Tag Archives: Open Heart

Hudson & Rex’s Justin Kelly: “I get to really play with these quirks”

I first became aware of Justin Kelly’s work back in 2015 when he was part of the ensemble cast of YTV’s cancelled-way-too-soon family drama Open Heart, playing a sarcastic scamp named Wes. Followed by roles on Citytv’s Between and Space’s Wynonna Earp, Kelly has returned to his old Citytv stomping grounds on Hudson & Rex.

Kelly plays Jesse, described in the show’s press materials as “the quintessential millennial: young, driven, more than a little awkward, and right at home in front of a computer.” What should be added to that logline is one more word: unlucky. With just four episodes broadcast so far, Jesse has been shot, drugged and almost drowned. We spoke to Kelly about his dangerous new gig.

So far Jesse has been shot, and in the latest episode, he was roofied and almost drowned. What’s going on with this poor guy?
Justin Kelly: I mean, that’s what happens when he decides to leave the desk. He gets into trouble. A lot goes down in the first few episodes with him. And we later learn that he might just be better behind his desk than being out in the field. But the field stuff is fun, so hopefully, we can expect more of that.

St. John’s is particularly special to me. What about you?
JK: Absolutely. It was a bucket list thing for sure, wanting to get out there. And I’m just lucky enough that I was able to get out there for work and for such a long period of time. It’s a beautiful, beautiful city. We’ve been shooting there throughout its winter, which can be pretty harsh, especially this winter has been a little crazy, there are still so many reasons to love it in spite of that. And I had the opportunity to really explore the city and walk around and do what the locals do. Yeah, I love the city, it’s great.

Tell me how you ended up being on the show in the first place. Did you go through the usual audition process?
JK: I did, yeah. It came out of nowhere. It was presented to me as this opportunity, that is like, ‘Come in and audition for this role of Jesse.’ I read one of the scripts, and it was something I hadn’t done before. I loved the idea of working for a major crimes unit in a police station. That was last summer, and it was around the time I was working with Shaftesbury on an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries. I had gotten to know a few of the producers from Shaftesbury through that first, and then I auditioned. And about probably a week later, I found out I got the part, and the next thing I knew, I was out in St. John’s. It’s been a bit of a wild six months.

What goes into your thinking when you’re choosing a role? On a show like Open Heart, Wes was funny. On Wynonna Earp, Robin was a little bit strange and funny as well. Jesse’s a little bit offbeat, definitely the youngest guy in the team. What do you look for in a role?
JK: I think that’s exactly it. I’m a huge fan of comedy myself. One thing that these roles have in common was there was a place to go in terms of finding these quirks in these characters. I feel like every character needs to have something quirky and something off centre about them. That’s something I saw in Wes when Open Heart happened, was that he was the sarcastic Chandler Bing character that I grew up watching.

Robin was very similar. Robin was hilarious and this amazing damsel in distress, and was weirdly unaffected by all this crazy stuff that was happening around him in Purgatory. And with Jesse, I get to really play with these quirks and explore the nerdy comedic side of him, because he’s the youngest one on the team. He’s the millennial. He makes the jokes that the older folks don’t quite understand. That’s something that I just always latched onto and always really enjoyed.

The interesting thing about Hudson & Rex is that this group of humans are really tight. These characters don’t feel as though they’re the straight men to the dog. It’s great to have a dog on the show, but you also want to have characters that interact well with each other.
JK: Completely. You’re absolutely right, and that’s really important to me as well. When you deal with a certain formula of TV, where every episode is a different case, and you’re not necessarily following a linear pattern, you’re watching these characters grow within each episode. We’re so lucky that we have a great cast and that we get along really well. That happened right away, and that’s something that we’ve been playing with. A lot of these scenes that we have in the bullpen is really our opportunity to see how these four, and the dog, all react with one another. That’s the thing that keeps us going as well, is wanting to learn more about these characters as well as the dog.

What’s it been like working with Diesel?
JK: Having Diesel on-set is almost like … it’s almost like having Al Pacino on set. He’s so good, and he’s so well trained. He’s this presence, that as soon as he’s on set doing his work, everybody’s in awe of him a little bit. He’s this regal dog and is just there to do his job and is in it for the roast beef. And he’s all business, and it’s great to see. The episode that we just watched, ‘School Days,’ he’s pulling me out of a pool. To see how that all panned out and how it all worked was pretty amazing because they obviously did tests before, but he’s pulling me out. I’m wearing wet clothes and adding up to probably about 175 pounds. He’s just panting, trying to get me out. It’s really neat to see him work, and it really brings a bit of the camaraderie to the set, and everybody’s really just happy to have him there.

