Jacob Blair is no stranger to Canadian winters. He grew up in Edmonton, but even he found the cold in Winnipeg while filming the syndicated cops and robbers Canadian co-production The Pinkertons to be daunting.
“They’ve been quoting me things like the weather has been colder than the surface of Mars and I’m like, ‘That’s not a selling feature, guys,'” he says from the set with a laugh. “You let people discover that once they’re already here.”
Still, Blair is having a blast. And who can blame him? The chance to play William Pinkerton, son of Allan, the man who founded the legendary law enforcement, detective and security agency in 1850 is just too much fun. Hired by President Abraham Lincoln to be his security detail during the Civil War, the company was based out of Chicago; the series is loosely based on the Pinkerton’s real case files. Blair is joined by Angus Macfadyen (Turn) as Allan, and Martha MacIsaac (1600 Penn) as Kate Warne, the first female detective in the United States.
Blair, who has appeared in episodes of Rookie Blue, Republic of Doyle and Beauty and the Beast, only had two weeks between being cast on The Pinkertons before cameras rolled—he was the last of the principals to sign on—so he crammed for the role. He’d already known from watching shows like Deadwood that the Pinkertons were feared and not a group you wanted to run afoul of, but learned there wasn’t much information regarding William’s personality, just snippets gleaned from Allan’s memoir and in case files.
“I had to create him on my own,” Blair says. “He’s his father’s son, so growing up he would pick up on those traits of being no-nonsense. Because we’re going the family angle, we do need to infuse it with humour. Viewers really love the friction and the dynamic between the characters, so we have William giving it back to Allan and William and Kate getting under each other’s skin, but there’s a mutual admiration there.”
Of course, whenever you place a young man and woman in close quarters and at odds on television, an obvious question must be asked. Will William and Kate end up falling in love like so many small-screen couples have before them? Blair hopes not.
“I just don’t know where it would go,” he says. “I have a hard time picturing that and if they did I’d hope they’d wait a few seasons.” Guess the winters will have to get even colder before the two would ever consider huddling for warmth.
The Pinkertons airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CHCH.