Tag Archives: Alex-Paxton Beesley

Pure’s Alex Paxton-Beesley: “It feels so special”

You can hear the enthusiasm in Alex Paxton-Beesley’s voice when she talks about Pure. She was crushed when CBC pulled the plug on the show after one season and thrilled when it was resurrected on Super Channel Fuse. Paxton-Beesley uses one word to describe Michael Amo’s creation: special.

With Episode 3 headed our way on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse, we spoke to her about hers and Anna Funk’s journey.

What were your initial thoughts after Pure was cancelled after Season 1?
Alex Paxton-Beesley: I was devastated because I felt like it was such a great world. I knew from talking to Michael Amo about it that there was a ton of story left to tell. I was excited for the story arc that he had planned for Season 2. And then the rumours started. There was rumbling around in the fall a year later. ‘What do you mean, stand by? What does that mean?’ It felt really surreal, even into shooting Season 2. We would look around and say, ‘Are we actually here? The dream came true?’ It’s one of those projects that feels so special.

What did Michael Amo tell you about Season 2 that got you excited?
APB: How different life was going to be at the beginning of Season 2. The Funks have been cast out of everything that they were fighting for, really, the first time around. I thought that was a very interesting place to start from because they’re sort of in purgatory. Anna has one foot in the Auslander world and she doesn’t to be there. She’s desperately trying to keep a foot in the Mennonite world but they don’t want her there. And she’s also trying to protect her kids and give them some semblance of a life. Dylan Everett, Jessica Clement and I had some conversations about what we thought had happened in that year or so since the end of Season 1 because Noah walks away and all of a sudden it’s the three of us.

That was a very satisfying and fun conversation because we went all over the place with our imagining.

How has the tone changed for Season 2?
APB: I think it’s gotten much, much darker. Part of that is afforded by the plot. We’re not so much within the Mennonite colony. There is so much more going on in the outsider world. It’s been a very satisfying element, to push the envelope story-wise.

Christopher Heyerdahl is a new addition to the cast and plays Augustus Nickel. What can you say about Augustus?
APB: I think people are going to be pretty darn surprised at the kind of man Augustus Nickel is going to turn out to be. [Laughs.] He is the most incredible human being and actor and at times made my life very difficult because he is so delightful as Augustus and in character, Anna is not always delighted. He made it really, really hard to stay in character.

The shock for me was Gord Rand returning as the not-so-dead Abel.
APB: Gord Rand is one of the most amazing actors we have in Canada. He is the most inspirational person I’ve ever seen and I want to eat his brain and absorb his knowledge. When he was killed, we all knew he wasn’t really dead because he’s too good of a character and his journey is really rich, especially now. The conversation he has with Noah in the first episode about seeing God and maybe God just wants us to be happy. I think that’s going to be a very powerful perspective for Noah to have to contend with.

Alyson Hannigan was announced as a cast member but nothing else has been revealed. Can you say anything?
APB: I’m not allowed to say much. She is going to be appearing later on in the season. She’s playing a very fun character. The day I was on set watching her, I was just losing my mind laughing. She is so funny. The character she plays is super-feisty, mouthy and integral to the plot.

Pure airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Pure: Creator Michael Amo on the return of Season 2 and a favourite character

Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading unless you have watched the first episode of Pure, Season 2.

Pure‘s second season premiere was notable for a few reasons. It introduced Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez), the drug dealer who demanded Anna Funk re-start the Mennonite cocaine pipeline. And, just to give her the little push Anna needed to do that, took Isaak (Dylan Everett) as collateral. When we last saw Isaak, he was naked, caged and (rightfully) screaming for his mother. Last Tuesday’s return also brought a favourite character back from the grave. It turns out Noah’s (Ryan Robbins) brother, Abel (Gord Rand), suffered merely a flesh wound when Eli Voss shot him; the siblings shared an emotional reunion.

