Laura Mennell stars in History and A&E’s new UFO drama “Project Blue Book” (produced by Robert Zemeckis), as well as the Audience Network’s first season of “Loudermilk”, and reoccured on Amazon’s “Man In the High Castle”. Laura’s also well known for starring in Syfy’s “Alphas” and “Haven,” A&E’s Emmy Nominated “Flight 93,” as well as Warner Brothers blockbuster “Watchmen.”
1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Laura Mennell. Most recently you may have seen me on History and A&E’s Project Blue Book produced by Robert Zemeckis, Loudermilk on the Audience Network, or Amazon’s Man In The High Castle. I’m lucky enough to get to be creative and live vicariously through my characters for a living.
2. How did you become involved in the entertainment industry?
Somehow I always knew I wanted to be an actor from a young age. I was always a creative kid—involved in art, dance, music—but acting was what really resonated with me. I have great memories of immersing myself in play-building classes at the Vancouver Youth Theatre. And it all grew from there; continuing to study acting into my adulthood and steadily building a career that started at 16 years old when I landed my first agent.
3. Of the roles that you played, who was your favorite to portray and why?
I get asked this a lot and always feel like it’s impossible to answer. I honestly don’t have a favorite, I love all of my characters for different reasons—even the mildly embarrassing ones because you learn from everything you do! Acting is a bizarre and wonderful journey of self-discovery in many ways as you play all sorts of different roles—finding different types of characters inside of yourself.
Right now, playing Mimi Hynek on Project Blue Book is obviously a favorite for me. I’ve enjoyed the journey she has gone through so far. Mimi has really grown from being the sheltered 1950’s housewife to coming into her own. It’s been a rocky season with her husband Allen (Aidan Gillen) being torn away from his family to study extraterrestrial activity all over the country, while she falls into dangerous territory on the home front. But these struggles have only made her stronger and more vocal with what she needs in her life. I can’t wait to see where this takes her in season 2.
4. What attracted you to “Project Blue Book” and how did you react when you got the part?
I loved that it’s based on the real-life history of Allen J. Hynek. He was an astrophysicist hired by the U.S. Airforce to debunk U.F.O. sightings from the 1950s and 60s. I was always drawn to the concept because Allen wasn’t your stereotypical, uneducated, wing-nut of a flying saucer diehard from the ’50s. He was extremely credible. He was a respected professor and accomplished astrophysicist who approached these sightings from a scientific viewpoint. But as he was searching for answers, he realized not everything can be logically explained and that some cases are definite mysteries. So it’s fun for the audience to see him go from skeptic to believer. And the mystery of U.F.O.s are still captivating us—it’s one of the great mysteries of our time. Project Blue Book is a very exciting show to be part of, and I fell in love with it the moment I read the first script written by our creator David O’Leary. It’s dark but also extremely entertaining and I always love a good period piece!
And when I first found out I got the part of Mimi Hynek, I was shopping in a store. My agents called me and I knew it was news on whether or not I landed the job. I marched over to a corner of the store and prepared myself for the verdict. I tried to be quiet at the beginning of the conversation—I honestly hate loud talkers on cell phones, so I try my best not to be one. But when I knew I got the role it was pretty hard to contain how happy I was. I may have shrieked a bit and had odd looks from customers; but, at that point, I didn’t care. I was so ecstatic with the news, I forgot what I came to buy in the first place and I left in a happy daze.
5. Can you disclose anything about the upcoming season of “Project Blue Book”?
I’ve only heard hints of what’s to come, but sadly this information is as classified as the real Project Blue Books case files once were. Wish I could!
6. What do you love most about your job as an artist?
I’m always learning new things! With every job, there’s something new to learn or research. Regardless, the energy in my life is always evolving. I’m working with new people all the time, and new situations, and challenges. Life should never be stagnant. Though it can be scary, I think change is always something to embrace. It opens you up creatively to new adventures and people you’d never dreamed of encountering.
7. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
My biggest accomplishment has yet to come, I’ll have to see what the future holds. So far,
I’ve had career milestones, as well as personal victories—which I hope both balance out my life evenly. It’s important to remember to share love with friends and family as much as chasing after careers and dreams.
8. What kind of roles do you prefer when you are looking at a potential character to portray?
I love projects or roles that resonate with me on a certain level. It’s a hard thing to put into words, but I like being drawn into my character’s story and feeling a connection or understanding of what they are going through. Or at least some sort of creative connection to the material. I like being inspired by the projects I take on and feeling like they have a little magic.
9. What is your best memory from any set?
Finding the best of anything is impossible. One of my favorite memories from way back is arriving at the amusement park set created for Watchmen. It looked incredible and honestly felt like I was stepping into a 1950s carnival. In the sequence I was playing Janey Slater and Billy Crudup was playing my boyfriend Jon Osterman. It was such a playful day at the fun fair and I felt like stepping back in time into the 50s. The world around us was perfectly created by the talented folks who made the set, found the phenomenal props and all the extras in their fantastic period piece costumes. Love stepping back in time and luckily I also get to do that with Project Blue Book.
10. What are some misconceptions about your job as an actress?
Often enough, I’ll run into people who have never acted in their life, and think they are going to jump into the business and make some easy money. It’s the strangest thing to me. Not only will most actors be struggling and penniless for a lot of their career… it’s also hard work! It’s not as easy as it looks and you really have to love the creative process to stick it out and find your voice as an actor. All this takes time. If you love it, dive in, but if you’re simply doing it for fame and a quick buck, you might want to consider other options.
11. Who are some artists that you admire and why?
I’m inspired by new actors all the time. It’s constantly changing depending on what type of show I’m watching. Lately, I’ve been excited about Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I loved watching her show’s first and second season. She’s a fantastically quirky train wreck. She’s also weird, sassy, quick-witted and vulnerable all at the same time. Each time I binge watch a season of that show, she leaves me wanting more! I also finally watched Glenn Close in The Wife. She is so nuanced with her performance.
It’s amazing to watch every subtle moment effortlessly play her face. In this film, she has this quiet and repressed strength that steadily builds. She is truly mesmerizing to watch.
12. Do you have any advice to aspiring actors who want to get started in the industry?
If you love it, and can’t shake it, and can’t picture doing anything else in your life: Go for it! Start now! Start studying! See where it takes you.
13. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and you hope to bring more awareness to in the future?
I’ve been participating in A Brush Of Hope for the past 4 years and can’t wait to participate again this year. It’s a celebrity auction to raise money for the Canadian Kidney Foundation; actors, singers, and painters create works of art to auction off for charity. I love it! Gives me a chance to be creative in a different way and help make a difference as well.
14. What do you have in mind for the future?
I like to be open to wherever the universe takes me. I love my job and want to keep getting better at what I do and work on projects I love and believe in. Part of the fun of my job is not knowing what’s around the corner.
Thank you so much to Laura for the wonderful interview! You can find more about her and her work on:
Photo credit: Rowan Daly