[Warning: Spoilers for Season 2.]
Season 2 of SkyMed, which wrapped for Canadian audiences earlier this fall and is now streaming in its entirety alongside the first season, dropped this week on Paramount+ in the U.S. and around the world, which makes it a great time to check in with Aaron Ashmore.
Starring among the large ensemble as Wheezer, who’s in charge of the pilot program and hasn’t uite pivoted away from hanging out around his charges, this season, Ashmore has a much more expanded and multifaceted arc, as do most of the characters. The jam-packed nine episodes plumbs multiple rich, and timely, storylines — in addition to the romantic lives of its ensemble and their weekly cases — from addiction, recovery, grief, and illness to being the generation caught between new children and aging parents to navigating the complexities of retaining your heritage and generational knowledge amid a demand for an allopathic mindset, all while representing a nation that oppressed your ancestors. There’s a lot going on. If you’re doing a binge-watch this weekend, get ready!
Ashmore was excited to see Wheezer’s world expand in Season 2 of SkyMed as he enters a new romance with Hayley (Natasha Calis) and faces some professional hurdles and hiccups after he’s promoted to a new supervisory role.
The romance plays out over the course of the season, and while it begins as a pairing of convenience, it takes a turn toward genuine affection and empathy as secrets are revealed and struggles are faced.
Ashmore enjoyed playing the richness of that, once he clarified a couple of protocol things. Number one is that Wheezer is separated from the wife mentioned last season, so he’s not stepping outside his marriage. And two, he’s not subverting the power dynamics because he’s actually not her boss.
“At the beginning, before you go to work, they let you know somewhat how much you’re gonna be involved. And they definitely said that I was gonna have more screen time and that I was gonna have a romantic relationship with Haley. And that’s new because Wheezer had been married,” he says.
“I do have to admit that when they mentioned that, I said, ‘You guys know that I’m like 20 years older than her, right?’ Maybe I don’t play that much older in the show, but in real life, I’m pushing 45. The other thing was that Wheezer had been promoted to chief pilot, [so I asked whether] that was also a bit of a strange power dynamic. And Julie [Puckrin], the creator and showrunner said, ‘No, He’s the boss of the pilots. He is not the boss of the nurses.'”
“And the age thing, it is what it is, right? It’s just two people who genuinely are struggling. And I think they find each other to lean on. I don’t know if it will be a great romance or if it’s just two compassionate people who found each other in this time of need.”
“The character development is sort of the most interesting thing for Wheezer because he was kind of a screw up, and maybe that’s not the best way to characterize him, but he’s a bit of an underachiever. Everybody else there is really trying to work up to something and push themselves. And he was happy to say, ‘I’m not trying to be a commercial airline pilot. I like flying these planes. I’ve got my family up here. I’m happy.’”
“He was everybody’s buddy, joking around with everybody, sort of a mentor, but not in a super professional way. And so for him to step into this role where he now has to be the boss to his buddies and be responsible for some of that stuff comes with some conflict and comes with some issues.”
“The couple big things that happen are a misunderstanding with Lexi (Mercedes Morris) and not understanding what it would be like to be a female pilot. And [when it aired in Canada], people said he’s such a piece of crap, and how could he do that? And all this sort of stuff. I [thought then], ‘Well, just wait.’ In my mind, I [knew] he comes around when he’s taught a lesson,” he shares.
“I think that people jump to conclusions if you don’t have everything right, or if you don’t have everything figured out, you’re a terrible person, and sometimes people need to be taught a lesson, and then once they have all the information, how do they react to that? Do they do the right thing? Or did they continue to be an idiot?”
“I think [for Wheezer], it was an honest mistake that he just misinterpreted what was going on and in doing so, really hurt Lexi and screwed up her potential progress for her career. But in the end, she laid it out to him and said, ‘This is what happened, and this is how you made me feel, and this is not okay.’ And I think that he responded in kind by doing the right thing.”