With so much going on not just with the characters but the show itself, we got Michael Amo on the phone to discuss it.

What were your thoughts when you were told by CBC that the second season of Pure wasn’t going to be happening with them?
Michael Amo: [Laughs.] I remember being surprised because I think we averaged over 700,000 viewers per episode which, for a freshman drama on CBC, is pretty good. But, I guess it wasn’t on brand for them. I did move on to other things and developed some other shows. It was really Cineflix. It was Brett Burlock and Peter Emerson, who are our Ontario production partners, were the ones who said, ‘You know what? It’s not going to die so easily.’ They’re the ones who engineered the deal between WGN America and Super Channel and put their own kind of equity into it as well.

Three people, dressed in black, stand next to each other.Was there a phone call to you to say it had been greenlit?
MA: For me, it was me talking to Brett about some things I was working on and him saying, ‘Not so fast, Pure isn’t dead yet.’ But I’ve got a family to feed and said, ‘I welcome the opportunity to do more of Pure.’ I hung up the phone and went about my business. Months went by and, behind the scenes, Brett and Peter were working feverishly to make it happen. So, when you get the call and are told your baby has been brought back to life, it’s a happy day indeed.

You’ve spent at least one full episode keeping Noah away from his family. What was the thinking behind that?
MA: Actually, we keep Noah away from Anna until Episode 3 because I don’t want to make it easy. [Laughs.] The audience should be rooting for this family to get back together and they can’t do that if they’re together from the get-go. It was challenging to keep them apart for so long, but I did put them on a collision course to tie in with the law enforcement angle of the show. It was a challenge to do that. Season 1 was all about their fall from grace and expulsion from paradise and Season 2 is about them, all in their own way, trying to get back to paradise and the innocence they lose along the way.

How has being on Super Channel Fuse changed the tone of the show? What have you been able to do that you couldn’t on CBC?
MA: There were fans of the show, to begin with, so when they took it on, they said, ‘We’re a premium cable network, so feel free to play in that space.’ I didn’t go too crazy because I, personally, am not a huge fan of vulgarity and the show really never had the creative bandwidth for sex. But we could push the elements that were already in the show a little harder.

Hector Estrada is, literally, taking no prisoners. What’s it been like to create this guy?
MA: In Season 1 we had Eli Voss, who had very specific spiritual views that were in opposition to Noah’s. In Season 2, I really wanted to do something different, from a character point of view for the villain, so Hector is all about the here and now. He does not believe in an afterlife, he does not believe there are any consequences for his actions in this world whatsoever. He is all about the material pleasures, but he’s sort of lonely too. So, he bonds with Isaak and that’s his Achilles heel in a way. [Actor] Victor Gomez is both extremely charming and when he wants to be, ice cold.

I was surprised to see Gord Rand returned to Pure. In Season 1, Abel was shot by Eli and left for dead. Were you always intending to bring the character of Abel back?
MA: [Laughs.] I’m going to be honest and say perhaps not. What happens is, you fall in love with these characters, and the actors who play them, and you say, ‘Oh my goodness, I have to find a way to keep Gord in the picture.’ I’m glad I did.

Pure airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Preview: Pure deals a second season on Super Channel Fuse

When we last left Pure, its characters—and the show itself—were in disarray.

Eli Voss, the Season 1 villain who had forced Noah Funk (Ryan Robbins) and his wife, Anna (Alex Paxton-Beesley) into ferrying cocaine through Mexico into the United States, was killed by Noah. But the Funk’s actions led to them being excommunicated from their Ontario Mennonite community. Noah, despondent and feeling like he had failed his family—and gotten his brother, Abel (Gord Rand), killed—left the community altogether.

As for the show, CBC opted not to renew Michael Amo’s creation for a second season. Thankfully, Super Channel stepped in and ordered six more episodes. In the U.S., Season 1 was broadcast on Hulu and then picked up by WGN America; the American superstation will also broadcast Pure day and date with its Canadian counterpart.

