The TV Watercooler had the opportunity to chat with The Traitors Canada host Karine Vanasse about what convinced her to take on this project, the Traitors selection process, who else would have made a good Traitor, and more!
It felt like there was so much secrecy involved – not just on the show, but about the show leading up to its premiere. We didn’t get a chance to speak until after the premiere. So much was kept under wraps! How did you feel about all the secrecy? You can finally talk about the show now.
Oh, it’s fun! There are so many more secrets left to unpack. So much happens in every single episode. We chose The Traitors in the first episode, so we didn’t want the press to leak their identities, because that whole process, I think, sets the tone for the show.
The air of mystery will never leave the show. This is what the show is about and it’s the mood we want to protect. We want to keep suspicion very alive [throughout the whole season].
How familiar were you with the franchise before you signed on as host?
I wasn’t familiar with the franchise at all. I have to say, I’m not the biggest reality TV fan either. I knew it was all out there and I knew some of the familiar faces and the concepts of some of the shows.
When I was first presented with this project, I watched the Australian version of the franchise first and it made me understand why they went an actor [Rodger Corser] as host and then they had Alan Cumming host it for the U.S. version. [Having actors] adds so much more because we play a certain character, like in my case, as the Lady of the Manor, where I’m welcoming the players to my manor.
Obviously, the viewers know it’s not my manor, but it’s where we can play into that, along with the rhythm of the show and how I’m talking to them at the roundtable where I want them to be on the edge of their seat.
Did you get a chance to watch the U.K. version with Claudia Winkleman?
Yes, I did!
Do you have a favourite out of those three?
The Australian version because it convinced me to do [the show]. The host was a big part of why [I said yes] because I could see him having fun.
It does seem like you are having a lot of fun as well.
It’s great. I obviously wanted to have some authority [as the Lady of the Manor] but I also wanted to have fun and I wanted them to feel that it was a game. So, they have to fear me just enough in certain situations, but when I see them laughing – and obviously in the edit for the show, you may not get to see all those moments – I could still feel that they felt comfortable [around me] when I allowed them to be spontaneous. [The mood] was a lot lighter during the missions. It’s where I felt that they could be a little more at ease.
So, it was great to have both tones with them. A little lighter during the day, when they did the missions, and then I was able to regain my authority in the evening when we had the roundtables.
How involved were you with the production? Did you have any say on who would get to be a Traitor or Faithful?
That was so interesting. Obviously, we want people to believe that I chose them myself!
It was done a lot like the others in the franchise. We don’t know who the Traitors will be when they first arrive at the manor. Yes, we have their profiles, and they did their interviews with the production team, but we won’t choose until later. We first watch them as they arrive, and we watch them interact with each other.
I then do an interview with them individually. It wasn’t until the end of the day that we gathered (the production team and me) and decided who the Traitors would be. It was so exciting! We had a psychologist there as well.
The whole process of choosing who would be a Traitor was so fun to be part of.
Kuzie, Mel B and Mike were selected as the Traitors in the first episode. Which pick surprised you the most?
It would have to be Mike. I like it!
I think most of the players assumed, and it was mentioned during the first episode, that a reality TV personality within the group would have been chosen. They were right with Kuzie, but we could have gone with none of them!
Mel B is an interesting choice as well. There were moments in her interview where she said she’d be comfortable being a Traitor but then as soon as I chose her, she got all giggly and excited! So, it was hard for her to contain her excitement. At the same time, it’s also just the excitement of knowing that you’ll be safe [in the game] because when you are a Traitor, you can’t be killed. Yes, you can get banished, but you can manoeuvre your way through the end much more easily. You don’t have to worry about waking up and being told that you’re gone… “That’s it! Leave the Manor immediately.” There’s a certain level of comfort that comes over you when you’re first told that you’ll be a Traitor.
Mike was an interesting pick!
What did you think? Were you surprised?
I was surprised by Mike. I had a feeling that either Kuzie or Kevin from Big Brother Canada would be selected as a Traitor. But I guess having it be Kevin might have been too obvious. And then Rick is such a good guy, but at the same time, it would have been surprising to see a dark side of him. Should a Traitor get banished and a new one is selected, who do you think would make a good Traitor?
Let’s say I’m just a viewer right now who is watching the show, I would have loved to see someone like Crystal who was so honest and connected with her intuitions and instincts. I feel like she’s easily someone that you can trust. As a viewer, I would think it would have been interesting to see someone like her be a Traitor to see if she could really deceive people and if she could allow herself to do something like that.
What makes this version uniquely Canadian?
The players didn’t behave like stereotypical Canadians. They really went for it. They really played the game. They didn’t say “sorry” every time they murdered someone! On the contrary actually. It was really surprising. [Laughs]
Will “Bonne Chance” become your tagline?
I think it’ll be Bonsoir! [Wink]
Every time I’ll leave the roundtable…
You’ll also be hosting the Québécois version for Noovo. Both were filmed back-to-back, correct?
Correct! The Québécois version will be more like the Australian version. We decided not to include TV personalities. We’ll have a police officer, secret agent, psychic, and a poker player as well.
The casting was so exciting and was one of the elements that also convinced me to do this. Some of the players are older, some are younger. It’s people who are used to reading others and people who think they can read others!
Earlier this year you starred in the first season of Plan B (on CBC and CBC Gem)with Patrick J. Adams. It was such a roller coaster ride. The second season will have a different story but is there any chance your character could show up? I mean, it’s the same phone number.
You’re right! No. I’m not. But you don’t know what might happen. In the original Québécois version, sometimes you would see a character from a past season. For example, a character could walk in the street and there’d be a random appearance. But it was nothing meaningful.
But yes, it was a roller coaster. It felt so satisfying for me to play where Evelyn was at the very end of the first season when she was mad. That was so good! So, I wouldn’t even need to come back because it was satisfying enough to see and it’s rare that you get to play a character a certain way and then you’re being given the chance to play her in a different set of circumstances, like what if she had never met that guy or lived with him and just went on to live her life and pursue her dream. It was so shocking to see and play that difference. I’ve also been dreaming of having that same haircut ever since!
The Traitors Canada airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and streams on CTV.ca, the CTV app and Crave.