In Brent Butt's new sitcom, Hiccups, Nancy Robertson (who is married to Butt) stars as Millie Upton, a world-famous children's author who is prone to flying off the handle, and who hires an inexperienced life coach (Butt) to help her out. It's a long way from Corner Gas: They're in the city now, and Millie is the emotional antithesis of Wanda, the character Robertson played on Corner Gas. Marsha Lederman met with Robertson on the set just outside Vancouver, asking her about children's books, angry outbursts and shopping sprees.
As a kid, did you have a favourite children's author?
I feel really badly because I can't remember the author's name, but I loved Pippi Longstocking stories. I loved all of her adventures. Also Curious George. And To Kill a Mockingbird; I started reading it when I was really young - Grade 5 - and I've read it probably 15 times.
Did you model Millie in an actual children's author?
No, I'm kind of modelling her more off a child. As far as I'm concerned, Millie doesn't sit down to write and think: 'Now if I was a child, what would I like to read?' She doesn't have to take herself to another place, to the mind of a child. She just kind of is a child.
When was the last time you had an angry outburst?
I did get upset at a woman in a Starbucks who basically shoved her baby carriage into the back of my brother's chair instead of saying 'excuse me.' My brother was facing the other way, so how was he to know that there was a woman coming through? And she yelled something like, 'I have a child here!' And I went: 'I have a brother here!'
What's it like to work with your husband?
It's great working with him in the same way that everybody feels working with him is great. Because he's as fair and genuine and generous as you can get in this industry. He relishes other people's talents and abilities as opposed to being threatened by them, and he appreciates what everybody does on set and he keeps everybody laughing. I'd be a fool to say no to working with him again professionally. And we got to know each other by working together, so this is easy for us; it's very natural. We started out as co-workers and that's how we got to know each other, on Corner Gas, and then it changed. I think it would be very difficult if we were a couple first and then tried to work together. I think that would be a little bit tricky.
You are riding high in terms of Canadian television production right now. But do you worry about the future?
Oh God, yes, 100 per cent. We've been fortunate to have this nice chunk of time with some security in it. I've been wise about it too, I have to say, and I think that's because this didn't happen when I was 20. You can be the flavour of the month and not so much the next month.
How have you been wise about it?
I've never taken it for granted and I can say that honestly. It can be gone in a heartbeat, and I know that because I've had enough disappointment leading up to it in the industry. As actors - as anybody in this industry - it's ebb and flow. You can go from nothing to some decent amounts, so I've been wise in how I've dealt with that, I think. Like laying it out for the future for a little bit.
You didn't blow it on $1,000 shoes?
Well there was the odd pair. I mean I'm going to have a good time, too, but with a good balance: enjoy it but always be thinking ahead.
Millie makes some extravagant gestures. Is there anything you've done personally that's very extravagant?
No. I think the most extravagant thing I've done - and it's not even that extravagant - was I bought my mother some brand new hardwood flooring for her condo. And I did that the second-last season of Corner Gas. I told her: 'Just in case, I'm going to get you something now, because who knows what's next.'
Hiccups premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.