A woman stands, facing two men who are walking towards her.When we catch up with the Funk family on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse, Noah is nowhere to be found. It’s a year since the events of the Season 1 finale, and Anna and her children Tina (Jessica Clement) and Isaak (Dylan Everett) are still on the outs with their community. In danger of losing her home, Anna pleads to the elders for help. Of course, the colony knew what Voss was doing at the time but still blame the Funks for the sins brought among them. Anna was forced to pick up the pieces after her husband left and has shown great strength in doing that. She’s very different from the woman we first met in Season 1.

Meanwhile, Det. Gates (Cory Bowles) has been searching for Noah at Anna’s request. And it’s while he’s doing it that Gates stumbles upon a crime scene introducing viewers to Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez) and his hitman Orff (Conrad Pla), two dudes that are just as evil as Voss and intent on getting the cocaine pipeline going again. We’re also introduced to Det. Valerie Krochak (Zoie Palmer), a former hockey player turned forensic accountant who becomes embroiled in the case.

After over a year since Super Channel announced a sophomore season, it’s good to jump back into Amo’s world. For such dark subject matter, Pure is rife with humour and heart. The scenery is stunning (Nova Scotia stands in for Ontario) and while much of the dialogue amongst the Mennonite characters are spare, a lack of words is made up in facial expression, body language and eye movement. And, when they do speak, it’s to say something truly important, heartfelt and with conviction.

Pure airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Super Channel commissions second season of Pure from Two East Productions and Cineflix

From a media release:

Super Channel is pleased to announce that it has commissioned a second season of PURE, the critically acclaimed, Canadian Screen Award-nominated series from Two East Productions and Cineflix.

The six-part Super Channel Original Production will tell the continuing story of Noah and Anna Funk, Mennonites trying to protect their family and preserve their faith while battling drug trafficking within their community. The second season is scheduled to begin production in Nova Scotia later this spring and anticipated to premiere on Super Channel in early 2019.

“We are thrilled to be working with Michael Amo and the team at Two East and Cineflix to bring PURE back for Canadian fans of the series,” said Melissa Kajpust, Vice President, Programming for Super Channel. “We jumped at the chance to bring this compelling drama set in a unique world to a pay-tv audience. There is so much more to the story to be told and we are excited the creators will have the creative freedom to take the story in new directions.”

Showrunner Michael Amo said: “As a storyteller, I couldn’t ask for better creative partners or more compelling characters. Noah’s path will lead him to redemption or perdition, while Anna, exiled by her community, will be forced to outsmart the new cartel kingpin all by herself. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

“We could not be more pleased and thankful to work with Super Channel to bring audiences a second season of PURE in which Michael is taking Anna and Noah on an even more conflicted and perilous journey,” added Cineflix President, Peter Emerson.

PURE takes us deep inside a closed, secretive subculture through the eyes of a conflicted, good-hearted Mennonite couple trying to protect their family and preserve their faith.

Inspired by actual events, PURE is the journey of Noah and Anna Funk, determined to rid their community of the scourge of drugs and its nefarious ties to a transborder smuggling alliance with ruthless Mexican cocaine cartels. But just when they believe the danger is behind them, they are pulled back into a world of violence, greed, and betrayal. Returning cast for season two include Ryan Robbins (Arrow, The Killing) as Noah Funk and Alex Paxton-Beesley (Cardinal, Copper) as Anna Funk.

Produced by Two East Productions and Cineflix in association with Super Channel, WGN America, Hulu and the CBC, PURE is created and written by Michael Amo (The Listener) with Ken Girotti (Orphan Black, Vikings) as the series Director. Amo and Girotti serve as executive producers for the second season, along with Brett Burlock, Peter Emerson and David MacLeod (Call Me Fitz, Haven). Cineflix Rights has the exclusive worldwide distribution rights to PURE.

