DuJour Navigation

The Many Roles of Rachelle Lefevre

What it’s like starring in a Stephen King-created world—and how it changed real life for the rising actress

There aren’t many things that pawn shops, Stephen King and the White House have in common. But if you’re paying attention to pop culture this month, you’ll see that they do share one thing: the striking Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre.

In addition to her role in the just-released White House Down and a turn in this week’s ensemble caper Pawn Shop Chronicles, Lefevre’s been a guest in millions of homes over recent weeks thanks to her role on CBS’ Under The Dome, a chilling and compelling adaptation of a story by horror-master King.

We caught up with the 34-year-old Twilight alum to find out about how she chooses these wide-ranging roles, why she keeps coming back to horror and how Dome has changed her home life.

Under The Dome, which is about a town sealed off from the rest of the world by a mysterious force field, really freaks people out. How do you prepare yourself to work in a Stephen King-created world?

It’s one of those things that keeps you on your toes! We are always looking forward to the next script because you have no idea. Anything could happen, anyone could turn out to be anything. In Stephen King’s work, what lurks within a person and what lurks within human nature is far more compelling than any sort of external circumstances.

You’ve done a number of scary movies. What draws you to the genre?

It’s not that I’m a horror fan; I’m actually more of a sci-fi fan. The word horror is appropriate for vampire, werewolf and mythology, but I don’t like gore. I’m not a fan of gore and things that jump out and make you spill your popcorn. I was drawn to Stephen King at a young age—my mother is a huge fan so I had access. I’m drawn to that because it’s where we go to sort of safely explore the darker sides of human nature. So, I think a lot of the time rather than admit that human beings are capable of monstrosities; we create these literal monsters that do diabolical things.

Is playing a darker character different for you as an actor?

Definitely. I like roles where characters are tested in some way, and that’s where I’ve found a home. I’m drawn to these characters faced with some darkness within themselves. I loved Twilight; there was something I loved about the sinister nature of getting to play a vampire. For me, what was interesting about that was the idea of being so uninhibited.

And your character in Under the Dome, Julia?

I’m attracted to Julia because she’s in a situation where there are extraordinary circumstances. And extraordinary circumstances allow people to behave in ways that are beyond the normal boundaries of society.

Has Under the Dome affected your personal life at all? Are you stocking up on batteries and bottled water?

I haven’t gone that far, but it’s been thought provoking in a lot of ways. I’m already sort of a conservationist because I believe whole-heartedly in climate change and in what we’re doing to the environment and that’s really important to me. The show is a microcosm for these crises of resources that we’re having. It has made me even more fervent, I’m more aware. I find myself sort of acutely aware of how I take things for granted. When you spend all day playing a character who is figuring out where they’re going to get clean water from, you take that into the shower.

Meanwhile, Pawn Shop Chronicles is in a different vein altogether.

The movie is a bunch of vignettes, and I’m part of Matt Dillon’s section of the film. I play his jilted wife. I play a character who’s very, very different than me—really shallow and not the smartest peg. So that was a trip.

Have you ever pawned anything?

No, but I’ve sold stuff on eBay. Although there are all these pawnshops in Wilmington, North Carolina where we filmed, and my boyfriend kept saying that we should go in and see what’s there. We’re just sort of curious to just go in there and see what’s on offer.

If you had to be trapped under a dome, where would you want the dome to be?

I’d love to be trapped in my hometown of Montreal. I have a lot of hometown pride. It’s a great place to be from and I love going back there; it’s like a big city and small town all at once. It’s North American but it’s European. I love the dual cultures; I love the English and French cultures together. I just love Canada. Honestly, if I’m going to be trapped under a dome where distribution of resources is an issue, I’d really want to be in socialist country.