Tag Archives: Bellevue

Bellevue: Producers and stars Anna Paquin and Shawn Doyle talk CBC’s darkest drama

Let’s get this out of the way right now. Bellevue isn’t a feel-good drama. You won’t walk away from it whistling and snapping your fingers. You may very well want to retreat to a corner, curl up and rock slightly. It’s CBC’s darkest drama, akin to fantastic shows from the UK and Netherlands like Hinterland, Shetland, Broadchurch, The Fall and Wallander. And that’s exactly why you should be tuning in.

The eight-part Bellevue, debuting Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, seems like it should be a traditional whodunit: Det. Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) is called in to investigate when a teenager goes missing in her small town of Bellevue. She and police chief Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle) dig for clues and uncover plenty of secrets. But the secret teen Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O’Neil) is keeping—that he wants to transition to female—is just the beginning. Annie’s past is fraught with tragedy. Her father killed himself when she was a girl and, soon after, she started receiving mysterious notes signed by him. Now her past is intersecting with the present because notes addressed to her are starting to show up again.

Filmed partly in Thetford Mines, Que., the blackened hills—the area used to be an asbestos mine—night scenes and blue filter exude a sense of dread that crosses the line into the downright scary. Bellevue is a town struggling to survive and not everyone living there is nice.

We spoke to series creators and executive producers Jane Maggs and Adrienne Mitchell, and stars Anna Paquin and Shawn Doyle about Bellevue:

Jane, I understand Bellevue was a little different before you brought it to Adrienne. How was it different?
Jane Maggs: It was a little smaller. There was still a mystery and a disappearance, Annie and her relationship with her family was a very strong part of the series, and a mysterious person from her past that comes back. That was the kernel of the story. What we did with Adrienne was make the world bigger and, in some ways, more relevant. We brought a lot more of the town into it and making it more complex.

Adrienne Mitchell: Together we also probed what it would be like to have the character that was missing be the hockey hero and also struggling with gender identity. I read Jane’s initial pilot while I was on a flight and what Jane brought to it was that these characters were all there and had this authenticity and specificity that leapt off the page and felt real. I read a lot of scripts and don’t often see that kind of sophistication.

Aside from the eerie moments and scariness, Bellevue asks some serious questions about sexual identity and religion.
Jane Maggs: The questions around identity came about because we wanted to explore what it was like to be different in a small town. It’s not the same as being different in a big city. We explore that through Jesse and other people in the town, including Annie herself. As for religion, in Bellevue the church has a bit of an archaic form there. The people have their checklist of values they believe in and live by and those don’t alway line up with what it means to be a good person.

How is Annie viewed by the townspeople? Is she seen as damaged goods after everything she’s been through?
Jane Maggs: It depends on who you ask, but I think to the masses there is an element of damaged goods to her. Everybody knows her history and she grew up there and flailed in front of people. She was wild and made a lot of mistakes in front of people; they have their view of her and it goes back years. I think Peter, her superior, and Eddie [Allen Leech], her partner, have different views of her.

What was it about the scripts that you read that attracted you to Bellevue?
Anna Paquin: The scripts are very, very well-written. Jane is a wonderful writer. They’re complex, rich, smart and detailed and like most things, I was sent a script for the pilot. I read it and was like, ‘Well, what happens next!?’ Literally, over the course of a few hours, I was emailing, asking for the next one and the next one. I got to Episode 4 and there were no more scripts left. Then I asked, ‘OK, when can I meet with these people?!’ [Laughs.] It’s not just that the plot kept me engaged, it’s a very rich and complicated character. She occupies a world that is seemingly a nice, small town. But, like any town, there are dark things that happen. She lives life on the edge and is passionate in a way that is reckless, but it all comes from a very good place.

What about you Shawn?
Shawn Doyle: I wasn’t that interested, to be honest. I’ve played a lot of cops, as you know. With cops, you have to go through all of the procedural stuff because it’s part of the story but it’s only engaging to an actor to a certain extent. But then I read the scripts and they were very good. I had faith in what they told me. The didn’t tell me exactly what was going to happen. And, in fact, once Anna and I started working together, based on our connection they started to extrapolate the storyline based on that and created back story and a way forward based on what they were seeing from us, which was exciting. My character grew very complex and presented an interesting challenge.

