Laurence Leboeuf got her dream role. Not only it was a role in English, but she also got to play a doctor on television.
In one of the newest medical dramas, Transplant, Leboeuf plays Magalie Leblanc, a very analytical second-year resident who pushes herself relentlessly at her job in the hospital.
Transplant is one of the newest medical dramas on NBC that is imported from Canadian television due to very limited television production in the United States. The series follows an ER doctor who fled his native Syria to come to Canada. The young doctor had to overcome numerous obstacles to resume a career in the high-stakes world of emergency medicine.
LRM Online’s Gig Patta spoke with actress Laurence Leboeuf after the final season aired late last year. We talked about her transition into English acting and learning the medical jargon for the show.
Laurence Leboeuf is bilingual in French and English, in which she booked leading roles in both television and film of the French Canadian and English Canadian productions. She won the Gemeaux Awards (French Canadian Emmys) for Best Actress in the series Les Lavigueur, based on a true story of a family torn apart by winning the lottery. In 2010, she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Musée Eden as a young girl transplanted to 1910s Montreal to watch over her uncle’s wax museum in the Red Light District.
She starred in several seasons of Marche à l’Ombre, which also won her Best Leading Actress award at the French Festival Series Mania. In that series, she played Rachel Marchand, a social worker at a halfway house with sexually violent tendencies who strikes up an illicit affair with a client. Also, she won Best Actress for Human Trafficking at the ACTRA Awards (English Canadian SAG Awards) for Nadia, a young girl who gets kidnapped after tricked into a modeling competition.
Transplant was renewed for a second season by NBC and production is currently underway in Canada. Current episodes of the first season can be viewed on NBC and Peacock streaming service.
Read the exclusive interview below. Let us know what you think.
Gig Patta: Hey, congratulations on the first season of a transplant.
Laurence Leboeuf: Thank you so much. Very exciting.
Gig Patta: [Laughs] It must be even more exciting that Transplant is being showcased here in the United States, not just in Canada anymore.
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, totally. It’s probably the biggest reward knowing that the show was going to travel, especially to the United States. Just been amazing news.
Gig Patta: What initially attracted you to be on a medical show like Transplant?
Laurence Leboeuf: Well, what really attracted me first was the very unique point of view that it was taking. The fact that we were going to follow the Bashir Hamed, which from the point of view of an immigrant. I think we have not seen or rarely on TV anyway. It was very compelling and I was just very seduced by that.
The medical world is much different from what we know to what I know. We always look up to them, the doctors, nurses, and all those people that work in the medical field. I’ve always had an admiration for what they do. To dive into that world was just an immense privilege.
Gig Patta: I’ve taken science classes before and they’re hard. Did they make you take courses or more like a crash course?
Laurence Leboeuf: [Laughs] We didn’t do any science classes or anything. [Laughs] Well, we had boot camps at the beginning. We would train with a doctor and a nurse. It touched on the basis of those manipulations and the stuff that we were going to do. Then we broke it down.
On the weekends, we have these boot camps to rehearse like the biggest medical scenes for that week. It becomes like choreography. Once you have the movements downs, positions, the rhythms, you know what you’re doing. That really helped.
Gig Patta: So can you save a life or just pretend to save a life? [Laughs]
Laurence Leboeuf: I will say that just to pretend. I don’t want anyone saying I’m a doctor on a plane if ever need be. [Laughs]
Gig Patta: Talk about playing Mags, your character on the show. How did you want her to approach her?
Laurence Leboeuf: A lot of Mags was already so well-written in the scripts when I first read it. She’s the first in her class. Know it all. She needs all the data. Really data-obsessed, actually. I say this often–she’s kind of like the Hermione Granger of the ER. [Laughs] I love that.
When we were shooting, I thought it’d be cool if she talks super fast and does everything as fast as I could. The fact that she’s very devoted to her work almost to a fault because she lacks a personal life. That was the initial approach for it.
Gig Patta: I find her very stressed and a perfectionist. How close is your personality to Mags?
Laurence Leboeuf: I would say that she’s definitely passionate about what she does. We can’t deny that when she’s giving it to her all and she’s been doing it for a long time. I could resemble a little bit of me. I have a passion for acting and how dedicated I am when I do my job. Our similarities would stop there.