You just spoke about being in the pool. Was that a long day of production for you? 
JK: I think I was in and out of the pool for about five hours. I didn’t have to do a whole lot in terms of swimming, or anything. You come to find after about an hour, that treading water with wet clothes on is a lot harder than it seems, and it can really knock it out of you. I remember going home that day … I was finished by one o’clock, and I just konked out, and was like, ‘Wow, that was tough.’ I mean, I just watched the episode on video with my fiancée probably about an hour ago, and I was like, ‘I’m really happy with how that cut together and how it looks.’

Jesse is described as being this quintessential millennial. He’s young, driven, more than a little bit awkward, and right at home in front of a computer. What else are we going find out about this guy?
JK: Not to give too much away, but we really learn about how much his work means to him. I like to think that he’s going home and he’s still working, and he has that personality. So we really see how invested he becomes in this job and in working with these people. And that just continues to grow and grow.

Hudson & Rex airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.


Caught: Allan Hawco’s adaptation of Lisa Moore’s novel was worth the wait

Way back in the spring of 2016, the CBC announced Caught—an adaptation of Lisa Moore’s acclaimed noverl—as part of its 2016-17 broadcast lineup. But by June of 2016, Caught‘s fate had changed. So, what was the reasoning behind the project’s delay of over a year? Timing.

“This got announced back when we were wrapping Republic of Doyle,” Allan Hawco, Caught‘s writer, showrunner, executive producer and star, says. “I took the time to go deeper into the material. The ambition of the material, the ambition of the period and because it’s an adaptation of Lisa’s book, we just needed the time to gather more resources.”

The wait has been worth it.

Debuting Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Caught is a five-part roller coaster caper lovingly wrapped up in the pot-fragranced, lead gas guzzling, rock anthem setting that is 1978.

Tori Anderson as Ada, Greg Bryk as Cyril Carter

Locked up after a drug deal goes wrong, David Slaney (Allan Hawco) breaks out of a New Brunswick prison to try one more caper with his former partner Brian Hearn (Eric Johnson). It’s Slaney’s last chance at freedom, but nothing is what it seems. Slings & Arrow‘s Paul Gross plays RCMP detective Roy Patterson; Open Heart‘s Tori Anderson is Ada, Brian’s gal pal; Mary Kills People‘s Charlotte Sullivan is Jennifer Baker;  Rookie Blue‘s Enuka Okuma is KC Williams, a DEA agent who teams with Roy; and Greg Bryk as Cyril Carter, a friend of Brian’s.

Eric Johnson as Brian Hearn

Monday’s debut opens to the strains of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend,” as Slaney sprints through a darkened forest, prison dogs and guards at his heels. But as Slaney quickly discovers, his friend Brian may be the reason he ended up in prison in the first place. Filmed in St. John’s, Hamilton, Ont., and the Dominican Republic, Caught certainly captures the late 70s in all its glory, from pale brown leather jackets and wood panelling to the permed hair and tobacco smoke hanging over everything. And, as Slaney crosses the country attempting to evade capture at the hands of Patterson and KC, we meet colourful characters along the way.

Hawco purchased the television rights to Caught after Tecca Crosby, eOne’s senior vice-president of creative affairs, handed the book to him in 2014. Hawco was in Toronto performing Belleville at The Company Theatre and headed back to where he was staying. He and Perry Chafe—one of his partners at Take the Shot Productions and executive producer on Doyle, Frontier and Caught—bought a couple of copies of the book at a local Chapters bookstore. Hawco read Caught in three hours.

Paul Gross as Roy Patterson

“I could hear the soundtrack, I could see the show right away,” Hawco says. “The rights for the book were being sought after by a bunch of people, so I called Lisa and said, ‘I want to work with you on this.’ I think the pedigree of Doyle and that we were just starting Frontier at the time helped. The character of Slaney spoke to me.” Hawco credits Moore’s writing—the ability to craft an inner monologue on the page—with his connection to Slaney and offered the veteran performer the opportunity to play a role he’s never done. Hawco did futz with the source material a bit when crafting his adapation—creating KC Williams as a partner for Patterson, who is a lone wolf in the novel—and some plot deviations, but the novel’s DNA is still there.

Enuka Okuma as KC Williams

“For a cops and smugglers story on television, there were some plot points we had to adjust and characters’ drives that needed to be changed,” Hawco says. “But I worked really hard to anchor all that in pivotal moments in the book so that you’re not watching a completely different thing. I tried to honour the pillars that Lisa put in there.”

Caught airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.





The Killjoys get “Schooled”

Sure, it’s nearing the end of July, so most kids are enjoying being out of the classroom. Unfortunately, for Killjoys‘ Dutch, D’Avin and Johnny, they become enrolled embroiled in strange and dangerous goings-on at a special school for super-smart kids. Here’s Space’s official synopsis about Friday’s new episode, “Schooled”:

A simple escort mission takes a frightening turn when the Killjoys discover students have mysteriously disappeared from a school for gifted Westerley children.

