Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent marked the first spinoff from the Dick Wolf franchise that wasn’t set in the U.S. With a Canadian cast and crew, the show was able to highlight stories straight from Toronto headlines and embrace local talent under the banner of one of the longest running crime dramas on TV. 

The series premiered on Citytv in February and has since kept viewers engaged every Thursday with different cases to follow. Starring Kathleen Munroe and Aden Young as the detectives investigating high-profile crime and corruption in Canada’s busiest city, Law & Order Toronto has covered anything from a crypto Ponzi scheme to a tragedy on public transit that is connected to a municipal election. 

The season finale comes out this week and Sharon Lewis is the episode’s director. With more than 25 years behind the camera, she has had the chance to work on documentaries like With Wonder, popular shows like Ginny & Georgia and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and crime dramas from within the Law & Order universe. 

In addition to teasing the finale, Lewis shared more about her past experiences in acting, her prior knowledge of procedurals, and how her friendship with one of the show’s leads helped her get in the groove on set. 

You’ve been in front of the camera for a long time as an actress in shows like Degrassi: The Next Generation and Suits before working behind the scenes. How did your acting experience shape you as a director?

I wish as an actor I had paid more attention to the camera and to what was going on. When I started acting, I was so 100% in my character that unlike some actors that I now direct, who know exactly what the camera’s doing, I didn’t. I came from theatre and it was more about the story, character development, and interacting with your scene partner. 

The last acting I did was on a show called Mrs. America and I was playing Coretta Scott King. All I wanted to do was watch what the director was doing. Then when it came to my lines, I was like, “ok, I’ll do it”. I called my agent after that and said that I’m so done with acting. It’s clear when I’m on set that all I care about now is directing. 

Before working on Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent, you directed a lot of procedurals, such as Chicago Med and Law & Order: Organized Crime. What have you learned about procedurals that prepared you to take on a season finale?

I didn’t know it was the finale when I shot it. They’ve moved the episode around and made it the finale, which is so awesome. 

With procedurals, the biggest lesson that I learned is making sure you’re laying down the clues so that people can follow the story and that the clues make sense. 

What’s interesting about procedurals as well is that there are different directors for different episodes. Was it daunting to come into Law & Order Toronto and direct a single episode? Or because you already had prior experience in other shows, you knew what to expect?

I think the fantastic part about directing one episode is that you literally can put all your energy and time into it. Whereas oftentimes you’re shooting three or four episodes at a time. I was still nervous walking in. I know the Law & Order world, but this is about Toronto. I had to represent and make sure that this is really good, because it’s our city. I felt a sense of responsibility.

Karen Robinson, who plays Inspector Vivienne Holness in the series, has been your friend for over 30 years. You’ve never actually worked together before, so how was it like to become work colleagues after knowing each other for a long time?

Karen is a consummate actor and professional, and I am very professional as well. But when we saw each other on set, we made a lot of noise. There’s a shorthand there that made it easier to direct her. I could just drop something in her ear and I felt like she got it. 

Also, in the finale, there’s a little Jamaican Easter egg, because both Karen and I are of Jamaican descent. It was also fun to be able to bring a little bit of our cultural background into the episode.

Kathleen Munroe, who stars as Detective Sergeant Frankie Bateman, also worked on a few shows that you’ve directed, but you two never worked together prior to this. How was it like to finally be able to direct her?

I didn’t work with her, but we have been following each other for a while. She was on Organized Crime, then she left and I came in and directed. She was on FBI, then I directed FBI: Most Wanted. We’ve been in the Dick Wolf world together, so it’s fantastic that she’s now doing this series. She was a dream to direct, because she’s opposite quirky Detective Sergeant Henry Graff. Kathleen had to find her own energy and way into that role and she really did. 


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The series has become known for ripping stories from the headlines. What can you tease about the finale’s storyline?

The finale, I can tell you, is inspired by a story from the headlines that is probably one of the biggest crimes that happened in Toronto. That’s no exaggeration.

Law & Order Toronto is renewed for Season 2. Would you come back to direct future episodes?

I’d be so happy to go back to Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent! The actors, I know everybody says this, are really good. The scripts are super strong. The Cameron sisters (Tassie and Amy Cameron) are in charge of those scripts and they’ve done a lot of work on the series. I guess there’s something special about just telling our stories.

In addition to this series, you’ve directed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds earlier this year and over the summer you will go back on the set of Ginny and Georgia. What can you share about these two projects?

I’ll say that this year has been a stellar year for me and that I got to live a dream. I got to direct Star Trek Strange New Worlds, which means that I got to work with the young Ohura. Ohura from the original series that I used to watch as a young kid was the first Black woman I ever saw on TV who was not a maid or a cleaner. She’s beautiful, glamorous, and gorgeous, so to get to direct her character was a dream come true.

I haven’t started shooting Ginny & Georgia yet. I start in June, so I have not even read the scripts yet for this season. Knowing Sarah Lampert, who’s the creator, and Sarah Glinski, who’s the showrunner, they’re going to come up with something fantabulous. What I love about that show is that there is a social message for teenagers about self-harm, bulimia, sex—all of that kind of stuff encased in this wonky murder mystery. Last we saw, Georgia was in jail, so I’m hoping this season she’ll be out. Knowing Georgia, she will be.

Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent’s final episode airs this Thursday, at 8 p.m. ET. Season 1 is available to stream on Citytv +.