Tara Spencer-Nairn’s return to ‘The Listener’ delayed by early labour
Tara Spencer-Nairn knew she’d have to take a short leave from “The Listener” to have a baby, but the Canadian actress says that break came a little earlier than everyone expected.
“While they were shooting episode one my water broke and (I had to go) to the hospital,” Spencer-Nairn, who wasn’t set to return to the show until the second episode, tells CTV.ca.
“I called my parents first … but the next phone call I made was to my agent and I was like, ‘So I’m in the hospital, my water broke, I don’t think I’m going to make it in to work. Is this going to be ok?’”
The actress, who portrays head triage nurse Sandy on “The Listener,” explains that Season 3 began shooting in September and her baby was due in early October.
“Originally we were going to shoot my scenes pregnant and then I would leave, go have a baby and come back six weeks later. I looked at the schedule and I was like, ‘Huh. They have me scheduled to shoot the day before my due date.’”
The actress, who got her breakout role with the 1999 Genie-nominated film “New Waterford Girl,” says she laughed to herself as she had a feeling her baby was going to be early. She was right.
But she adds everyone involved in the show was very supportive and she returned to the set a mere two weeks later to shoot the scenes she had missed for episode two, titled "Cold Case Blues."
In the episode, Sandy announces she is taking a temporary assignment with Doctors Without Borders in Africa, on the heels of Oz (Ennis Esmer) asking her to go on a tropical vacation with him.
“I was a bit emotional on set. Poor Ennis, I had all these scenes with him … and also had to have a kissing scene with him, which was really weird because that’s exactly what you want to do after you have a baby, is make out with somebody else,” Spencer-Nairn jokes.
“I remember just looking at him and going, ‘I’m so sorry, if I cry it’s not you. It’s me. It’s the situation.’ And Ennis, who’s always the jokester, was awesome. He had my back and was really supportive.”
After wrapping up the scenes, Spencer-Nairn says she was able to take six weeks off to spend with her son Foster before returning back to set full-time.
“Everyone was like, ‘Wow, how did you do that?’ and I never really thought of it as, ‘Oh this is going to be hard,’ it was more like, ‘Wow, how fortunate that I have a job and get to go to work,’” says Spencer-Nairn.
“You just kind of accept when you’re an actor your life isn’t going to function like everyone else’s. When you’re working, you’re working, and I want to work. I love being a mom but I also love my job and if I can do both of them, isn’t that just perfect?”
But it doesn’t mean she hasn’t had to make some adjustments.
“When they say your life changes you don’t really believe it but the second that baby arrives your life changes drastically. It’s a good drastically but it’s intense,” she says with a laugh.
“It’s been quite a journey. It was really nice to have him at work. There’s no way I could’ve done it with him not there.”
Spencer-Nairn, who played the character of Karen in “Corner Gas” for six seasons, joined the cast of “The Listener” in Season 2. She says the cast has been so welcoming and she absolutely loves being part of the show.
“It’s such a happy set. And I love working with Ennis. Ennis is actually friends with my husband, they went to school together, which makes it even weirder (for some of the scenes). My husband will say, ‘So kissing Ennis today, huh?” she says with a laugh.
Even though she loved playing a rookie cop on “Corner Gas,” Spencer-Nairn says she welcomed the shift from comedy to drama.
“I love comedy … but I’m not a comedian. I guess I’m a goofy, silly person but it’s nice to go back to drama and just remind people that this is what I started doing when I first started acting. I was just blessed to get a show like ‘Corner Gas’ and be taken away on that amazing path and journey. But it’s really nice to come back (to drama).”
When Spencer-Nairn returns to “The Listener” later this season, she says things don’t go exactly as planned when it comes to Sandy’s relationship with Oz.
“Oz said he wasn’t going to move on. He said he wanted to wait for her and they had this grand sort of plan but he has his eye on someone else,” says Spencer-Nairn.
While Spencer-Nairn says Sandy is a little upset that Oz appears to have moved on, she says relationships are never perfect, especially the circumstances surrounding this one.
“We were joking earlier on set is that you can start a conversation and can never end it because someone’s come in (the hospital) with a head laceration or something always happens. It’s a really hard environment to have a relationship with crazy schedules and stuff always happening,” she says.
“It’s interesting the evolution of Sandy and Oz. We’ll just see where it goes.”
New episodes of “The Listener” air Wednesdays at 10/9C on CTV. Full episodes are also available online at CTV.ca.
About Sheri Block
Sheri Block has been covering entertainment for CTV.ca since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!