Tag Archives: Jason Momoa

Frontier: Writer and co-executive producer Kerri MacDonald previews Season 3

Just in time for the chilly days of winter, Season 3 of Frontier blows into town on Discovery.

Returning Friday at 10 p.m. ET with two back-to-back episodes, the Canadian original once again crashes through the brush with its tales of adventure, heroics and bloodshed among feuding fur traders and trading companies. What can fans look forward to when Frontier checks in later this week? The Hudson’s Bay Company is cracking heads and Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) is on a mission to rescue Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) from Lord Benton’s (Alun Armstrong) clutches. Meanwhile, Sokanon (Jessica Matten) plots to free Indigenous women from being bought and sold around James Bay.

For more insight into Frontier, we turned to writer and co-executive producer Kerri MacDonald for more details and behind-the-scenes scoop!

So talk a little bit about working with co-creators Rob and Peter Blackie. What’s it like working with those two?
Kerri MacDonald: Oh, my God, it’s the most fun ever. It truly, truly is. I love working with those guys. They operate … it’s funny to work with people who are very close as siblings, right? They have a very specific relationship. They do have a very specific brotherly relationship, which makes for an enormous amount of laughter and humour in [the writing] room for sure.

As a creative unit, I love working with them because they do have really very much a shared vision for the show, and when you talk to one, you’re talking to the other in that way. It’s really comfortable and it’s really great because like I said, they know what they want for the show, and it’s my job then to support it, and then to laugh at all of their hilarious jokes in the room.

Does working on Frontier include some research that you had to do, some deep dives into the history of Canada to formulate these characters?
KMD: Yeah, the boys did a lot of research out of the gate about the time and the trade, and the players involved. I think the show was never intended to be something that was built on the accuracy of some sort of historical engine. It was always meant to be an action/adventure series with the trade as the backdrop. So that in and of itself was interesting because we were building a world. We were building a world in a way that we hadn’t before for sure with the other shows that we’ve done. That was really, really interesting.

As far as the way people talk in our world can slide into feeling very contemporary. There was a conscious choice early on not to be super formal with the dialogue. That was sort of helpful in some ways because you’re not tied to certain types of speaking.

Now, of course, certain characters in the show, like Lord Benton, or we have a new character that we are introducing this season by the name of Lord Fisher, played by Jay Simpson. These guys, of course, are aristocratic, well-born, and well-learned men, so of course, they speak differently. They speak more formally. Then, of course, you have our Scottish guys, who use all kinds of great colloquialisms and stuff.

For me, I find tapping into my voice as a Newfoundlander is one of my strongest points in terms of voicing. Newfoundland is an incredibly unique place, and therefore my voice, my experience, my family, the place I grew up, all of that sort of informs how I write. It’s a really fun show to write. The characters are all so different, and all so rich, and all have such different voices that I embrace that challenge of that sometimes.

Jessica Matten as Sokanon

Not only are the characters rich, but the wardrobe and the sets are just incredible. It’s one thing to write those scripts, but I would imagine as the actors and actresses get into their clothing and get into those sets, man, it just really helps them get into their characters.
KMD: Oh, yeah, 100 per cent. Our costumes are magnificent and they’re hand-sewn, and they have weights, and function, and all of those things that would help anybody sort of step into another time. Absolutely. We have an incredible crew of people, and the people who make those decisions, Michael Ground and Gord Barnes, just like really spectacular work.

How many were there in the writers’ room, aside from yourself and the Blackies in Season 3?
KMD: It was me and the Blackies and Sherry White and Chris Roberts and Russ Cochran and Michelle Latimer.

After you spent time in the room, you’re batting around ideas, you’ve worked out the beats for the episode and that type of thing, and then you go off by yourself to write an episode, are you the type where you can go to a coffee shop and write or do you need a room that’s quiet to write? 
KMD: For me personally, I am a real creature of habit. I find when I’m writing a script, there’s sort of levels to it. There’s the stuff that if I’m feeling challenged on that day I’ll write the easy stuff, or if I’m really digging into it, I can write the difficult stuff. I find that not everywhere is easy to write sometimes, but my favourite place to write is literally on my couch in my basement in front of my television. Like everything I write, I say to my friends all the time, it’s quite funny, that anything I’ve ever written has basically been in a four-foot square space in my basement.

Is the TV on or is it off?
KMD: Oh no, it’s on. I always have the TV on. I’m an only child. I was raised partially by television, so it’s not unusual for television to be always on in my house, even if I’m not.

One of the characters that I’ve been fascinated with is Cobbs Pond, played by Greg Bryk. I spoke to him last year, and he just loved talking about playing this twisted character, this crazy character, and just being able to unleash the inner madman in him.
KMD: Pond is one definitely of our most interesting characters on the show. He’s in some ways … he’s boundary-less in a lot of ways, so for that, he’s a really fun character to write, because he’s really unpredictable and kind of all bets are off with him.

