Brigitte Bako: Part 3

Canada has many talented actors, writers, producers, and other content creators. To help our industry grow, we would like to introduce you to some talented folks who have managed to capture that magic on screen. 

Recently, we spoke with Montreal writer, producer, and performer Brigitte Bako. 

Brigitte has too many professional film and TV credits to mention but some of those include New York Stories, Strange Days, The Red Shoes Diaries, I Love a Man in Uniform, The TV series G-Spot, Californication, Godzilla, Gargoyles…etc. Brigitte grew up in the Montreal suburb, Cote Saint Luc and now has homes in Los Angeles, Manhattan and Southampton. Of course, our conversation was long enough for three parts. This is part three, of our three-part series. 


HNMAG: There was a movie early in your career that was disturbing, it was called….

Brigitte: Strange days?


HNMAG: Yeah.

Brigitte: It disturbed me too. I almost quit acting after that job. Kathryn Bigelow was tough. I loved the script, I wanted it. I really fought for it. I nailed the audition. It was five months of night shoots. The OJ Simpson trial was going on at that time and it was shot in Downtown LA. The scene that I shot with Tom Sizemore where she’s getting killed, took three nights to shoot. It took a toll on me. It’s now a cult film. It was supposed to be a really big movie, so it was very exciting. I had a massive creative crush on Ralph Fiennes so I wanted to be in a movie with him. I know, Jewish girl crushing on Schindler’s List guy but he was just so brilliant, I did the movie because he was in it. It was tough because it was all night shoots. Tough because it was the biggest budget that I have ever worked on. With independent movies, you shoot a lot of shit in one day. My death scene took three days. To be in a heightened state that long was difficult. So many brilliant people and the script was amazing. Kathryn Bigelow got that script in the divorce from James Cameron. She was very technical and demanding. ‘When you hit this mark, cry from your left eye.’.It wasn’t my favorite. When I saw Hurt Locker, I realized that she was a genius. I was excited because it was the first woman director I worked with. It was a good experience but a very difficult one.


HNMAG: Was it hard to watch it?

Brigitte: My mother might have had a heart attack watching it. I don’t like watching myself anyway. The only exception was G-Spot because I had control of everything.


HNMAG: Let’s now pick up on G-Spot then. You mentioned that your Canadian agent took your scripts to their literary department.  

Brigitte: I used to beg my US agents to go up for Comedies and they would say no, you’re not a comedian, you’re not funny. No, no, you just get killed in movies. After the HBO show, it was a year and I wasn’t working on set. I told my therapist that I wasn’t working and she said, you are working, you’re writing. I replied “Oh, that’s nothing. I’m not a writer, I’m an actress.” It’s a bit Ironic that G-Spot changed my life and I made more money on that than all my movies combined since I was the creator, writer, producer, star, executive producer and I owned a third of my show. After twenty-three years of working in the industry, my favorite part of that show was writing and editing. I love the editing room because you can recreate anything in there. It’s a bit like New York Stories. I was so fortunate to get that so quickly. The first thing I write gets made. I’m very lucky.


HNMAG: How did the pitch go for G-Spot?

Brigitte: I made a little sizzle reel and I was in Toronto for an awards show. Robert Lantos was also nominated and I had already met with The Movie Network. They wanted to buy it. Then Robert Lantos said (Male Jewish Hungarian accent) “Bako, I heard you wrote something.” Word had gotten out. “Please send it to me.” The next thing I knew he was a producer but I had already sold it to The Movie Network. At the time, Robert was the most powerful producer in Canada. Having him on board gave it an extra push but it wasn’t crucial. I was a first-time writer that got to call all the shots. I got away with fuckin’ murder! I got so lucky that they left me alone. I wrote every episode. I was in every scene, I was the executive producer, and I did everything. It almost killed me. They wanted five seasons but by season three I was so burned out. I worked twenty hours a day. It was show-runner boot camp. I learned that I’m a damn good boss. I know what should and shouldn’t be in a show. My pet peeve is that it was a hit show in season one, so they wanted to change it in Season 2. They brought in Mike Short as a writer. A sixty-something white man is not the best choice for a show about a 35 year old Jewish girl. It didn’t work for me. It was an amazing experience and it was sold around the world. It was the number-one cable show in Canada at the time. We were going to do G-Spot 5.0 right before the pandemic and then it didn’t happen.


HNMAG: What are you working on now?

Brigitte: I’m working on a show about my recent lawsuit with the city of Los Angeles – and about the relationship formed with my Laurel Canyon neighbors who’s 1969 VW fell 50 ft down my back hill and smashed into my bedroom called Ladies of the Canyon. I have another show called Anti-Climatic. She’s lost her youth, her job and her orgasm but it’s not all bad, it’s the other side of fifty. I have an idea for a show, I’m not sure if it’ll be called Brigitte of Montreal, like Jesus Du Montréal. I went by my childhood home in Cote Saint Luc and it was condemned and for sale. It would be so funny if I bought my childhood home, slept in my childhood bedroom, woke up the next morning and the last thirty-five years never happened. What would it have been like if I stayed home and married my childhood sweetheart? I’m in a memoir class and I want to write a funny memoir. For many years that title was I Lost My Virginity to Joey, Joey, the Puerto Rican Sword Swallower and Other True Tales (I’m not shortening this title). Now I’m going to call it Lies My Vagina Told Me. Lies My Father Told Me was a very successful movie that was made and set in Montreal when we were growing up.


HNMAG: You still have a strong connection to your home and childhood in Montreal.

Brigitte: I am very close with Carol Irgo, she’s pushing ninety. She was my art teacher at Wagar High School. She’s one of my best friends. I see her when I visit Montreal. It’s amazing because I wanted to escape Montreal. I thought it was provincial. I was sick of the French/English thing. I knew that the world was waiting for me. Now I appreciate this magical city that we’re from and how incredible a place it was. What I learned in art class, put me head and shoulders above other actors. I had a way of understanding time, period and history in a different way that gave me an advantage and depth that a lot of these girls didn’t have. It helped me work. The most important thing to come out of this crazy time since 2017 with Trump and the Pandemic is my appreciation of my home and upbringing. I’m glad I didn’t grow up in the States. I never felt super Canadian because I felt European. Now I realize how fortunate I truly am.


Joni Mitchell once wrote “Don’t it always seems to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” Brigitte might have to pave a little piece of her paradise canyon for a supporting wall but that’s just life in Los Angeles. Sometimes you have to take a long journey to finally realize that there’s no place more special than where you started. Brigitte Bako’s career is long with some amazing film and television contributions. She starred in a couple of incredible independent Canadian Films and made her own hit comedy TV series that she sold to networks in the US and beyond. The story doesn’t end here. Hopefully Brigitte will get green-lit for another TV series and maybe that will be shot and set in Montreal. Bonne chance!

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