Lindy Booth plays the non-relic hunter on Relic Hunter, a ditzy student who knows more about hunting bargains at department stores than hunting treasures from the past. As Claudia, Sydney Fox's office manager, she's responsible for keeping up with her boss' wild schedule...and with culturally assimilating Nigel Bailey, Sydney's naive British teaching assistant, upon whom Claudia seems to have a crush.
"It's so funny, the people on the set say, 'I'm so glad you're not like Claudia!" laughed the actress in a recent interview from Toronto, which has always been her home and is also where Relic Hunter films. "My voice is a lot deeper than Claudia's. I'm not quite as hip, she's so sure of her opinions. But she's so smart - maybe not about things that most people want to be smart about, but she's just convinced that she's right all the time!"
Twenty-year-old Booth is still reeling from the astonishing success she's had since deciding to act full-time after graduating from high school. "I got my agent through my high school drama teacher, someone she had known, and my third audition, I got my first series. It took off right from there," recalled the vivacious Booth. "I feel like such a spoiled brat right now!" Though she still lives at home with her mother and sister, she has recurring roles on two television shows, and is headed to Los Angeles over Relic Hunter's winter hiatus to meet with casting directors there.
Digging Out Fossils
Claudia is the daughter of one of the university's most generous donors, but her major seems to be partying. Since she was flunking out of her classes, she was given a job in the renowned Professor Fox's office to help her get back on track. Claudia might not have been Sydney's first choice as an assistant, but the younger woman's pop culture knowledge has proven helpful to the academic more than once.
"I have a very close relationship with Claudia - I get where she's coming from," noted Booth, who admitted that the character is much more forward than she is. "She's very blunt, which I find very interesting. I am not a flirty sexpot person in real life. Nigel hides a lot around me, and Sydney just rolls her eyes!"
After several auditions, however Booth had all but given up on being cast in Relic Hunter, and was actually on vacation in England when she got the call to come back for the role. Originally meant to be a small recurring part, the role of Claudia was expanded once Booth began working on the series, and, within a few episodes, she actually got to travel with the relic hunters. In "Myth of the Maze," Claudia turned to be the catalyst for Sydney's discovery of the ancient Greek Labyrinth, since her romantic interest in the male guest star enabled Sydney to discover its secrets.
"The Greece episode was a lot of fun," recalled the actress, who particularly enjoyed the past few months of filming because she needed to be on the set every day rather than just once or twice a week as in previous episodes. "It was crazy trying to get everything done, because we were doing six episodes in two weeks. We usually get the full scripts, but for the past couple of episodes, we've just gotten bits and pieces. They look great though - some of the last ones are really, really funny. And finally, I say something intelligent! I solve a problem that no one else can figure out. That's a highlight."
Booth believes that Claudia has a crush on Nigel (played by Christien Anholt), but isn't sure whether that will lead anywhere, since Nigel in turn has a crush on Sydney (played by Tia Carrere). Sydney meanwhile seems oblivious to the rampant pheromones around her. The fact that she keeps running into rivals who are also ex-boyfriends may have something to do with her current attitude towards men, from whom she warns her assistant away.
"We had a Claudia/Nigel scene that was sort of hinting at stuff which was very interesting and funny, but it ended in disaster of course, as things between Nigel and anyone do," laughed Booth. "I think Nigel is basically stuck single for awhile."
Well, after hitting on a nun in an early episode, where is there to go but up? "Exactly! I think the whole charm of the show is that you never quite know." Adds the actress gleefully, "I'm definitely working on the right show. There are all these cute guys wandering around the set all the time."
Booth was a little disappointed during the episode "Etched in Stone," when Claudia was absent ostensibly for a dentist appointment, and an even blonder bimbo took her place in Sydney's office. "I ended up on set the day she was there, and just stood there and went, 'So! Let's see what you've got!'
As it turns out, there are worse office assistants than Claudia...but not many. "I keep saying to Tia, 'Why don't you just fire me? I wouldn't put up with me, I'm so obnoxious!'" But Carrere's Fox seems to appreciate the frenetic energy and non-stop trivia provided by her assistant.
Still, Booth got a kick out of "Flag Day," when Claudia repaid her boss for asking her to date a nerd by setting Sydney up with a professor who'd been charged with sexual harassment. Another of her favorite episodes is "Headless Nun," in which "Claudia went feminist and was into Lilith Fair, and refused to get Sydney her coffee because it was gender enslavement." Ironically, both actresses secretly agreed. "Tia and I were both sitting in our trailers reading feminist literature, I'm reading Germaine Greer, and we said, 'What are we doing? We're two intelligent women and we're playing these crazy characters!' It was so funny."
It appears at times as if Sydney might be jealous of Claudia's ease with men. "Well, apparently Sydney has had her share. But I steer clear from the relic hunters, I went straight for the Greek guy with all the money!" Booth laughed. "Tia and I have such a great time because our characters are such polar opposites. We want them to do an episode next season where they switch personalities. Tia always has to play the tough girl and I always play the cute little blonde girl. I want to play the tough girl for a change!"
Being a Superhero
Booth has been learning martial arts for another series on which she is a regular, The Famous Jett Jackson, which airs on the Disney Channel. "It's a great kids' show," reported the actress, who plays a 15-year-old from Beverly Hills who stars on a series in North Carolina. "I play a superhero, Hawk, who is totally tough. I play like a Tia character! One of the Relic Hunter stunt coordinators said, 'Lindy, you do martial arts? I'm going to write you an episode for next season where Claudia takes everybody else out!'"