What can you say about the relationship between Peter and Annie?
Anna Paquin: Peter was a young cop and sort of mentored by Annie’s dad. As we get further into the mystery surrounding this missing teenager in present-day, there are aspects and elements of the circumstances surrounding the death of my dad that come to light that are challenging to our relationship. He has taken on looking after Annie’s well-being in a bigger sense.

Shawn Doyle: As the story deepens and Annie finds out more, we begin to understand the reasons why I’ve taken such care to take care of her and guide her and become almost a father figure to her. The reasons behind that become more apparent.

Thetford Mines adds another character to this story.
Adrienne Mitchell: It’s an interesting way to depict the dark shadow hanging over the town. It’s a town in transition, they don’t know how they’re going to survive. They are kind of fossilized like the asbestos mountains are. The woods are always moving, and they can be beautiful and fucked up at the same time. Those, visually, are two things playing off each other.

Bellevue airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Links: Bellevue

From Grace Toby of Canadian Living:

Link: True Blood star Anna Paquin on her new CBC drama, Bellevue, and her Canadian roots
“The writing and the conception of the show by the two women who wrote are very interesting. It was inspiring to be in an environment where you’re creating and working with other smart, strong women. The stories are out there, waiting to be told. This kind of show was very appealing to me.” Continue reading. 

From Bill Harris of Postmedia Network:

Link: Anna Paquin goes from one dangerous small town to another in Bellevue
My first question to Anna Paquin regarding her new show Bellevue was straight-forward and slightly accusatory.

I said to her, “The first thing I have to ask is, did you not learn anything about small towns?” Continue reading. 

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: CBC’s Bellevue is much stranger than advertised
The new CBC drama Bellevue (Monday, CBC, 9 p.m.) is a whodunit with a lot going on. That is, an awful, awful lot going on.

It’s very good, an atmospheric, well-acted drama. In its favour, it has a distinct Canadian gothic sensibility – it’s about decay, a mining town gone to seed, and it’s about hockey, religion, revenge, death, loss, the mystery held by the reservation outside of town, the mystery held by a closed mental-health treatment centre outside of town and the mystery held in the dense woods around town. Also, it’s about transgender teens. Continue reading.

From Victoria Ahearn of The Canadian Press:

Link: Anna Paquin on returning to Canada for ‘Bellevue’ and ‘Alias Grace’
Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin of “True Blood” fame says she didn’t deliberately set out to work so much in her birth country — Canada — in the past year.

The Winnipeg native, who grew up in New Zealand and became a star in Hollywood, says she just goes where the work is good. And right now that’s here, with the upcoming “Alias Grace” miniseries and the new CBC drama “Bellevue,” which premieres Monday. Continue reading.

From Melita Kuburas of Metro:

Link: No mistaking Paquin’s pursuit of the truth in CBC’s dark drama Bellevue
Anna Paquin likes playing women who are free to make mistakes. Her latest character makes a lot of them.

In CBC’s upcoming serialized thriller Bellevue (debuting Monday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m.) Paquin portrays Annie Ryder, a woman who approaches her job as a detective without much care for her personal safety. To get closer to a source, she gets drunk and high with him in a hotel room; she has a creepy stalker, yet she follows his clues alone to a dark shed in the woods. Continue reading.

From Sea and be Scene:

Link: Billy MacLellan on duty in ‘Bellevue’
“I was in my truck driving to Los Angeles when I got sent the audition for BELLEVUE. Somewhere west of Winslow, Arizona. I pulled over to a restaurant, read all of my lines into my phone and I had them memorized by the time I hit California.” Continue reading.