“And the other time that he had some problems was with his buddies with Chopper (Praneet Akilla) and Bodie (“Ace” Aason Nadjiwon) when they’re goofing around because they’re grounded and they’re bored, so they’re rolling the planes, and maybe two years ago that would’ve been a cool story to tell your boss, or Wheezer would’ve thought that’s cool.”
“But now, [his POV is], ‘You’re screwing up everything with the business and I can’t have that.’ And he kind of lays it down on them. And I think that’s a big surprise for those characters to [realize] their buddy is not just their buddy anymore, he’s the boss and he’s gonna yell at them when they screw up. It was fun to play that stuff and find those new dynamics with the character and definitely have more to do, as well, which is always nice as an actor.”
While Ashmore gives a nod to co-star Calis, with whom he shared most of his scenes this season, he really enjoyed watching the ensemble at work, and Morgan Holmstrom’s arc.
“I think everybody did a really, really great job. There are a lot of characters. I really love Crystal’s character and her story,” he explains.
“And I really like Natasha’s work and her storyline, but I’m such a part of it. Morgan just does such a great job and they write really, really well for her. And she really brings it. I really like what she’s done with the character. But that being said, across the board, there’s not a weak point in the cast or in the storyline. Everybody’s very compelling.”
Behind the scenes, filming on Season 2 of SkyMed shifted from Winnipeg to North Bay and Ashmore says the cast enjoyed the swap, and he loved being closer to home.
“[Last season], we were all staying in Winnipeg, but all the locations were an hour and a half an hour or so out of town. So the amount of travel back and forth [made them] start thinking about other places,” he points out.
“North Bay is a very small town, but it has a great film community. And you don’t really need to commute. It’s like a 10-minute drive to some of those scenic locations. I think everybody really enjoyed working there. I think because it was a smaller town, and there was less to do, everybody hung out more. Everybody seemed much happier and vocalized that. When I have time off, I’m not hanging out. I’m coming home to try and spend time with family and [and it was great] not spending half the day in an airport to get there.”
One of the takeaways from the tandem strikes last summer was that Netflix finally released streaming metrics for everything.
Ginny & Georgia, which Ashmore joined as Gil for Season 2 last year, blew the doors off, ranking second of all of the streamer’s programs in 2023 with a whopping 665.1 million hours viewed. “It’s amazing, because you never know what’s gonna happen. I knew that the first season had done very, very well. So I knew it was a very popular show,” he says.
“That being said, I didn’t know if the second season was gonna be popular. I didn’t know how people were gonna take my character. And as much as people hate the character, they kind of love to hate him. Because it’s such a watched show, you do get a lot of people commenting online. I had some very nasty things people said to me, and literal threats. I didn’t feel scared, but it made me feel like, well, I did a good job.”
“Because if people feel that strongly about it, then the character was written well and we executed it well. It was a fun character to play, even though he is a total piece of garbage. As an actor, it’s fun to stretch your different muscles and dip your toes into things. And it’s awesome to be a part of something that was so well received. It got picked up for a third and fourth season, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Ashmore has also banked a feature film called What Comes Next.
“We shot that in Vancouver in August. It’s a really, really fun, cool script. Alex [Caulfield], the writer/director, was really, really cool to work with. And I hadn’t shot a feature in quite a while. I’ve been doing a lot of TV and TV movies, but to actually shoot a feature, it’s a different thing. It’s much more artistic in a lot of ways because they have to pick what they’re gonna shoot. They can’t just shoot the crap out of everything,” he explains.
“I would say in a lot of ways it’s a coming of age story about a younger woman and a family dynamic. And my character is an old family friend who comes back into the picture after a death in the family. He shakes things up in the dynamic and has a bit of a romance with her. I’ve played so many good guys and nice guys over the years, and as I’m getting a little bit older, I’m starting to play [roles that are different from that]. He’s sort of pulled in different directions in different ways and he makes some bad decisions.”
Photos courtesy of Lindsay Sarazin and Pief Weyman/Paramount+ and Marni Grossman/Netflix and video courtesy of Paramount+.