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Strong-willed women are actor Emmanuelle Vaugier's specialty

When Emmanuelle Vaugier is asked which film or TV character she most enjoyed playing and is most like her, she says it’s Mia, the upbeat ballet teacher who stole Charlie Sheen’s heart in Two and a Half Men.

When Emmanuelle Vaugier is asked which film or TV character she most enjoyed playing and is most like her, she says it’s Mia, the upbeat ballet teacher who stole Charlie Sheen’s heart in Two and a Half Men.

“It’s because I got to be silly and have so much fun, especially the singing episode,” says Vaugier, recalling the CBS sitcom’s seventh season opener in which Mia, now Charlie’s ex-fiancée, asks for his help in her pursuit of a singing career. Her hilariously horrific rendition of the Lou Rawls classic You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine makes him soon realize she is one terrible singer.

“Mia is closer to who I really am, sort of the goofier side,” Vaugier says with a smile. “I’m more like her than many others because I get cast a lot as the villain, the ‘other woman,’ the assassin, that kind of stuff.”

And musically? “I like to sing, but I don’t think many people like to hear me sing,” the Vancouver-born actress says with a laugh. “Charlie was always really great with me. We had fun.”

Even after wrapping an emotional scene in a former downtown Victoria care facility doubling as a San Francisco hospital and police station on Day 8 of a 12-day shoot, Vaugier displays a similarly sunny disposition. The thriller she is starring in, Stranger in the House, is being directed by Allan Harmon and executive-produced by his wife, Cynde, and Kim Arnott.

And although Vaugier was bundled up in a puffy blue coat, the natural beauty that landed her on Maxim’s Hot 100 List and Femme Fatale magazine’s 50 Sexiest Women on the Planet was obvious.

Vaugier plays Jade, a successful lawyer who has devoted herself to caring for her widowed father following a car accident. When Jade and her husband, Marco (Matthew MacCaull), return from their honeymoon, she discovers that Samantha (Jordana Largy), the young woman she hired as her father’s temporary caregiver, has married him.

To make matters worse, Jade’s father soon ends up dead.

“Jade is a very strong-willed character and doesn’t take no for an answer,” says Vaugier, explaining her motivation to solve his suspicious death.

While she says Largy is “lovely off-screen,” her character “takes a little bit of a turn perhaps,” Vaugier adds.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says the Los Angeles-based actor, no stranger to playing strong women, both good and evil.

The hard-working actor has played call girls (Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss), journalists (Covert Affairs), detectives (notably Det. Jessica Angell on CSI: NY), FBI agents (the Fox series Human Target), vixens (One Tree Hill), sexy sociopaths (in Lost Girl) and even Mary Magdalene (Saul: The Journey to Damascus).

She says she loves “action-adventure roles” adding she particularly enjoyed doing Human Target and playing the superhero of the title in the Syfy Channel movie Painkiller Jane.

“Playing the leader of the dark world [in Lost Girl] was a lot of fun,” adds Vaugier. “It’s a lot more fun to be bad than good, most of the time.”

The versatile actor also developed a new fan base for her role in Saw II and Saw IV as Addison Corday, the prostitute who incurs sadistic killer Jigsaw’s wrath.

The last time Vaugier filmed in Victoria was 15 years ago opposite A.J. Cook and Jurgen Prochnow in the grisly Jack the Ripper-inspired horror film Ripper.

Her subsequent body of work is extensive, up to her current gig as Niko, Wunderbar’s tough and sexy new mixologist who stirs up more than cocktails in ABC’s nighttime soap Mistresses.

“It’s juicy, naughty and soapy, with a Melrose Place feel,” she says.

“You take it for what it is and just enjoy the genre you’re in.”

Vaugier is also familiar to video-gamers for her rendition of Nikki in Need for Speed: Carbon.

“It was very technical, being in a studio for a week doing green-screen, getting out of cars that don’t exist,” she recalled. “But I loved it and I’d do another one in a heartbeat.”

When Stranger in the House wraps, Vaugier can’t wait to reunite with her rescue dogs Jack, a black maltipoo, and Bella, a purebred toy poodle.

Since she’s in most scenes, the passionate animal advocate didn’t take them on location, because they’d have to spend most of their days in her trailer or daycare.

“It’d be no fun for them. It would just be about me having them up here for my own benefit, to snuggle with at night,” said Vaugier, also an equestrian who competes on a rescue horse.

She supports animal rescue organizations through her charitable foundation the Fluffball, and says one of her favourite roles was playing a woman who rescues animals in Susie’s Hope.

“It was like my personal version of heaven.”