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Lauren Lee Smith, star of CTV's The Listener and HBO Canada's Good Dog is with her Mercedes SUV.

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Lauren Lee Smith



Profession: Actress

Age: 30

Hometown: Vancouver

Notable achievements: Won a Leo Award in 2009 for Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Feature Length Drama in Sandra Nettlebeck's Helen; appeared in television series, The L Word, Mutant X, Twilight Zone, and films such as A Night for Dying Tigers, Art School Confidential, The Last Kiss, Lie With Me, Hindenbu

Upcoming: The Listener, Friday at 8 p.m. on CTV and Fox International channels; HBO Canada's Good Dog, Sunday at 8 p.m.

Lauren Lee Smith is one of Canada's rising stars.

In 2009, she played Riley Adams on the hit CBS crime series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Nowadays, she's best known as Sergeant Michelle McCluskey on CTV's The Listener. The actress is comfortable with the spotlight on television and on the road where she drives a 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4Matic SUV.

Why did you buy a Mercedes GL?

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I had just got the show CSI and I was looking for a new car.

My husband is German and he insisted we get a German-made car. We did a lot of research and it was one of the safest cars on the market that year so we decided to go with that one. It's a very nice car.

Did you cross shop against other German competitors like a BMW X5 or Audi Q7?

No. My husband is pretty particular about his cars. In his opinion, the Mercedes are the best of the best.

What does a Mercedes-Benz GL450 say about you?

I don't think Mercedes-Benz says anything about me, really. I was in a situation where I was able to get a really nice car and I'm proud to have it.

It's taken us from L.A. to Vancouver three times and Toronto to L.A. two times. We've spent a lot of time living in that car. That's what the car means to me.

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Does it have the personality of an actress - does it like the limelight?

No, I don't think so. If you were to see this car now, it's covered in dirt. It's just filthy and I kind of like that. We have two big black Labs and our Labs are in the car constantly and the car is always in a big, giant mess.

I would get it cleaned once in a while. But there's really no point because we clean it and then we put the dogs back in and it turns into a big mess again so we have to go with it.

What's your driving style like? Do you like to drive fast?

I don't. I'm actually not a very good driver to be honest with you. I'm a scatterbrain driver. I'm not very focused. I'm always trying to find the right music station or put on a new CD or trying to eat something.

Any speeding or parking tickets?

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Parking, especially in Toronto. I feel like I never know where to park and when I do it's always the wrong spot. Inevitably I always get a ticket.

I forget about them and then they add up. It could have been $20, but it doubles and then triples and then I hand them to my accountant at the end of the year and she gets really mad at me.

What was your first car?

The very first car I bought was a white 1992 Jetta. It cost me $3,500. I was 19 and I thought it was really cute - that was honestly my reasoning.

I looked at a whole bunch of cars in my price range and the Jetta I thought was the cutest, it's sad but true. That's how I picked my first car.

It kind of let me down. I think it ran for about a year and then there was just one problem after another - it probably was not a good idea to buy a car based on how cute it was. I probably should have actually got it checked out.

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That's a lot of money for a 19-year-old - how did you pay for it?

I had just finished doing my first starring role in this mini-series called Christy and that was what I got myself - my first car.

It was a really, really cool time. It was very exciting. That little car got me to and from set in Maple Ridge for about four months. I felt really proud to have my first little car.

After the Jetta, I leased a Ford Explorer for about six years. And after the Explorer was the Mercedes. I've only had three vehicles. I'm sticking with my Mercedes for as long as she'll go.

Why did you shift from a small car to such big vehicles?

I'd been in L.A. for a long time. I felt safer on the road, I felt higher.

Every time I was driving on the L.A. freeway in a small car it was very unnerving for me. One time I rented an SUV and it just changed my whole perspective of driving and I was converted to SUVs from that day on.

What's your best memory and worst memory on the road?

My best memory would be in the summer driving from Toronto to L.A.

It was a really, really cool drive to do. I've never driven across the country before. It was a wonderful time. We ended up just sleeping in truck stops and camping out in the back of our car in a sleeping bag with our dogs. It was really great.

The worst would be sitting in mind-numbing traffic for hours on end.

What do you listen to on the road?

Right now I really love the Black Dove album and the new Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene -those are my top three that are revolving right now.

Do you rehearse behind the wheel?

Yes, I'm guilty of that - especially during pilot season in L.A. when you have four or five auditions a day. You're sitting in traffic for so long it's really the only place you can learn your lines. I think in L.A. every third car you'll see the same thing. Toronto, it's a bit different.

If I could bring you the keys to any car what would it be?

Maybe a cool, old Mustang in bright red - the iconic image of the old car driving with the roof down along some stretch of beach somewhere - it's one of my little dreams.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

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