Tag Archives: Shawn Doyle

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.


Shawn Doyle channels Donald Trump in Discovery’s Frontier

Though Donald Trump has very much become a punchline for many, Shawn Doyle is dead serious when he says the presidential hopeful influenced his latest TV character.

“There is something about the guy’s sense of entitlement and narcissism and overwhelming ambition and greed that was fun to play,” Doyle says. “There is an impetuousness and even childishness to him that sort of comes up as the season goes on.” The Newfoundland native is referencing Trump, but also describing Samuel Grant, a rich entrepreneur in Frontier, Discovery’s stunning dramatization of Canada’s history via the fur trade.

Debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Bell Media’s specialty channel, Doyle’s Samuel comes up against Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), a violent, wild fur trader who is gaining control of the land as the Hudson’s Bay Company begins to crumble. The high-profile actors are just two of nearly two-dozen, including Landon Liboiron as Michael Smyth, an Irish lad who stows away in a ship and ends up in the New World; Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong), a high-ranking officer at the HBC; Sokanon (Jessica Matten), a critical member of Declan’s group; Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) an independent trader; and Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk), Samuel’s right-hand man. (Check out the key cast via our photo gallery.)

Co-created by Rob and Peter Blackie, Frontier has already been renewed for Season 2 by Discovery ahead of Sunday’s six-episode first season debut; we spoke to Doyle about the role and what viewers can expect from the series.

Congratulations on Season 2 of Frontier being ordered before Season 1 has even aired. I wasn’t surprised, really. There is such a big cast and so many stories to tell, six episodes just aren’t enough.
Shawn Doyle: I’ve also got The Expanse and Bellevue, so I’ve got a pretty full slate at the moment.

(l-r) Shawn Doyle and Greg Bryk

Let’s talk about your Frontier character, Samuel Grant. He’s a powerful man in the fur trade and seems destined for a collision course with Declan Harp. What can you tell me about Samuel?
Samuel Grant is actually loosely based on two figures: John Jacob Astor who was, at the time, the richest American and the richest man in North America and who became connected with the fur trade out of Montreal and ultimately made his first fortune with the fur trade when the trade situation was such that he could capitalize on Canadian-American trade. And then he went ahead and bought up all the real estate in Manhattan.

Samuel is also based on another guy by the name of Simon McTavish who was one of the central figures of the North West Company, which was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s only real rival at the time. Both of these guys are well-documented. For me, John Jacob Astor was the template that I jumped off with an as I started to play it, he kind of morphed into Donald Trump. There is something about the guy’s sense of entitlement and narcissism and overwhelming ambition and greed that was fun to play. There is an impetuousness and even childishness to him that sort of comes up as the season goes on.

Something I noticed about your portrayal of Samuel is his smooth movements, no wasted energy with this guy. Was that a conscious decision as well?
Thanks for saying that, because that was a big part of finding that character through the movement. It certainly had a lot to do with the clothes because they fit you in a certain way and restrict movement and there are heels in the shoes, etc., etc. I really wanted to get a sense of danger and for me, that was about stillness and conservation of movement and I hope that, throughout the season, there will be moments that are surprising and that you see another side to him that is in direct contrast to that.

It’s all about those contrasts. It’s what makes these characters worth playing.
For me, I always try to look at—and I’m not always successful at it—to try and find the danger in a character. Danger doesn’t necessarily mean physical danger. It can mean an unpredictability in emotion or movement or tone … it can be anything. I know I’m successful when I surprise myself. Then I know other people will be surprised. That’s what the goal is, and with Samuel Grant, it’s about finding this very rooted place to go from that can send me in all sorts of different directions.

How did you get involved in Frontier? Did Allan Hawco and the Take the Shot guys get in touch because you were on Republic of Doyle and because you’re from Newfoundland?
They contacted me and asked me to do it. I’ve known them from Republic of Doyle and I’m originally from Newfoundland and I’ve done a number of projects there both producing and acting. They were wanting to get me on the show in one way or another, which I was very appreciative of. At the time, I couldn’t really commit to a role that was going to take a lot of time because I was optioned to The Expanse and Samuel Grant was one of a couple of roles they approached me about originally. I don’t even know that I can tell you why, in particular, this one was the one I gravitated towards.

