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When actress Julie Stewart isn't training for marathons -- she's run the Boston twice -- she spends her days making the streets of Vancouver safer as Sergeant Ali McCormick on CTV's Cold Squad . The Globe's Rebecca Caldwell picked her up for questioning in between takes filming the fifth season.

'My passion is my new car -- well, it's new to me. It's an '88 Jaguar Vanden Plas. It's a V-12, and that's a very fast car, it's a very powerful engine. It's a gun-metal grey and it's been maintained beautifully, and the inside is a pearl-grey leather. It's an extremely beautiful automobile.

It's funny because I didn't use to be into cars. I didn't have my licence until just after the first season of Cold Squad, and I sort of made a pact with myself that I wouldn't go back to Toronto at the end of the season without having learned.

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So our lovely transport co-ordinator, Richard Chilton, taught me how to drive in my last month of the season and once I got my licence, I really loved driving. I had been scared of it for a while after my first time trying to learn. But this time around I was much more comfortable.

My husband really likes cars because his parents loved cars. We would rent cars and we'd be out on the road and I would say, 'Now what's that?' and he would say, 'It's a Jaguar,' and I'd think, 'Hmm,' and it would happen over and over again. And I realized that I really like the line of the Jaguar. It's just a really pretty car.

Last year, when I was out here, I noticed an old Jag that had a For Sale sign in the window and it remained there for a long time and everybody was saying you should go look at it. And I even took a test drive, but the guy sold it on me. Having gotten so close, I thought maybe I should just let it go.

But three months later in the middle of December, Richard came bounding into my trailer with a Polaroid of the Jaguar he found at a dealership, and the next day I took it for a test drive and bought it. And I got a great deal -- it was only $12,850 plus taxes and I had to do some work on it, but it only had 126,000 or so kilometres on it.

For another television show that I did a long time ago, I had to drive a 1921 stick-shift convertible. It was a collector car, and the guy who owned it had taken fantastic care of it, but it was not easy to drive. Then, all I had was my 365 [learner's permit]and I almost drove over the camera the first time.

I think I was with Paul Gross, and I had to pull in and screech the tires and they were wooden wheels so that really wasn't going to happen. And Paul was supposed to be terrified at how fast I was driving. So I had to pull in quickly and hit a very specific mark.

In rehearsal, the first time I did it I hit the mark perfectly. And they said, 'Cut,' and Paul and I went to say, 'Yay,' and celebrate. But I had not put the thing in park, and the car lunged forward and went over the big rubber trash can that was the mark. I stopped it immediately, so I didn't hit anybody or the lights or camera, which was a good thing.

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During the same time, when I was driving from Goderich [Ont.]to Stratford to catch a train, the loose gravel on the road just sent the car fishtailing and we went off the road. We were okay, but the farmer who came to help us kept shaking his head and saying, 'You know, I don't understand, looking at the way the wheels are dug into the ground, why you didn't just roll eight or nine or 20 times.'

And he kept saying this over and over again, and I thought, 'Okay, we get the point.'

I didn't drive much after that. I just felt nervous in cars. That's one reason why I decided I finally had to learn.

I haven't had any speeding tickets yet. I've been pretty good, or lucky, depending on how you look at it. And I haven't had any accidents. I've had parking tickets because I find those signs next to impossible to understand. With eight or nine signs each saying different things I just think, 'Whatever, I'll pay the $15.' "

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