Jordan Gavaris wants you to join him at The Lake
Who wouldn't love to spend the summer at The Lake?
Amazon's first Canadian original series (June 17) is full of family drama, small-town charm, and lots of laughs. After infidelity causes the end of a long-term relationship, Justin (Jordan Gavaris) heads back home to Canada to reconnect with his life there, including his birth daughter Billie (Madison Shamoun). While he hasn't spent much time with Billie since she was adopted, they have always known about one another, and their summer at the lake is a chance to connect. "Whether he realizes it or not, he is also reconnecting with some fundamental part of himself from when he was younger, as we do when our adult life blows up," Gavaris tells EW.
Bonding with bold and self-assured teen Billie won't be easy for Justin, who is a bit of a hot mess. "This relationship [is] between a parent and child where it's reversed, where Billie is the parent and Justin is the child," Gavaris explains. Viewers will watch them both find their groove with one another as she chastises him for his antics, and he simply wants her to let loose a little.
One compilation to their summer of bonding is Justin's unexpected reunion with his stepsister Maisy-May (Julia Stiles). Justin's father leaves the family cottage to Maisy-May when he dies, and when Justin finds out, a Succession-like battle begins. "Cottage country is full of blood feuds and people fighting over cottages," Gavaris says about the basis for their sparring. It took some time for the actors to go for it while improvising. Initially, they were timid about the insults, but Stiles encouraged him to go for it, and the result is an array of very different ways of being horrible to one another.
The Lake fills out its world with an eccentric group of relatives, neighbors, and love interests. Natalie Lisinska and Jon Dore play "quintessential cottage couple" Jayne and Wayne; Maisy-May's ripped yet lovely husband is played by Terry Chen; and Travis Nelson plays Justin's love interest, Riley, who Gavaris says will be everyone's favorite. "Some of my favorite performers are playing these outstanding characters," he says. "There are some special Easter eggs in these characters that represent Canadians who've maybe summered in Muskoka or northern Ontario."
Among the comedy's memorable characters is Maisy-May's gender-fluid child Opal (Declan Whaley). Like a very excited Justin (whom Opal quickly makes feel like "some tired old gay"), Gavaris loves having the dynamic young queer character on The Lake. "I am excited at the idea of putting someone like Opal in the same frame as someone like Justin. It's an opportunity for the audience to learn without feeling like they're being fed," he says.
Between Billie's four parents, Maisy-May's family, and the other characters, The Lake tells an array of stories about different types of families. The comedy showcases multiracial, queer, and blended families, and the inclusion of the various family make-ups is something Gavaris is honored to be part of. "That's how change is made and how to get more stories like this one, or ones that are bigger and stranger than this because the door is opening," he says.
The Lake is beaming with joyful, lighthearted energy, which is sought after in an environment where queer narratives often feature trauma over joy. Gavaris notes that none of the characters are concerned for their emotional or physical safety. Justin is on a journey of growth and maturity, not self-acceptance. All the chaos that stems from his antics results from his choices, so the "danger" is self-imposed. His feud with Maisy-May is a specific, character-oriented crisis, not a life-changing one. "It's the only way that we show audiences a safe world is possible for queer people," he says. "It may not always precisely reflect the world that you live in, but it can show you what possibilities there are, what the world could look like."
Many will know Gavaris for playing the bold and memorable Felix on Orphan Black. While Felix was about the moving parts of the sprawling story, danger, and incredible looks, Justin is closer to who Gavaris is as a person. He is thrilled to play an LGBTQ character whose conflict didn't come from his queerness. "This character, for however many years, has been relegated to the side view mirrors of storytelling [is] now right in the crosshairs of the story," he explains. Getting to play the two very different LGBTQ characters is something Gavaris is proud of, and he is happy to play queer characters for the rest of his career. "Provided all of those characters and the stories being told were as wide-ranging as their heteronormative counterparts, I would do it happily," he says.
The Lake premieres June 17 on Amazon Prime Video.
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