Is Emily Hampshire the hardest working actress in the industry today?
Well, judging by her schedule this past week at SXSW, you’d be forgiven if you thought precisely that.
Over the course of the past five days, the star of the cult comedy hit “Schitt’s Creek” publicized her appearance in three different movies and one television show, attended premieres for each and also participated in a 90-minute comedy roast competition.
For the roast, “Hateful Eight: Roast Battle’s Tournament of Champions,” she competed against seven other contestants for the coveted title of “best trash-talker in the nation.”
But for Hampshire, that’s absolutely nothing new.
“Personally I find it easier to just keep going,” she said while chatting with journalists prior to the SXSW world premiere of “Self Reliance,” her new movie. “It’s kind of like working out. You just need to keep going because once you stop, it’s so hard to get back into it. So, if I simply never take a break and just keep going from one thing to another, that suits me very well.”
She added, “And here at South By Southwest, it’s all been magical. I had a premiere this morning, now I’m doing this one and everything’s just sort of spaced out really kind of perfectly. Nothing I can’t handle.”
Of course, if you ask Hampshire, it wasn’t always like that.
“I’ve been acting since I was 11 and a lot of people saw my work, and as a result, I got a lot of roles. But without a doubt, “Schitt’s Creek” was definitely the thing that changed my life from what it was into me becoming a true working actor, which really allowed me to make more choices about what I do.”
Several of those choices, unquestionably, contributed to her intensive passion for multi-tasking.
For three years while filming “Schitt’s Creek,” Hampshire also played a major supporting role in the sci-fi time-travel series “12 Monkeys,” in which she played Jennifer Goines, a reimagined version of the role played by Brad Pitt in the original film of the same name.
“When I was shooting “Schitt’s Creek,” there was a time when the filming overlapped with “12 Monkeys.” I would shoot “Schitt’s Creek” during the day and “12 Monkeys” at night. And that was the greatest time of my life, because everybody was so nice to me,” Hampshire recalls. “I would get onto the set and maybe have something like 10 minutes before I start filming. People would ask, ‘Do you want some tea? Here, take a nap.’ It was so much fun.”
But how easy was it to change characters from a smart-alecky motel manager to a time-jumping, semi-maniacal savior of the timestream?
“For me, I love it, especially when the parts are really different,” she said. “I find it easier when I get to play characters that are so disparate from one another. It’s really easy to go back and forth between them.”
Shifting roles comes very much naturally to Hampshire. In “12 Monkeys” alone, her character appeared as various versions of herself amid an ever-changing story arc.
“I loved playing Jennifer Goines so much; I really miss her, and it wasn’t even because it was different versions of my character, but that role was like the ultimate gift for an actor … to do a time-travel show and play the character like Jennifer, because I got to do every time period,” she said. “And as for Jennifer, she just launches herself into stuff, like she’s the CEO of a company, and then she’s a singer. And so to play that was just the ultimate. I don’t think I could ever get a part like that again, but if I did, that would be the greatest.”
But if “12 Monkeys” was Hampshire’s all-time favorite role, there’s no question that her role as Stevie Budd in “Schitt’s Creek” — a character she also cherishes — was her most defining moment.
“Stevie is like the most comfortable-to-play character and I also feel that she stands in a bit for the audience on the show where this crazy family has come to this small town,” she said. “I think most people can relate a little more to Stevie because not everyone comes from a billionaire background.”
Since the end of the show’s run in 2020, Hampshire’s career has exploded. She appeared in several films and television series, often as a lead character, other times making guest appearances.
She’s set to star in the television remake of “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” which is presently in development. She currently appears as the character Rose Mason in “The Rig,” an Amazon Prime series about a group of workers on a remote Scottish oil rig who encounter a mysterious fog that enshrouds them as supernatural forces take hold.
At SXSW, Hampshire was on-site plugging four different properties — “Appendage,” a film focused on a young fashion designer struggling with mental health issues; “Bloody Hell,” a coming-of-age “traumedy” about a teenage girl unexpectedly diagnosed with a reproductive condition; “Self Reliance,” a comedy about a man offered a million dollars to play a game in which hunters try to kill him; and “Slip,” a TV series about a woman who has a one-night stand only to find that she entered a parallel universe in which her entire world is turned upside down.
But perhaps her biggest recent performance is a film that captured critical acclaim during last year’s Toronto Film Festival but won’t hit the theaters until late next month. In “The End of Sex,” Hampshire stars alongside Jonas Chernick in a romantic comedy about a married couple who are feeling the pressures of parenting and adulthood. After they send their young kids to camp for the first time, they embark on a series of comic sexual adventures as they attempt to reinvigorate their relationship.
At 42, it’s clear that Emily Hampshire’s rise to stardom is in full swing. With so many films and TV shows either currently in production or about to see the light of day, she shows absolutely zero signs of slowing down. Which begs just one critical question:
How many premiere and panel appearances will Hampshire make at SXSW 2024?