[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
New CBC/CBC Gem/Paramount+ series SkyMed unspools this Sunday, and among the many treats of this summer confection is its fun #CdnTV casting. Among them, Killjoys alum Aaron Ashmore, who reteams with three of the Killjoys writing team – Julie Puckrin, Vivian Lin, and Nikoljine Troubetzkoy. You can read my conversation with Puckrin, who created SkyMed and is its showrunner, here.
Yesterday, I caught up with Ashmore to chat about the show, one of three series in which he recurs this year. SkyMed follows the exploits of twentysomething pilots and nurses as they live and work together running emergency medical air evacuations in Northern Canada. Ashmore plays the not-quite-elder statesmen, Weezer, who’s moved on from the communal living, marrying and settling down, but who finds himself back in the house often enough to dispel sage advice here and there.
It’s a role Ashmore relishes and a switch up from his days playing those twentysomethings. “It is really fun. And it’s a bit of a transition for me in my career, although I am now 42. Playing an older, more mature character is very fitting for my age, but I haven’t really done it a ton,” he shares.
“When I was doing Killjoys, I was kind of playing the fun-loving guy, but that was into my late thirties, too. So this is sort of a natural transition, I think, and the direction that my career is going to start taking now is playing more experienced characters.”
“Getting to work with Julie and a lot of the writers from Killjoys, they obviously know me quite well as an actor and what I can do. So it was really fun to get a chance to go in and do something different with those guys. It’s a very different vibe.”
“And the other interesting thing is that some of the actors on the show have worked, but they don’t have quite as much experience as me. So that kind of doubles for what’s happening with the characters and real life, too. It’s cool to be working with people who are super excited and fresh and getting in there and doing some good work. And it’s fun for me to watch as well.”
The series filmed in Winnipeg, and Ashmore says that helped the cast and crew settle into the familial energy that informs the characters. “I would come in for a few days at work and then fly back out, but it is really cool for everybody to be away from home because you do create more of a community within your actors and your crew,” he explains.
“Because nobody’s going home to their significant others or families, necessarily. It does leave the door open for more bonding and I think that that’s really what happened. I think everybody became pretty good friends over four and five months away from home.”
In the show, Weezer is a pilot of a teeny plane, which was a big switch from Ashmore’s ship-piloting days on Killjoys. “It really made me miss Lucy,” he laughs. “If you can fake flying a spaceship, you can fake flying a real plane as well. It’s pretty similar. It’s actually a lot easier to do the fake flying of a real plane because there were less battles going on in the air and crazy things happening all at once. It was a little bit simpler.”
“The planes are realistically sized, and they’re really not that big. So yes, you are crammed in there. To actually get into the cockpit of the plane, I feel like you have to be a bit of a yogi. You’ve got to be flexible. They wouldn’t want to film us getting in because it doesn’t look very cinematic.”
While there’s a scare with Weezer early on in the season, he does get back into the pilot’s seat, and Ashmore said there’s a fun moment where Weezer gets way outside his comfort zone. “He ends up flying a medical trip and he usually just does the supply runs and stuff like that,” he shares. “So he gets roped into doing this. And it’s fun to go on an accident mission, but he’s not really great with bodily fluids and blood stuff. So he struggles with that a little bit.”
Next month, Netflix’s Locke & Key returns for its third and final season, and Ashmore is back as Uncle Duncan, although he level sets that Duncan’s role isn’t as prominent as it was in the second – which was an expansion that Ashmore savoured.
“I got really lucky [in Season 2]. Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill, who were the showrunners, saw that Duncan could be a really good fit in the family and be a good fit into progressing the story,” he says. “I was only a recurring character in the first season and they said, ‘Hey, we want to bring you on and give you more to do and we think we’ve got a really great story arc, if you’re interested in it.’”
“And I said, ‘Of course.’ So I just think that I really lucked out and they saw something in the character and what I was bringing to the character that they really wanted to expand on. So that’s always nice, that’s what you hope for, especially when you’re playing a character you really like. [I felt like] there was more to him or there could be more to him, if given the chance, so I really appreciated that and I really had fun being on the team.”
As for what to expect for Duncan in Season 3 of Locke & Key, Ashmore says there is a really fun wedding episode for him and Brian once Brian is back from Tokyo.
Ashmore is keeping it in the Netflix family with another recurring role, on Season 2 of Ginny & Georgia, which should return later this year. “That was a really great, fortuitous thing. I was finished on Locke and Key and I think somebody at Netflix, I don’t know who it was. enjoyed what I did in Season 2,” he recalls.
“There was a role that opened up or that they were casting for, and a character they were going to introduce by the name of Gil Timmins, who is Austin’s father. And [Diesel La Torraca and I] just happened to look very similar. So I think that that was a big part of it.”
“They were shooting the show up in Toronto and my name came up and so I got to go in and play one of Georgia’s exes and Austin’s father and it was a really, really fun show to go into, very different than the genre stuff I’d been doing. It’s just not genre at all.”
“That was really interesting. And again, playing a little bit more mature, a father of a seven-, eight-year-old kid and more of a professional kind of guy and not rough around the edges or anything like that. So it was a very different role for me to step into, but it was just one of those awesome things that I just kind of rolled right into. I’d just finished SkyMed and then this popped up.”
Ashmore has also completed a romcom, How to Find Forever, which doesn’t yet have an airdate in Canada or the US but hopefully will land somewhere soon.“It’s really, really fun. I like to do those about once a year. You like to switch it up,” he explains.
“I really enjoy it. It all depends on who you’re working with, who you’re opposite. And working with Erin Agostino was just so much fun. We just goofed around and laughed the whole time. And it was an easy, really fun shoot. Sometimes they’re a little bit cheesy and silly but people seem to really love them.”
Next winter, you’ll be able to catch Ashmore in an episode of the new procedural anthology, The Accused. He just wrapped an episode with a six degrees of separation tie to his Locke & Key co-star Emilia Jones and her breakout award season juggernaut, CODA. “It’s a new case every week and [the accused] can be kind of morally ambiguous at times. Who’s right and who’s wrong, but normal people in a crazy scenario that ends up in these legal cases. The episode that I’m in is directed by Marlee Matlin and has to do with like a deaf storyline,” he shares.
“The whole process was very interesting because there are interpreters all over the place. A film set is a really fast-paced, difficult place to keep up with anyway. It was amazing to have all these interpreters and how everything just went super smoothly and how really, really cool it was to work with a lot of these actors and and with Marlee as well. And we were actually shooting in the exact same space as Locke & Key. So it was very full circle.”
Photos and Video Courtesy of CBC.