Intellectual, stubborn and beautiful, would be a fair way of describing the type of women actress Jennifer Ferrin—best known for her role on The Cape (NBC) and The Following (Fox)—appears to prefer to play on screen these days.
Take Ferrin’s Hell on Wheels’ character, Louise Ellison: an intrepid journalist that arrives in 1860s Cheyenne, Wyo by way of New York City, subsequent to a scandal involving her boss’s daughter and her own romantic intentions. Nothing short of an early feminist icon, Louise’s sense of independence is what has bonded Ferrin to her character. “I have found Louise to be an extraordinary character to play,” she gushes. “She is tough, smart and also very courageous and ahead of her time. As an actress I have found it incredibly humbling to represent a woman who has the courage to be herself—to be in her truth—in a time when it was very difficult to be a professional woman with a voice.”
And then there’s Abigail Alford, the onetime love of The Knick’s leading man Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), currently marked by what her contemporaries would have known as a “saddle nose.” Let’s just say the man she chose to wed over the good doctor wasn’t exactly faithful, and back in the early 1900s (the pre-penicillin days) syphilis announced itself loudly, for all society to hear. While Abigail’s body has been deformed by the disease, she refuses to allow it claim over her spirit. Just Ferrin’s modus operandi. “What I find exciting is playing a character who has to rely on her inner resources, in light of her external beauty having been impacted so greatly,” she says. “This continues even more so through Season 2 and, I think, to her own surprise and frustration, she struggles deeply with this.”
Born in small town Georgia (Lawrenceville to be exact), Ferrin is a southern belle with grit to her, or so her choice in roles would suggest. As for the southern belle bit, well, the evidence is in her glow. And, as the actress shares, she has her regimented beauty routine to thank for that.
With AMC’s midseason finale of Hells on Wheels aired only just last month (fans will have to wait till 2016 for new episodes), and the Season 2 premiere of The Knick scheduled for October 16th on HBO, Ferrin is keeping busy playing strong-minded independent women. Lucky for us, the actress was able to spare a few moments to fill readers in on what they can expect from the feisty women in her life this fall, while also throwing in a few of her time-tested and true beauty secrets, perfect for ladies on the go. Thank goodness for multitasking!
I think a lot of people have been binge watching season 1 of “The Knick” in preparation for the premiere of season 2 in October, are you amongst that demographic of viewers?
I’ve seen the whole first season twice! First when it came out, it was so exciting to see it all come to fruition, and then again before I started filming Season 2, so I could put myself back in that world.
It’s exciting that Steven Soderbergh has been confirmed to direct the entire new season, as he did with Season 1. What’s it like working with him, from his interviews, he seems like a proponent of giving actors as much freedom as possible.
Steven has a deeply conscious involvement in all aspects of the filmmaking proces. In essence, the way he shot The Knick was like a 10-hour film. He is DP, camera operator, director, editor. It’s an enormous undertaking, but what is so inspiring, and what I believe makes him so successful, is that he surrounds himself with people he trusts to do their craft. And then, he pretty much just let’s us all play!
Sounds like he really trusts his team.
A lot of his crew are people he has worked with for years, so there is this beautiful shorthand that makes everything run very smoothly. And a calm intensity on set where the level of respect for the work is elevated.
And as an actress, you feel like you have a creative freedom while working with him?
Yes, I felt a great sense of freedom to explore and create Abigail. Really, only if things were going way of course would he suggest taking a different road. Otherwise, I was free to find my way and make a variety of choices…well, as long as it was within the first two takes, cause often that’s all you’d get! The man knows what he wants and knows when he gets it!
Your “Knick” character is coming back this season with a pretty exciting storyline. What can you tell us about the evolution of your character’s story this season? Will it see her getting close with the good doctor again, perhaps?
As you know, I can’t reveal much! But I can tell you that we pick up shortly after where we left Abigail at end of last season, post surgery, and that there is definitely quite a bit of screen time shared between John and Abigail. We even get to see another flash back to happier times when they were in love.
Very intriguing! Will the new storyline have Abigail sticking around for a while?
You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Ha ha, okay. You share some great scenes with Clive Owen. What’s he like working with as an actor?
Clive is a fellow actor’s dream! He is so incredibly focused and hard working, and also extremely down-to-earth and generous. And he’s great to laugh with, which is a welcome relief when you’re doing heavy scenes with a somewhat bizarre prosthetic on your face all day! The medical stuff he had to work with was very technical and he would run it till it became almost second nature. Then we could focus on the relationship in the scene, which as former lovers, there was a lot in there to build. But it never felt like work. He’s a very easy actor to trust, and then it’s just all about the play.
I hear you’re in Calgary right now filming the final season of “Hell on Wheels,” does it feel sad to be saying goodbye to the show and your character, Louise?
Absolutely. It’s been one of those shows where you feel like a family and everyone works so hard and has been through so much together that it will definitely be hard to say goodbye.
Story-wise, what can fans of the show look forward to in the final half of season 5? Can you give us a little hint as to what direction the end is heading towards?