And here’s a sneak peek from us about what fans can expect.

Dutch and D’Avin’s super-sexy fight scene
Unlike their near-deadly Season 1 grapple, this one’s all about bragging rights. We’ll call it a draw; let us know what you think.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.
Image courtesy of Bell Media.

The Killjoys go back to school
The mystery at the Prodigy School gives viewers a chance to see how the Killjoys would fare as parents. D’Avin and Johnny? Naturals. Dutch? Not so much. But while D’Av’s scenes with the kids are super-sweet, there’s dark stuff going on at the school. The simple mission outlined by Turin doesn’t go as planned—when do they ever?—and our trio is forced to work with Delle Seyah.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.
Image courtesy of Bell Media.

D’Avin vs. Sabine
She has a small role in “Schooled,” but Pree’s latest hire, Sabine, makes an impression on D’Av. Sabine is played by Tori Anderson, who many of us last saw starring on Open Heart. Can we take a moment to remember Open Heart?

An homage to Marion Ravenwood?
There’s a particular scene involving Pawter that left us with a major case of déjà vu. We’re pretty sure the Killjoys writing team was channeling Raiders of the Lost Ark when our favourite doc was trying to gain her freedom.

Killjoys airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.


Interview: Open Heart boss reveals Season 1 secrets

It was one of the most action-packed season finales I’ve ever seen. In just over 20 minutes, Open Heart managed to squish romance, action and mystery into one instalment as Dylan found her missing father, Veronica was attacked, Det. Goodis was killed and London had not one but two fellows—Seth and Hud—profess their love for her and plant a kiss on her lips.

We had questions! So we turned to showrunner Ramona Barckert for the answers, and she delivered on everything from those pesky feathers to London and Hud’s smooch, and perhaps the biggest mystery: will there be a Season 2 of Open Heart?

It’s one thing to sit in the writer’s room and come up with these ideas, but what has it been like to watch the show every week and see the reaction from the fans on social media?
Ramona Barckert: It’s been amazing. I was super-nervous before the premiere. Not that I didn’t believe in the show and I wasn’t proud of it, but it’s a different kind of thing and I wondered if people would embrace it the way that we hoped, and if they would hate the things that we focused on. You always wonder. Over the course of the 12 weeks it blossomed into this obsessive group of people that really got into it. It was really awesome.

Twelve weeks has gone by very quickly.
It has gone by quickly. The show is quick, so I think that is a factor.

There was so much going on in Tuesday’s finale that there wasn’t any time for Jared (Mena Massoud)!
You didn’t! And that’s unfortunate. I feel terrible about that. I own that because I wrote the finale and I jammed as much in as I could and we unfortunately only have just over 21 minutes to tell the story so the scene he was in got cut. It was a great scene too—typical Jared being hilarious and mocking Dylan—maybe I’ll bug someone to get the deleted scene put online or something.

Dylan represents the youth, not keeping things hiding in the shadows and talking about what they are struggling with.

Would it have changed the main story?
No, it was a scene at the top of the episode that set up Dylan coming out of the psych ward and setting her off on her journey. We just didn’t have the time for it and it had to go, unfortunately.

Thank you so much for reuniting Richard with Dylan. It was an important payoff and some shows may not have done that. They would have drawn it out into another season.
My approach to storytelling is if you set something up you need to have a payoff in a timely fashion. That makes it satisfying. It’s intriguing to have that payoff and close that part of the story while opening up another part to it. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You want to give the audience something. Stringing the audience along … I don’t like it when shows do that to me so I try not to do that with my own.

Richard told Dylan that she needed to keep acting like he was dead or missing to protect her. London had that vision of her holding a baby. I was thinking the baby was Dylan and that perhaps the woman on the gurney was her mother. That means Jane isn’t her biological mother and Richard had an affair. Thoughts?
I think you’re supposed to look at that vision as a piece of the Blake history. Whether or not London’s interpretation of that history is accurate is subject to discussion. I think you’re on the right track. The vision is a lynchpin in the Blake family history and what it means is to be determined. Right now that vision exists in the twisted corridors of London’s mind and there is more to be had there. It’s still a bit fuzzy.

Ug. OK.
Come on! We gave you Richard back! That’s something!

Meanwhile, Det. Goodis turned out to be Det. Bad-is. The scene where he, Dr. K and Hud were fighting over the gun was pretty stressful for viewers. It did, for a few minutes, seem as though the secret had died with him.
Goodis, in my mind, up until the point that he got screwed was on board with Dylan and really wanted to help her. As with everyone on the show, there are times when you have the best intentions and things don’t work out. He wanted to get out of the situation he was in and made some poor decisions. And that’s why Dylan felt so lost at that moment. Goodis was dead and Veronica was in a coma and no one else could tell her about Richard. She had to find it out for herself. I really wanted her to have the win at the end of the season.