From Sea and be Scene:

Link: Shawn Doyle stars in Bellevue
“This was truly one of the overall fave bonding experiences of my career. We all believed in the project from day one. Adrienne said at the first read-through, they made a point of only hiring team players. Billy and I became very close, partly because we could bring our east-coast humour to the party. Often in this business, the heavier it is on screen, the more fun is had on set between takes. It’s a release-valve kind of thing. As a cast, we loved each other. It’s rare.” Continue reading.

From the Cape Breton Post:

Link: Cape Bretoner plays role in new CBC drama
“It’s surprisingly dark. It’s definitely not for kids. At the end of one of the trailers you can see a spray of blood on the CBC logo – I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Shawn Doyle says Bellevue is far more than your standard procedural
“I am seeing all these shows on CBC, as well as on Frontier, where we are learning that we don’t have to copy templates, styles or subject matter that is done elsewhere to be successful. I feel that we’re gaining confidence in finding unique stories in this country. The more specific to a place a show can be and more honestly and firmly planted in a location, the more universal appeal it will have because everyone can relate. I’ve never been to Broadchurch but I can certainly identify with what those characters are going through on an emotional level so the show is really compelling because of that. We’re starting to achieve that here in Canada in a big way.” Continue reading. 

From Alice Horton of CBC News:

Link: Anna Paquin busts TV stereotypes as Bellevue’s flawed female lead
“She makes choices that are a little bit risky and sometimes a bit dangerous, but it all comes from a really deeply, passionately connected place of wanting to do her job and wanting to have justice be served and wanting to take care of her town.” Continue reading.

 

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Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Adrienne Mitchell and Jane Maggs

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Adrienne Mitchell and Jane Maggs
“That’s a real goal of ours is to foster female talent, both writing and directing. We often worked as collaborators, and I will say that I cannot believe how strong Jane is in terms of her work as a showrunner. I didn’t feel like I was working with someone that I had to mentor. I felt like I was working with an equal and it was a meeting of minds that I could just dream of. It all worked really well and we just get each other because our aesthetics and ways of telling stories are really quite similar.” Continue reading.

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Production begins on CBC’s Bellevue, starring Anna Paquin

From a media release:

Muse Entertainment and Back Alley Film Productions have begun production in Montreal on the TV drama BELLEVUE, starring Academy® and Golden Globe® award-winning actress Anna Paquin (True BloodRootsMargaretAlias Grace), Allen Leech (Downton AbbeyThe Imitation GameRome) and Shawn Doyle (House of CardsBig LoveFargo). The new 8×60 series will premiere in winter 2017 on CBC.

Thrilling and eerie, BELLEVUE is a mystery set in a small blue-collar town with a lot of ‘good people’ who ‘live right’ and take it upon themselves to make sure the neighbours do too.  Driving the series is Detective Annie Ryder (Paquin), a cop whose intense and brazen personality has always been at odds with her hometown. When a transgender teen goes missing, Annie dives in to unravel the disappearance that suggests foul play, despite finding herself in a difficult position as she must cast suspicion on people she has known all her life. As the case pulls her further away from her family, she is also confronted by a mysterious person from her past with disturbing answers and a terrifying need to get inside her head. Leech stars as Annie’s on again, off again ex, Eddie, while Doyle takes on the role of Annie’s superior, Police Chief Peter Welland.

Commissioned by CBC, BELLEVUE is produced by Muse Entertainment Enterprises and Back Alley Film Productions Ltd. The series was created by Jane Maggs and Adrienne Mitchell, with Maggs serving as senior writer, executive producer and co-showrunner with Mitchell, who is pilot director and executive producer. Executive producers are Janis Lundman, Michael Prupas, Morwyn Brebner (Saving HopeRookie Blue) and Jesse Prupas.

Muse Distribution International and TMG’s world sales arm TM International are handling the series’ international distribution.

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Link: Former Corner Brook resident is the writer of a new CBC TV series

From Gary Kean of The Western Star:

Link: Former Corner Brook resident is the writer of a new CBC TV series
When Jane Maggs finished studying film writing at the Canadian Film Centre in Ontario, she had an idea for a television series.

She also knew she wanted to work with the same folks who had produced “Durham County,” a series on The Movie Network of which she was a big fan. Continue reading.

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