazy crazy avenue we call acting and showbiz. You know, because I’ve always really enjoyed performing and pretending and doing that kind of thing, as many kids do. And as I was growing up, I guess I kind of figured, oh, maybe I’ll do this as a hobby, you know, because family often encourages you to get kind of like a backup plan. Or a little more of a secure career choice, understandably. But as I got older I realized that it was just something that I really wanted to make a life out of.

And at that time I was just like, “oh, I don’t care if I’m going to be broke and… at least I’ll be happy doing what I want to do”. So I chose to get into it as a career so I went to theater school shortly after high school. And then I guess really started in film and TV around the year 2000-2001. So, yeah, I guess it was always a lifelong desire. But in terms of really starting it was around the year 2000.

FF – Okay. Fantastic. So you’ve got a few years under your belt there.

JS – I know, it’s crazy.

FF – I’ve also noticed you popping up on other shows. I know I saw you on Eureka a while back. That was a fun show, too.

JS – Yeah.

FF – I was like, oh my God, it’s Jen Spence! There she is again!

JS – And driving a car!

FF – It’s always nice to see those familiar faces.

FF – All right. Well, let’s go and talk a little bit about SGU, and specifically the role of Lisa Park, one of my favorite people on the show. What attracted you to the role of Lisa? Did you know a lot about that character before? Or were you involved in creating that character? Sometimes with those “at the beginning smaller roles”, and then they get bigger as you go along. Sometimes you are able to help in the development of the role. So, did you know much about her when you auditioned for the role? How did you get thrown into this thing?

JS – You know, I didn’t actually know that much about the role. It was one of the situations where I’d auditioned for other roles on the show and it just wasn’t a right match in terms of my energy and look and such with those characters. So the producers and creators were kind enough to find me something else.

Source: screen cap

The role of Dr. Lisa Park was actually written as a man. A male scientist in the first place. Miles Henry, I think, was the name initially. And so they changed it to a woman. Thank god! We need more women scientists on board this crew, but there’s like so many other male scientists.

FF – Yeah.

JS – So that was fantastic. So it was a great opportunity to kind of be within that little clique as the token female scientist. And yeah, and then because the writers and the producers and the creators of the show were just so open to everything that we did, they were very generous, they gave me more to do on the show. So it was, it was really nice because it was definitely a collaborative environment, which you don’t always get.

FF – Right, right. And I also remember, I spoke to, I think, Peter Kelamis about his role and he said he auditioned for Scientist #2, and he didn’t really even have a name.

And then, you know, as he went along, they gave him more and more to do.
And as they discovered his chemistry with other actors, and then he got a name and that kind of stuff.

And it just really grew from there. And he was just amazed at how that character grew over time.

Jen Spence and Peter Kelamis, photo by J. Mallozzi

JS – Yeah, yeah. No, it’s really wonderful, right, I mean, the writers and producers and creators watch what you do and ideally they like what you do, and they watch your chemistry with the other actors and they get ideas of where the story arcs can go. Yeah, so it was great for, definitely for the three of us, we had a real blast together and enjoyed building stories together. And seeing where the writers were taking us as well.

FF – Did you know Peter and Patrick before you started on SGU? Because the chemistry between the three of you was just absolutely amazing.

JS – We didn’t know each other before. So, yeah, we just, we really did get along like a house on fire. They’re like, they still are like brothers to me, for sure, we’ll always have that connection and just really, really special guys. So, you know it happens every once in a while where, again, you just get lucky and you meet people that you really connect with, you know?

Jen Spence, Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore. Photo by J. Mallozzi.
Jen Spence, Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore. Photo by J. Mallozzi.

FF – Right. To me it was always like the trifecta of comedy when the three of them were together. And then, I mean, your character seemed to be lot involved in triangles. Like there was the scientists and of course with Jamil’s character and Patrick’s character.

JS – Yeah.

FF – You know with the two guys and the girl and the happy threesome that sort of happened there, in the background. But it was really interesting that Lisa was sort of that anchor point to these two different triangles, as a scientist and as a woman, and that that was really nicely played off.  And, yeah, she may have been a token scientist in the beginning but then towards the end, especially with her whole story line with getting blinded and stuff becoming so important in the story line. And to me this was just such a treat to watch.

JS – Yeah.

FF – So, really quite beautiful.

