Ashley Was Made For Her Current Role
By Mark Newman, News Staff
Arts & Entertainment
Jan 01, 2010
Early mornings, late nights, hot trailers and lots of waiting. It doesn't sound particularly glamorous, but it's all part of the movie business and Ashley Leggat wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love it," said Leggat, inside a rather warm trailer near the students' residence at Mohawk College recetnly where she was working on her latest production. "This is where I really feel I belong and I have a great time here."
The 23-year-old former Mountain resident - she now lives in Toronto but visits her family in Hamilton frequently - is a familiar face on Canadian television. For the past five years she played Casey, one of the two main characters in the Life with Derek television series on Family Channel. Leggat was at the Fennell campus recently shooting some scenes from Made, an MTV movie about a nerdish 15-year-old girl called Tuba who wants to be a cheerleader. Her real name is Bethany, but everyone in the movie calls her Tuba because she plays the tuba in the high school band.
Leggat plays the role of Tiffany, a 16-year-old cheerleader whose job it is to make Tuba's life miserable. "I play the classic mean girl," Leggat said. A small city of trailers was set up at the college for the production. Parts of the movie were also shot in Dundas, the downtown area and some palatial homes on the Mountain. Leggat noted the downtown scene was shot near Theatre Aquarius were she began her acting career as an eight-year-old playing Marta in the Sound of Music.
The acting workday typically begins around six or seven in the morning and can run well into the evening. But, unlike other movie jobs, where she was used to having a 90- minute nap while being driven to the studio, the college is only a couple of minutes from her parents' home, where she was staying. After arriving on the set, Leggat said she usually gets changed and heads to the appropriate trailer to have her hair and make-up done, then it's off to one of the trailers that have been divided up into living areas to go over her lines, watch some TV or work on her psychology and English correspondence courses that she's been taking through Athabasca University.
While Life with Derek has concluded after 70 episodes, the cast got together at Algonquin Park last August and September to make Vacation with Derek, a TV movie set at a camp that is expected to run on the Family Channel next spring. "That was a great experience," said Leggat, who was a bit disappointed because she was the only member of the cast who didn't see a moose. She stayed at a hotel in Huntsville and made the 90-minute trek into the park each morning. Despite long days which usually ran from about 6 a. m. to 9 p. m., Leggat said it was great to see the cast members again and she enjoyed the experience of making a movie on location, outside a studio.
"We did canoeing and I'd jump in the water or go running around the forest," she said "It was so fun to do all the physical comedy that we don't usually get to do." Near the end of the shooting in September, Leggat was required to appear in a bathing suit. "It's freezing cold and I'm in a bikini," she said. "As I'm about to dive in the director yells 'cut' and I'm in mid-air." The scene was further complicated when they had to stop shooting because it was snowing. "We'd be ready to go then all of a sudden snowflakes would be falling through the air and it's hard to fake that it's supposed to be the middle of summer," said Leggat.
Fortunately, the wardrobe people were always nearby with towels and coats that she could wear between takes. She said the movie has some interesting twists. "There's a big decision Casey has to make at the end of the movie and people might be surprised," she said. Following her trip to Muskoka, Leggat appeared in an episode of Aaron Stone, a Disney production, and the Murdoch Mysteries, which can bee seen on CBC television. In the Murdoch Mysteries Leggat plays a circus freak which she describes as an awesome role. "I play Ivy. I'm a southern belle and I have vines growing out all through my face so I was six hours in hair and makeup every day."
Prior to Vacation with Derek, the young actress spent nine months working for Mirvish Productions where she played the lead role of Baby in Dirty Dancing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. "You're recreating a character that everybody loved growing up," she said. "It was completely scary to make sure I did her justice." After some opening night jitters, Leggat said everything more or less went smoothly. "I'm proud to say we never missed the lift once," said Leggat, referring to the scene near the end where she is hoisted in the air by the other lead character Johnny, who was played by Johnny Wright and Jake Simons.
Leggat feels fortunate to have been able to find steady acting work through the recession. "I'm so happy to have been busy this year," said Leggat, who was looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas with her boyfriend and family members. She plans to visit her manager, Joannie Burstein, in Los Angeles this month and then do some promotional work for Vacation with Derek.
Leggat said she has no intention of moving to the U. S. "I'd love to work (in Los Angeles), but Canada will always be my home." While she has no immediate plans to audition for any acting jobs in the next few months, Leggat says there are always possibilities. "I never plan on anything," she said. "I never stress out about anything. I just kind of take it day by day."