Well since it’s about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, we hope they finish the damn thing! But despite the railroad being a central plot, the show has always honored it’s characters. So I think we are all hoping everyone gets the sort of final hurrah they deserve. I can say that Louise certainly has her fair share of troubles to overcome in Season 5, but she’s tough, so no doubt we’ll see her standing there at the Last “Golden” Spike.
What will you miss most about “Hell on Wheels?”
The people for sure, I’ve made some dear friends that I know I will keep for life. Robin McLeavy who plays Eva was even one of my bridesmaids last year in our wedding!
Do you get much time to hangout with the cast offset and explore Calgary?
Yes we have BBQs and dinner parties, and love to go to the mountains. There’s some incredible hiking in the Canadian Rockies.
Let’s talk about your personal style, when you’re not in period dress how would you describe your look in a nutshell?
I prioritize comfort. Sometimes its in line with fashion… and sometimes not! But at the risk of wearing yoga clothes all the time, I really look for pieces that have a chic relaxed look, so they can be dressed up or down, day or night. Add some cool layered jewelry pieces and a bit of lip gloss, and I’m good to go.
Aside from the lip gloss, what else is behind your beauty look. What’s your approach to makeup?
I’m from the camp of less is more. Makeup is meant to enhance your true beauty not hide it. That being said, I love the chance to pump it all up and have some fun, especially with the eyes. I’ve got big eyes and long lashes, so I love playing with shimmers and smudgy liner, and keeping the skin and lips super light and clean.
Are you good about keeping to beauty rituals both in the morning and before bed?
Oh, like it’s my job! My husband is so patient with me, but honestly there is not a day or night that goes by without my full-on cleansing and moisturizing rituals.
What’s one beauty item you won’t leave the house without applying to your face?
I’m a big fan of the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizers. They’re so light weight, have a built in SPF 20 and for evening, I use the illuminating one for a little extra glow.
Have you snagged any beauty secrets from the hair and makeup artists you’ve worked with in the past?
I’m always on the hunt for the best under eye concealer. Let’s face it, most all of us women work long hours, are sleep deprived due to career and/or family, and don’t drink enough water no matter how hard we try! That mixed with a little inherited “baggage” (pun intended) for me means, epic dark circles that are less than optimum for working on camera. The concealer I love right now is Giorgio Armani Maestro Eraser. Great coverage but still feels light and moisturizing. And a female director once told me to sleep on my back instead of on my belly (which I love) the night before working on camera to avoid puffy eyes. Hate to say it, but it totally works!
In your opinion, what’s the single beauty product every woman should invest in?
Just one?! Ugh, this is hard. I think every woman should invest in good skincare. It really starts from the inside,a healthy diet and lots of water, but also what we put on our skin over time makes a big difference. I’ve recently fallen in love with the Best Skin Ever line from the Canadian company, Living Libations. It’s a blend of organic essential oils, including sea buckthorn oil, which helps balance skin and has potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I never thought I would put oils on my face, but truly, my skin has never been so happy!
What have you learned to be an easy way to transition from your usual daytime beauty look to the perfect evening look?
Pumping up my lashes wakes up my whole face! My fave for years has been Shu Uemera eyelash curler with L’Oreal’s Voluminous Volume Building Mascara in Carbon Black. Then, I add a great statement piece like my pals’ Holst and Lee’s bright multi-colour necklaces, slap on some lip gloss and I’m out the door.
Describe your go-to red carpet beauty look?
I really love to switch it up on the red carpet. It totally depends on the event and what mood I’m in that day! But the most important thing is always that I feel good in my own skin.
What’s one beauty item we can find in your purse on an average day?
I don’t go anywhere without various types of lip gloss, lip balm, lip butter…you name it! But my fave lip gloss right now is O-Gloss by Smashbox. It goes on clear and then changes according to your skin tone! Crazy space-age beauty trick, but I love the shade, and it’s not at all sticky!
What’s one thing we will never see you do beauty-wise?
Aside from knowingly doing irreparable harm to myself….never say never!
What new beauty trend or colour are you planning to test out this fall season?
Fall is my favorite time of year! Well, besides summer. I’m usually way behind the trends, but I love playing up the colors of autumn, especially with my natural red hair, I can plug in some fun autumn colors on the eyes and lips. I’d love to do some more metallic gold and bronze and pinks for shadows, and ya know, I may finally try for some super red lips! It’s a great time to be bold!
Who is your beauty idol and what about her beauty look inspires your own look?
I don’t have one woman I look to or idolize over her beauty. There are so many parts of so many different women who inspire me. Lena Dunham’s curves inspire me to embrace my own figure, my momma’s soft hands remind me to moisturize mine, Lady Gaga’s ever morphing image reminds me that I am allowed to be the physical manifestation of whatever my imagination is blessing me with at the time. Diane Keaton’s laughter reminds me that women are always beautiful when they laugh. Malala Yousafzai’s fearless dedication to human rights inspires me to look at all women as sister’s united to make the world a better place. Audrey Hepburn said: As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. That is the kind of beauty that inspires me.
Finish this sentence: Beauty is…
…confidence, self love, generosity, laughter, grace. One more of my favorite quotes from the elegant and gracious Audrey Hepburn is, “the beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.”
All clothing by Paul Hardy