Luke Kirby's Jimmy Burn is clearly the title character of Cra$h & Burn, premiering Wednesday on Showcase. Catherine Scott, played by Vancouver actress Caroline Cave, may just be the Crash.
"It was a clever spin," she says of the Toronto Star article that so labelled her. "I had failed to see it so directly, but it's actually true. We see her in the middle of a divorce, with a demotion in her career. She's sleeping around a lot, she's drinking a lot. We meet her on her descent, whereas Jimmy's on his way climbing up and out."
Burn is an insurance adjuster with a shady past, trying to build a stable future with his fiancée in the Paul Gross-produced drama. "I'm his boss, the legal counsel for the company, and in my eyes he's the lowly adjuster," explains Cave. "I'm better educated, I'm from a better social class, but there's certainly a huge attraction between them."
"I'm attracted to his feral quality, his lack of apology that he does come from a world that's a little less structured. He's accountable to fewer people in his life than I am. We do some vicarious living-out of certain dreams through one another, and there's definitely a very strong physical attraction."
Cave studied at the University of Alberta and the Royal National Theatre in London, getting her break at the prestigious Shaw Festival. She's won theatrical awards for her performance in The Syringa Tree and an ACTRA award for her role in the gritty independent film This Beautiful City. Now she's starring in Cra$h & Burn, created by Deadwood's Malcolm MacRury. So her current big-screen incarnation in the horror sequel Saw VI may seem like something of a departure.
"It's just not my genre. It's really difficult for me to watch it," she admits. "I can be frank about this: I don't know how I personally feel about participating in something that depicts such gore. One should never apologize for the work, and I don't, but I also just don't know if I could do it again. You're acting terror for days on end. I guess that's the job sometimes, but the violence and the gore – I could hardly handle it."
"I've done this respected work, and work that's garnered me some attention and some respect in the industry, which means a great deal," she adds. "But I wanted to do something commercial and this was a really commercial film, so that's why it was important that I do it."
She is unequivocally proud of Cra$h & Burn, which she compares to "a bit of a lighter The Wire."
"It has the same grit, the same depiction of a city as a character in the story," she says. "The Wire exposes Baltimore as having this unique character to it. We've done the same thing with Hamilton and the nature of the demise of the economy down there. It used to be quite a thriving town. Same with St. Catherines and Buffalo and Detroit — these cities that were fuelled by industry and manufacturing have been on the decline for so long."
The clearly intelligent actress also finds it exciting to play such an intellectually confident character. "She operates in a world sexually and otherwise much more like we stereotype men in television. She breaks a lot of television stereotypes — very much so. That's what's very sexy about her, that she's so unpredictable and extremely smart."
"The show breaks a lot of conventions and that's why its exciting and brave," she says, adding: "I think whenever Paul Gross is attached to something, it'll be worthy of attention."