Thank goodness for that feather!
I know! There were other feathers. If you go back over the season there were other feathers in the trunk of the car and on Veronica. I got a lot of grief when we were shooting that because we had these feathers and people kept asking me about them. I said, ‘Don’t worry guys, it will all make sense.’


Dr. Hud was interesting this season; he has to attend counselling for PTSD. Pair that with London’s visions and Richard’s mental state and you were very respectful while shining a spotlight on mental health.
Ultimately, we wanted to talk about family and issues that families deal with. To think about the Blakes, who have made such poor decisions when it’s come to dealing with Richard’s illness … it’s been the old-school way of dealing with things. Just keep it quiet and pretend it’s not happening. Dylan represents the youth, not keeping things hiding in the shadows and talking about what they are struggling with. That’s a great thing because teenagers are so open these things.

It would have been easy to just have Hud be the hunky doctor with the perfectly-sculpted stubble with no depth.
We cast for that, knowing that there would more to him. The first part of the season he’s really seen through the eyes of Dylan, who has a crush on him and he’s a player. And then there’s a subtle switch midway through the season where you start to see his point of view, which I’m pretty proud of. I’m really into characters who change mid-season and I think thats why the fans are really into him, because we did it slowly.

London started off the season with no men in her life. Now she has two kissing her and telling her they love her. That’s complicated.
Hud has been making bad decisions all season, so it’s exciting because you see he’s going to make one more when he’s going to kiss her. It’s great, and sexy and all that but also, ‘Oh no!’ People are very into them, though. Right now it’s all about Hud and London.

You left many questions open at the end of the night, including if there will be a Season 2. What’s happening? Have you been greenlit? Are you waiting to hear?
We are waiting. We are expecting news any day. We are very hopeful and our networks have been very supportive of the show. They love it and want to see more. The writers and I have been working over the last couple of months just getting ready and developing story ideas and every idea we have is super-exciting.

What did you think of Season 1 of Open Heart? Comment below or on Twitter @tv_eh.


Review: Love, loss and family reunions on Open Heart

I’ve been consistently amazed by Open Heart‘s storytelling. Under showrunner Ramona Barckert, the YTV drama hums along at a breakneck pace, managing to mix family strife, romance, humour and mystery into each 22-minute episode. It’s made for a breathtaking ride and I’m sorry that it’s over.

Tuesday’s season finale, “Time Out of Mind” written by Barckert, served to close out the major mystery—the location of Richard Blake—while opening up the closet door on more angles to be covered if Season 2 is greenlit. I was glad Dylan found Richard by the end of the episode—it would have felt like a cheat if we hadn’t—and I was intrigued when their teary loft reunion was cut short by Richard, who implored Dylan to pretend he was dead “so that you can be protected.”

Protected from what? We don’t know, though I suspect it might have something to do with London’s final vision of the season where she was holding a baby in her arms. At first, I thought it was a doll, then perhaps a dead infant. But I think the baby is Dylan, and that she may not be London’s sibling by blood after all. That could mean the woman being carted away on the stretcher was her real mother, who perhaps had an affair with Richard. I could see Richard wanting that knowledge hidden from Dylan. It would, after all, throw her whole world into disarray.

“World in disarray” aptly described Wes, London and Hud too. After saying perhaps the most stupid thing in the universe to Dylan (“You are out of your mind!”), Wes redeemed himself by helping Dr. K and Hud save Dylan from Det. Goodis—clearly he was Det. BADis—and was stunned when Edward welcomed him into the Blake family. That will fill a hole in his life for a little while, but I suspect the experience won’t be as wonderful as he imagines it will be.

London, meanwhile, was finally at ease in her relationship with Seth when the two swapped “I love you’s” and kisses. But the long-simmering season-long looks Hud gave her came to a head when the desperate doc, reeling from making a mistake with a patient and being forced into PTSD counselling by Dr. K, planted a kiss on London’s lips and left her stunned. So, Open Heart fans, should London stick with geeky Seth or go for bad boy Hud?

What was your favourite scene in last night’s season finale? What have you thought of the Open Heart‘s first season overall? Comment or hit Twitter @tv_eh.

Notes and quotes

  • “I love you.” “Dammit. I love you too.” London and Seth are so painfully awkward. I love it.
  • Veronica has been wearing that leopard coat all season. Was she changing her spots when she talked to Dylan? Symbolism!
  • When three guys fall in a parking lot, does anyone hear? Yes, if a gun goes off between them.
  • Unfortunately, the fast-paced finale meant no screen time for Jared. Insert sad face here.