Something that sort of happened this season is that some of the storylines have broken away from this main thrust of Harp, so that’s allowed us to open up the world and cross over the characters in interesting sort of new dynamics, so this season you’ll see Pond in a bit of a different position, and you’ll see him from a slightly different angle, but that doesn’t mean you should settle into him being anything different than you know.

Zoe Boyle as Grace Emberly

Is there a character that you particularly find that you’re able to find their voice for quickly? Is it Pond? Is it Harp? Is it another character that you really like to write for?
KMD: One of my favourite characters to write for is Malcolm Brown [played by Michael Patric]. Malcolm always says what’s on his mind, and he’s never really hiding anything, he’s kind of blustery and old, and it’s kind of fun that way because there are certain characters that have certain levels of restraint in this show, and sort of societal boundaries, but Malcolm doesn’t really, and he’s fun to write that way. He’s a bit of an id.

Writing for the female characters on the show is a treat. History wasn’t kind to women during that period, and being able to bring to life these ladies who are such survivors, who maintain their agency at any cost while remaining at the mercy of the men around them, is an exquisitely fun job. And when you’re lucky enough to have the extraordinary talent of the actresses we have on our show, it’s thrilling to see these badass ladies kicking Frontier ass all over the place. They are so inspiring.

What can you say about working with Jason Momoa?
KMD: Jason’s great. I haven’t had a lot of close interaction with him really. It’s just sort of a here and there, but I had the chance last season to kind of work with him a little bit more, and he’s a terrific collaborator and really genuinely excited about that character, so when you write for him, all you wanna know is whether or not he really likes it.

He knows what he wants. Nobody knows Declan Harp really more than Jason Momoa, and he brings him to life in a way that I certainly couldn’t, to be honest. He and Pete work really, really closely on his character, and I sort of defer to whatever the guys want, because they know that character, they know how to tell that story really, really well.

I just really, really liked working with Jason. It was a really awesome treat.

Frontier airs Fridays at 10 and 11 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Link: Before ‘Aquaman,’ Jason Momoa proved he was a movie star in Netflix’s ‘Frontier’

From Liz Shannon Miller of Indie Wire:

Link: Before ‘Aquaman,’ Jason Momoa proved he was a movie star in Netflix’s ‘Frontier’
But while there are many appealing elements in “Frontier,” none can top Momoa himself. In every scene of “Frontier,” Momoa delivers a true movie-star performance. Even buried under some of the thickest and wooliest coats you’ve ever seen, he’s both an impressive physical presence and a captivating performer even when not in the throes of battle. Continue reading.

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Season 3 of Frontier, Discovery’s original dramatic adventure series, premiering Dec. 7

From a media release:

In a ferocious and unforgiving world of greed, deception, and harsh climates, the transatlantic battle to control the North American fur trade rages on as Discovery Canada’s original dramatic adventure series FRONTIER catapults into an action-filled third season with back-to-back episodes airing Fridays at 10 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET beginning Dec. 7.

Set in the late 18th century, with multiple plotlines unfolding from the offices of London to the Canadian wilderness, the drama is turned up higher than ever in FRONTIER’s new six-part season. Season 3 welcomes new players and new unlikely alliances who enter this merciless game in the pursuit for power and wealth – pushing each character to embrace new alliances or arm themselves against one another.

Seasons 1 and 2 of FRONTIER are now available to catch-up for free on Discovery.ca and the Discovery app. Following each television broadcast, episodes of FRONTIER are available for streaming on the Discovery app. All three seasons of the series will be streamed around the world via international broadcast partner Netflix.

FRONTIER’s talented ensemble cast is led by series star Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Justice League, GAME OF THRONES) alongside Landon Liboiron (HEMLOCK GROVE, DEGRASSI), Alun Armstrong (NEW TRICKS, Braveheart), Zoe Boyle (DOWNTON ABBEY, SONS OF ANARCHY), Jessica Matten (A Red Girl’s Reasoning), Allan Hawco (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, CAUGHT), Michael Patric (ARROW, SUPERNATURAL), and Greg Bryk (THE HANDMAID’S TALE, WYNONNA EARP).

The consequences of the bold Black Wolf Company heist on Fort James have come with swift and vicious ferocity, and from the highest offices in London. FRONTIER Season 3 sees the agents of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) violently cracking down on everyone, from Montréal to the wilderness, but the business of the Black Wolf couldn’t be further from Declan Harp’s (Momoa) mind. After Lord Benton (Armstrong) abducted Grace Emberly (Boyle) and set sail from James Bay, Harp set out on a treacherous rescue mission to get her back, which takes him far from the frontier.

