[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s been about a year since I chatted with Ian Tracey, and in the intervening 12 months, he’s been busy. He’s banked appearances on The Romeo Section‘s second season, Motive‘s final season, and the first seasons of Travelers on Showcase (and Netflix in the U.S.) and the upcoming Incorporated for Syfy. I called him last week to catch up on his projects.
On The Romeo Section, Fergie is now hooked into Rufus, who received a not-too-subtle warning from Wolfgang to avoid getting on Fergie’s bad side. We haven’t seen that come up yet onscreen, and Tracey says we’ll have to wait and see where that goes, but he was happy to pop back in for the second season.
“Ostensibly, I was there the whole time to be put to task by Rupert [Wolfgang] to lean on a couple of his assets. As far as I knew, that’s what I would continue to do,” he says. “They don’t get too in-depth with telling you what’s rolling out down the road. Like the good old days. It was like that as a main player on Da Vinci’s and Intelligence. We were finding out week to week what we’d be up to.”
“[Fergie] is not a man to be trifled with. He’s a street cop, hard as nails. He’s seen it all and done it all, dealt with everybody, every kind of hard-ass criminal there is. Rufus … might get the idea he can use his alpha dog attitude to push back, and [Wolfgang warns him] that dealing with a cop of this caliber, you don’t want to mess around. You can be leaned on very hard. [Rufus] comes up with a couple of details to brush them back.”
“[Fergie] has a past with Rupert, and the nature of that hasn’t been fully disclosed. Now they’re colleagues who will lend a hand in time of need.” Another treat this season is the return of Tracey’s old Da Vinci‘s partner, Donnelly Rhodes. He couldn’t confirm or deny whether Fergie will cross paths with Rufus’s pop, but says we won’t be disappointed if we’d like to see them together.
On Travelers, Tracey plays Sam, an attorney for Philip (Reilly Dolman), the traveler who arrived to find his host was/is seriously addicted to drugs. Sam is a procurer of sorts, getting Philip what he needs and making a little side cash from Philip’s ability to help him with prescient gambling advice. He’s only in a handful of episodes this season, but would love to return if there’s a second go.
“Because I was being pieced out with no definite end to the arc, and I’d been consumed by [Incorporated, which filmed in Toronto], they had to not keep writing me in. I’d love to come back,” he shares. “It’s a show that could allow for that in a couple of different ways.”
“Each one of these people has somebody in their life who was here already. They have to slip into the hosts and make do with what’s around them. [My character] is a bit of a rounder. I gave him the back story that he got into the profession of law through some gangster activities. He can take advantage of things by knowing how to skirt.”
One of Tracey’s Travelers co-stars is Jared Abrahamson, whom Tracey worked with on the Canadian indie film, Hello Destroyer, which is garnering critical acclaim on the festival circuit for its pulls-no-punches portrayal of hockey and what it can do to its young players.
“I became aware of [director and writer] Kevan Funk after seeing a couple of his short films. I really, really liked his style. He has a way of letting things sit and ruminate and wash over the viewer,” Tracey explains. “I was fascinated by that and thought, ‘Here’s a guy I’d really like to work with.'”
“We hear about hockey and football, and the brutality has gone to a whole other level. The gear has improved and it creates this mentality of invincibility and you can use the gear as weapons against each other. They’re encouraged to play rough. As soon as something happens, they’re turned into a black sheep and left hanging.”
“It was great to put the microscope on that and see how a young man’s whole psyche can be affected, and his whole life be taken over with one bad decision in a game that’s going 50 miles an hour. I was very happy to go work on that. I’m curious to see what Kevan will do down the road and I hope he’ll think of me again.”
In the upcoming Incorporated, Tracey is completely terrifying in a mischievously gleeful way as Terrence. Part of the role involved a very specific look and Tracey enjoyed sliding into that persona. “He’s definitely an entrepreneur and at any chance, he’s going to grab a buck. He and Theo [Eddie Ramos] have a working relationship that’s symbiotic. Theo needs the situation that [Terrence is] handing to him as much as Terrence needs the cash cow,” he says.
“It takes about two and half hours to process all [the tattoos]. It’s a daily thing. It takes about a half hour to clean it all off. They can’t leave it on because they’re transfers. I hadn’t anticipated any of that when they brought me out for the pilot.”
“When I got there, they put me through what started off as a pretty severe haircut, and then the tattoos came out and then they dressed him to the nines. I was feeling like Conor McGregor, a nice tapered suit and a lot of ink. It helped me build the character. Once all that stuff is on, you get another feeling altogether.”
Tracey finally got his shot at Motive and enjoyed getting to go play before they wrapped up. “That came out of the blue. I was happy to do it,” he says. “I really like the people and it had a different style and type of storyline than Da Vinci. In terms of it being a procedural cop, drama, it was a very comfy place to be … although being on the other side of it, playing a perp.”
We’ll see Tracey early next year in an episode of Supernatural, his second stint on the series. “The first character I played was a secondary character. This time, I’m a completely different character. They have a lot of fun on that show. I got to do a little bit of fighting, a couple of magic tricks here and there. That was a great week and a half,” he says. “It’s such a well-oiled machine. They just glide through the day.”
“[Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki] are some hard-working gents. When they’re not shooting, they’re going to conventions. They’re paying back to the fans all the time, and as a result they have a huge following. When we were shooting in public, there was always a contingent of young ladies hanging out for glimpse. They’ll go out and sign stuff and say hello.”
Tracey says recurring on three vastly different series this year helped him amp up his game. “It keeps things changing. On one level, because I had two or three shows overlapping, although I was only doing a little bit in each, I felt like I was working full-time but changing up the character,” he points out.
“It sort of felt like being a hired guitar player, a studio musician. ‘Show up, tell me when to jump in, what key are we in, let’s go.’ I can feel in some ways that my senses as an actor have tightened up over the last year because it’s been changing so rapidly and not just for a one-off, but for a continuing piece.”
“One day you’re in a reggae band, another day you’re in a blues band, and then you’re going to go play some jazz. I feel like each of the parts has given me enough dialogue to alter the characters a little bit. Sometimes, if the genres are close enough to each other, you feel like you’re going from one gig to another doing the same thing, and you don’t really want to get stuck doing that.”
“Over this past year, I feel really lucky that they’ve all been different. I’m playing a current regular everyday copy, and a futuristic gangster entrepreneur, and a shady drunkard lawyer. I feel like I can get in and remember these scenes like they’re song lyrics.”
This week on The Romeo Section, the stakes are higher than ever as Lily takes the gloves off in her seduction, Norman reels as he frantically searches for Sonya, Wolfgang dives deeper into their suspect, Rufus continues moving pieces on his chess board, and Mei Mei gets a not-so-subtle reminder about her place in the pecking order.
The Romeo Section airs Wednesdays at 9:00/9:30 NT on CBC. Here’s a sneak peek of “Rising Tide.”
Photos Courtesy of CBC, CTV, Showcase, and Syfy, and Video Courtesy of CBC.