I had the pleasure of talking to Bomb Girls’s Ali Liebert last week, and in addition to being perfectly charming, she filled me in on the origin of “the swagger” and her new “sexy” lesbian project. There’s never been a better time to get caught up on the show.
AfterEllen: Hi Ali! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I just saw the teaser for Season 2 which looks amazing — I think every lesbian on the internet freaked out about as soon as it came out —and it seems like the show is taking on a lot of meaty issues this season. Lorna might be getting an abortion, Betty is facing harassment accusations. Does it seems like there’s a change in tone at all from Season 1?
Ali Liebert: Well, we have 12 episodes so each character — each one of the women’s stories get developed in such a deeper way. Like, we learn about their backstories a bit more, where they came from. When we did the first season, we thought it was going to be a mini-series and thank God for us and everyone who loves the show that they decided to make it so we could do this second series and hopefully a third and fourth. I think [the second season] heightened in a way; they let us watch the first episode and it was pretty cool. I was very proud of it and it looks so gorgeous, the colors and the richness and the stories. The writing team this year is amazing.
AE: It looks that way and the palette on this show has always been amazing and unique. So right now we’re doing the AfterEllen visibility awards, as you know, and one thing that people always bring up as something they love about your performance is your physicality. You definitely read as gay when you’re in character, which is actually really cool. I was wondering what kind of research or what kind of work you did to get that physicality.
AL: I guess when I first read the pilot, the process of me getting the role was over five weeks and every time I would go for a walk as Betty — [Laughs] this is so actory — I’d go for a walk in Vancouver, where I live, and just try and see the world through her eyes. I’d have coffee or interact with people on the street as Betty. Like, if they bumped into me I wouldn’t do my usual Canadian “Oh, I’m sorry.” I just started developing the attitude and I got these really cool combat boots last time I was in L.A., and every time I would go for a Betty walk I’d always wear the boots, and they just made me feel so badass. I started walking like that and I’m like “That’s how Betty walks.” I also watched a lot of old time movies — I got most of my physical inspiration from men, really.
AE: I hear a lot of people say Katharine Hepburn as well, or you’ve also brought that up in the past?
AL: Yeah I would agree with that 100%. Just getting the bravery and her attitude and also all the sweet lady-pants she’s been wearing. She’s still wearing a lot of pants in Season 2.
AE: We’re looking forward to it. Obviously you can’t talk too much about Season 2, but what’s been the greatest challenge that you’ve had in playing Betty? Is there anything you’ve really struggled with in telling her story?
AL: Good question. I’ve never really had a problem falling in love with who my characters are falling in love with. Like male, female, it’s never been a problem for me. Betty isn’t the first lesbian I’ve played so in terms of all those stories it’s never been a challenge for me. I guess the biggest challenge is staying interested and as Betty changes, knowing that that’s OK. Betty and all these women are going to be changing. I was just very aware of where she was emotionally and sort of stretching her and making sure I was still true to her. I wanted to make sure I was doing right by her. She goes through so much this year and trying to be authentic and be real to herself and all the challenges that are thrown at her and the pressure of the war; the real challenge was just that the writers were throwing so many crazy storylines at Betty this year. It was just so exciting to get our scripts like “I can’t wait! I get to act this! Slash, I feel bad for Betty.” The challenge is just that she’s changing, just like I do and you do and everyone does.
AE: Well that makes me excited and really nervous. Switching gears a little bit, I know via Twitter — you all have such entertaining Twitter accounts — that you and Meg and Charlotte and Jodi all seem like you have a really warm relationship, especially about food. Food seems to be the dominant theme. Do you want to tell the readers how that came about?
AL: Tweeting about food? Well, Meg is like a mama hen; if she could have us over all the time and cook, she would. We had a little cast thing when Rosie O’Donnell was in town, which was amazing, and it was the writers, producers and actors — and Meg was like “Come over to my house!” And so we all went to Meg’s place, and she’s making cookies from scratch. And she’s like, whipping up two different batches, one with no nuts, one with pecans. She’s just so generous and loves entertaining and hosting.
And then Jodi bought me this cookbook for my birthday. I don’t really know how to cook but I’m trying to teach myself, and she [Jodi] is a pretty good cook so we’ve been having dinner parties. And it’s just Instagram, man, just self-indulgent food shots. But cooking is really fun. I think because the show is so intense, it’s just a nice, creative outlet. And Jodi and I have been going out and having our French dates.
AE: Do you have any other projects that are on the radar?
AL: I did a part in a film called Down River that should come out next year. I also play a lesbian in that one and it’s really very sexy. It’ll hopefully get some sort of festival release and I play the ex-lover of this really cool chick, Colleen Rennison. You should look up her band. It’s called No Sinner and she’s the lead singer. She’s such an amazing, talented young woman.
AE: Looking forward to it. So a lot of Americans, myself included, don’t know anything about Canada’s involvement in the war effort. What is the number one thing you wish Americans knew about Canada?
AL: Hmm. Well, I wish they would appreciate us for our politeness instead of ridiculing us. I really feel like people who have never been to Canada are missing out. Have you ever been to Canada?
AE: I have, actually. I’ve spent some time in Quebec.
AL: Yeah, Toronto is such an amazing city. It’s so clean, it’s just gorgeous. I love being Canadian, I’m so proud if being Canadian, and I think the great thing about our show is you can see how involved Canada was in the war. I know some Americans don’t even know Canada was in the war. It’s been incredible for me because I didn’t know about women in the war effort.
We actually had this old lady come to set the other day and she was like 95 and loved the show. It was very funny, she couldn’t remember, she was like “Which one were you?” And I was just like, “I’m the tough one.” And she said “Oh yes, dear. I love your character, she’s very feisty.” And I asked her “do you think that represents a part of your life at that time? Do you think it’s an accurate representation?” I mean obviously it’s drama, so there’s a lot of romance and love triangles. And she said “That’s exactly how it was, dear.”
Season 2 of Bomb Girls will air on Global TV (Canada) on Wednesdays at 8 pm as of January 2. That gives you plenty of time to watch the first season twice.