Everything about Anne with an E, eh?

Anne with an E: Lucas Jade Zumann describes Gilbert’s Season 2 journey

While Anne Shirley has been experiencing life in Avonlea and all that entails—school, friendship, chores and two sneaky grifters—Gilbert Blythe has been on an adventure of his own in Season 2 of Anne with an E.

Leaving Prince Edward Island following the death of his father, Gilbert has been shovelling coal into a ship’s boiler alongside Bash in the Caribbean. The two have established a strong friendship, and there has been great personal growth for Gilbert already. It’s not clear exactly when Gilbert will return to Avonlea—it depends on how fast Anne’s letter reaches him—and Lucas Jade Zumann won’t tell me.

I spoke to Zumann earlier this year about how he was cast in the role, what’s in store for Gilbert this year and his plan to study … astrophysics and quantum theory.

Gilbert’s got a lot going on from what I’ve seen so far in Season 2.
Lucas Jade Zumann: Yeah. Absolutely, I think he’s getting a much more worldly perspective during Season 2. Even more so than I think the character had in the book. [Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett] is really writing in between the pages on this one and really adding a lot to his character’s backstory. I think it’s really important and it lends a lot to his natural worldly character that he has in the book. And I think that this journey of his kind of, it lends an explanation to Gilbert’s perspective.

How did you end up with the role in the first place? 
LJZ: It wasn’t actually very traditional. When I got the offer for the audition, I was on tour for the publicity for 20th Century Women, a film that I did. And the director of 20th Century Women worked with the producer of Anne with an E. She liked the film. She saw the film early and she liked my work and she requested that I read for the role. So I came in, the first thing I did was actually a chemistry read with Amybeth McNulty. And then after that point, it was maybe a couple of weeks before my agent called me and let me know that I had gotten the role of Gilbert Blythe.

To be skipping that step because executive producer Miranda de Pencier had seen you and thought that you’d be a good fit … were you a little bit extra nervous going into this?
LJZ: Oh, absolutely, especially considering the rank of these people that were sitting at the table in front of me. I mean, Moira Walley-Beckett is a phenomenal writer and director and I have been inspired by her work for many years beforehand. Just sitting in a room with these people is intimidating. Even the waiting room. I was, yeah, I was very nervous to say the least. I’m just really lucky that we kind of clicked in a certain way.

Gilbert lost his father in Season 1. That was a very dark and serious storyline that you had to take on.
LJZ: Yeah. Absolutely. I think losing his father was a huge deal for Gilbert’s growth and it pushed him to grow up really fast and have to start supporting himself and discovering his own place in the world. I think being in school just … and then having to support yourself, just in a little life change like that, I can only imagine how hard that must be for a person. And the kind of toll that that has on their personality. I think that lends a lot to his mentality and his maturity.

Where’s Gilbert’s head at in Season 2?
LJZ: I think he’s just so excited to be exploring parts of the world. I think he’s so accustomed to the way of life in Avonlea, where it’s snow almost all year and just farm work every single day. And I think that just being on a boat and even just shovelling coal, like, that was, that’s part of the exploration for him. I definitely can see that in my own life, too. I mean, I personally like working in a restaurant in my free time, just simply because it’s a more mindful type of workspace, in a restaurant. And I appreciate that there so many different roles that people can play in this world. I think Gilbert is taking the time in to explore that.

What can you say about his relationship with Sebastian?
LJZ: Sebastian really is kind of his leader to the world outside of Avonlea. I think when Gilbert leaves Avonlea, all he knows is, well, I mean, he’s been surrounded by white people and this culture, this European Canadian culture that he’s had his whole life. Seeing Trinidad and seeing what it’s like on a steamship, all the other trials that he goes through, I think that being with Sebastian and seeing that these are trials that people like him would go through on a daily basis just to survive.

That grants him perspective. Coming from a classroom full of people worried about what they’re going to wear the next day, to people worried about how they’re going to eat the next day. That was something that’s really important for him to understand. There’s a whole other world outside of Avonlea.

Is there something that you’re working on now that you can talk about? Are you back working in a restaurant? 
LJZ: Well, I just took a break from the restaurant because I am starting my senior year in high school. Which I did not necessarily think I was going to go back and do because I did take my GED. I tested out of high school, but I don’t have enough credits to apply for a college and make it look cool. I don’t have all the college credits that I would need.

I do eventually want to go back and I really am interested in studying astrophysics and quantum theory. That would definitely require some mathematics or history, you know. Coming back to school with that kind of new drive for learning, specifically with the astrophysics, understanding that calculus and math is like the language of how we humans quantify and understand things about our universe, it could be beyond our perception, I’m so fascinated by that. I really want to explore everything that we can about the universe that we live in.

