Sarah Gadon on why 'Alias Grace' is the 'most challenging role' of her career

By Laura Hensley

She’s starred on the big screen alongside A-listers like Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal and Julianne Moore. Now, Sarah Gadon is impressing on the small screen. The Toronto-based actress, 30, is tackling murder, love and redemption as the titular character in addictive new miniseries Alias Grace about an Irish immigrant and servant accused and convicted of murder. “Trying to crack Grace is one of the great mysteries,” Sarah tells Hello!. “She was a real person and she had a difficult life.”

Inspired by Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel, the TV adaptation unites Sarah with an impressive team of homegrown talents both on- and off-camera. Her latest gig has her working with the acclaimed author (who already has a TV hit with the success of The Handmaid’s Tale) as well as series writer Sarah Polley and co-star Anna Paquin. We sat down with the Maps to the Stars actress to talk binge-watching and why working in such accomplished company is a real treat.

What was it like working on Alias Grace with so many talented Canadian women?

It was a dream team. When you get really powerful, strong, intelligent, creative people together to make a film, that’s a huge feat. Then when you get all of these incredible people and they happen to also be women? That’s icing on the cake.

The series is based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. Did you get to chat with her about your role?

When I spoke with Margaret, she was very clear about certain things that she believed about Grace and that she wanted me to carry. What she found when she watched the show was that I was able to do those things, and it was a great relief.

What did you learn about yourself from playing this part?

It was the most challenging role I’ve ever had. When you push yourself and you’re going through a period of growth, it’s really hard. But when you come out the other end, you have this incredibly powerful feeling like you can do anything. And that’s what I’ve left this project feeling.

When you’re not on-set, how do you like to spend your time?

I live a really normal life in Toronto. I have friends and family who’ve known me my whole life and there’s a level of accountability. I find that the industry can be fickle or transient, but if you have a foundation that never really changes, you always have something to stay grounded to.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

Sarah Polley recently told me to say no. There’s a lot of strength in that.

What’s the last show you binge-watched?

GLOW. Another all-star female cast. My friend, Ellen Wong, is in it. It’s so great to see so many Canadians out there crushing it on the international level.

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