This interview was conducted in early 2006 to support the release of Dead Zone seasons 2 and 3 on DVD in Australia. It never got a run in the paper.
NICOLE deBoer was worried her role in television series The Dead Zone would consist of little more than flipping pancakes. She need not have been concerned.
With the second season of the US show now on the shelves, her character Sarah Bannerman has had more than flour and water to deal with: held hostage in a bank holdup, threatened by a supernatural storm and caught in a particularly testing love triangle, to name a few incidents.
The Dead Zone, about to screen its fifth and likely final season in the US, is based on a Stephen King novel, the essence of which has been captured in the television version. It concerns John Smith (Anthony Michael Hall), as the name implies an everyman thrust into an extraordinary position. John and Sarah were engaged when John was injured in a traffic accident. He was left in a coma for six years, reviving to find Sarah has since married the local sheriff who is raising John’s son as his own.
Adding to John’s difficult period of adjustment is the fact that he can sense the future and the past of an object or person by touch. An underlying vision, and plot thread, is the role of a rising senator in an apparent apocalypse.
“The first couple of seasons are my favourites,” Canadian deBoer says, enjoying the nostalgia of looking back as her character finds her feet.
“I loved the original Stephen King story and I thought Michael Hall was great for the part. My worry was would my character have anything to do? She didn’t have a job. It became a running gag with me in the kitchen flipping pancakes. Is this all I do, flip pancakes? But she gets a job in second season.”
Also in second season, Sarah has to reconcile her feelings for her husband and for John, especially as she sees the effect his powers of prophecy have on him.
“The first seasons were mostly about him, but it was affecting my character too. Sarah’s standing right there, she’s seeing the murder or whatever, she’s seeing it go down. And it’s upsetting for her to see what’s happening to Johnny.
“And there’s the love triangle too. I’d tell my mother, `they have an affair at the end of season one’ and she’d say, `they can’t do that, everyone will hate you’.
“I made them add scenes like me reading to Johnny in hospital, everyone would’ve been thinking she’d just taken off on this poor guy.
“Then in seasons three and four there are more flashbacks and I’m like, `ok, enough of the flashbacks’. They have the hospital bed on the set and when I see the wall come down, I know, `uh oh, here it comes’. The make-up lady is looking at old photos from series one and asking me `how did you have your hair back then?’. It’s a nightmare.”
DeBoer, who has made an unintentional career of television science-fiction shows like Forever Knight, Psi Factor and Outer Limits, also starred in the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and appeared in the Canadian movie Cube.
“I didnt’ go looking for it, it found me I guess,” she says of her SF career. “I started working in Toronto and there was a lot of American shows shooting there and a lot were sci-fi.”
DeBoer, in her 30s, has worked as an actor since age nine, and post-Dead Zone is looking forward to a short break, maybe longer if she and her musician husband decide to start a family. She has no doubt, however long the break, she will return to acting.
“I’m going to keep going for sure. I want to do a doctor show. I don’t mind being the older woman, the older doctor. I don’t have to be the hot chick, that’s not the sort of roles I get anyway. I don’t have a problem with ageing. What I really want is for them not to touch Star Trek, although they’re doing the prequel, but I want them not to touch it for a few years and then I can come back as a captain.”