Erin Karpluk: An Actor Goes From Small Town To The Big Time
Canadian actor, Erin Karpluk talks about her journey from a small town to the big screen and her secret to learning lines.
When Erin Karpluk talks about the small town she grew up in, she describes it as a place you’d see on a Canada postcard. Her graduating class contained only 32 people, everybody knew her name and her mother was the school’s principal.
It’s a town she returns to multiple times a year, saying “it’s a very spiritual place where I fill my teacup” and offers a reset to living in Toronto and Los Angeles. But even though Karpluk grew up playing hockey and basketball, skiing and hiking, she always wanted to be an actor.
Judging by the length of her IMDb, she’s had an impressive journey from her home in the Rockies. As well as having regular appearances on TV shows, including A Million Little Things, Holly Hobbie and Being Erica, Karpluk has appeared in movies alongside the likes of Samuel L. Jackson.
When it comes to accepting a role, there are several elements that matter to Karpluk. These include who the character is, what the story is and who she’s working with, as well as where it will be shot. “If I have the opportunity to shoot in Scotland, I’ll jump at it,” she says. “When I shot in Prague, the crew didn’t speak English, so that in itself was a different experience. You have this bond you form without saying words, which is a wonderful way to experience the culture.”
She goes on to talk about shooting in Scotland and, with the crew being local and full of recommendations, taking their advice on renting a car and driving through Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye.
“Given my experience in front of the camera, I’d like to switch behind and see it through a different lens”
Of the characters she plays, Karpluk explains how “90 per cent are in my wheelhouse, and I’ve got them on a flow. The other 10 per cent, I’m a bit thrown off.” In that case, she’ll get a coach, dissecting the script and figuring out which prompts act as reminders when she’s on set.
Regardless of whether a role brings new challenges or not, she has an interesting way of getting into character. “I have a different scent I wear,” she explains. “For Anna [Benoit, A Million Little Things], I wore Jimmy Choo. I loved that it was soft and floral. I also have a song that links me to a character’s story. Slasher was a difficult part for me. It was dark. I had a Sia song and would listen to it to get me into the skin of that character.”
When it comes to learning lines, she’s someone who remembers them better if they’re learned while moving forward. For that reason, you’ll often see her with scripts while walking, or playing lines in her car while driving to and from the studio. Of course, it’s not just the lines themselves that are important, but also what you choose to do with them.
“Humans say all kinds of things with a different intention underneath,” she notes. “We’ll say things to hurt, but are really saying ‘Love me’ or ‘I miss you.’ That’s so much more interesting to watch than the obvious.” This is something she put into practice with her character on Being Erica, Erica Strange. “She was written as a victim. I read it and played the opposite, trying to bring resilience to her.”
Next to her acting work, Karpluk finds a way to combine her love for fitness and athleticism with philanthropy. As well as training for triathlons in Saskatoon with Olympic champion Simon Whitfield, she’s done marathons for World Vision and the SPCA and took part in the Half Ironman.
It’s clear that acting is what Karpluk is meant to do. When asked what makes her happy, acting was her answer, alongside “being in nature and spending time with friends and family.” However, in the future, she’s looking to explore another side to film.
“I would like to tread into directing,” she says. “As a director, you’re telling the whole story. As an actor, you’re playing one story within that. Given my experience in front of the camera, I’d like to switch behind and see it through a different lens.”
INTERVIEW BY ESTELLE ZENTIL