Toronto's Rachel Blanchard exposed

BRUCE KIRKLAND - Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

In Where The Truth Lies, the first glimpse audiences have of Rachel Blanchard, the homegrown co-star, is a scene showing her nude in a bathtub -- as a corpse.

In the time shifting that is characteristic of most of Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan's work, you later see the Toronto born-and-raised Blanchard alive and well and intimately involved with both Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon.

Playing dead was easy, Blanchard says with a chuckle.

"I used to practise as a kid -- no lie! I used to practise a lot of ridiculous things."

She would play dead and then ask her mother: "Do I look dead now?" And mom would sigh and rebuke her acting-obsessed daughter: "Rachel, stop it!" Rachel did not stop it. "Who knew it would come in handy?" she says now.

What was difficult on the Egoyan film was shooting a scene in which she is stuffed in a smallish crate with fake gelatinous ice and a bunch of dead lobsters. That was a long, uncomfortable day, Blanchard says. But the rest of the movie, including the nude, naughty bits in an on-screen orgy with Bacon and Firth, was an adventure -- and her most important role to date.

Even the nudity, the most explicit she has ever done on film, was easy. "I felt uninhibited doing it," Blanchard had said at Cannes in May when Where The Truth Lies made its world premiere. "I also felt really protected."

If she and her male co-stars had been even partly dressed, the orgy scene would look fake, she says.

"It would have taken you out of the movie, I think."

Since Cannes, Blanchard felt so strongly about the integrity of the film that she joined Egoyan in Los Angeles (where she has lived since landing a support role in Clueless) to fight the decision by U.S. censors to rate the film NC-17. They lost the appeal. At the Toronto filmfest, when Where The Truth Lies made its North American debut, Blanchard joined Egoyan and her co-stars to denounce censorship, especially because she believes it smacked of homophobia.

Today, however, it is time to move on from the subject, Blanchard tells the Sun.

She admires the film for its ideas and its film noir tone, she says. It operates as a murder mystery, a modern answer to the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

"It is a sexy murder mystery. But, when I read the script, I was definitely in suspense," she says. "When I saw the film, I knew what had happened and I was still in suspense. So I think that's what the movie is about. I love old Hitchcock films and it reminds me of those old film noirs."

Blanchard thinks Egoyan's film straddles the border between commercial cinema and arthouse fare, but it is not a sellout.

"While it is more commercial than his other films, it is still kind of quirky and still has his stamp on it. But I think it is more accessible to audiences than some of his other films have been."

BORN: 19 March, 1976 in Toronto

EDUCATION: Attended Humbercrest Junior Public School and Havergal College, an all-girls school, both in Toronto. After high school Blanchard went on to study at Queen's University in Kingston.

TO HOLLYWOOD: She later dropped out of Queen's in 1996 when offered the role of Cher Horowitz (originally portrayed by Alicia Silverstone) on the TV version of the 1995 movie Clueless.

TV CREDITS: According to IMDB.com, Blanchard's hair was dyed red for the teen flick Road Trip (2000), co-starring Seann William Scott, because the producers wanted her to have a different look from lead actress Amy Smart.

TV CREDIT: In 2002, Blanchard joined the cast of The WB's hit family drama 7th Heaven, in the role of beautiful police officer Roxanne Richardson. Blanchard left the show after the 2004 season.


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