Anne with an E airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


Comments and queries for the week of September 28

Not going to watch [Anne with an E] this season. They are making stuff up that was never in the book. Of course, the story isn’t culturally diverse—it was published during the Edwardian era! This isn’t cable, and it’s not Breaking Bad. Not sure why they can’t just adapt the books as is. And this series is way less Canadian than the Kevin Sullivan productions. Just my 2 cents. —Sara

I used to have a closed-minded viewpoint like Sara’s opinion (above) but I’ve changed. Now, I understand the reasoning to show more diversity and social awareness in adaptations like this with the dated source material. I’m still a big fan of the books, and just because the show diverts from the book canon to inject some social awareness (that was lacking during the time the books were was written), does not mean the books are diminished in any way. It’s an adaptation on a piece of fiction that reflects our society’s evolution and how we see our past as it REALLY was and not LMMs limited view. She lived and wrote in a time where she was probably never surrounded by any diversity. So of course, with no experience, she would have no awareness to include it in her books. But we now know there were people of colour in Canada. LGBTQ did exist back then. So why not show it? AOGG is not a history book. It’s a work of fiction that should be allowed to grow with the times. Also, I do like how we are getting to know the secondary characters lives more. Since it’s an adaptation of the books I think it’s good to see beyond just Anne and her perspective. Marilla, Matthew and Gilbert are fascinating characters all on their own! I want to know more about them. I think it’s essential to show why Gilbert is such a perfect match for Anne. We never did get to know him deeply in the books and now we get that opportunity. I do hope, however, the show sticks to the books general outline and hit all the key moments in Anne’s life. Matthew dying is one of them. Anne going to university is another. Roy, Christine, all of that angsty goodness is essential to Anne’s development and I hope we get to see it all. Maybe not Dora and Davy. They were just annoying in the books. Haha! —Amy

OMG! Thank you so much Moira Walley-Beckett and I am so proud of the cast Anne with an E Season 2. As a Canadian, I love the diversity Moira brought to the show. I can’t wait to watch newcomers especially “Bash” played by Dalmar Abuzeid. Can’t wait to watch it on Sunday, yay!! —Vivian

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.


Links: Anne with an E, Season 2

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Anne with an E adds first black character, LGBTQ storyline with season 2
“It’s always been a concern to me that L.M. Montgomery’s world of Avonlea is such a white world when in fact it doesn’t really accurately reflect the diversity that Canada was and is.” Continue reading. 

From Melissa Girimonte of The Televixen:

Link: Growing up with Anne: Amybeth McNulty on Season 2 of Anne with an E
“There’s definitely more of a stability in her now. She’s not afraid that she’s going to be sent away if she makes mistakes. She has a family to help her learn about her mistakes instead and help her become a better person.” Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Anne with an E’s Amybeth McNulty previews Anne’s Season 2 journey
“We’re definitely going to have more flashbacks, but they aren’t all going to be negative, which I thought was interesting. We see some more positive sides of how Anne fought her time in the orphanage and what those experiences gave her.” Continue reading.

From Leora Heilbronn of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Anne with an E’s Amybeth McNulty
“She definitely has her fiery temper, which I think that some people can see as a kind of downfall of hers, but I guess that I kind of see it more as a strength, which I think is so beautiful. She’s one of my favourite characters ever. So I’m grateful that I get to incorporate parts of my heart and soul into playing her.” Continue reading. 



Link: Anne with an E’s Moira Walley-Beckett is the most significant new Canadian showrunner in a generation

From Tony Wong of The Toronto Star:

Link: Anne with an E’s Moira Walley-Beckett is the most significant new Canadian showrunner in a generation
“I had to approach it from a point of emotional reality. Anne is a damaged person. She is a wounded person as are Matthew (R.H. Thomson) and Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James) in my mind. I felt that it was extremely important to honour what it was like to be an orphan back then when you were viewed as a delinquent and unlovable and ungodly. There was great prejudice and great harm done.” Continue reading.


Comments and queries for the week of August 17

It’s a shame, and no doubt my loss, but I won’t be watching this second season of Anne with an E. I am so disappointed (as well as others I know) that this Canadian production, by an iconic Canadian author, was aired on Netflix in the States before Canadian audiences had a chance to see it. Not kosher. And the third season no doubt will probably have its airing the same way in 2019. There is hardly a Canadian production I don’t watch, but this has left a bad taste. So long, Anne with an E — parting is such sweet sorrow. —D Mac

Bell Media[Daily Planet‘s cancellation is] disappointing but not really surprising. What we are witnessing are the death throes of profit-based cable television. Media companies like Bell and so many others are prostituting themselves to the public’s lowest common denominator to generate viewers because it is cheap and easy to make programming like what we see now and they have to compete with Internet-based programming. Like flashing lights in a casino, it’s not about quality anymore, it’s just about making you look. Like “click bait” on the Internet. They know you will leave, that is why ad time costs more at the beginning of a show because they already know most people are going to leave in the first 10 minutes. If we would like to preserve intelligent programming on television we need to support networks that don’t rely on maintaining profit margins. Unfortunately, that is only PBS, CPAC and sometimes CBC. Although CBC is fairly debatable also. Ultimately, we are all players in this game and if we want change we need to choose with our remotes and not watch junk TV. I work in the video production industry and all I can say is “Good luck people!” —Sean

So many dance tasks [on The Amazing Race Canada] this year, I’ve seen speculation that it’ll be the theme of the final memory task of the Race at the finale. Darts make for dull TV and I’ve never been a fan of the Face-Off essentially deciding who’s going to finish last halfway through the episode but at least they made it slightly hard with the all sides bit. Six teams and four Legs after this one. Pretty obvious it was going to be a non-elimination episode since the last episode always needs three teams. A good memory-matching opener task. Dylan and Martina were hilarious at the magic Road Block as was the judge watching them. And the kid in the audience that was unimpressed. It feels like the parking ticket was $0 just because they were on the Race. Is there even a penalty for that? I remember Sukhi and Jinder lost 15 minutes due to running a red light. With the amount of focus, Martina and Phil are probably in the finale; stranger things have happened then them possibly winning but they haven’t gotten 1st place yet in any Leg. Sinorama went out of business. I hope that doesn’t mean more budget cuts in future seasons. —DanAmazing

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.