AS homecomings go, this one would have to rank as one of the triumphant variety.
Fresh off a fall TV season as co-star of one of the year’s most popular new shows, Tracy Spiridakos is back in Winnipeg for the holidays, secure in the knowledge that Revolution has been picked up for a full season, happy to have a new puppy in tow and proudly sporting a diamond engagement ring.
Yes, it’s been a pretty good year.
"We’ve been working so much that I really haven’t had time to stop and think about it all," Spiridakos says during an afternoon interview at her parents’ Portage Avenue eatery, Olympia Diner. "I guess I would say things are going well.
"The last four months have been full-on — lots of work, very little sleep. But I hear sleep’s overrated, anyway. It’s been nice to finally take a step back, go for a drive and think about how much fun it’s all been."
After wrapping up the current round of Revolution shooting in Wilmington, N.C., Spiridakos and fiancé Jon Cor — an actor whose credits include Degrassi: The Next Generation and Being Human — embarked on a two-week road trip that took them from North Carolina to New York City, then on to Toronto, to Cor’s hometown of Timmins, Ont., onward to Dryden and then Winnipeg.
"We finished work on Dec. 2, so we left on the 3rd," Spiridakos explains. "And we just got here (Dec. 17). But it was nice; we took our time, and made a few stops along the way."
The road trip started in Wilmington, but Spiridakos’s 2012 odyssey really began last spring when her agent submitted an audition tape to Revolution’s producers (one of the show’s executive producers is J.J. Abrams), complete with the truth-stretching claim that the actress had a black belt in some unspecified martial-arts discipline. Despite the slight fabrication, the producers liked what they saw.
"We took one look at (the tape) and said, ‘That’s her,’" executive producer Eric Kripke said last summer.
They apparently chose well, as Spiridakos’s fresh face and physical performance have proven to have widespread appeal. GQ named the actress one of 2012’s sexiest women, claiming, "Geeks, your new crush has arrived"; Entertainment Weekly said, "Spiridakos could, for better or for worse, be the next Hayden Panettiere."
After landing the part, Spiridakos was launched headlong into a gruelling production schedule that includes very long days (14 to 16 hours isn’t unusual) and very little down time (the cast and crew sometimes work six days a week).
Revolution, a near-future fantasy about a world without electrical power of any kind, is an extremely physical undertaking for its cast members. As Charlie, a girl in search of the younger brother who was abducted by the marauding militiamen who killed her father, Spiridakos has fought, fled and fired crossbow bolts through a frantic storyline.
"I grew up around boys my whole life (she has two brothers), so that kind of stuff was just an average Wednesday for us," she says. "I love looking on the call sheet and seeing that it’s stunt day, and I get to punch somebody or somebody gets to punch me. I’m always going up to Jeff Wolfe, our stunt coordinator, and saying, ‘Can I do this one? Can I?’ But I have a stunt double who does some of the crazier stuff for me."
There have, she admits, been a few bumps and bruises along the way.
"I’m a walking accident," she says with a laugh. "Staying on my feet when I’m just walking down the street is a bit of a challenge for me, so you can imagine what it’s like (on the set). Pretty much every episode, I fall down, all on my own, for no reason. It’s kind of an ongoing joke on set — they say they’re going to get me a helmet so I don’t hurt myself.
"Luckily, as far as the action stuff goes, they take really good care of me to make sure I don’t get hurt."
Spiridakos will head back to North Carolina early in the New Year to resume shooting on Revolution, which will return to NBC and Citytv on March 25. But until then, she plans to enjoy a very laid-back holiday season with family, friends, fiancé and her fourmonth- old Rottweiler pup, Nala.
"It’s crazy; I think back over the last year, and in 2011, I was working in a bank (in Vancouver), pretty broke while I was auditioning for things," she recalls. "I was just doing the ‘artist’ thing, trying to make it, and to think of that and then what has happened, it’s pretty amazing.
"But I worked a lot, and really hard, to get here, and I will continue to work hard at my craft and get stronger in the places I feel I need to improve. I feel so lucky that people have taken notice of me and have appreciated what I’m doing, and I never want to stop growing. Everything changes in a moment, and you never really know where life is going to take you next."