I’m really interested in any project that tries to show a much more balanced and nuanced version of the relations between the various First Nations and Europeans.

As a Canadian, I’m excited to see these stories told and many in Frontier are based on fact. 
For me, a guy who recently got his First Nations status as Mi’kmaq, that all happened after I played John A. Macdonald—one of the most horrendous people against First Nations people in the history of Canada—I’m really interested in any project that tries to show a much more balanced and nuanced version of the relations between the various First Nations and Europeans. It’s one of the things that really excites me about this.

This cast has something like 20 players in it and yet the writing doesn’t feel cluttered or rushed at all. What can you say about the writing that Rob and Peter Blackie have done?
I think they accomplish something that not a lot of people are able to accomplish, and that’s being able to take such a comprehensive view of the world and put it all together in a seamless way. That’s an amazing feat, I think, particularly when you’re trying to honour the truth and the subtleties of so many different factions and how they interplay with each other. I know they did a lot of consulting with various First Nations groups and that has made a big difference in the writing. I wouldn’t be able to make it as compelling as possible. I think the danger with a show like this is that it can often come off as dry. Their genius and the reason why this show will, hopefully, be a tremendous success is because they have dramatized it and made it really, really exciting.

Frontier airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Photo gallery: First-look at Discovery’s Frontier

With less than a month away until Frontier‘s debut on Discovery, and we’re thrilled to present a photo gallery of the major cast and the characters they’ll play.

And while we’ve known folks like Jason Momoa, Allan Hawco, Shawn Doyle and Jessica Matten were involved from the beginning, finding out Greg Bryk, Katie McGrath and Alun Armstrong have roles in the six-parter have gotten us giddy.

Frontier—co-created by Rob and Peter Blackie—follows Canada’s violent history circa the 1700s, as warring groups battle for control of the country’s fur trade.

Frontier debuts Sunday, Nov. 6, at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


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.


Review: Another Doyle drops by the Republic

Do things really happen in threes? Let’s hope not when it comes to CBC’s previously happy couples of primetime. Just three days after Ty and Amy called it quits on Heartland, Leslie was breaking up with Jake on Republic of Doyle. Here’s hoping William and Julia get married in two weeks as planned on Murdoch Mysteries.

Still dealing with the after-effects of being kidnapped by Blake Brogan, Leslie said she needed a break from Jake to figure out who she was. I’m thinking “copper” shouldn’t be one of them: she went way overboard arrested that low-level drug dealer. Still, by the end of the  episode Leslie had stripped down to sexy pjs and was wooing Jake, so maybe she’s going to be OK after all. But I suspect not. After all, she did pop some pills–and then denied taking any kind of medication–to the psychologist the RNC had assigned to her.

Unfortunately, the other major lady in his life was walking away. Jake was dismissed by Sloan, who he finally located after she was nabbed by Vick Saul. Turns out Vick was robbed by Sloan too, and was holding her for ransom. Vick demanded Jake get everything the police had on him before he would let Sloan go. Jake did, leading to an emotional moment in the GTO (that girl is still by his side) resulting in tears by both and Sloan saying goodbye to her father.

Meanwhile another Doyle–Shawn, last seen on Fargo–reprised his RoD role as Carl Maher, and brought some fun to “No Rest for the Convicted” (directed by actor Mark O’Brien). It was Carl who came up with the bail money to get Jake out of prison and the cash windfall came with a price: Carl wanted Jake to look into the woman he’d given $800,000 of his money to invest and hadn’t heard anything from in days. What appeared to be a quick case of Carl being a little slow in the smarts department turned into a case involving poisonings and Ponzi schemes. There were several great comic moments between Des and Carl, the best of which led to the destruction of the Doyle surveillance van; here’s hoping Carl is back before the series finale.

Notable quotes 

  • “I’ll watch Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Des. You do what you have to do.”–Malachy
  • “Don’t gets all sooky baby about it!”–Carl
  • “I’m really looking forward to getting some sleep in a room not full of 300 hairy-arsed men.”–Jake

Republic of Doyle airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.