Cara Pifko looks bad. She has bruises and scratches on her face, like she’s been in a fight and lost. So how do you politely bring this up?
“It’s okay,” Pifko says cheerily, anticipating the question. “I know I look terrible.”
Of course, it’s all just make-up for an episode of This is Wonderland. In the penultimate episode of season two, a bipolar man outside a store assaults Pifko’s character Alice De Raey. It’s an intense on-screen moment, one that you probably wouldn’t anticipate seeing performed by a former actor from Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Elephant Show.
“The Elephant Show was a blast,” the now 29-year-old actress reflects. “I came into the business at a young age, but I think [acting] was always in me. I have a memory of doing ballet when I was four. I did a dance with the toys to bring them to life. I remember that experience very clearly; in my memory, even though it was a small production, I thought we were doing Swan Lake. I think that’s when the acting bug bit… That’s when the poison seeped in.”
Despite her increasing profile, Pifko says she still gets mistaken for Flashdance’s Jennifer Beals. “I get it about once a week. Everybody has a person they look like. My brother gets Kevin Spacey and I get Jennifer Beals.”
To reward herself after moments like that, Pifko and her husband — writer and director Gareth Bennett — have taken to renovating their gaming den “to make it look like a movie theatre.” They’re both huge video game enthusiasts and own almost every gaming system imaginable.
“My favourite game is Fable,” she says. “I beat it, but I’m still playing it. When I heard there’s like 15 hours of extra things to play after you finish it, my heart started racing. I got so excited!
“Oh, I know, I’m such a nerd,” she laughs.
About Robert J. Ballantyne
Robert Ballantyne is Artsculture's Creative Director. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star and other media outlets.