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Interview: Impulse’s Sarah Desjardins

by Charles Trapunski

It was a pleasure to speak to Canadian actress Sarah Desjardins about her new series for YouTube Premium called Impulse. The show finds Desjardins in a new terrain, but we hope that this unique series finds a dedicated audience, as she talked eagerly to us about her desire to return to the premise and her character for another season.

Here is an edited and condensed version of our phone conversation with the fascinating Sarah Desjardins.

Brief Take: What did you know about YouTube Premium before filming began?

Sarah Desjardins: YouTube was just ramping up their slate and we’re so grateful to be a part of that, but there wasn’t a lot to look back on, and it was like, “oh, are we going to be making something like this?”. YouTube is partnered with NBC Universal for our show and it’s one of the first times they’ve partnered with a full studio, and we’re working with Doug Liman, who is amazing. I feel like I can confidently say that it’s a bit of a higher calibre than YouTube has worked with before, so finding that balance and figuring out how that was all going to work, we all kind of dove right in.

BT: Did you know anybody on the show at that time?

SD: Well it was shot in Toronto, so actually, no! I went in knowing nobody which was new for me. [laughs] I did have a few people who knew some of my friends because there were a lot of Toronto hires on the show. But I bonded right away with everybody in our cast and I feel so lucky. We all feel the same way. We were all talking about getting together a couple of weeks ago, we just click to a point where we all want to talk to each other all the time. We have a group chat and we talk with each other even when we’re not with each other. I feel so lucky to have that family.

BT: How would you describe Impulse?

SD: The best way to describe it in relation to Jumper and Steven Gould’s novels is that it’s based in the world of Jumper, like we’re in the realm. We don’t have any characters that are straight from the book, but we are definitely in the world of Jumper. The reason why we ended up making the show is that  Doug Liman, who directed Jumper, he loved the concept of it and it didn’t turn out exactly the way he wanted it to in the end. He was saying that in the pitch meeting with YouTube, he just suggested, “What about a series in the Jumper universe?”, and he really wanted to try again and do it the way he wanted. We got that opportunity.

The show is about Henrietta “Henry” Coles who moves to the town of Reston, New York, with her Mom, to live with her mom’s boyfriend Thomas and her daughter Jenna, who I play. I love the concept and how Doug describes it also, what he did with our show that makes it different from Jumper or the teleportation of powers is that we treated the power as a curse. So she doesn’t know what it is originally when it happens to her, she’s trying to figure out what is happening and then she has no control over it. This season is about finding out what she has and doing the best she can to control it, and how we discover that is, they show it in the trailer so I can tell you, she is assaulted.

How we deal with it in the show is something for which I am so proud and a huge part of that goes to Lauren LeFranc, who is our show runner. She saw that bit of the pilot and then when she was brought on as show runner it was really important to her that we follow that storyline, that it’s not just the thing that prompts teleportation and we run with that. We have to address what happened. And so that’s done throughout the whole season and it’s all about Henry having to overcome her attacker and having to face her fear, her triggers, because her power is triggered by stress and trauma. I feel like we deal with that in such a respectful way, a truthful way, nothing is embellished and it’s grounded and real and that’s something I’m proud of with the show.

BT: We could imagine that it was a difficult scene to film.

SD: We shot the scenes in the pilot and a couple of scenes afterward addressing that, but Lauren saw our pilot, and again she was all about the truth of the situation, and we actually ended up reshooting the assault scene, as well as some of the scenes that followed when she went to series because she wanted the assault scene to be more visceral, because it was almost as if it was though we were glossing over it, and it was so important that we didn’t do that. Obviously, it was not the most fun thing for Maddie [Hasson], who plays Henry, or Tanner [Stine] who plays Clay, to redo, but of course they were game, and it was all about the honesty of the story.

BT: What were some of your earlier projects that prepared you for this series, or was it so different from anything you had ever done before?

SD: I guess I would say that what has prepared me, in a sense, would be all of the Lifetime movies that shoot here. [laughs] I learned a lot working on the show but Lifetime movies are their own genre, in a sense. Really what I would say I gained the most from working on the show was just learning from all of the ridiculously talented actors with whom I’ve gotten to work. Honestly, when you are working with people on such a high level, it just elevates you. What I love about our show especially is that each episode ends where the next one begins. We don’t move ahead in time. I believe our season takes place over a week or two weeks. There’s going to be a lot of characters that you meet at the beginning of the show and think “there’s not a lot to them”, but that’s such a mistake. [laughs] My character Jenna’s revelation is a bit of a slow burn.

 

Impulse premieres on YouTube Premium on June 6th with all 10 episodes available for purchase. 

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