[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
One of the many fun things about Citytv’s Hudson & Rex is how it’s tapped some of our favorite Canadian talent. Tuesday’s episode, “Manhunt,” is no exception. Republic of Doyle‘s Allan Hawco pops in to play an accused murderer who escapes from a transport van after an accident and uses the opportunity to try to prove his innocence. Soon he has the titular duo on his trail, and in close quarters when they find themselves pinned down by a gunman. The episode also features Being Erica‘s Sebastian Pigott and Killjoys’ Gavin Fox. I jumped on the phone with Hawco this afternoon to chat about the episode, and a few other projects.
With so much shared St. John’s talent between Doyle and Hudson & Rex, and the city being Hawco’s home base, it was never a matter of whether he would guest star, but when, and he was thrilled to jump in when the time, and the part, was right. Filmed last summer, the episode was the actor’s first project during the pandemic.
“They had the protocols down pat and it felt extremely safe. I was in good hands. It was really scary at that time. Newfoundland and Labrador was in a really interesting place because we had such a good handle on the COVID situation. That’s still to this day. We’re very lucky that way, but because so many people were coming from outside, it added another layer of risk that they handled brilliantly with their protocols,” he recalls.
“Paul Pope and I have had multiple discussions over the years, and my instinct was to wait and hope for the perfect part.”
“One of the writers, John Callaghan, who used to write for us on Republic of Doyle, [co-wrote the episode with Carol Hay] and my understanding is that they tailored the role with me in mind. When I read it, I could tell John’s portion of the script, that he was writing in my voice for me. So it was a lot of fun to read. And I [knew it would be] a fun experience. I had a great, great time, Eleanore Lindo, who directed, had also directed Doyle and [this] crew is such a large portion of that crew.”
Hawco had previously worked with Mayko Nguyen on Republic of Doyle but it was hit first time with the rest of the cast, and he was impressed with the series stars John Reardon and Diesel and his team. “John runs such a wonderful set in terms of being the number one. That’s a real responsibility that someone has. I mean, let’s be honest. Diesel is the real number one, and everybody knows that, but he is really welcoming,” he laughs.
“You never know what you’re going to walk into and he’s just so welcoming and warm. And Sarah Podemiski, who played my wife, that was our first time working together. But I’d worked with Jennifer, her sister, on Doyle and I’m friends with her other sister, Tamara. We became fast friends quickly and started collaborating on ideas and got real deep, real fast in our conversations on set about the work and all kinds of things. So it was a really wonderful sort of by-product of getting a job, doing the job, and then making some new friends.”
“The interesting part of the whole experience, aside from the series, is the process and the way that Diesel and his team of handlers work. It’s like a show within itself. It’s just wild to watch a dog [do all that]. I’ve never seen that before. I’ve never worked with animals that way. So it was really, really interesting and fun. And I love dogs.”
“Sherri Davis is Diesel’s trainer, and their dynamic together is fascinating …. it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. They’re talking to each other, almost like two people. And Diesel’s amazing.”
“And then there are other dogs, too. Glen Redmond is also my personal dog trainer. He trained my dogs with me and he’s a wonderful dog trainer himself. I’ve done a little tiny bit, but nothing to the extent of what Sherri and Diesel are doing.”
The last time I spoke with Hawco was in 2018 for CBC’s Caught, and at the time, he’d hoped the story might continue, but he says the team spent some time breaking potential arcs for a follow up before deciding that the existing five episodes stand on their own. It’s still available on CBC Gem, and US audiences now have a chance to see the series on Amazon Prime [all of our previews and that original interview are here].
For new viewers, he teases it this way, “It’s a five-part limited series based on Lisa Moore’s novel. I adapted it with some amazing writers. It’s based on the book, but also one of my friends actually had a personal experience very similar to what the book is based on. They’re not directly linked, but one of my friends in the film and television world, Garth Sexton, went through that experience. The plot basically is [about] my character, David Slaney. He breaks out of prison to get revenge on his partner who kind of set him up and he’s been in jail for five years. Through the jigs and the reels, I meet up with my partner and get revenge on him for having ruined my life. It has a wonderful cast and was one of my favorite things to write ever.”