Gig Patta: Now for those people who aren’t familiar with the Transplant show, is there a specific storyline that Mags do actually follow for her character? We all know Bashir is the main story.
Laurence Leboeuf: For Mags, we follow her quest for balance. At first, the hospital is her boyfriend with her completely dedicated and obsessed with being the best at everything. That’s what she wants to do. She tells that to Jed Bishop. If she could sleep every day at the hospital–she would do it. That’s become her life.
At one point, she has a fallout because no one can have that much energy and sustain that kind of lifestyle for that long. After that moment, she searches for balance. She’s going to try to find balance.
Gig Patta: I think the season is ending here for the United States really soon. It’s kind of sad that your character’s boyfriend is the hospital itself. Or rather the job itself.
Laurence Leboeuf: It is. That’s why she has to figure out another way to live at one point. That’s going to swallow her whole. It’s the lesson Jed Bishop is trying to teach her. She’s afraid that she might make some of the same mistakes he’s made to be swallowed by that world of just medical, medical, medical.
Gig Patta: Well, I’m quite impressed with how you actually played Mags because it does seem like you actually know what you were talking about. Do you know what you’re talking about? [Laughs]
Laurence Leboeuf: [Laughs] To a certain extent. Obviously, we’ve rehearsed so much. We asked so many questions about every manipulation that we do and why are we saying this? What does it mean? Obviously, I have an idea of what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. But, if you quizzed me on it, I don’t think I’d be very good. [Laughs]
Gig Patta: Your answer to everything is probably, “It’s the spleen.” ]Laughs].
Laurence Leboeuf: Exactly. [Laughs]
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Gig Patta: Talk about working with the rest of the cast on this show. How do you develop that synergy and chemistry?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, it was amazing. When we all first met, I didn’t know anybody. On the first day of our first boot camp, we were just completely thrown into that medical world. All of us together and looking at each other going, “Holy smokes! I don’t get it. Oh my, God. What are we going to do?”
There are certain manipulations we had to do. It was a good way to start because it’s like we really bonded right away. We made our WhatsApp group and have been talking ever since. We can see each other outside of the shooting. It was amazing. There’s nothing like working with people you love and you admire. They become your friends. It was terrific.
Gig Patta: No one absolutely in the cast knew the medical terms then?
Laurence Leboeuf: Maybe some were more familiar than others. The chunks of medical jargon we had this say–you have to be really good.
Gig Patta: What about the set itself? Was that a built-in set for the hospital?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, it is. That’s quite something when we first saw it. We literally got lost the first week in it. This is insane. It’s so big and gorgeous, so the shots can be beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like this personally. It’s very cool to already go into a world that’s like built for exactly what you have to do.
Gig Patta: I do have to congratulate the fact that you got renewed for a second season.
Laurence Leboeuf: Yes, we did. Thank you. Very excited to start shooting.
Gig Patta: I know you can’t really reveal. I’m not sure if there’s actually much to reveal. What do you hope that for a second for Mags?
Laurence Leboeuf: I do hope we get to know a little bit more about her personal world, her personal life, and where she comes from. I hope we see a bit of the outside of that. We’d often just see her at the hospital. I hope we see her where she lives and get to discover more of her personal world. So I do hope for that.
Gig Patta: Maybe a love interest. [Laughs].
Laurence Leboeuf: [Laughs] Maye Who knows?
Gig Patta: Let’s talk more about yourself here. What made you get into acting?
Laurence Leboeuf: Both my parents are actors here in Montreal. My dad owned a stage theater for 18 years. My parents have been working for a long time as well. That probably influenced my passion for acting by growing up backstage at the theater and going on sets with my mom and dad. That triggered that little flame in me. Then I started young. I auditioned and I been doing it ever since.
Gig Patta: Was your start on stage or did you immediately go in film and TV?
Laurence Leboeuf: I immediately went into film and TV. I’ve never done stage work. I would love to maybe one day, but it’s something that scares me. Maybe because I’m so used to TV and cinema. It scares me to be in front of people. It scares me to have to project my voice. It’s a different way of acting. I’m afraid to be nervous. I’m shy a little. I know that’s weird, but I am.
Gig Patta: It would make me nervous if I’m pretending to be a doctor. My father was a physician.
Laurence Leboeuf: [Laughs] There we go. We’ll have our fears
Gig Patta: You’re from Montreal. Does that basically mean what French was your first language then?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yes, it is. I’m French Canadian.
