Tag Archives: Ryan Robbins

Pure: Ryan Robbins previews Season 2 finale on Super Channel

Ryan Robbins has two words to describe Pure‘s Season 2 finale, broadcast this Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel: “Holy shit.”

A pretty strong reaction from an actor who has seen his character, Noah Funk—not to mention Noah’s family—go through some major stuff over the last two seasons. In the first go-round, newly-elected Mennonite paster Noah, his wife Anna (Alex Paxton-Beesley), and his brother Abel (Gord Rand) are pulled into the world of shipping drugs between Mexico and the United States. After dispatching that season’s big bad, Eli Voss (Peter Outerbridge), Noah left his family behind.

Season 2 caught up with everyone a year later, with Noah avoiding his family, them dealing with the aftermath of his actions and Anna picking up the pieces to care for son Isaak (Dylan Everett) and Tina (Jessica Clement). Anna was quickly drawn into the drug trade again thanks to Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez) and when she’s not organizing that she’s been chased by Augustus Nickel (Christopher Heyerdahl), who wants to marry her. Last week, viewers witnessed Anna’s world coming apart as she was arrested, Auggie’s business was being searched and Isaak was fully under Hector’s power.

We spoke to Robbins ahead of Tuesday’s finale to get a taste of what’s to come.

A man and a woman sit next to each other on some stairs. They are sad.I was shocked when Michael Amo told me Noah and Anna wouldn’t reunite until Episode 3 of Season 2. Were you?
Ryan Robbins: I was and I wasn’t. We got the Breaking Bad comparison and joked that Anna was always more Heisenberg than Noah was. We always intended to pick up a year later and that just seemed the most logical scenario to kick off with Anna this time. It was very challenging and weird because during Season 1 we all spent so much time filming together and then in Season 2, having those duelling storylines was strange because we didn’t work together. We had alternate shooting schedules and barely saw each other in passing for the first half of the season.

In fact, I actually got there a week after they started filming, for a few reasons. One, I was finishing up my commitment on another show and two, when I talked to [executive producer] Ken Girotti and [creator] Michael Amo, we also agreed that it might be a good dynamic for me not to be there from the very beginning, the cast and crew dinner, and for me to come in after everyone had reconnected. To return as the outsider. It did make a lot of sense and it was difficult because I had to reintegrate myself with everyone one at a time. It was a totally different dynamic this time around.

I was thrilled that Gord Rand returned to the show as Abel.
RR: What I love about the way Michael wrote it is the subtle flip, even to the point of me fussing with that baseball cap the way I did. That was a very specific and intentional homage to Abel and his ball cap in Season 1. To show that Abel is kind of leading the way and Noah is the lost sheep in that dynamic. I enjoyed that very much and I think many writers might have steered clear of that, Michael went with it and I think it was wonderful. When I read the scene where Noah and Abel reunited, I cried. When we shot the scene, those were real tears and when I watched the scene I cried again. There is something about that guy, Gord Rand, he’s a special guy. Every time Noah reunited with a family member, those were tough scenes.

The scene between Auggie and Noah was a powerful one this past week. Noah wanted to punch Auggie but was disarmed with a hug. Abel asks who Noah was talking to and is told, ‘It was a salesman.’ I may be reading too much into it, but Noah is right: Auggie is selling something.
RR: I can’t speak for how it was written but I’m glad you said that. It’s absolutely what I was feeling when I was delivering that line. That way my intention and I assumed it was written that way. All of the writers are very clever that way in they say so much with so little. The writing becomes quite intelligent and quite clever. We’re a show that tries to avoid exposition with our dialogue. I always wonder if people pick up on that.

What can you say about the Season 2 finale? How will the fans react?
RR: Two words: Holy shit. Holyyy shit. I don’t know how the fans will react. If you thought that the end of Season 1 caused some controversy, the end of Season 2 … I know this is such a typical thing to say but I don’t think people have any idea what’s going to happen in the season finale. When we all got that script, we literally all WTFed all over the place. I called Michael Amo and said, ‘Is this for real?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, this is happening.’ It’s definitely something we couldn’t have done in Season 1.

Pure‘s second season finale airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel.

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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Mennonite mafia adds Pure drama to CBC’s midseason

St. Jacobs, Ont., is a mere 90-minute drive from Toronto, but it can feel like a world away. It’s where a large community of Mennonites live surrounded by small towns and rolling farmer’s fields. It’s also the setting of CBC’s new—and unique—drama, Pure.

Created by Michael Amo (The Listener) and debuting Monday, Jan. 9, at 9 p.m., the premise sounds laughingly outrageous: Mennonite communities in Mexico use communities in Canada to transport drugs over the border into the United States and vice versa, as a way to keep their farms going. The reality is, it’s happening.

“It amazed me,” Amo says during a set visit for media in Halifax. “I was always interested in doing a story about the Mennonites and I love to use any project that I have as an excuse to do research and learn stuff.” Amo’s grandparents on his mother’s side were Mennonites, the first of their community to move into the city and stopped using low German as their language. Pure represented as much an opportunity to visit part of his family’s history as it did to tell the tale of drugs being run into the U.S. via small-town Canada. Amo first read about the Mennonite mob in a magazine article and renewed the option on it for years before writing the pilot on spec. No networks in Canada or the U.S. were interested in his six-episode one-hour drama until True Detective and Fargo came along. Pure then spent over two years in the works at Shaw before the CBC picked it up.

Pure stars Ryan Robbins (Continuum) as Noah Funk, a newly-elected Mennonite pastor who rids his community of drug traffickers … and then comes under the scrutiny of mob leader Eli Voss (Peter Outerbridge, Orphan Black). This pulls Noah and his family—wife Anna (Alex Paxton-Beesley, Murdoch Mysteries), brother Abel (Gord Rand), son Isaac (Dylan Everett) and daughter Tina (Jessica Clement)—into a dangerous web with seemingly no way to escape. That is, until Noah finds an unlikely ally in Bronco Novak (AJ Buckley, Justified), a washed-up cop whose investigation into a burned-out car leads him to Noah, and DEA agent Phoebe O’Reilly (Rosie Perez), who has been tracking Eli for years.

“The Mennonite people speak their own language, Plautdietsch or low German,” Robbins says during a break in filming. “So, even if the police were on to somebody they don’t have anybody to translate those conversations. That’s how people were able to get away with it for so long.” Noah, Robbins explains, is an old-school Mennonite, with no electricity and a horse and buggy to get around in. A pious man, he’s challenged to keep his faith while betraying members of his colony and justifying his decisions in the name of God.

“Michael writes his characters very differently,” Robbins says. “They’re not cookie-cutter archetypes. Each character has quirks and they cast accordingly so that strengths will be brought to those characters.” The Vancouver-based actor “blasted through” Season 1’s six scripts quickly and marvelled at how he’d never heard or read anything like it before.

“I think a show like Pure could change the game for the CBC and for Canadian television,” he continues. “There is nothing like this on TV. I hope this show wows people. It wows me.”

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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