It is Emily Hampshire's eighth TIFF and – quite possibly – her year. Last seen in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, the 33-year-old, Montreal-born actor is causing whiplash in Jonas Chernick's My Awkward Sexual Adventure. She plays a Toronto stripper, tough and tender and capable of making "scooch" sound like a threat. Oh, and getting unflinchingly naked.
"This is my … fourth film with a nude scene?" says Hampshire, laughing. "I'm pretty much naked in everything." She's no Canadian Paz de la Huerta, though. Hampshire's sweet real-life frankness makes convincing a miscellany of characters, from the bright pixie in Snow Cake (2006) to a skeptical law student in The Trotsky (2009) to ice-cool Jane Melman in Cosmopolis. In her new, ain't-no-lady leading role, she's one to rewatch.
"I've been lucky to find character parts that are leads as well," Hampshire says. "Usually, you get the quirky friend or the one-dimensional heroine, but in [My Awkward Sexual Adventure] I do both. I try to play whole, recognizable human beings." Though she now lives in Los Angeles, even admitting to loving it there, Hampshire says such roles are easier to find at home. "In Canada, you do smaller movies that maybe nobody sees, but you get to do bigger, better parts."
Like the doctor she plays in The Returned, a Canadian-Spanish zombie movie that begins shooting after TIFF? "I know what it sounds like," she says with a laugh, "but it's a really smart script."
Next, Hampshire wants to write the script herself. "I'd love to make a movie and star in it with all my friends," she says. "I've been acting since I was 14, and back then I wanted to do something huge and be famous. Now I'm glad that didn't happen, because by taking longer, I can do things I really, really want."