Daniel Gillies in CTV's 'Saving Hope.' Photo from Bell Media.

Saving Hope star talks most challenging season yet

Saving Hope just might be the Canadian show that could. While this summer saw two Canadian shows, Seed and Working the Engels, come to a sudden end after failing to grab an American audience, Saving Hope avoided that fate after NBC dropped it at the end of Season 1. Going into Season 3, it’s not only managed to stay on the air in Canada, but it’s gotten picked up by another American network.

The difference between NBC and ION, Saving Hope’s new southern home, is a U.S. network willing to put the energy into promoting the show. Canada-born Daniel Gillies, who plays Dr. Joel Goran, can’t say enough about the attention the drama’s been getting south of the border.

“They’re an interesting new energy. They’re the kind of hot, burgeoning new network in the United States and they’ve got all these amazing shows,” which include Canada’s Rookie Blue, Flashpoint and the recently-finished The Listener. He adds, “I think there are a lot of viewers who managed to watch it in spite of the lack of publicity in the beginning and those sort of steadfast fans who had to sort of either download or whatever to find out what was happening with us and now, obviously, are pretty delighted it’s got some U.S. distribution again.”

But it’s the support at home that’s kept Saving Hope on the air and the Canadian fan-base has certainly been a strong and vocal one—when the show returned with a two-night premiere, it won its Thursday night timeslot with 1.2 million viewers. “If it had even a fraction of what was happening here in Toronto that first year,” he says, “We would have had a degree of longevity because it’s a very good show.”

Things only seem to be picking up this season, which opened with Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance) on the operating table after being stabbed in the heart with a pair of scissors. While the second half of the return ended with Alex waking up, it only set the stage for more tension on the hospital drama, which meant plenty more Joel for Gillies to discover. “I’ve been shooting this show for three years and I’ve never seen his bedroom,” he laughs, before calling it the most challenging season for the character yet. Since Joel was partially responsible for Alex getting stabbed in the first place, it’s taken his character to a much darker place.

“He’s sort of addressing and embracing a lot more of the emotional aspects of his career than he ever did,” Gilles explains. “I think that Joel was someone who derived his identity purely from his work and I think now he’s discovering he’s much more than that. By sticking around in one place he’s been forced—there’s this kind of mandatory introspection by being around. These energies around him are eliciting all this stuff from him that he’s probably never looked at himself before.”

Saving Hope airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.