 

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Cardinal: Alex Paxton-Beesley on Red’s mysterious journey

I’m a big fan of Alex Paxton-Beesley. Not only did she portray kick-butt Mennonite housewife Anna Funk in CBC’s awesome Pure but she’s the spunky Freddie Pink on Murdoch Mysteries.

Now Paxton-Beesley is featured in Cardinal: Blackfly Season in another memorable role as Red. At least, that’s what she’s called on account of her red hair. In truth, we don’t know her real name yet because Red was discovered in an Algonquin Bay bar suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Det. John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and Det. Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) spent last week’s first episode of Blackfly Season investigating who Red is, who shot her and what ties she has to a headless body found hanging in a cave.

We spoke to Paxton-Beesley about the role and Red’s journey as we head into Thursday’s new episode.

It’s been fascinating to see how Giles Blunt’s books have been translated to the screen.
Alex Paxton-Beelsey: Yes. I’ve read the first three books and the adaptations have been so interesting. They’ve done such a good job of visualizing what those stories are.

How did you get the role of Red? Did you audition in the traditional way or did the producers have you in mind?
It was mostly traditional in that I only auditioned for it once because I think their original interpretation for the character was different. I had worked with [director] Jeff [Renfroe] and almost worked with the producers before on another project that didn’t end up going forward. We all knew each other in the way that everyone does in the Canadian television industry. I went in and auditioned and it was really fun. I didn’t get a full script and the audition came so quickly that I didn’t get to read the whole book so I had to fill in a lot of those gaps myself. Sometimes that’s frustrating but because this was so well-written it was fun to put my imagination in there.

It was pretty fascinating, and creepy, to see your portrayal of Red when she’s discovered. She’s been lobotomized by the bullet and has this childlike innocence about her. Then, during the surgery to remove the bullet, she starts to sing. That was a little disturbing.
The Internet can be a terrible place, but also a font of information. There are some pretty incredible videos on YouTube of awake brain surgery that are just stunning. The is one in particular of this opera singer—you stay awake during some of these surgeries because they need to know if they are affecting something—and he starts singing … and then forgets all of the words. [We think we found the video she’s talking about.] It’s devastating and fascinating. Those scenes, in particular, were really interesting because those were my benchmarks. I got to assign meaning to all of these things that were randomly coming out of her brain. I talked to [showrunner] Sarah [Dodd] and Jeff about it and had conversations about what that could be.

It reminded me of that Heritage Minute…
Yes! ‘Dr. Penfield, I smell burnt toast!’

Yes! I wondered if perhaps you ad-libbed that line during a take or two.
That was definitely a reference. I’m pretty sure I said that between takes but that nobody got it. It’s like, ‘Come on guys, it’s Canadian history!’

There is a reference in this week’s episode that I want to ask about. A nurse walks into Red’s room and Red is looking out the window, recalling something. Can you comment on that scene?
I think that’s something that I would rather leave ambiguous. It’s something left open to interpretation and will be a part of how you read Red as a character.

What was it like working with Billy Campbell?
I love him so much. He and Karine are the most delightful people to work with. Billy is just fantastic. This was a real dream. The first season of Cardinal is one of my favourite TV shows of all time and one of the best things Canada has ever made and I never dreamed I’d get to be a part of it. So, to not only be a part of Season 2 but to show up and have Billy be the most ridiculous, hilarious person and Karine also be the most ridiculous person … they are both so funny and so strange.

This world of Algonquin Bay is a twisted one. We have biker gangs and strange voodoo and an interesting fellow named Ray Northwind, played by Bruce Ramsay.
Bruce plays him so gentle it makes him even more horrifying. The lightest touch of power has the deepest weight.

What can fans expect from this season of Cardinal?
I think Red kind of mirrors the fan experience this season. What she knows and doesn’t know and that feeling of being lost and really trying to be found. I hope people like it. I’m really proud of what we made. It’s beautiful and I’m so glad it’s a Canadian show.

Cardinal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

 

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