To borrow the title of an old Duran Duran song, Stefanie von Pfetten was “Hungry Like the Wolf” for her new TV series Cracked.
Debuting Jan. 8 on CBC, Cracked is a drama inspired by the real-life experiences of police officers and mental-health professionals.
The two main characters are a psychologically “cracked” cop played by David Sutcliffe, and his partner, a psychiatrist on active police duty played by von Pfetten (pictured in the centre above with her castmates, and below).
“Beat cops actually are paired up with mental-health professionals on the street now,” von Pfetten said. “And 30% of crimes are committed by people with mental illness, so they’ve brought in the psychological nurses and psychologists to educate the police and de-stigmatize mental illness.
“So that’s what my character does. That’s what she is passionate about.”
According to von Pfetten, she was cast in the role of Dr. Daniella Ridley on tape, without previously having met the creator or producers of Cracked. So, Stefanie – and you don’t have to be modest – what do you think they saw in you?
“Okay … well … all I know is, nine years ago when I moved to Los Angeles, I met with an agent at William Morris,” recalled von Pfetten, a Canadian. “And he looked at me, he didn’t take me on, but he said, ‘Stefanie, you’re a Dick Wolf girl.’
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You can do smart and pretty very well.’ ”
Wolf, of course, is the godfather of police procedurals, including the Law & Order franchise.
“One doesn’t find it often to see a female character on television who is powerful and kind and smart at the same time,” von Pfetten added, talking specifically about her role on Cracked.
“I think I am able to do that balance, I’m good at those roles, but I’ve never really had a chance to play it. I’ve been acting for 15 years, so it’s time.”
Indeed, von Pfetten was hungry for this role – in a fortune-telling kind of way – long before it actually existed.
“Do you know what else I have to tell you? I wrote this down, this specific role, I wrote it down in my diary four years ago,” von Pfetten said. “I’m not joking. I kid you not.
“I said, ‘I want to play a cross between Mariska Hargitay (who plays Olivia Benson) and Wong (played by George Huang) on Law & Order: SVU. So that’s a homicide detective and the forensic psychiatrist in the special victims unit. And I wanted it to be a show that had, you know, heinous crimes of a psychological nature.
“I wrote it down. And four years later – well, three and a half – it happened. Everyone in my life was like, ‘Oh my God,’ because I would talk about it all the time. And then I got the call.”
Geez, Stefanie, did you also happen to write down any lottery numbers?
“Acting is like gambling, it’s not a meritocracy,” von Pfetten said with a laugh. “So to me, this is winning the lottery.”