Will there be a Claudia-centered episode next season? "I don't know," Booth admitted. The series has not officially been picked up for a second season, and Booth has not yet been approached about reprising her single-season role. "We're all wondering what would happen in a Claudia episode. They might be afraid of a Claudia episode! Even in the Greek one, I was thinking, 'This is why I'm not in the show more often - my voice is so annoying! No one wants to listen to me talk for a full hour!' It would take less than an hour for Claudia to talk someone to death. No wonder Sydney keeps taking off on all these adventures!"
Booth said she has little in common with Claudia's constant stream of new boyfriends, one of whom the character said she didn't sleep with because "we didn't have time." In an upcoming episode, Claudia has a date with a Goth, "a vampire guy. She gets very serious all of a sudden. No one knows quite what to expect."
When the show moves to Paris to shoot for the remainder of the season, the series regular will be on the set only as a tourist, having filmed all her scenes for the upcoming installments in Toronto since Claudia rarely goes in the field with Nigel and Sydney. "We did all the tags and teasers and some different insert stuff over the past couple of weeks before they left. It's okay, though. They haven't been doing too much exotic travel, it's only been in and around Toronto. I've got tons of stuff I'm doing here, so I'm busy while they're gone. But how could I resist visiting?"
Born and raised in Oakville, Ontario, a beautiful lakeside suburb of Toronto described by Booth as "very quaint and pretty and small-town," the actress thinks about continuing her education at some point. For now she's learning on the job. "I've taken a couple of years off from school. It was just exhausting. I was doing school plays in high school, plus tutoring this little girl in math and French, so I was a little strung out."
She was an attentive student, however, who ironically wanted to be an archaeologist for many years. "I was very interested in dinosaurs. I always wanted to be an actress, but I thought I could do other things. I went, 'I'll be an actress but in my spare time I'll be an astronaut,' or 'In my spare time, I'll be a farmer.' Then I found out you have to wake up really early to be a farmer. But then I realized you have to wake up even earlier to be an actress!"
As a high school thespian, Booth wrote plays, and would like to do so again at some point. She admitted to finding screenwriting very daunting. "I want to be doing theater. That's where I started from. Classical- Shakespeare - that's my thing. When I started out at six years old, writing plays, producing them, charging all my neighbors to see them, I had no concept of fame or Hollywood or any of that. I grew up with loving it and I always remember that that's why I started, because it was so much fun. I love performing. I never really had the ambition to be a huge star."
Booth believes this is a good time to be a woman in the profession, though there are still drawbacks, "which I think is why it's so exciting."
"I'm lucky enough that I have a very strong sense of myself," she adds. "I have a strong background, my family is very supportive, I've got great friends, and I work with great people who are all very grounded and keep me grounded. I think that if you lose that aspect of yourself, you're in big trouble. It's very difficult to be a woman in this industry if you don't know from the beginning who you are."
Moreover, though she says she will work anywhere and would be perfectly happy living in Los Angeles to film a series, she considers Canada her home. "I love the country. Whenever I land in a plane in Toronto, I get all teary-eyed. I just think it's such a beautiful city. My entire family is here, and I'm very close with my family."
Currently, many U.S. syndicated and cable shows film in Toronto, making this an ideal time for Booth - a self-described "little homebody" - to remain where she is. "I love having international shows shooting in Canada because it's great for our culture and our country. It's such a great place to shoot, because it's so versatile, especially a show like Relic Hunter where we're scamming locations from all over the world. We shoot them right in and around Toronto. I think that's fantastic."
Booth is concerned about the issue of funding for the arts in her country. "I support children in the arts. People just don't understand how important it is to encourage in children Support for the arts for young people in Canada is absolutely abysmal. I dealt so much in high school at counseling meetings where I would say I wanted to be an actor, and they would say, 'Well, maybe you should take a computer course for backup.' I'm never going to be an accountant! But I had only one person in my entire high school career who said, go for it. So I love visiting my old school to say to kids who are interested, take a chance, believe in it, and it can happen. That kind of support is so rare in the schools."
Unfortunately, the television show she most desires to guest star on - The X-Files, a popular choice among actors from all over the globe - has moved production from Vancouver to Los Angeles. "It was terrible when they moved!" exclaimed Booth, who admits to having a "huge crush" on David Duchovny. "He's so cute. I try not to watch him on other things. I want to live in the fantasy that Mulder is him. Besides, David Duchovny is married, anyway!"
The actress said she would watch Relic Hunter even if she didn't appear on the series. "I love watching the show, and because I'm not in it that often, I love seeing what they do without me. I'm so amazed by our set decorators because the sets are so phenomenal. I'll walk through our studio and there's this big lake with a shipwreck in the middle of the studio! I wonder what it's going to look like on camera!"
She is proud of the series, particularly episodes like "Myth of the Maze" which recreated Greece on a few hot days in Toronto and like "Smoking Gun" which was set in Al Capone's bunker. "That just looked so slick and so cool. I love that whole time period and the whole gangster thing. And there's one they're shooting in Paris that I'm looking forward to seeing - Sydney is looking for a woman who was a can-can dancer. I think that's going to be really cute."
Even though the producers are happy with the ratings so far, until they get formal word about a second season, Booth isn't making any plans. "I'm hopefully going to go down to L.A. to see my manager, if he remembers me! And then go to Paris in awhile to say 'Hi.' Everyone seems very happy with the ratings, but we haven't heard yet about another season. Knock on wood. I'm overly superstitious. I'm not saying anything!"
Claudia may be a ditz, but Lindy Booth has her head right where it's supposed to be.