After the successful heist of the HBC in Fort James, Michael Smyth (Liboiron) sets out to reassemble the Black Wolf Company – or what’s left of it. But the fallout is swift and furious, and the HBC crackdown has many feeling that Smyth’s head should end up on someone’s platter. Refusing to let his newfound infamy be his downfall, Smyth instead uses it as a sales pitch, stopping at nothing to seek out new alliances and build a team that can finally rival the might of the HBC. But when Smyth learns one of his new partners has a dark side business which challenges his humanity, it pushes him into a decision that could make all his risky work go up in flames.

Sokanon’s (Matten) break from the Black Wolf in the wake of Wahush’s death has her rejecting the trade in favour of protecting her people, especially Indigenous women who are being bought and sold around James Bay. As the ale house brothel in Fort James is a way station for some of them, Sokanon enlists the help of Mary (Breanne Hill) to outwit Imogen (Diana Bentley). But clever power player Imogen is always a half-step ahead, putting Sokanon and Mary in a terrifying battle for their lives.

In Montréal, a brutal shakedown by the HBC leaves the businesses of fierce competitors Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and the Brown Brothers in shambles. Josephette DaCosta (Karen LeBlanc) fears that Douglas Brown’s (Hawco) emotions will run Carruthers & Co. into the ground and employs Malcolm (Patric) in a deception to try and save the company. The stress and anger forces Grant to leave the city for a time, leaving Cobbs Pond (Bryk), to keep the business intact, by any means necessary. While the men are away, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter Follows) connects with someone outside the confines of the Grant household in a risky relationship that could be her undoing.

FRONTIER is co-created by Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie, and produced by Take The Shot Productions and ASAP Entertainment, in association with Discovery, the exclusive Canadian broadcaster. Netflix is the international broadcast partner.

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Frontier runs amok in Season 1

Canada is a brutal, wild place and the folks that inhabit it are pretty much that way too. That’s what we’ve learned after Sunday’s debut episode of Frontier.

“A Kingdom Unto Itself,” written by co-creators and executive producers Peter and Rob Blackie and Perry Chafe, served not only to introduce viewers to the key players in Season 1 but to get the storylines going at a frenetic clip.

There’s Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) an Irish lad who stowed away on a ship when he was caught stealing from it and woke up at sea, on the way to Canada. There’s Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) the stern former military man who’s in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company and aims to take out a man named Declan Harp. There is Harp (Jason Momoa) himself, a hulking man whose violent nature and Métis lineage makes him a successful fur trader. Add in supporting characters like Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk), Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) and Frontier is jam-packed with action.

By the end of Episode 1, Michael has been successful in locating Harp for Benton, but the young lad was on the verge of becoming another pelt in Harp’s collection. We spoke to the Blackie brothers about Frontier and where the show will go in Season 1.

Frontier1

Peter, congratulations on Season 1 of Frontier and on Season 2 being ordered already. Was it always in the back of your minds to have Frontier last multiple seasons?
Peter Blackie: For sure. That was always our hope. You always go into a scripted series wanting to do a number of seasons if you can. But the real telltale is if they don’t like the first the season you’re probably not going to get another.

Rob Blackie: We’re actually in production on the second season right now, so this is a huge sign of confidence from Discovery Canada and Netflix.

Frontier is incredible visually, character and story-wise and wardrobe-wise. You’ve successfully introduced all of these characters and yet it doesn’t feel bloated or cluttered. It must have been difficult to have so much contained in six episodes and not feel bogged down.
RB: Pilots are interesting because they are burdened down with all of these required introductions. We spent the vast majority of our time working with our writing team and producing partners and director for the pilot, Brad Peyton, and making sure the ‘introductory elements’ have their own story engine so that when you watch them as a viewer they feel like a forward-moving story. It’s much more difficult to do it that way but we had a lot of people working hard on it for a very long time.

PB: Another thing that helped make it work, in particular for the pilot, was having actors in the show of a Shawn Doyle calibre who are able to really elevate everything because of their abilities.

There are several storylines going on in the first episode, but it feels very much like we’re seeing this world through Michael’s eyes and that he is our guide. Is that true?
PB: We refer to him as our protagonist. The show is set up to do multiple perspectives and kingdoms, but he functionally is the way into the show.

RB: And Declan Harp is our antihero. He’s the major star of the show and is introduced in the pilot in a very dark way. We are experiencing Declan Harp’s dark view of the world from Michael’s perspective.

