It’s been 28 years since Flashdance. So how come Jennifer Beals looks 28?
The actress, who somehow made legwarmers an acceptable fashion accessory in the ‘80s, was in Toronto this week to talk about her new drama The Chicago Code. The series airs Monday nights at 9/8c on Fox and Global.
The Canadian network had her on a whirlwind, day-long promotional schedule, up early for morning radio appearances, in front of cameras on The Marilyn Denis Show, in a hotel room sitting for dozens of print and radio interviews well into the evening.
By mid-afternoon, Beals showed no ill effects from all this promotional hoop-jumping.
Instead, she looked serene, like she just stepped out of a Vogue cover shoot.
Her bio states she was born in 1963, a few weeks after the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy, which seems impossible. She can’t be 47, but there she is, on the cover of More magazine, a periodical aimed at women 40-plus.
Not every Hollywood actress would be as ready to embrace their true age, but Beals wears it well.
She flashes a warm smile, and the mad dash that is the 10 minute interview begins.
That’s when you discover the woman who put Hollywood on hold for a Yale degree, the brains behind the beauty.
Beals plays Chicago police chief Teresa Colvin, a career cop who also has had to push past her looks to rise to the top ranks of the ultimate boys club. Those that don’t take Colvin seriously feel her sting. In January in Los Angeles at the semi-annual TV critics press tour, Beals described the character as a “ball-buster,” a strong-willed leader.
“How do you get 10,000 men to follow you?” she asks, noting that female officers make up about a quarter of the Chicago police force.
The notion that Beals does not look like your typical big-city police chief came up at the press tour. A female reporter suggested to executive producer Shawn Ryan (The Shield) that “it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that Jennifer is freakin’ hot” and wondered if he was going to try and “de-hot her in the coming year.”
Said Ryan, “it’s very, very difficult to de-hot Jennifer Beals,” and asked reporters to look deeper.
He pointed out Beals was, in fact, from Chicago and admired how she “took herself to great heights academically and professionally.” He could see her as the police superintendent of Chicago “if she had decided that was the route she wanted to take.”
Beals moved back to the Windy City to shoot the 13 mid-season episodes of The Chicago Code.
When she does get home it is to Los Angeles as well as Vancouver, where she shot The L-Word for six seasons. The B.C. city is also where she met her Canadian-born husband, Ken Dixon. The couple, who married in 1998, have a five-year-old daughter plus Dixon’s two children from a previous marriage.
Beals loves Vancouver and is a big Canucks fan, singling out former captain Trevor Linden as a hockey leader she really admires.
“For me, watching a hockey game, it’s only interesting when I know the stories of the players,” she says, drawing a parallel to her new TV show. “Then it’s incredibly fascinating to me and it’s like theatre, to see those battles go on.”
She credits executive producer Ryan with bringing that same energy and authenticity to her series.
“He insists that it is the characters that drive the plot, which is so important on our show,” she says.
Beals says she need look no further than her mom for inspiration for Colvin, but also mentions the former president and defence minister of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, whom she has met, as a strong women she admires. Beals was struck by how powerful Bachelet was, “but also how she seems like she could be anyone’s mom.”
“Within every woman there is a Kali,” says Beals. “Do not mistake the exterior for the interior.”
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.