Bravo’s cop drama 19-2 is jam-packed with a who’s-who of Canadian actors and actresses, from Jared Keeso (Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story) and Adrian Holmes (Continuum) to Mylène Dinh-Robic (The Listener) and Maxime Roy (Heartland), but they–along with showrunner/executive producer/writer Bruce Smith–all say the biggest role on the show is played by the city the show is set in: Montreal.
That point was driven home earlier this week when a small group of Canadian media–TV, Eh? included–were given exclusive access to the cast and crew while scenes for Season 2 were being filmed just off Parc Darlinton near Mont Royal. Dozens of crew bustled around the cramped quarters between two apartment buildings while a scene between Officer Nick Barron (Holmes) and a key figure from his past were filmed. Unlike Toronto, where residents would be kept far away from filming, those living in the apartments all around got a free show as they leaned over balcony railings to take it all in. It adds to the realism portrayed in the tense drama about the men and women who work for the Service Police Metropolitain.
“There is a flavour about the province of Quebec,” Roy, a native of Rigaud, Que., says. “I think Montreal is like what New York City is to Sex and the City. There is a passionate side to Quebecers that you don’t find anywhere else and I think it’s reflected in the series, in the writing and in the characters.” She adds that having a Quebec crew ensures that their unique joie de vivre translates through the small screen.
“Cities like Toronto and Vancouver deserve to be the backdrop of series,” Montreal’s Dinh-Robic explains. “The Listener was great because it showcased Toronto just as 19-2 showcases Montreal as this beautiful, really dangerous, exciting place.”
Season 1 boasted several examples of all three, whether it was Officer Tyler Joseph (Benz Antoine) looking out over the sparkling city from Mont Royal and proclaiming it his mistress or–in the most shocking scene of the debut season–a group of anti-cop thugs brutally assaulting Officer Audrey Pouliot (Laurence Laboeuf) with baseball bats. And while that last offering is an extreme one, it does reflect the complicated relationship some Montrealers have with authority in general and the police in particular. It probably doesn’t help that Montreal is embroiled in real-life controversy at the moment, as cops are working under protest along with other city staff against a plan to cut their pensions.
“There is not that same respect for authority for police here in Montreal,” Keeso says candidly. “There is a history of protests and corruption and organized crime. We’ve been told by the police to put a coat on over our uniforms when we’re not working. I’ve been on the way to the set in my uniform and had people pull up next to me and just start screaming at me.
“For me, when I see a cop, I shut up,” Keeso continues. “But here when they see a cop it makes them want to lash out.”
Season 2 of 19-2 is tentatively set to return early next year.