Creators that inspire: Meet Florence Longpré
On April 17, 2023, Crave announced the upcoming release of an original series scripted by and featuring Florence Longpré in the leading role, "oscillating between psychological drama, investigative series and comedy". The 10-episode season will immerse viewers in the world of a psychiatrist and criminologist dealing with the biggest psychiatric cases in Canada. A tailor-made role for Florence Longpré who has made the subtle combination of dark and tender universes her trademark. "We are delighted to move forward with this project and to combine the strengths of our teams with [Florence’s] undeniable talent in order to offer a luminous series”, shared Suzane Landry, Vice-President, French-language Content Development and Programming at Bell Media.
Here is a portrait of the actress and screenwriter who was revealed to the general public in 2018 in the series "Can you hear me?".
This article, along with six other portraits of creators that inspire, was first published in the CMF 2022 Annual Report.
When she stepped onto the red carpet at the 2022 Canneseries Television Festival in April with co-writer Guillaume Lambert and director Guillaume Lonergan, Florence Longpré was floating on air. And with good reason—fans around the world just couldn’t get enough of Audrey’s Back, the hit series starring Longpré and produced by Montreal’s Pixcom with support from the Canada Media Fund.
Available on Club illico, the family dramedy tells the remarkable story of a young woman who finally opens her eyes after 15 years in a coma. In addition to the incredible challenges she faces in physical rehabilitation, she discovers she’s returning to a world that is completely different from the one she remembers. Family and friends also experience reawakenings as they work to reclaim their place in Audrey’s life.
Audrey’s Back was showered with praise by many journalists at the Cannes event, including those writing for Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The series won the Dior Grand Prize, awarded to the drama that stands out for its originality and innovation, and the Special Interpretation Prize, which was awarded to the entire cast. A fairy-tale ending for the actor/writer from Mascouche, Quebec who describes her role in the film as the most challenging one of her career.
“No one would believe you if you told them that a Quebec series written on Zoom would end up a big winner at Cannes,” says Longpré. “This is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I feel like I won gold at the Olympics. This is the first time anything has meant so much to me. I guess I’m so proud for Quebec because my award was in a global competition (laughter).”
A few months prior, Longpré received accolades for her other series, Last Summers of the Raspberries, alongside co-writer Suzie Bouchard and director Philippe Falardeau. The world premiere of the Quebec drama was the closing feature at the prestigious Berlinale Series in Germany, before entering in competition at Series Mania in France, one of the world’s leading film festivals. Two incredibly exciting events that sharply contrasted with Longpré’s long stretches of isolation while co-writing both series at the beginning of the pandemic.
“The best rewards are the letters and emails you get from viewers. There are so many powerful human-interest stories out there,” says Longpré. “When a quadriplegic writes to you about how they relate to the characters in the series, it really gives you pause. It’s truly amazing how resilient these people are. It’s really empowering. The messages are very, very touching.”
Longpré began writing for television with the mission of ensuring that people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds, or from different genders and sexual orientations, could finally identify with what they saw on screen. She and her friends were tired of always seeing the same character types from the same social class, look-alike girls already fully made up when they get out of bed in the morning, in the same condos in the same cities.
Whether it’s in Audrey’s Back, the Last Summers of the Raspberries, which is fully immersed in the agricultural world, or her first series Can You Hear Me? (available in 190 countries on Netflix), Longpré skilfully weaves drama and humour with a dash of poetry.
“My approach is totally freestyle and instinctive because it’s based on improvisation. It’s an art form where you must learn to write and perform simultaneously. It’s an odd way to learn, but for me it’s been the perfect path, especially since I never thought I’d ever be a writer anyway. I have a background in visual arts, theatre, and even healthcare,” says Longpré. She worked as an orderly for four years to help pay for her education, an experience that came in very handy when it came to writing Audrey’s Back. That was before the outrageous Gaby Gravel came along in the Like-moi series and gave her a new perspective on life.
Now that Longpré is at the top of her game, her biggest challenge is finding time for all the offers coming her way at home and from abroad thanks to the phenomenal visibility she gained at Cannes. To make things even more complicated, she’d like to try her hand at directing, too. And what can Longpré the actor do with all of this going on? “She does everything she can!” laughs Longpré.