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'Firefly Lane' star Sarah Chalke gets crafty doing voice work from home during COVID

TORONTO — A bunk bed, a play tent and moving blankets helped Sarah Chalke deliver the final dialogue for her new Netflix series "Firefly Lane.

TORONTO — A bunk bed, a play tent and moving blankets helped Sarah Chalke deliver the final dialogue for her new Netflix series "Firefly Lane."

The Ottawa-born actor says she, Katherine Heigl and the rest of the cast had already filmed the story of two lifelong friends in Vancouver when COVID-19 struck last March. But they still had to do "looping," which involves re-recording or adding dialogue.

She also had to record her voice acting for the adult animated comedy series "Rick and Morty," so she found the most acoustically friendly spot in her Vancouver home and went to town.

"I took all the duvets in the house and put them on my son's lower bunk bed and then stuffed pillows, and then stacked up 'Harry Potter' books and poker chips (cases), and then precariously balanced the microphone on top," Chalke recalled in a recent interview.

"That was OK sound. And then I heard moving blankets were great,  so I took seven moving blankets and duct-taped them around my daughter's play tent." 

When Chalke realized the pandemic would last a long time, she said she did "a deep dive online into building a sound booth," learning about things like bass traps and noise-proofing green glue. 

"Someone was like, 'You're going to get 90 per cent of the way there but never all the way,'" Chalke said. "So there's a place in Oregon that builds a four-by-six sound booth that they ship up in a crate and then you put it together kind of like Lego. It has the blue egg-carton foam inside, and gives a professional sound-booth quality. So since then, I've been recording in there from home and it's been working out."

Now on Netflix, "Firefly Lane" stars Chalke as Kate, a shy, former editorial assistant who's trying to get back into the workforce while raising her teenage daughter and going through a divorce.

Heigl plays her best friend Tully, an outgoing, career-driven daytime talk-show host. 

Maggie Friedman created the series, which is based on the novel of the same name by Kristin Hannah and goes back and forth in time.

Roan Curtis of Vancouver plays the teenage Kate alongside Ali Skovbye as young Tully.

Chalke found the story a rare and real portrayal of "a messy, complicated, not glossy" version of women and friendship.

"It was so exciting to read something that I could relate to so much," said Chalke, 44, who's also starred on the series "Scrubs," "Roseanne" and "How I Met Your Mother."

"I think there are so many women that don't get to see their stories told, and there's so much in Kate that I related to."

For Curtis it was a chance to build a character with an actor she's long admired, she said, noting she was a huge fan of "Scrubs" when the dramedy aired from 2001 to 2010. Having watched Chalke onscreen so much, she felt like she knew her comedic timing and was easily able to replicate her mannerisms to portray the younger version of Kate in the '70s.

"I've been watching Sarah for a long time and I was so embarrassing when I first met her," she said with a laugh in a video conference interview with Chalke. 

"I was like, 'I love you, ahh.' I still think about it sometimes and I cringe, because I'm like, 'I can't believe that's how I introduced myself to you.'" 

Shooting in Vancouver with many Canadian directors, producers and cast members "was a dream," said Chalke.

"I grew up in Canada and moved to L.A. for 17 years and moved home and was really excited to stop commuting and try and find a project here," she said. "Never did I imagine that it would be such a unicorn like this, where all of the pieces would come together -- the story and then the role and then the group of people."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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