JS – You know, not so much. I was, I guess I was taking a lot of the cues from the writers. Also just having my own thoughts of where I wanted to see her go and making sure I knew how I felt, you know how Lisa felt about the different characters that she was on the ship with.

FF – Right.

JS – So, I guess it was kind of a combination of both the writers’ input and thoughts as well as where I wanted to see her go and who I thought she was. But I didn’t actually really base her on anyone specific.

FF – Okay.

FF – Do you have a favorite Lisa scene from that show?

Source: MGM

JS – Interesting question. There were so many. I mean, I still think one of the most thrilling ones to shoot was when we got to go to New Mexico and shoot that scene in the desert. Malice, I think was the episode. And there was a scene with myself and Robert Carlyle and he was trying to diffuse a bomb on my back.

FF – Right.

JS – Yeah, I think that was just one of the most thrilling scenes to shoot just because, again, getting to travel for work is always fun. And being in such a specific place like that where the look is so distinct to that region. And just getting to work with Bobby in that context. Because I’ve always been such a huge fan of his work and my parents had, and so he’s been a part of my growing up and so it was just such a thrill to get to do that.

FF – Right, right, right. I remember, since you mentioned that, I had a conversation with somebody about what happened to Lisa, what a pivotal point that must have been for her. You know, having that bomb strapped to her back and somebody disarming it at the risk of his own life. And we were talking about, well, maybe this was the point where Lisa said, okay, I’m done being the victim.

JS – Mmm.

FF – And we noticed her being more in charge and standing up to Young even, and you know finding her own way. And yeah, of course, the blinding, all that shattered her but then you know, when she said, well, no, I can still contribute and I can be like the mind of it.

JS – Yes.

FF – I can still solve these problems. That there seemed to be a bit of a shift in her character where she’s gone to the very edge in that moment and now, what can you do past that. You go and make up your own destiny and your own life. I thought that was really fascinating to watch.
JS – Well cool! I’m glad you got that from that.

FF – Yeah, it’s like, you know how you have these conversations, what would have happened later if I were in that situation. Well, it’s basically, I’ve already died. Okay, what else can I do?

JS – Or how else can I contribute.

FF – Yeah. Exactly.

FF – Let’s go ahead and talk a little bit about Louis. Let’s get to that. How did you meet Louis? Had you met him before SGU? Or, did you meet him on the set for the first time?

JS – Yeah, the first time I met him was on set. I’d seen his work before. And I’d seen a little bit of Durham County and just thought, who is this guy? He’s amazing.

FF – Yeah.

JS – And so, I was familiar with him in that sense. But yeah, the first time meeting him was on set. Yeah, and just, so not what I expected. Just because when you watch him on TV, depending on his characters, but most of the characters I’ve seen him play are more of the dramatic variety. And so he’s you know, just really slow and intense and riveting and so that’s kind of what I expected in meeting him. But he’s, as you know, the most effervescent, hilarious, crazy guy. And just never misses an opportunity to have some fun and mix it up. So, yeah, he’s a very, very special man, for sure.

FF – Do you have any memorable or funny experiences that you had with him that you would like to share?

JS – Um, let me think, there are so many… (laughs) I remember this one, I don’t know if it’s the best one to share, but it’s the first one that came to mind. But Louis has these two incredible dogs. One’s name is Charlie, he’s huge, I think he’s a doodle.

FF – A Goldendoodle.

JS – Yeah, so he’s a mix, he’s a huge dog, and Peter Kelamis used to joke around that he was such a big enormous, hairy, crazy creature that he just expected someone to unzip out of the dog. He expected the dog to unzip himself and a man walk out. Because this dog was that big and crazy. So yeah, so Charlie was one of the dogs and Giancarlo who’s this other little mix. He looks exactly like his name.

FF – Right. He’s a Pugapoo.

JS – Yeah, yeah, you’d know, I’m sure… He would walk these dogs around the lot and I remember one time we were running lines, we had the, you know, one of our many scenes where Lisa’s asking Young for permission to do something. And, so we were running these lines and so we got in one of the studio golf carts because on those stages, those studio sets, they’re you know, one stage can be quite far away from another. So often there’ll be a golf cart on the studio lot. So you can get from one to another and not have to walk.

