The Saviour of Sudbury: On Set with ‘What Would Sal Do?’ Star Dylan Taylor

Following some setbacks, the very funny What Would Sal Do? has a home on CraveTV! The comedy series centres on a coddled Italian-Canadian named Sal (played by Dylan Taylor) who lives in Sudbury, Ontario with his mother … and finds out he’s the second coming of Jesus.  From what I’ve seen so far, the show is — to coin a word from Homer Simpson — sacrilicious, and while it has many laugh out loud moments, it has such heart. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: Sal is short for Salvatore, which is the Italian word for saviour.

I visited the Sudbury set of What Would Sal Do? and got to chat with the cast, including Dylan Taylor, a familiar face from other series including Pure, Rogue, and Covert Affairs. We talked about his role as 30-year-old Sal, the only child of a single mother, Maria (Jennifer Dale), and the life-changing news that he learns about his miraculous birth. (Warning! There’s some NSFW content ahead, as well as some mild spoilers)

I think I knew a Sal or two growing up, although their mothers only treated them like they were the son of God, and weren’t allegedly the actual second coming. Did you know any guys like Sal?

I grew up in the east end of Toronto in a multicultural area, and I knew these guys as well. I didn’t realize how many Sals I knew, the general hard-headedness, the fact that they think they’re right and never wrong, and the arrogance and bravado that comes with it. Playing a character like this was surprisingly easy. We have a joke going: “If you don’t know a Sal, you are a Sal.” I know a lot of them so I’m not quite him, but it just comes really easily. Series creator Andrew [DeAngelis] grew up with these guys, so it’s written accurately. The fun concept of the show is that we all know these archetypes, but now it’s actually, “No no no, my son actually IS Jesus.”

Sal comes across as a bit of a fuck-up, but he always has the best intentions.

At the core, Sal is a good person. I’ve been playing with the notion that he was born Christ-like, and if it wasn’t for being spoiled by his mother for raising him the way that she did, he would have achieved great things. If he had been raised in a different environment, he could have been a scholar at 15, or if he’d had the right coaching, he could have been a pro hockey player. He’s got all the gifts and tools and talents in the world. He’s a blessed, gifted individual, but circumstance and being raised with a sense of entitlement has made him a douchebag. The fun part is that he’s not an asshole trying to be a good person; he’s this person who is extremely good, but has been turned into an asshole with 30 years of being spoiled. He has all this bravado — talking shit, trying to fight people, and drinking — but at the core he doesn’t have an evil bone in him. When he does something violent, it’s for a reason, like sticking up for someone. It’s fun playing somebody who is so wrong in some ways, but is also 100 percent right.

One of Sal’s first good deeds after being told he’s the second coming of Christ is to take a homeless man (portrayed by K. Trevor Wilson) to a rub and tug.

Yes, and in Sal’s mind, that’s a really nice thing to do for somebody. Sal loves the rub and tug. It helps him relax. Sal doesn’t know where to start when his mom says he has to help people, So Sal finds a homeless guy, and that’s the first person that Sal tries to help. He’s the first apostle. Sal wants to give him some money, but everyone wants to give him money. Sal offers to buy him lunch, but Sal’s not the first person to buy the guy lunch. Sal has to do something special. Sal doesn’t take him to a job training centre — which might have made sense — or to a spa to get him cleaned up and then buy him a suit. Sal gets him jerked off.

Can I assume that the massage attendant is the Mary Magdalene in this story?

She very much is. Tiio Horn is the great actor who plays Nicole, and she is Sal’s Mary Magdalene. That relationship is a lot of fun. She gets him. She knows how much of an idiot he is, but also sees the goodness in him. Sal really gets to know Nicole throughout the season.

What is Sal’s relationship like with his parish priest, Father Luke (played by Scott Thompson)?

Father Luke is the closest thing that Sal would have had to a father figure, but Sal doesn’t have much respect for Father Luke. He’s very important to Sal’s mother as a confidant — and Sal respects that — but he’s not going to church every Sunday like he had to when he was a kid. When Father Luke comes over for dinner, Sal doesn’t pay him much mind.

You’ve mentioned that the homeless man becomes Sal’s first apostle. Who are the other people in Sal’s inner circle?

There’s Vince (Ryan McDonald) who is Sal’s lifelong best friend and neighbour. Growing up, Sal had a group of friends and was a very popular guy. At 30, these people have moved on in life, so now it’s just Sal and Vince. Sal doesn’t feel like he’s been left behind or that people have moved on without him. [He believes] what he’s doing is right, and everyone else is playing the sucker’s game. Vince is actually in the process of [leaving Sal behind] in a sense by going to business school. Then there’s Daryl (Scott Cavalheiro) who represents the people in high school that Sal really hurt. Daryl is getting revenge on Sal by being the lawyer that represents Sal poorly but unintentionally.

Photo Courtesy of CraveTV

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