Kristin Lehman previews the return of MOTIVE on ABC

KRISTIN LEHMANABC’s summer schedule kicks off Wednesday night at the tail end of sweeps with the second season premiere of MOTIVE (a Canadian production that ABC airs in the states much like they do with ROOKIE BLUE), at 10/9c after the ABC comedy Wednesday finales. The new season kicks off with some familiar faces taking on new roles, as the “Whydunnit?” series tells us another story of Victim, Killer, and where exactly those two people cross paths.

I’m glad that the show is returning to the states, coming off a great S2 run in Canada that airs episode 12 this week! To celebrate the return, I spent some time chatting with Kristin Lehman (Angie) about what’s different this year and why people should tune in!

I watched the premiere today; there’s something easy going, relaxed and fun watching Angie and how she interacts with people.
Well thanks, I’m really glad! You know what, I have to tell you; I enjoy playing her that way. The ease and the enjoyment you get out of watching is kind of how I feel [laughs].

You can tell when watching you guys – you seem to be relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. Talk a little bit about what we will see this new season.
This season, there are some changes. We have two new characters who are really great. They shake things up for everyone in the office. You’ve got the addition of Sergeant, acting Sergeant Mark Cross, played by Warren Christie who is such a tremendous actor, lovely guy. And also, extremely handsome [laughs]. Then you have Officer Wendy Sung, a junior officer, and she’s played by Valerie Tian. She impacts Det. Lucas’ home life, which I also really enjoy. They’re our comedy relief which is always really fun. What we see that’s really, really interesting this season. A faster paced show – more flashbacks, lots of really slick transitions. And of course our trademark “whodunit?”, the crimes are really compelling, along with really complicated office politics between Angie and her acting boss – both her first partner at the academy, and a former lover. That’s just some tension – unavoidable tension. Suddenly someone you had this really torrid past with is your superior. And the choices that Angie has made in the past, that she thought she could escape, she really can’t now.

 KRISTIN LEHMAN, LOUIS FERREIRA, BRENDAN PENNYWe’ve gotten to explore a bit of the off-the-job life for everyone – will we see those flashbacks or focus on the past with Warren’s character this season, or will it just bubble under the surface of their present interaction?
It’s certainly an underlying thing. Largely because with a procedural you don’t have much real estate to delve into the backstory. Certainly that backstory culminates in our finale. Where everything is explained. They do a good job of keeping the tension and the pot kind of boiling. With Vega, the way that Angie’s work life is shaken up with Mark Cross, Vega’s observing it, and it’s affecting their relationship as well. While it’s not totally explored, I think they do a pretty good job of keeping relevant.

You of course mention that this is a procedural, but I love that they’ve found a way to turn that on its head, and gives us this “who really did this and how does it all connect” feeling each episode! Was that what drew you to be a part of it?
I knew exactly what their take was in terms of storytelling. The “Whydunnit” is just a vehicle of storytelling and that was very compelling to me. I thought it was well executed, it was intriguing to me, good storytelling but what drew me was the character. Angie and Vega’s relationship was so well fleshed out, so well written. I love the concept and idea of exploring a woman who was really good at her job, but wasn’t striving for a degree of perfection that caused self-harm, you know what I mean [laughs]! I love the idea of playing a woman who is a mother who is good at her job, who is proud of it, and isn’t trying to strive for a higher station in life. Not because she doesn’t feel that she can but because she’s satisfied with where she is in life. That to me was great.

WARREN CHRISTIEIn the first episode back alone, we have [spoiler alert] seen so many characters on other shows who don’t get the promotion and it sends them on a downward spiral. Angie handles it so well. It’s just another day to her. The character is so strong and doesn’t need it to define her.
You know what’s really interesting, and thank you for mentioning that. Our first episode, “Raw Deal,” which is heart wrenching with David Alpay and Amanda Crew – the murder in that one is just so heart wrenching because of course children are involved- that kind of didn’t go unnoticed by me. I had to make a choice that Angie didn’t want the promotion. It wasn’t a hard choice. I think Kristin, me, I personally, would have had a different take on it [laughs], but I believe with all my heart that Angie was like “I don’t want to do more paperwork. All that position is more paperwork. I want to be active, I want to be connecting with people. I don’t want to be behind a desk. It’s not for me.” I think it was necessary to joke with Boyd just to assert her ability but not so much because it’s something she wanted to go after.

How will the airing go this season? Will you air in Canada again with the US?
We get the benefit of an encore performance. Right now, tonight is Episode 11. This season, some of the things that the writers have really done well – we’ve increased the pace. Because we’re able to follow the tension of interoffice politics with our new characters, you get the benefit of solving the crime and seeing the interpersonal backstory and tension happen all in one place. You get a lot of bang for your buck this season!

KRISTIN LEHMANI love the interaction between Angie and Lauren Holly’s Dr Betty – will we see more of that this year?
You do – the thing is with procedurals, you have an A and a B story, and each requires its own real estate and I mean that in the best way. That is the kind of storytelling and entertainment that we’re telling with MOTIVE. I think the writers have done the best they can to provide opportunity for the things they know work well in the show, and the characters people love. Dr Betty is definitely such a strong part of it. She kind of greases the wheels between the two cases, the two stories, the A and the B. One thing that is important to both she and I is that we maintain a strong personal and professional connection when we’re on camera as two women who are really there for each other and are friends, beyond the clichéd ways that we’re told to recognize female friendship. She’s just so fun and funny; in real life, it’s the same thing. It’s just such a breath of fresh air to work with. All of us gel really well, so the chemistry you see is genuine.

Why should people tune into MOTIVE?
I hope that they’re compelled by thought provoking stories that are close to their hearts and told by characters they can invest in!

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