Whether or not long-time islander Susan Hogan brings home the acting award she is up for at the 2019 Leo Gala Awards ceremony June 1, she is certain to remain among Canada’s finest and most successful actors.
The Leos were established in 1999 to celebrate excellence in the B.C. film and television industry.
This year the well-known Bowen actor is up for Best Female Lead Performance in a TV movie for her role as Nell in Welcome to Christmas.
It’s her fourth Leo nomination.
The Hallmark film, from screenwriter Rick Garman, who specializes in Christmas movies, was shot in Vancouver and Revelstoke in September. It aired last Christmas and will air again over the holiday season for years to come.
Hogan, who owns a lengthy list of camera acting credits (122 TV shows and movies are listed at imdb.com) told the Undercurrent over coffee at the Village Baker last week that she “nailed the audition” and was thrilled to get the role.
The film is about a town in Colorado called Christmas (while there are five U.S. states with a town called Christmas, this town is fictional).
In order to land a resort likely to be built elsewhere in the region, Christmas must prove the spirit of the holidays is alive and well there.
Originally from Toronto, the ever-energetic Hogan—often seen out walking her dogs or hiking on Bowen trails (sometimes with grandchildren in tow)—needed all that energy to bring to the role.
“Nell is a spitfire of a woman, a real force of nature,” she said. “She organizes the town, secretly, to resurrect the town’s ‘holiday traditions’—of which there are many—in order to impress the developer.”
Those 122 plus credits read as a kind of “who’s who” of Canadian film and TV productions and include roles on iconic shows like The Littlest Hobo, Street Legal and Danger Bay. She also played a lead on our country’s first soap opera Family Passions, acting in 130 episodes of that show.
She’s done American television shows by the dozens, too, among them Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The L Word (a recurring character in that one) and Men in Trees. Movie roles have also been plenty.
She said working with veteran Canadian director Gary Harvey on Welcome to Christmas was a bonus for her. Harvey, with over 40 directional credits, including Murdoch Mysteries and Robson Arms, is, for Hogan, an actor’s director, one who takes the time to get to know his cast and listen to their thoughts on the characters they’re playing.
For 10 years an acting teacher at Studio 58, Hogan said a cast that takes the time to get to know one another leads to great ensemble work in film and TV, just as it does in theatre. She gives Harvey credit for encouraging connections and creating a warm and fun work environment.
“I can’t say enough about Gary,” she said of the director. “He’s brilliant, creative, thinks on his feet, creates a strong bond between himself and the actors, and his direction is very specific.”
The cast includes Eric Mabius (a lead in a series of TV movies called Signed, Sealed, Delivered), Jennifer Finnigan (Hogan: “She’s a dream to work with”), Taylor Hastings, Sarah Edmondson, Lorne Cardinal and up-and-coming young actors Lauren McNamara and Payton Lepinski.
Hogan calledWelcome to Christmas “far and away” the best of the seven Christmas shows she’s been cast in.
Also a stage actor, she’s had numerous lead roles in major Canadian productions, such as Copenhagen at the Playhouse (with Brent Carver), Michael MacLennan’s Grace, for which she received a Jessie nomination (emblematic of Vancouver theatre excellence), Communicating Doors at the Arts Club (another Jessie nom) and Kayak at the Cultch (still another Jessie nom).
As a young actress she trained at the National Theatre School in Montreal—meeting husband Michael Hogan there—and was for five years a player at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake. She was also a resident actor at Stratford.
One of the early plays she performed in, this back in Ontario, in Ottawa, was the First Nations play Jessica. In that production she worked with a trio of Canadian acting legends: Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal and Tom Jackson.
Acting is very much in her family. For years Michael played Colonel Saul Tigh on Battlestar Galactica and he, too, has a lengthy list of camera credits, with regular roles on The Man in the High Castle, Fargo, Artic Air and many others. He’s also worked extensively in the theatre.
Susan and Michael’s son Gabriel Hogan is currently shooting a TV show in L.A. called Tacoma FD, a comedy about small town firefighters who rarely encounter a fire and are forever seeking things to do. Among a plethora of other work, Gabriel has appeared in 81 episodes of the Canadian show, Heartland.
Daughter-in-law Inga Cadranel also has dozens of credits. Cadranel recently matched her mother-in-law by landing a recurring role in a soap opera, General Hospital, the longest running soap (1963) in American television history. Inga’s also a musician and a singer/songwriter.
Then there’s daughter Jennie Rebecca Hogan, she won a Jessie for her role in a stage adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat (Jennie has since moved on to other career opportunities).
The Hogan’s youngest child, Charlie Hogan, having grown up on Bowen, got the nature bug and became a successful landscaper; however his partner, Milly Evans, likewise an islander, recently began working in film and TV production.
Susan Hogan’s first Leo nomination came the year the awards began, for Rupert’s Land, an early offering from the now-established Canadian scriptwriter, Graeme Manson (Rent-a-Goalie, Orphan Black, Snowpiercer).
She was also nominated for the show Dead Man’s Gun and the film Marker.
This would be her first Leo win but Hogan is fine with having been a “bridesmaid” in the past. She said it is not about winning so much as it is about being recognized with peers.
“Yeah, it’s pretty exciting for me,” she said. “I’ve been a runner up a few times (and) I’m really happy to have been offered another chance. But honestly, it’s the old adage: just being nominated at all is such a great honour.”
This year’s Leo award ceremony is at the Hyatt Regency and Hogan plans to be there. With her list of credits and history of strong work, regardless of the outcome the island thespian is certain to return home on the Queen of Capilano a distinguished winner.