'The Listener' star Tara Spencer-Nairn tries on a new uniform
While viewers know her best as Karen on “Corner Gas,” this actress is hoping audiences embrace her in an all-new role.
Tara Spencer-Nairn has returned to the CTV primetime lineup in the second season of “The Listener,” as Sandy, a bitter divorcee and head triage nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital.
“The Listener” is a dramatic sci-fi series that follows the exploits of a young paramedic named Toby Logan, who has the power to read minds. He’s decided to use his abilities for good, and works with the police to solve a variety of high-level crimes.
During an interview with CTV.ca, Spencer-Nairn describes her character Sandy as “feisty,” “with a bit of a punch to her,” and someone who does things “by the book.”
“I think it comes naturally to me. I have a hard time not doing that. It’s a bit of who I am. That happens. You get cast in roles that have some similarity to which you are naturally,” says the actress.
But despite her mother being a nurse, Spencer-Nairn says acting the part is as close as she’ll come to being a medical caregiver.
“I would be a terrible nurse to be honest with you; I’m not good at the sight of blood. If someone hurts themselves, you can guarantee I’m running the other way,” says Spencer-Nairn.
“Fake blood I’m fine with.”
Besides “Corner Gas,” Spencer-Nairn is known for her on-screen roles in “New Waterford Girl” and “Rub N’ Tug,” as well as guest starring appearances on “ReGenesis,” “The Outer Limits” and “Cold Squad.”
However, when the half-hour prairie comedy bowed in 2009, Spencer-Nairn struggled with finding the next phase of her career beyond “Corner Gas,” and shaking off the image of Karen.
“‘Corner Gas’ was this big iconic thing and it’s hard to step away from that, and people see you as that character. I did have it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do a drama, and remind people I am a dramatic actress, and I read for a living. It has worked out really nicely,” says Spencer-Nairn.
“I’d be lying if I said the last couple years were easy. I’m really happy to be where I am now.”
So when she landed the role of Sandy on “The Listener,” Spencer-Nairn really only had one request.
“I did say, ‘Hey guys, let’s not wear a French braid,” notes the actress with a laugh. “And originally I said, ‘Let’s not do blue.’”
And even though she finds herself back in blue (scrubs that is), “The Listener” has proved to be a enjoyable experience.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store, you walk onto set and it’s like you’re in a hospital. I’m wearing my scrubs, it’s hard to not fall right into it… except when you’re a kid, you have to use your imagination, but now it’s all there for me!”
Another bonus for Spencer-Nairn is the chance to work with one of her old friends, Ennis Esmer, and playing his love interest on-screen.
“It’s nice to step into a situation to work with people you know and like. There are a lot of laughs on set.”
Spencer-Nairn originally met Esmer through her husband, who went to high school with the actor, as well as enrolled in the same post-secondary program.
Spencer-Nairn was born in Montreal, raised out west in British Columbia, and now calls Toronto home. “The Listener” airs Friday nights on CTV, with full episodes available online at CTV.ca.
Tyrone Warner has been with CTV.ca since 2005, covering news, entertainment and everything related to CTV. When he’s away from the computer, you can find him writing, recording and performing his own music, running his own record label and dabbling in photography, painting and creative collage. Follow him on Twitter!