Nadia Bjorlin on “Venice the Series,” Season 4

This July, the wonderfully smart and soapy Venice the Series will be back for its fourth season. With a lesbian love triangle at its core, Venice has broken barriers and proved that soaps can be successful in a new medium. One part of that triangle is the successful but troubled children’s book author, Lara Miller, played by soap veteran Nadia Bjorlin. Nadia got her big break as Chloe Lane in Days of Our Lives, a role she has played on and off for over a decade.  The multi-talented and stunning actress (with the most piercing blue-grey eyes on the planet) was kind enough to sit down with AfterEllen.com and give us the scoop on her character and the upcoming season of Venice.  

All photos courtesy of Open Book Productions

AfterEllen: How did you get involved in Venice to begin with?  I know you worked with Crystal Chappell on Days of our Lives
Nadia Bjorlin: Yeah it’s funny because it was kind of an accident, a happy accident. I met Crystal obviously on Days, started working together and we hit it off right away. Then she started telling me about Venice because she was just creating it at that point. She’d already cast it pretty much, but there was just a small role in it that she asked if I would do, and I’m like, “Yeah, I would love to, sounds really fun! Sounds like a cool project.” It was like a one-day thing. And that character actually ended up ultimately being cut out of the first season anyway. [laughs]

So the morning of [the first day of shooting] I was going to drive to set, I get a phone call and Crystal is like, “You read the script?” I said, “Yeah, I read the script, it’s great.” She said, “Well my actress who is playing Lara, she is ill, like really ill. We just got a call, she’s not coming to work.” But you know, they couldn’t reschedule anything so they were panicking. She was like, “Is there anyway that would play her?” [laughs] “What does your week look like? What does your day look like?” I said, “My day is fine, it’s free.” Crsytal said, “OK, well I’ll have a script for you when you get here. Do you think you could play her?” I’m like, “Yeah, give me like an hour.” So I had to run to my house and figure out Oh my God, what am I?

AE: What am I signing up for? [laughs]
NB: Yeah! What am I signing up for, what am I going to wear? Because obviously it started off as such a passion project that there really wasn’t much of a budget or anything. We were taking care of our own clothes and wardrobe and stuff so I had to think about, What would this woman wear? I just had my own sort of vague ideas. It was a happy accident because I remember really connecting with that character. I just really liked her in the script. So that’s kind of how it happened. The character came together as we were shooting it because I sort of just had to fly, what’s that thing, fly by the seat of your pants?

AE: Exactly.
NB:I was like, OK, here we go. So yeah, that’s kind of how it started. I hopped on that crazy train.

AE: Speaking of the character you play, when you first do come on the scene, Lara seems to have it all figured out. We later find out that she has pretty serious problems with alcohol and self-control.  There is even an incident where Lara unintentionally injures her girlfriend while intoxicated. You would think it would be easy to write her off as the bad guy, but it isn’t.  Why do you think that is?  How would you describe the character?
NB: I think that she’s a fallible human being and I think that there’s something in her that we can all relate to. I think that’s good writing. All these characters, no human being is perfect. Right off the bat what is interesting is that when you do meet Lara, it looks like she has it all together. This person is too good to be true. Usually the saying is, if something is too good to be true, it is.  I guess it’s because I empathize with that character in the sense of her needing to feel like she has to have this image of perfection. She was raised in this family where a certain standard was expected of her, so I think she expects that of herself. She expects to not fail, and she expects to be perfect and be a literary genius, and have it all figured out.  And still look good and dress well and be able to impress her girlfriend.

I think everybody can relate to wanting or thinking that they need to be a certain way. Like they need to have everything right in life, and all their shit together when maybe they don’t. In her case, her major Achilles heel is obviously this addiction problem that she’s convinced herself and I think this is a theme through all of the seasons that it’s not a problem because she’s not weak. What she’s most afraid of is that that’s a sign of weakness, and that’s going to control her.  I think that’s what she fears the most. And because of that, she’s very self-sabotaging. It will be a self- fulfilling prophesy. This whole thing that she’s so afraid of and she’s so afraid of losing Ani it’s going to end up happening because she’s not approaching it the right way. If that makes any sense.

AE: Absolutely. Watching her sitting there in the bar, throwing back these drinks with Sammie and if soap opera’s have taught me anything, it’s don’t trust a girl named Sammie.
NB: I know, right? [laughs]

AE: But it is heartbreaking as a viewer to watch because you see her get to a certain good point, and then fall back down that slope again.
NB: Yeah, and I think it’s that kind of thing too, where I’ve met people who are like that. I think they try to create new truths for themselves, just to not feel like complete failures. So she’s created this new truth like, “no, no, I can handle it. Like I’ve gone cold turkey, but I’m fine. I can have one drink, or two or three drinks. I’m totally fine because I’m better that that. I’m smarter, I’ve got my shit together, I’m not going to let this defeat me.” It’s a sad vicious cycle that yeah, if you keep doing that, it will defeat you. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can beat this on your own without asking for help. It’s so sad that here’s a person who’s too afraid to ask for help and by not doing that, they could lose everything.

AE: I had the pleasure of speaking to your love interest, Jessica Leccia, a couple of days ago. She just gushed about how terrific you are to work with. 

NB: Thank God, I totally bribe her.

AE: [laughs] What’s it like playing opposite Jessica?
NB: It’s so great. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, literally and figuratively. I met her and kinda became friends with her before this, which I think maybe helped. We really bonded over this, and really grew close. I think I surprised myself by how easy it was to have this chemistry with her and sort of develop this dynamic. It kind of happened naturally. She’s such a beautiful person and spirit inside and out that it wasn’t difficult. I guess I’m lucky, because maybe if she was some sort of horrible person [laughs] I’d be like, This sucks, this is so hard. But she’s so nice and so funny and so caring. I look at her and I feel like she looks like this beautiful angel and it always makes me want to protect her. I think that helps create whatever we have on screen. It’s fun and we laugh a lot, we have a good time like with the love scenes and stuff like that. We watch out for each other.

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