Previewing Cardinal Season 3 With Billy Campbell

CTV’s standout drama Cardinal returns Thursday night with a taut season premiere that picks up at the moment that Season 2 ended, with Catherine’s death and John arriving to the scene after taking down Northwind.

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Cardinal Season 3

The episode also introduces us to the season-long case, when a young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time overhears a murder. The inspectors soon spin up on that while trying to close Catherine’s case, which is of course not quite cut-and-dry for Cardinal. Noelle (Kristen Thomson) also has her own personal and professional dramas to sort through.

New cast members this season include Devery Jacobs as the young witness, Indigenous student Sam, Aaron Ashmore as Randall Wishart, a local realtor desperately in need of a moral compass, and Rya Kilhsted, who we’ll see soon, as Sharlene “Mama” Winston, who’s collecting and reforming teenagers for reasons that aren’t wholly clear yet.

Series star Billy Campbell is getting ready to start shooting Season 4 and took the time to answer a few questions about the show over e-mail.

When he was initially cast, he hadn’t read the books, but was drawn to the show and the character of Cardinal.

“They had offered the part. My agent sent the script, which I loved but had to secretly turn down because I had promised my partner I would be around to help with our first kid, [who was] quite young at the time. [She was completing] her years-long degree in Architecture,” he shares.

Cardinal Season 3

“For some reason, as I first read the script, I was able to entirely see myself in the role. That’s not always the case, not even often the case. But with this role I felt it was me as soon as he started speaking on the page. Can’t say exactly why.”

“[It’s] one of only a few times I’ve felt it that strongly, over the years, and still, without telling my wife about it, I turned it down. [I] didn’t want to pressure her. Thankfully they checked back in with me a few weeks later, just to make sure.”

“I took it as a sign, told Anne, and told her I’d already turned it down so not to sweat it, if she didn’t want me to go away. She asked to read the script, did, and said she thought I ought to do it, bless her soul!”

“The real hook was I could see myself in the role. When that’s not the case, I still often do the job, maybe for other reasons; money, location, people involved, etc. But when I can believe myself in the role, it’s flat-out fun.”

Cardinal Season 3

Campbell says the caliber his Cardinal colleagues has reinforced that he made the right call in taking the role. “It has meant excitement, mainly because of the very talented people I work with, on both sides of the camera. When everyone around you is bringing all that creative energy to work, it’s nearly impossible not to be filled with energy yourself, despite one’s, ahem, advanced age,” he explains.

“I’ve been particularly inspired by our director Daniel Grou a.k.a. Podz and my co-star Karine Vanasse who plays Detective Lise Delorme, two of the most talented and endearing people with whom I’ve ever worked. Both are brilliant, neither knows it.”

He adds that the business aspect of TV sometimes means that the most intimate moments achieved by such a well-blended production can be lost.

“The hardest thing, I think, on any network show, is dealing with time limitation,” he points out.

“[The] show comes in at 42 minutes precisely (or whatever that number is), and so there are moments, wonderfully nuanced moments, which are the product of all that creative energy flowing back and forth on set, that are decapitated in editing. To sell soap. No one ever sees them! It’s always heart-breaking. But commercials are the real content of TV, we’re just the filler.”

Looking ahead at what Catherine’s death will mean for Cardinal and Delorme, and Cardinal and his daughter, Kelly, Campbell says that will be complicated. “Well, obviously, the show is kind of about Cardinal and Delorme and Catherine was one obstacle to really opening up with each other,” he says.

“So, you can well imagine that there might now be a kind of vertigo (as well as guilt) to things, as John and Lise, each in their own way, want to open up but are deathly afraid of such a thing. You’d think it’d be more or less smooth sailing now, with John and Lise, John and Kelly, but that wouldn’t be our show now, would it?”

Campbell has amassed several favorite memories over the first three seasons. “Hanging out with cast and crew; running in the [Northern] Ontario woods; laughing with Vanasse on set; Tuco’s Tacos in Sudbury; filming that bloody long, unbroken take of a pursuit scene through the guts of an abandoned school [in Season 1],” he lists.

“I could go on and on. Pretty much everything about this show has been a favorite memory of some sort or another. The show itself is pretty much my favorite career memory. I’m a lucky, lucky dog.”

Cardinal Season 3 premieres Thursday night at 9 pm ET on CTV. You can watch the first two seasons now on CTV’s website and CTV Go. Click here for all of our coverage.

Photos Courtesy of CTV

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