So, we would get on this golf cart and we’d do loops around the studio lot just running lines with the two dogs running behind us and that’s their daily exercise. So that was fun, we’d do that kind of thing. But I remember, anyway, on this lot another time he was walking the two dogs. And, one of them had pooped and being a good dog owner he picked up the poop in a bag. And, um, just threw it over the side of the fence that was surrounding the lot.
And I guess it landed on somebody on the other side, like a pedestrian that was just walking along on the other side. And so, I don’t know if he thought there was a dumpster on the other side or if he was just hoping that it would land on the grass because it was like a biodegradable bag. But yeah, it was pretty funny. So he got in a little bit of trouble for that.

FF – Oops! Well, responsible dog ownership, you know, or dog parenting, as the case may be.

JS – Exactly.

FF – How was your relationship with him as a colleague? What was it like working with him? And how did you help or support each other on set?

JS – Oh, the best. He’s totally the best because he’s so smart and wise when it comes to acting in general and storytelling as a whole. So, I knew, he’s someone who just always has your back. You know you can go to him if you have a question about character, if you have a question about the scene, if you have a question or you know, about wanting to try something different. Or anything like that. And he’s just so smart about it.
So he’s incredible, and incredibly generous actor.

You know, if there was ever a moment where I was having trouble finding a scene, like I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go this way or that way or how much emotion to bring to it… you know, just things like that. He might give a suggestion, or he might help me find it in a way that I wanted to. And he was just really good about trying things. He’s just really generous that way. So you really feel like you’ve got a solid scene partner and it’s safe to try stuff which is so important.

FF – Right.

FF – Do you remember a favorite scene that you had with him in person?

JS – Oh, let me think. Again, there were so many… They were always fun to do with him, right? But like this one comes to mind where… I just remember this one instance where there’s a bunch of us in the Bridge area of Destiny, after that was discovered. And so it was all of us scientists together, you know, Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore and David Blue and Robert Carlyle. And we were doing a rehearsal and, just to mix it up, I think this was towards the end of the season so everybody was kind of tired and sometimes just like a little crazier than usual. And Bobby and Louis decided to switch up their characters for this rehearsal, and switched their roles.

FF – Oh my goodness.

JS – So Louis did Bobby’s lines in a Scottish accent. And Bobby did Louis’ lines. It was just fun. They were just like standing, you know, inhabiting where each other is supposed to be in the scene, so it was just a bit of a crazy thing for us to watch, but yeah, it was fun.

FF – That’s great.

FF – Do you still occasionally hang out together when he’s in Vancouver? Do you get to see him at all?

JS – Occasionally. Not as often as we’d like just because he’s so busy on Motive. And I was  shooting Continuum and you know everybody in that cast is sort of shooting different things now and all over the place.

FF – Right.

JS – And so it’s a little harder to hook up as a group as it were. Sometimes even individually.

So I’d love to see him more but it can be tricky. But we’ll talk on the phone every once in a while and he generously came to see Down River when it screened at the Vancouver Film Festival. So, he’s a big supporter for sure, of all of his peers. Really good guy.

FF – We’re almost at the end. And here is the question that I ask all of our interviewees. If you had to describe Louis in four words, what would they be?

JS – I’m thinking—generous, open-hearted, child-like, and just fun as hell. Yeah.

FF – Those are great words. All right, so that’s pretty much it. So thank you so much for your time, Jen. I know it’s been a long time in the making. Thank you so much and you have a fabulous weekend.

JS – Thanks for having me.

FF – All right. I’ll talk to you soon then.

JS – Bye!

******* © Ferreira Fest. Please do not repost without permission. *******

Please join us in thanking Jennifer Spence for her time and her willingness to share her memories and insights. Be sure to follow her on Twitter at @SpenceJen

Check out Jen’s Facebook Page!


Jennifer Spence with Casey and Bea at Dragon*Con. Jen is a fantastic hugger!!

Jen is ready to do battle with the nefarious dust bunnies under the couch.

Photo by J. Mallozzi. Used with permission.

Wookies, on the other hand, are always welcome, whether at Dragon*Con or at home.

Photo by Jen Spence.

After the disastrous haircut Jen never went back to this particular hair salon.

Alcatraz The Series 2012. Photo by Jen Spence

Jen visited the Grand Canyon and went a little overboard playing tourist.

Photo by Jen Spence