Pushing boundaries

Pushing boundaries: Sofia Milos says there is nothing holding back the new CBC series The Border

Sofia Milos appreciates Canada’s version of freedom of speech.

And the glamourous actress says the evidence to back up her faith in Canada lies in her new series The Border, which debuts Monday on CBC.

“I’ve done a lot of shows, and I’ve been spoiled by being on a very successful show like CSI: Miami for several years,” said Milos, who was born in Switzerland, grew up in Rome, and is of Greek-Italian heritage. “But in America, with all the brilliance and wonderful writers, there is some unspoken rule that you don’t touch some subjects.

“It can’t be too religious, it can’t be too political, it can’t be too this or too that. And here, it’s like, wow, freedom of speech? Shedding light on these issues? And with some sound, strong, effective entertainment, too?

“I’m really proud of this show.”

The Border, a 13-part drama series, centres on the challenges faced by Canada’s elite Immigration and Customs Security Squad.

“These stories are drawn generally from the headlines and even though they’re fictional, they’re real problems that we should want to know more about,” Milos said.

“Especially you guys here in Canada, with 90% of the people living within a hundred miles of the world’s longest undefended border. So we have episodes that deal with terrorism, refugees, sexual predators, kidnapping, money laundering, organ smuggling.”

Milos plays American special agent Bianca LaGarda, a U.S. Homeland Security agent who is based in Toronto.

LaGarda actually doesn’t show up until the second episode of The Border, but once she does, the international fur flies.

“James McGowan plays the head of the Canadian squad, who I go toe-to-toe with, kind of like I did with Tony in The Sopranos (where Milos had a two-episode role as a mob boss in Italy),” Milos said. “In this case, my character is sent up from Washington and I rub a few people the wrong way.”

You, Sofia? We don’t believe it.

“Hey, my character is Cuban-Italian, so she’s going to be a little outspoken, okay?” Milos said with a laugh.

“These two characters exasperate each other, because she thinks the Canadian counterpart is a little too cautious and he thinks the U.S. counterpart is a little too reckless.”

Ultimately, Milos was drawn to The Border because it prompts discussion on human-rights concerns while at the same time being driven by the characters.

“How blessed can you be, doing something that you personally are interested in, within a piece of entertainment that is fast-paced, edgy, smart and well-written,” Milos said.

“Some of the episodes are shocking, I discovered. But through that discovery, I realized that I, and probably other people, we shrink away from certain types of information because it’s so sad, or so upsetting.

“But you see, that’s the point of a show like this.

“It’s not about raising paranoia, it’s about raising awareness.

“I think we’re all ready for a show like this. Not just Canada, I think the U.S. is ready, I think we all are ready, because these are global issues.”