By Rogers Cadenhead: The Canadian actress Tara Spencer-Nairn was born on January 6, 1978, the same day that Mike Ronald Reuel Glyer delivered a bouncing baby fanzine. Despite this coincidence and a long list of credits that includes genre roles, Spencer-Nairn has never appeared on File 770 in her 45 years. Until now.
Spencer-Nairn began acting after she was expelled from high school. “I had a chip on my shoulder and I don’t know where it came from,” she told the Vancouver Sun in 2000. “I got kicked out of classes and I kicked a few holes in walls.” She ended up at a better school where she was encouraged to try drama instead of being it.
Born in Montreal and raised in Vancouver, Spencer-Nairn is best known in the land of Tim Horton’s and three-down football for her role on the muggle comedy Corner Gas in its live action, animated and movie forms. But she’s done some memorable work in science fiction and horror.
In 1997-98, Spencer-Nairn starred with Ryan Reynolds and Ron Rifkin in a two-episode story on the Showtime remake of The Outer Limits. She played one of six graduate students who is lured onto a 60 million-year-old spaceship with the promise of extra credit. This ends up being a trick. Their real assignment is to repopulate humanity, a scheme they should’ve sussed when their professor Rifkin chose his class by requiring members of the student body to disrobe (did I mention this was on Showtime?) The episodes are free on the Roku Channel so I just watched them because I spare no expense in my reporting. They’re notable mostly for a very thin plot, deliciously cheesy 1990s TV CGI and the inability of the 21-year-old Reynolds to convincingly frown because his skin is as unblemished and wrinkle-free as a newborn’s.
Spencer-Nairn leveled up to a starring role in the 2002 direct-to-video film Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled as Lisa, a woman who releases a demonic Djinn that grants her three wishes (good) but wants to unleash his kind from Hell and rule the world (bad). When Lisa frees the demon, he takes the form of her lawyer. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
Lisa spends wish one to help her boyfriend Sam win a personal injury lawsuit and wish two to let him walk again. Before her third wish can be granted and bring about Geniegeddon, the Djinn decides he wants to understand human relationships so he can make Lisa love him. This is a terrible plan and he ends up in a place more inescapable than a bottle: the friend zone.
In 2011, Spencer-Nairn followed up six seasons on Corner Gas with 30 appearances on the TV series The Listener, which is about a mind-reading paramedic. Because it’s set in Canada, he doesn’t have to use his telepathic powers to determine before treating someone whether they’re insured. Spencer-Nairn played a nurse, which had its perks. “Scrubs are basically pajamas,” she told the Owen Sound Sun Times, “so hello, I get to wear pajamas to work. I don’t think it gets much better than that.”
Two months ago, she appeared on the otherworldly funny CBS sitcom Ghosts as scoutmaster Pete’s wife Carol in a big-haired ’80s flashback.
Spencer-Nairn married publicist Josh Glover in 2008 and they have two sons. For Mother’s Day last year she wrote on Instagram of her boys, “Proud of these little stinkers and the incredible humans they are becoming. … Here’s hoping they learn to flush a toilet before they’re 18.”
She also has a good sense of humor about her place in the hierarchy of celebrity. “Five year old just asked if I was famous,” she tweeted in 2017. “I’d rather explain how babies are born than explain the Canadian star system.”