A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview Victor Webster, currently starring in the Canadian sci-fi hit Continuum, just a few days before his appearance at the Toronto Fan Expo and the long-awaited announcement that the show would be picked up for a second season.
So how’s your summer been so far?
Oh wow, like 95 degrees every day, which is great! I’d rather be hot like that than be knee deep in snow somewhere. It’s been great; I’ve been playing a lot of beach volleyball, hanging out in the sun as much as possible. That really is one of the perks of living in Southern California.
And you’re going to Fan Expo this weekend?
That’s right, this upcoming weekend, I’ll be there.
That’s fantastic. I love Fan Expo, I try to make it down every year.
Yeah, anytime I get an opportunity to mix and mingle with the fans of the show, or just people who appreciate the work that I’ve done, it’s great just to see their faces and get to shake their hands. It’s very rewarding.
You enjoy the convention experience, then?
For the most part, you know, because it takes a lot of energy. Someone comes up and they have a minute of your time and for them that minute of their time is very special. For you, you’re there for hours, and hours, and hours; you have to make sure you keep your energy up and I think it’s only respectful that you do give that person that minute of your undivided attention. It’s very little for you to do, but it can be really draining, flying in and meeting everybody, and having to run from here and run to there, you go work all week and then you do another convention… So I don’t do too many of them, but I relish the opportunity.
Continuum has had an amazing first season, with the premiere earning the highest single episode ratings ever of Showcase. What do you think was the main factor that drew viewers to the show?
You know, it’s one of those things: it’s a big machine, and there’s so many cogs working in this machine, and they’re all working correctly. I think the show is timely; it speaks to a lot of people about things that are going on in their lives, things that we can understand. The aspect of it being a procedural, sci-fi, character driven drama; there’s elements of all of those that people really love. I think they cast the show really well, it’s very well written, and it looks great… There are just so many positive aspects to the show, and you never know how people are going to respond, but the fact that they’re responding the way that they do is incredible!
With the season over, how do you feel about Carlos’s arc?
I like Carlos’s arc! I think they have that balance of having him involved enough that people want to see more of him, without giving you too much. I mean, there’s a lot of characters to work with, a lot of characters to develop in the show, and I think they do a really good job of really bringing you in as an audience and leaving you wanting more. That’s one thing that I like, and the fact that I get to be this kind of self-deprecating humorist, I get to do action sequences almost every single episode… This is kind of a dream job, really.
What’s your favourite aspect of it?
I love the action. Most of my life I have been an adrenaline junkie, so to be able to fire off 300 rounds of ammunition or to dive through a cement wall or to do these crazy chase scenes, that always appeals to me as an adventurist.
If the show gets picked up for a second season, where do you hope they’ll take the character?
Honestly, I leave it in the writers’ capable hands. They constantly surprise me, and I don’t really worry or think too much about it. I want to just go along for the ride, because they have some really great things planned, I’m sure, and I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t want to know, I’d just like to continue doing some more of the same; I really enjoy what they’ve written for me so far.
So you’re as much a viewer as the rest of us, only you get to play him?
Exactly! It’s like going to the sandbox every single day except my sandbox has a couple hundred people and a bunch of cameras filming what we do; it’s like playtime, it’s not work at all.
You’ve done a huge variety of roles, which is the one you found the most difficult to prepare for?
I think one of the most difficult ones was Rick Hansen in the movie Heart of a Dragon. He’s a world famous wheelchair athlete and activist who lives in Canada and has done a lot for the handicapped community. He pushed himself around the world in a wheelchair in the 80s to raise money and awareness. It was an incredible journey, spending that time living in his mind: he had such a driven, goal oriented, never say die kind of attitude. That was difficult, trying to get myself into the mindset that no matter what, if felt like he was going to go until he died, that he would never give up.
If you had to pick one, which role did you have the most fun doing?
It would have to be a combination between what I’m doing now on Continuum and the Scorpion King role. I had three months of shooting in Thailand, running around with a sword, fighting every single day, being picked up by elephants a thrown. I worked with some really great people shooting in the ruins and temples that were thousands of years old. That for me was just an exceptional job and an adventure.
Puppy Love airs soon, what can you tell me about it?
It’s just a departure from the things that I’ve done so far. Usually I play the killer, or the bad guy, or the big tough guy, and in this movie I’m a big softie. I play a professional baseball player and I lose my dog. I find the girl who has my dog, and she has a daughter; they’ve both fallen in love with my dog, so we agree to share custody and things go badly and things get better.
Did you enjoy the departure from what you’re used to, or would you rather stick to what you normally do?
Well I think the reason I got into acting was so I could play all these different characters, to travel the world and be in someone’s headspace for a short period of time. It’s a big adventure – and I keep using that word because it’s such a huge part of my life – anytime I have the opportunity to do something I just have a say yes kind of attitude; even if I don’t really feel like doing it, I’ll just say yes and do it. So these roles that I play they’re all adventures and I don’t like any one particular genre, I want to be able to do them all and really challenge myself.
Finally, I have to ask you, what’s your favourite TV show of all time and why?
Oh boy, that’s so difficult! There’ve been so many good ones. It depends on what time of my life; I used to love the A-Team, it was one of my favourite shows growing up. Now I love Breaking Bad, there’s just so many curveballs being thrown at you all the time and I love being surprised. I think the performances are incredible and it’s just interesting to see the wheel fall off the wagon for these characters all the time, and then having them scramble to figure out what to do.
As Victor himself stated at the Continuum panel, the fan base for this show, and really for the sci-fi genre in general, is an incredibly loyal and enthusiastic one, and the excitement was palpable as show creator Simon Barry simultaneously announced and tweeted the reaction to the news that they had been renewed by Showcase. The news was clearly a relief to many fans in the room, too accustomed to seeing their favorite shows disappear on prime time television, as was the announcement that talks were in progress to have the show delivered to American audiences. The show’s move south was particularly to the taste of star Rachel Nichols, who sheepishly admitted to having only seen bits and pieces of her own show due to the lack of access to it in the US.
The panel (which I shamefully admit to have been my first) was a great one, as relaxed and fun as its stars seemed to be, and touched mostly on the actors’ experiences on set and expectations or hopes for the second season. William Davis, to great acclaim, felt it was certainly the opportunity for more screen time for Alec senior; meanwhile I was shamelessly delighted with Rachel’s suggestion that Kiera ought to steal the boat and run off with Tahmoh Penikett, an idea I wholeheartedly endorse. However most of the actors seemed to have a similar approach to show, trying to keep out of the loop until the last possible moment, and keep the twists as unexpected as possible even to themselves. The writers have done an incredible job keeping the audience engaged, which clearly includes the actors, who delightedly rushed off the stage to join the fans in watching clip reels from the inaugural season and cheering for their favourite scenes (Kiera’s futuristic eye-shadow was a particular favourite of Victor’s.)
Even if I hadn’t been a recent convert to the fandom of Continuum, the panel and the interview would frankly have been enough to make me delighted that this intelligent, well written show, with its genuinely fun, smart, friendly cast is sticking around and expanding to the US. As it is, I’ll be anxiously awaiting our second season next spring.