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Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

My Car: Inga Cadranel

Sports cars aren't sexy Add to ...

Inga Cadranel is no stranger to TV; for the past three years, she has starred as the sultry Francesca in the Canadian hit show Rent-A-Goalie.

But the award-winning actress will soon hit the American airwaves, starring in the series The Bridge. Originally shot by CTV, the series was scooped up by CBS and premieres on both networks in January. It's a big boost for Cadranel. But the spotlight hasn't changed her.

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She doesn't drive a fancy sports car; she prefers a rugged ride. That's why she drives a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo SUV.

"You would never see me driving around in a sports car. I feel like you're so low and squish-able by transport trucks.

"It's not that I don't want a fast car. I like the speed. I'm just not the type of person who finds a sports car a sexy car. I like guys who drive trucks. I've always been [partial]to having a beat-up pickup truck - not a typical actress glamour car," confesses Cadranel, whose partner is actor Gabriel Hogan from CBC's Heartland and Rent-A-Goalie. Together, they have a four-year-old son.

"People who drive Jeeps are people who like to do outdoor activities. When we drove it to L.A., we had the big Thule racks for when we wakeboard, surf or snowboard. We ski - we do the whole bit. We're outdoorsy. That's the kind of car that suits our lifestyle."

They're not afraid to get it dirty, either. Hogan and her son go off-roading often. "Those guys love it.

"I haven't been in the car because I'd probably have a heart attack watching my son go off-roading. I have to turn away when Gab does those kind of things," says Cadranel, who won a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Actress in her role in Rent-A-Goalie. She also had roles in several TV shows - Jeff Ltd., The Eleventh Hour, Leap Years and Relic Hunter - as well as the flick Killshot with Mickey Rourke.

Inside the SUV, the couple's taste in music is a little odd, considering they have a toddler. "We tried my four-year-old son on the Raffi and he just wasn't interested.

"Once we started playing some Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, my son had found his calling. He knows every lyric to Black Sabbath's Iron Man.

"We listen to loud music in the car. If we want to chill out we'll listen to Radiohead. We're a funny little family. People see us pull up with a little guy in his car seat and we're blasting Iron Maiden and he says, 'Mommy, louder. Louder!'"

Her son has a Mohawk hairdo, which she styles every morning.

Cadranel admits she loves speed. "I actually drive faster than my husband, although he says he does. My son always goes, 'Mommy, you drive faster than Daddy!'

"When I was a little girl I wanted to be a race-car driver. I love driving - I truly love it. Just being able to control a machine."

Cadranel bought the Jeep used last year. "We find the Jeep to be a solid vehicle that doesn't have a lot of problems. It's great for kids. We like the look of it - it's rugged - that's the type of people we are."

But it could use more space. "The back seat needs a bit more room. Even though it's a Jeep and it's spacious it's not as spacious as you think inside.

"It's great when we have the back seat down and flat and we're moving or going camping, then we have lots of room."

Her first car, a Mercury Topaz, was a hand-me-down from her grandfather. "He said, 'If you come to Florida and visit me, I'll let you have my car. You just have to drive it home to Canada.' I was like, 'Of course! Of course!'

"I was 17. So me and some girlfriends flew down there and we did a big road trip back in this Mercury Topaz. It was one of the best trips I've ever had.

"It never broke down the entire time I had it. It was really funny. It was such a grandpa car. I kept that car for a while - I ran it to the ground. One day I went to start it and it just died."

Cadranel has also owned a 1971 VW Super Beetle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Nissan Pathfinder and a 1971 Ford Bronco.

"Our Bronco sounded like those really obnoxious Harley-Davidsons," she laughs. "It was enormous. My husband brought it home one day because his friend owed him money and they decided to give him the car instead.

"I was like, 'How am I supposed to drive it - it's standard?' So he taught me and I fell in love with driving a standard cause then you're really in control and I'm a control freak," confesses Cadranel, who comes from a show-business family. Her parents, Maja Ardal and Jeff Braunstein, are stage actors, directors and writers; her brother Paul Braunstein is an actor.

But she skipped a standard transmission in the Jeep. "I am constantly reaching back and giving snacks to the little one - giving him water or picking up lost toys while I'm driving.

"You got to have one hand free to stop the tears and catch the toys that fall," says Cadranel.

As her career soars, she has been contemplating upgrading her wheels. "Our careers are going well.

"Should we trade it in and get a brand-new car? But we don't really need it. We don't need to be gluttonous. We're not flashy car people.

"The only time we'd get a new car is if there was an affordable hybrid. Unfortunately, hybrids are still quite expensive. But when Jeep comes out with a hybrid, we'll be the first to buy one."

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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