Jason Momoa is listed as an executive producer. What did that title entail? Was he involved in day-to-day decisions?
RB: He didn’t have any day-to-day line producing or anything like that, but someone like him plays such an integral function in the profile and promoting of the show. He’s very, very interested in the arc of the show and the arc of his character and participates heavily in that part of the process. It’s a common practice for a someone like him who shows a tremendous amount of interest. He’s a filmmaker at heart and has directed his own material and has his own production company. We produced a small feature film with his production company last winter in addition to doing Frontier and he is an absolute film artist at heart and that makes his a really good fit for our team.

Photo credit: Duncan de Young on set of Frontier
(l-r) Peter and Rob Blackie (Photo credit: Duncan de Young on the set of Frontier)

Why did you decide to start Frontier with the Hudson’s Bay Company crumbling rather than show how it began?
PB: That’s a great question. Rob and I spent a lot of time at the very beginning wrestling through where we wanted to be, specifically, and why. The reason we picked the general era that we picked it is about a century after the monopoly was granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and their dominion started to falter. The only company in history that ever properly did rival the HBC in the New World was the North West Company and it, essentially, was an amalgamation of a bunch of separate companies with smaller interests, predominantly run out of Montreal. They ultimately realized they were not able to complete as separate entities and were forced to combine their energies and formed a company that was, scale-wise, able to compete with the HBC. We picked this era because it’s sort of the David and Goliath scenario.

Are any of Frontier’s characters named after any real-life people from history, or are they all a mix of real folks made into fictional ones?
PB: Everybody who is in the show is, at most, amalgamations of different characters from different times or characters we completely created from scratch.

RB: Earlier in the process we had taken a run at including ‘real characters’ from history and we found that, with the amount of historical fiction, it started to feel more limiting, and putting words into the actual mouths of people from history didn’t feel right to us. So we went with fictional characters and drew from as much research as we could from history and real people from history. The real people from history have the craziest stories.

Can you talk a little bit about the research you did into the canoes, wardrobe and discussions you had with First Nations people to get this right?
PB: We did, and we relied quite extensively on help from experts and people from within the communities. It’s been an interesting learning process for us. The deeper we went the more we realized how easy it is to make basic mistakes and we learned just how complex the socio-political landscape this country was like pre-contact. Once you introduce the idea of Europeans coming in, the complexity rolls over onto itself. We found ourselves in a spot where we didn’t have the tools to do the basic things and we reached out in a bunch of different directions to get help, including and not limited to wardrobe, language and representation.

We had very patient, thoughtful, smart people who have committed to us not making mistakes and inspiring us to dive in and tell these stories.

Frontier airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Discovery Canada.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Discovery’s Frontier renewed for second season ahead of Season 1 debut

From a media release:

Demonstrating unwavering confidence and commitment to its first-ever original scripted drama FRONTIER, Discovery Canada is proud to announce the renewal of the series for a second season. Production of Season 2, once again starring Jason Momoa (GAME OF THRONES, Justice League), is currently underway in advance of the gritty new series’ world premiere on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery Canada.

Produced in association with Discovery by Take The Shot Productions, together with their partners at ASAP Entertainment, filming of FRONTIER’s six-episode second season is now underway in St. John’s, Nfld., Cape Breton, N.S., Cornwall, U.K., and Ottawa. Season 2 of the premium, beautifully vivid 4K UHD-produced drama is set to premiere in 2017 in Canada on Discovery. Both seasons will be streamed around the world via partner Netflix.

Returning with Momoa in Season 2’s star-studded international cast are Landon Liboiron (HEMLOCK GROVE, DEGRASSI), Alun Armstrong (NEW TRICKS, Braveheart), Zoe Boyle (DOWNTON ABBEY, SONS OF ANARCHY), Allan Hawco (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE), Jessica Matten (A Red Girl’s Reasoning), and Shawn Doyle (HOUSE OF CARDS, BIG LOVE). The cast will be guided once again by celebrated filmmaker Brad Peyton (San Andreas, Incarnate, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), who returns to direct the first episode of Season 2.

Set against the stunning, rawness of 1700s Canada, FRONTIER is a thrilling action-filled series revolving around warring factions vying for control of the fur trade in a ruthless game of wealth and power. FRONTIER is co-created by Rob and Peter Blackie, and produced by Take The Shot Productions together with their partners at ASAP Entertainment, in association with Discovery, the exclusive Canadian broadcaster. Netflix is the international partner. Edwina Follows is Executive Producer for Discovery, and Ken MacDonald is Vice-President and General Manager, Discovery. Tracey Pearce is President, Distribution and Pay, Bell Media. Randy Lennox is President, Broadcasting and Content, Bell Media. For Take The Shot Productions, Alex Patrick, John Vatcher, Rob Blackie, Peter Blackie, Allan Hawco, Perry Chafe, and Michael Levine are Executive Producers. For ASAP Entertainment, Brad Peyton and Jeff Fierson are Executive Producers.

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