Amazon is also the home to Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Hawco recurred in Season 2, which took him to the Colombian jungle for a month of mostly night shoots. “That was incredible for a number of reasons, working with Carlton Cuse, with the best cast, with Wendell Pierce and John Krasinski and the rest of the gang,” he says.
“I got to know everybody and we were all together in a pre-COVID bubble. It was a lot of fun, and I love playing the military types because they are so physical. I really appreciate and respect the process of trying to emulate the behavior of the people who really do it and put decades of their lives into it.”
“I was really fortunate, too, because [on Hyena Road, our Canadian] military trained me for weeks and weeks and weeks. So I had a lot of the basics covered, the technical stuff for how to operate firearms and how to hold it, how to do basic things. So when I showed up, it was a lot easier for me than it would have been had I not trained so much with our guys.”
“Our amazing military adviser, Kevin Kent, became a very fast friend. It was a wonderful gig. It’s always nice to be on a show of that scale, the sheer size of the crew, the epicness of the production, and working with someone like Wendell Pierce, who is one of my favorite actors alive.”
You can also catch Hawco in Season 1 of Global TV and Peacock’s Departure, where he filmed a guest spot role for Caught director TJ Scott.
It was a quick hitter in terms of time commitment, but thanks to some creative editing, his brief but pivotal role actually spans several episodes. “Christina Jennings, TJ, and I have been kicking ourselves ever since [that I didn’t do more],” he shares.
“I did it as a cameo, and thought, ‘This will be fun.’ So I did one day in Ontario and one day in England. They just called me and said, ‘Do you want to come and play for a day?’ and [TJ] ended up stretching it out in post so I ended up in every episode.”
Hawco recently joined the Cameo platform as an outlet to raise money for a charity organization near and dear to his heart. “Cameo approached me and I realized I could be doing it for Daffodil Place, a 24-room facility that provides accommodations for people from rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador that have to come to St. John’s to undergo cancer treatment,” he explains.
“I think people don’t realize that when you have to travel to go through cancer treatment, you have to find a place to live. So we have to raise $700,000 a year to keep the doors open. And I’ve raised about $2,000 already. It’s been fun and it’s an easy way for me to make another contribution. I’m like the official spokesperson or the honorary chair for the fundraising campaign.”
“If anyone wants to get a message from me, it’s $50, but it’s all going to charity.”
“Between that and [One Night Stand, it’s] our principle way of fundraising. They have no overhead. They have volunteers. They provide meals for people and it’s really quite beautiful. And the energy’s wonderful in there and the staff are so warm and inviting.”
Republic of Doyle is still going strong in reruns on various streaming services, including Netflix in the US, and Hawco enjoys that it’s still picking up new fans. “I think there have been a lot of people who’ve been looking for stuff to watch and have found it. And it’s on a few different platforms out there. I’m always so happy when people find it because it’s such an strangely unique show. It’s so, you know, it’s fun that people kind of get to enjoy it,” he says.
With so many reboots, he’d be open to revisiting the character and reuniting with his cast, including Mark O’Brien, who’s vaulted to success as both an actor and director since the series ended. “I would work with Mark in a heartbeat. He’s such a great guy,” he shares. He’s just such a delight to have on set. He’s first and foremost a brilliant performer. He takes the work and allows himself to be present in the work in such a natural way. He’s so compelling to watch. It’s not surprising that he’s finding all of the wonderful success.”
Hudson & Rex airs at 8 pm Tuesdays on Citytv and will be streaming on Wednesday. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos courtesy of Shaftesbury, Global TV, CBC, and Amazon, Video courtesy of Citytv.