Gig Patta: When you started off your career, did you do a lot of the French Canadian projects?
Laurence Leboeuf: That’s pretty much all I did. When I was 10, I starred in something that was all in French. Then I did a series for four years that was all in French. I started speaking English when I was like 15 or 16 years old. Then I did an audition in English when I was 17 for the first time. Then I got into the English world.
Gig Patta: Then I have to compliment you. Your English is very good, especially on the show.
Laurence Leboeuf: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
Gig Patta: What made you think about coming to the other side rather than sticking around with the French-Canadian world?
Laurence Leboeuf: I don’t know. I always wanted to learn English. Even when I was really young. Subconsciously, I would make my stuffed animals speak English, even though it was gibberish when I was seven. I’ve always been attracted to the language, the cinema, and to television–particularly the American cinema and television.
When I started learning and then it was an accomplishment or like another goal. It happened in my life. I was getting offers. This is working. Why not? I love the big cinema, the big screen, and that dream. So why not?
Gig Patta: You managed to come across into Transplant here, which is basically an English production. Is it more enjoyable or is it about the same?
Laurence Leboeuf: Compared to the French? It’s as enjoyable. French is my first language obviously. I will go with those projects as well. I want to keep working in French my whole life. Then when I read something like Transplant, it’s a wonderful script and story. I love my character.
It all becomes the same. I’m still learning to feel as comfortable in English as I am in French when I’m acting. I love that. I always feel proud every time that I do something. I’m like, “Oh, I felt that. It felt exactly as if I was speaking French to me.” So that’s good.
Gig Patta: Are you gaining popularity among fans since you’re expanding into English and American audiences?
Laurence Leboeuf: I guess. I’m not like a really big social network kind of girl and I’m not on social media that much. I’m learning to try to be a little bit more. But, I don’t know how to calculate the fan base. [Laughs] It’s pretty quiet also now because of COVID. I can’t really tell, I guess. [Laughs]
Gig Patta: If the show goes on for multiple seasons, you’ll see your fan base multiply pretty quickly.
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah. That’s cool. I hope so. I love people that love the show.
Gig Patta: For yourself, what kind of roles do you like to go after?
Laurence Leboeuf: Oh, my God. I’ve done a lot of very troubled characters. And I love that. It’s far from my life and who I am. I love doing something that’s completely the opposite of me. I’m looking for that, that edge. I love when it’s edgy when it’s outside the box.
There’s also a love for fantasy as well. Why not do some Lord of the Rings-ish thing? I’d love to be in that type of thing. All kinds of roles.
Gig Patta: Well, you’ll have that opportunity since the Lord of the Rings television show is currently under production.
Laurence Leboeuf: I heard! [Laughs] I’m dying.
Gig Patta: It sounds like you do have bigger ambitions. You want to get into international productions. Maybe quite possibly on this side of the border, into the United States someday, right?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, definitely. I would love that. You put your finger on it. I love worldly things. I would love to work with Danish directors, go to German, and then travel while I do my work. That would be the ultimate dream and goal.
Gig Patta: Well, I love your ambition. I just simply have one more question to ask you, because we’re talking long distance and it’s crazy times out there, but how are you staying sane and creative during times like this?
Laurence Leboeuf: Well, I have to say that I’ve struggled. It’s one thing to do it for a couple of months, but our production was postponed a couple of time. So I have to admit that I find it difficult to keep being creative and to keep the morale going. We’re sort of on a deep second wave. I read a lot. That saves me. I’ve always been a reader, but with the pandemic–I’ve been reading, reading, and reading. It really helps me get my mind off things and escape.
I write a little bit. I try to do a list of the movies I haven’t seen. Even the ones that I would say, “Oh, okay. I’m going to watch this three-hour thing.” I understand that it’s getting hard for everybody and it’s difficult sometimes. What are we going to do? It’s going to pass. That shall pass as well.
Gig Patta: When that passes, you’ll be an international superstar traveling around the world.
Laurence Leboeuf: There we go! [Laughs] I love that.
Gig Patta: Laurence, I really appreciate talking to you about Transplant.
Laurence Leboeuf: Perfect. Me too. Thank you so much. This was really awesome. Thank you.
Source: LRM Online Exclusive, NBC