Culture

Life with Natasha Henstridge: Doing what you love, getting paid and more from the star of Diggstown

Plus the dish this Newfoundlander says she must have every time she goes home.

Plus the dish this Newfoundlander says she must have every time she goes home

Natasha Henstridge as Colleen MacDonald in Diggstown. (CBC)

Newfoundland's Natasha Henstridge broke into international stardom for her role in the movie Species when she was only 19 — picking up that year's MTV's "Best Kiss" award for the on-screen murder of Anthony Guidera. Since then, she's done dozens of movies and TV shows, working alongside stars from Sir Ben Kingsley to Eric Cartman.  

Most recently, she's come home to Canada to play in the new CBC legal drama Diggstown. The show is special among legal dramas in that it focuses on lawyers who are actually trying to help people. Henstridge plays Colleen MacDonnell, the director of Halifax legal aid. Her character is a fighter who's overcome betrayal and hardship and is determined to build the best legal aid office in Nova Scotia. I sat down with Henstridge and quizzed her on life, legacy, and the taste of home.

Life with Natasha Henstridge

What did you have for breakfast?

I just started a keto diet because it's the new trend and the new fad and I need to lose weight, so I had avocado and bacon and some coffee with some MCT oil, which is a fat/coconut oil thing.

What's one book that you'd recommend to everyone?

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Ever since I read it 25 years ago, I refer back to it whenever something is happening in my life. There's something about the philosophies in that book that strike a chord with me and become more and more relevant over the years. For example, when I had my first child, I sent out a birth announcement with "Speak to us of Children" and I did not know how relevant it would be. Every time I read something or pull something from that book, it's more and more relevant every year.

Who are your heroes these days?

As I get older I have to go back more and more to my parents. It's funny because, for a good portion of my life, they were anything but. I was a child, and rebellious and stuff. But now as I learn more and get a bit older myself and see their sacrifices, and who they are, and how they kept it together…. I'm going to say my parents.

What are your secret internet obsessions?

What do I look up every day online every single day? I'm embarrassed to say it, but my go to with my coffee in the morning, it's not CNN, it's not MSNBC, but it's the dailymail.com. I scroll through the middle as well as the sidebar, and I get some real news and gossip news all in one place.

I spend a lot of time in London, so that's why I'm obsessed with the Daily Mail.

What's your favourite drink?

My favourite drink would be an amazing glass of red wine. But also water. I'm drinking water right now. I would say wine and water.

How would you describe your look in one word?

I have two looks. In my personal life: hippied-out earth mama. In my professional life: super classic.

Your character in Diggstown is trying to leave a legacy. What legacy are you trying to leave?

I feel like If I answer this, I may die next week, and this will be the last thing remembered.  The legacy I would like to leave behind is to have left an example to my children. I want them to know that I was kind, and I was adventurous, and I was fun, and that I worked really hard and had a good work ethic. What the rest of the world thinks is less important to me.

What drives you and how has that changed?

I've been a single mom for a long time, so it's always been a combination of what floats my boat creatively, like when you read something that's interesting that inspires you that you want to do compared with having to make a living. It's a job at the end of the day, so I've had to make a living, and I've been responsible in that way. It's a combination of those two things. You would do the things that are super-inspirational for free, and the things that you don't really want to be doing, they need to pay you more.

What do you miss most about home in Newfoundland?

Mostly what I miss there are the people. The people are so sweet. I feel like going back to Newfoundland is a bit like going back in time, where people are literally trading, like "Hey I went fishing, did you bake some bread?". People are still showing up unannounced, and there's just a sweetness and innocence to that. There's something different about that kind of relationship with people and I love it.

What do you always eat when you go home?

Jiggs dinner and salt beef.

The series premiere of the CBC original drama Diggstown airs Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC and streams on the CBC Gem streaming service.


Clifton Mark is a former academic with more interests than make sense in academia. He writes about philosophy, psychology, politics, and pastimes. If it matters to you, his PhD is in political theory. Find him @Clifton_Mark on Twitter. 

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