One would think a Los Angeles-based actress would have to make a few cultural adjustments, working for several months in the colder climes of Toronto, but Yvette Nipar hasn't had much difficulty getting used to her new, if temporary, home. "There haven't been too many adjustments, other than the change in the weather!" jokes Nipar, who plays Detective Lisa Madigan in the syndicated RoboCop: The Series. "That's about it. I'm not used to this cold at all, but I'd rather have this than an earthquake any day. I'm certainly glad I didn't get a chance to fix my chimney back in LA, which is now in the back yard!"
As RoboCop's human partner, Nipar has found herself working for several months under less than comfortable conditions. Because much of the series is shot on location, the Toronto winters have proved difficult for the cast and crew, who are often shooting two film units simultaneously.
"We do a lot of night shoots in the cold, and that's very hard. As an actor, you're supposed to relax and act natural, but your body is shaking so much because of the cold. That's the hard part, to relax and do the work while you're shivering. The physical stuff never bothers me, because I love doing it."
"The other part is not spending enough time with my son as far as the quality time in being in a little, four-walled room. He likes to be outdoors and doing things, and when he's here, he's pretty much cooped up.
"Also, I've pretty much relocated, so my family is back in LA so I'm pretty much all alone. To be honest, I really don't miss LA at all. I feel so much safer here with my son in Toronto, and while I understand that things can happen everywhere, they definitely happen much more in LA than Toronto."
"I think the people you work with are less affected here. They're friendlier, obviously you don't get that in LA where people are affected more. As far as working in Toronto, it's such a clean city. Somebody told me a story that they were shooting once, and messed up an alley while doing one of their scenes. They broke for lunch, and when they returned, the alley was already cleaned up. That's a nice change of pace from LA. I live by the water right now, so I can't wait for spring."
According to Nipar, the tough-talking, hard-edged Madigan has been an easy character to play. "She's already pretty well-defined, so they're not going to be messing with that for a while, although we will be seeing different sides of her as time goes by. There is one episode where Madigan thinks she likes a guy but then finds that she really doesn't, and there's another story where she gets addicted to diet pills, and that showed a pretty emotional side of Madigan. That's a whole other side of her you haven't seen before."
Yvette Nipar is probably best known to TV viewers as Johnny Depp's much-publicized love interest in 21 Jump Street. She's also guest-starred in numerous series, including The Human Target, Murder, She Wrote, Midnight Caller, Full House and The Flash.
Genre fans will no doubt remember Nipar from her recurring role in The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr, which she left to work on RoboCop: The Series.
"Gosh, I can't even remember my character's name!" she laughs. "I played the manager of the Horseshoe Saloon, who was supposedly an old friend of Briscoe's and they had grown up together. I think they were actually going to have a thing start between him and I, but then I got RoboCop, and had to bail. We shot it at the Warner Bros ranch in Burbank, and I thought it was a blast. The show was really a period piece, so I got to wear the big dresses and the hair. That was a lot of fun."
While working on Briscoe County, Nipar tried out for the role of Lisa Madigan, Alex Murphy's human partner in a new tv series based on the highly successful RoboCop films.
"I just auditioned in LA, and they put me on tape," she remembers. "They sent the tape to the producers, and they hired me, so it was one of those 'Wow!' things.
"They were just looking for somebody who could play this cop, and Madigan is pretty strong, and has a real self-assurance about her. She's really bright as far as the law, and the producers wanted someone who could pull off playing a cop, which is sometimes hard to find. I happened to know someone who told me there were a lot of people up for the role. They read people in Chicago, LA, New York and Toronto."
"You know that old cliche of after you've had a baby, everything gets into perspective?" the actress continues. "I'd just had a baby and only recently got back into the business, and for some reason, I just had this extra confidence; not so much, 'If I don't get this job, it's the end of the world!' but everything was different after the baby came, in terms of how I carried myself, and how I felt about myself as far as putting everything in perspective."
"Luckily when we were negotiating, a lot of my negotiations were about those sort of things on the set, so that my son could come to work with me. They agreed, and got us all the things he needed, and as a result, he was able to be on the set with me a lot. If I didn't have that, I don't think I would have taken the job, because I would never have seen him."
Nipar says the producers on RoboCop have been very responsive to her input as far as her character is concerned, although she's usually content to see what will happen in upcoming episodes.
"I'm not one of those people who really likes to think about the future, but I do like to converse with the producers quite often, and see what they have going on. If they tell me something and I'm not crazy about it, I'll tell them and they're really great about working with me on it. We had that in one episode and they wrote it out. I don't think I should share it, because I don't want to talk about something that was eventually written out. I told them I thought it was Yvette, but it wasn't the character. I think it was just a case of the writers trying to complete a scene, but what they were doing wasn't really necessary."
THOUGHTS ON ROBO
The actress has enjoyed working with Richard Eden who plays the titular, metal-clad cop. Although her co-star is virtually submerged under his cumbersome costume and helmet, Nipar says she doesn't have any difficulty relating to the human being underneath.
"I knew if I let that throw me, it would become very frustrating. I just had to believe that there's somebody beneath that helmet. You can still see his eyes through that strip, but that's all I have, I have to believe that there's a person under there, or else it would really screw me up. I can't let that happen even once. I just think, 'No, I can't do that'. The viewers have to believe I'm talking to a person. No, it didn't throw me at all. I thought it would, but it didn't."
A WONDERFUL TIME
Despite the sometimes arduous working conditions in Toronto, Nipar says that shooting RoboCop is more often than not an enjoyable experience.
"Oh, I have fun every day. I believe that part of my job is keeping the people I work with happy, because they work a billion times harder than us, so I try and have fun every day. Obviously it wasn't too much fun during that episode where I was on the No-Gain, in Trouble In Delta City. That was a tough shoot, but for the most part, it's fun no matter what. You really have to keep a sense of humour about it."
Did the actress do any research as far as playing a police officer? "It's funny you should ask, because I actually researched playing a detective for a long time, because I always wanted to do that. There wasn't really a lot of researching to do, because I had watched a lot of detectives on tv shows, and that's something I always wanted to do."
"That's probably why I nailed this part, because I knew I'd be good at it. It's great when you have a producer like [ex-cop] Stephen Downing, because if there are any questions about the law, I don't even have to ask. These producers are the best. In all honesty, in ten years, I've never worked with nicer producers, so I'm very lucky."
Although it is still airing in the UK on Sky television, RoboCop: The Series has been cancelled in the US. Having spent the better part of a year working on the show, Yvette Nipar enjoys the idea of being a regular in episodic television. "Yeah, why not?" she reflects. "Let me tell you, when I had a kid, all those thoughts about security went right away. I don't care how long it goes, I just want to feed my son and send him to private school!"