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'Moonshine' star Jennifer Finnigan on embracing her chaotic CBC character

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The cast of the television show "Moonshine" is shown in a handout. The Nova Scotia-based dramedy returns with a second season Sunday on CBC. Events pick up with the dysfunctional Finley-Cullen siblings warring for control of  the family business and questioning what their initial goals once were. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HOCBC **MANDATORY CREDIT**

TORONTO — As an actress, Jennifer Finnigan, star of the CBC series “Moonshine,” embraces her assignment faithfully, but perhaps a bit too personally. 

“I tend to take on a lot of who I play, which can be difficult for my husband,” the former “The Bold and the Beautiful” actress says through laughter. 

“I've played some rough characters going through rough things, and I come home and he’s like, 'You've got to leave it at work. Leave it at work.'”

Her "Moonshine" character Lidia Bennett is, after all, a somewhat oblivious free-spirit experiencing an identity crisis while struggling to keep a business out of debt. 

“I was vibing at a very high frequency with Lidia losing her mind trying to save the campground,” says Finnigan, referring to the show’s fictional summer resort on the South Shore of Nova Scotia known as the Moonshine. 

“That sort of energy infiltrated me, and I was just really anxious for a time.”

The hour-long Nova Scotia-shot dramedy returns with a second season Sunday. Events pick up with the dysfunctional Finley-Cullen siblings warring for control of the family business while questioning what their initial goals once were. 

“Sometimes she doesn't even know who she is anymore. She just wants to discover that again,” Finnigan says of Lidia, the eldest Finley-Cullen sister.

“I think women in their 40s are complicated creatures. We're not done, we have lots to accomplish, we have so many things to learn, and we're still trying to figure ourselves out.”

Allan Hawco, known for his roles in CBC's “Republic of Doyle,” the Netflix/Discovery Canada series “Frontier” and Prime Video's “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” returns from his brief appearance in last season’s finale as Gale, a mysterious outlaw biker and problematic love interest for Lidia.

Meanwhile, Lidia’s marriage remains in shambles after she ditched her bigwig architect job in New York and took her two children to Canada to help run the family resort. She viewed the business as an opportunity to shine, alongside her half-sister Rhian, played by Anastasia Phillips, who shared the same ambitions. Naturally, conflicts and antics abound with her siblings: younger sister Nora, played by Emma Hunter; Rhian’s twin Ryan, played by Tom Stevens; and Sammy, played by Alex Nunez.

“She’s a mom, businesswoman, and she makes mistakes,” says Finnigan.

“At times she kind of reverts back to being a teenager because she’s a person who is going through a confusing moment in her life.” 

The Newfoundland-born Hawco credits show creator Sheri Elwood with crafting complicated and flawed characters. Her previous series, the acclaimed HBO Canada comedy “Call Me Fitz,” similarly centred on a dysfunctional family and starred Jason Priestley as a foul-mouthed, morally bankrupt used car salesman.

“I love Sheri's work. I love her voice and her tone,” says Hawco. “She has an ability to write things that you almost feel like no one else could pull off in an exciting way.” 

While a good deal of season one hinged on the family's idiosyncrasies, the second season amps things up: Lidia falls into a money-laundering scheme to keep the Moonshine on its financial feet, and the adopted Sammy searches for his biological mother. 

Despite the high drama, Finnigan says it's all rooted in Elwood's affection for the characters and world they live in. She also notes that Elwood’s family ran a summer resort in Nova Scotia. 

“Each character is derived from characters and people in her life, and it’s so near and dear to her in that sense,” says the Montreal-born Finnigan. 

“It warms my heart most when I come back to film every year and the reaction from the locals lets us know that they feel represented. They’re proud of this part of the world that’s not often shown.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

Noel Ransome, The Canadian Press