You won’t believe what this actress can fit into her pickup truck
Amber Marshall drives a 2006 Dodge Ram because she prefers ‘a Mega Cab for my dogs.’
Amber Marshall plays Amy Fleming on CBC’s hit series Heartland – a role that landed her Canada’s Favourite Screen Star Award at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards.
The actress has also appeared in Twice in a Lifetime, Dark Oracle and the TV movie Christmas Shoes alongside Rob Lowe.
But don’t let those other roles fool you. Marshall, a former veterinary assistant, is just like her on-screen persona on Heartland. She’s a cowgirl at heart who’s passionate about animals and her big monster truck – a 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab pickup.
Why did you buy a big truck?
I have the Mega Cab for my dogs because I have big dogs that travel everywhere with me. The seats are folded down always in the back – it’s like a big playpen back there.
I’ve had just about everything in the truck – I’ve had six peacocks inside the cab. I’ve had over 50 chickens. I can fit just about anything in my truck. It’s all leather because I have so many animals in there it’s much easier to clean. I also have a really nice live-in horse trailer that I haul everywhere with my truck.
I love my truck. I go everywhere with it. I have that truck because it suits the purpose of my life. It fits into what I need to do and it gives me a sense of independence.
So, you really are like Amy Fleming on TV?
Yes, pretty much. I think I’m a little more independent than my character because I pick up and go a lot by myself. It’s no big deal for me to hook up the trailer, take off and go somewhere by myself. Whereas I’ve never seen my character drive a truck and trailer. Amy doesn’t even have a truck.
Why did you choose a Ram over a Ford F-150?
I had a Ford diesel 350 Harley Davidson edition with the flames, but after [lots of problems] I swapped it for a Dodge.
Have you always been a truck girl?
Yeah. I’ve never owned a car. My first vehicle was a GMC Jimmy. When I was 16, I thought it was so big. Living on a farm, you need a truck.
But the fuel consumption must be atrocious?
Yes. The funny thing is diesel used to be cheaper than gas, but now it’s more expensive. Its usually $130-$140 to fuel up, but it does last quite a while. But it depends on what you’re hauling. When I’m hauling my trailer – it’s really heavy and big – it takes a whole lot of fuel.
I went with a diesel for the towing power. Diesels outdo gas any day for their towing capability.
I’m a little bit of a redneck when it comes to my truck. I have a huge exhaust. I love that sound. You can’t drive a pickup without hearing that GRRR sound.
If something went wrong with your truck, could you fix it?
I know how to do my own oil changes. As far as changing tires, I’m not strong enough. It’s a big truck and the parts on it are equally big.
I like my fancy rims. I’ve got rock star rims. I switched out the taillights and the headlights. I like it stylized a bit – I feel it’s a reflection of me. Just like if you’re going out and put on an outfit, it represents who you are and how you feel.
What does a Ram say about you?
It says I like to work hard. I like to play hard. I’m not afraid to get out and get dirty.
My truck is never clean. I go through the car wash once every four months. My fiancé likes washing my vehicle for me – he likes a clean vehicle. I figure I’m going to get it dirty again so I never bother cleaning it. On the inside, I don’t mind dirt, but I hate garbage. I clean it out every day. I like a tidy vehicle, but dirt is definitely everywhere.
What’s your best and worst driving story ever?
My best is any time I’m by myself and I can hook up the trailer in under 10 minutes, get the horses loaded and be on the road towards the mountains.
It’s a sense of accomplishment. I don’t need to have help. I can do it. I think, ‘Wow, that was great! I’m getting really good at this!’
Worst experience is I used to drive to Toronto from London, where I grew up, for auditions when I was 17-18. I had my ’94 Jimmy and it was not in the best shape.
Driving to Toronto was always a bit of a task. There was always huge snowstorms and one time they closed the 401 between Woodstock and London and I had to take the back roads. It was complete whiteout conditions. I ended up hitting some black ice, spinning 360 twice in the middle of Dundas with oncoming traffic, sliding on the other side of the road and I was wedged into the snow bank.
Some nice gentleman in an old pickup pulled over and hooked his tow hooks up and pulled me out. I was back on the road quickly. And then I came across a Tim Hortons and sat it out. That was one of those moments – it could have been really, really bad. Luckily, it was fine.
Have you had any close calls driving the Ram?
There was an incident when I was driving out of the mountains by myself, truck and trailer, in November and it was snowing and icy on the road.
I was coming up this hill and I couldn’t get into 4x4 quick enough and I started sliding backward, truck and trailer down this old mountain road. The trailer – halfway between the back and the first wheel well – went off the side of a 150-foot cliff!
I’ve never panicked more in my life! It stopped and I called someone to come out so we could get the truck and trailer up the hill. It really makes you think. I’m very cautious when I drive. I think you’re more cautious when you’re driving a big truck.
Do you listen to country music on the road?
Yes. 100 per cent. All of my presets are country. And I blast it and I sing! You’ll be singing and you’ll turn to the person sitting at the red light next to you and they’re in the big, jacked-up diesel truck and they’re singing just as loud.
Your truck is seven years old; is it time to replace it?
I’ve only had it for three years. I’m a used-vehicle girl. I can’t take that large depreciation off the top when you buy new. I thought about replacing it. But I go with the motto if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.