Who's The Troublemaker: An Interview with ASHLEY LEGGAT of Life With Derek
Written By: Alex Hutt (Vancouver)
Sunday, 11 April 2010
From 2005 to 2008, four seasons of Life With Derek graced the television screen and, indeed, you can still find re-runs of it airing today. In summer 2010, a feature film Life With Derek will be on the silver screen, and it will star the Venturi's and the MacDonald's once again. Ashley Leggat is Casey MacDonald, the good child of the step brother and sister pair of Casey and Derek, and Press+1 caught up with her to dish on Derek, her TV family, and what comes next for this sweet, sassy brunette.
The plot of Life With Derek revolved around the conflict between step-siblings Derek and Casey; Derek being the troublemaker and Casey being the straight-laced child. However, Leggat says that they kept the plot fresh nevertheless. "The writers did an excellent job of developing our characters, to gain confidence in our lives with scenarios like learning to drive and getting our first job. They did this with hilarity and with us competing with each other."
Though the plot relies on character archetypes, that doesn't mean that the characters were necessarily one-sided. We asked Leggat to give us two good and two bad traits, for both Derek and Casey.
"Two good traits of Derek are that he is charming and that helps him get along with people. He also has his family's back when it comes down to it. He may shrug it off but he does the right thing in the end. Two bad traits are not enough to describe all of the bad traits that he has. (laughs) He is rude and manipulative and puts Casey down to get ahead. But I could go on for hours. (laughs)"
"Two good things about Casey are that she is a genuine and loyal person. She is very family oriented and is kind of the mom in the family. Two bad things is that she is very sensitive and it is hard for her to deal with little problems that can occur. She is not really suave, and she tries to be charming and get away with things like Derek but always ends up getting caught."
The show is credited as a "modern day Brady bunch," to which Leggat agreed. "It is not as pleasant and proper as the Brady's were but it is the real life version of them. There are so many people in that situation of a blended family, and I have had kids tell me that that was their life and experience. It's not a fake show."
Season 3 of Life With Derek was recently released on DVD, and it proves to be the longest with 26 episodes in total; eight more episodes than Season 4 (18), while Seasons 1 and 2 only had 13. "By the third season the producers and directors got to know what our talents were, and we had them incorporated into the episodes. I grew up dancing so we inserted that into the character of Casey in the episode 'Cheerleader Casey.' We had found our niche by the third season," said Leggat, to explain the discrepancy.
Ashley Leggat Now the cast has the release of the Life With Derek movie to look forward to. In the movie, this quirky blended family goes on a summer vacation, and Leggat says she did see a movie in the works while working on the show.
"We had such a great and loyal audience that I knew there would be a point in time that we could do it. Because the cast of mostly kids that are going off to school and universities, it will be nice to have the family together for a summer vacation. We might have another one as a winter vacation because we have that family dynamic complete."
Leggat also acts on the stage as well as the screen as she appeared in a Toronto production of Dirty Dancing from 2008 through March 2009. "I got the opportunity to play Baby in Dirty Dancing. It's very nerve-wracking when you haven't done something and you are out of practice. I don't lean towards one or the other but I always keep the door open. On the stage you feel the audience's emotions with everything you do. They laugh and cry when you are. It's exciting because you don't have ten takes to do it, and even though you have the same show every night, it can be completely different every night.
Current projects for Ashley are the movie "Made - The Movie," and the shooting of an appearance on the upcoming TV series "Unnatural History" with Kevin G. Schmidt. Still, the character of Casey is one of her favorite roles.
"It was the most amazing role that I could have ever been given and I am so happy the show turned out to be a hit. I really felt that it was my own and I will always be grateful for playing Casey."