Y’all already know that I have very mad love for Republic of Doyle. So just imagine my goofy reaction when we were offered a phone chat with Allan Hawco as part of CBC’s Culture Days. I may have squealed. I admit nothing. What I will tell you is that he is as utterly charming and gracious on the phone as he is onscreen.
He called from Vancouver, where he was participating in the CBC festivities, and was a bit overwhelmed that it took so long to fly from Newfoundland to Vancouver. “I could fly to Paris and back and it wasn’t as long as the flight to Vancouver,” he marveled. Despite the trip length, he was happy to be in BC. He loves that each province has such a distinct feel and yet they’re all part of one country. “I find Canada a bit of a miracle that way,” he added.
He loves that that same unity is also reflected in the success of RoD. “We have a show that the people in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Vancouver or wherever [can] connect with on the same level,” he points out. He says that was always his hope when he was putting the show together. “If I could just represent us authentically within the realm of suspension of disbelief of a fun PI show in a small town in Canada,” he says. “[I could] open the door to Canada [so everyone] feels like it’s their show everywhere and it would also connect in the rest of the world.” He’s very proud that vision has come to pass. “We really set out to make the show for everyone and not to isolate anyone in terms of our audience. That’s something we’re [actively] trying to hone in on.”
It’s a busy time for Hawco – he’s in production on season three (yay!) and simultaneously wearing writer/producer/actor hats on multiple episodes. “We’re shooting episode eight. I’m doing rewrites on episodes nine and ten, and editing episodes one, four, and five,” he says, a bit breathless as he recounts his current slate. He adds that there’s no opportunity to compartmentalize each of his roles behind the scenes along with playing the role of Jake. “You just have to go with it,” he admits. “Jake goes through the same things I do – he is always torn in 18 different directions.” Hawco finds having that in common with Jake helps feed the character. “I love being super busy and super active and going from one place to the next,” he says. “It’s kind of a dream job for me. Right now is the toughest time. In about a month and half, we break through that wall and all the scripts are written. We’re hitting all our deadlines and ticking things off. By February, we’re just editing and sound mixing.”
I asked about the quandary of having the season air at the point when they’re almost done with production on it, i.e. whether that affected the show’s bible or the plot arcs. “You’re delving into the fear in [my] mind,” he laughs. “Every year, it’s horrible, but you’ve got to give it. My skin has gotten much thicker because I have zero control over whether our show is going to hit the right audience or be renewed. You’ve got to just go blind and jump off a cliff. And really give it all you can in development of the bible and the new episodes for a potential next season.”
He adds that you can’t hold back and have to be willing to fail, which works as a larger life lesson, too. It’s gotten easier, though. “We’ve been forced into it before and I was hesitant because I didn’t want to get my heart broken,” he points out. “What we do now is, as we’re finishing up the last episode, we’re already planning the next season. We’ve always had a five-year plan and a subsequent eight-year plan. We just give ‘er, no holds barred, and hope for the best.”
Hawco wouldn’t spill details about the third season, which will pick up after the bit of a reset that closed season two, but he did tease that this season is by far his favorite. “For the satisfaction of our loyal viewers, I will say there’s a formula for the show that we’ve discovered, and we want to maintain the familiarity of that, but it’s always fun to explore other options, [too],” he offers. “We really know the show. We understand the plots, the mystery, and the action, and most importantly, the character developments. It’s just a romp ride from beginning to end. It’s so much fun. We’re had so much fun shooting it, and our guest stars are having so much fun – some from before and some new.”
Among the new are Hawco’s buddies, Russell Crowe, Kevin Durand, and Scott Grimes (along with Alan Doyle, who did an episode last season), who spent a week on the set in August filming an episode for season three. “You can only imagine the level of professionalism those guys bring and our set didn’t change at all,” he says proudly. “We’re very much an actor’s company. We were super respectful of [Crowe’s] time and he’s got a lot on the go. But we don’t waste anybody’s time or a page or a minute of shooting time. We’re super efficient.”
Aside from having the cache of an Academy Award winner on set, Hawco enjoyed the master class in acting he got working opposite Crowe, whom he freely calls the greatest actor alive. As the episode came together, he tried to write roles that would fit each actor’s individual dynamic and the dynamic of the group as friends while also letting them play roles different from what they’re normally associated with.
The week was a joy for Hawco. “Russell is one of the most generous actors I’ve worked with,” he says. “He’s the real deal. They all are.” I asked how he could top that, if he had a wish list, and he said he’d never ask for more than he’s already received. He says loves working with the best actors, who he also finds are the least difficult to work with, who understand it’s about the machine of the show and not the individual. “Every time I get to do that, I feel like the like the most fortunate man in the world. “
I was curious about whether the dance between Jake and Leslie was always part of the plan, or if it came together organically. Hawco says it’s part of the mission statement of the show. “It’s always such a tricky dynamic. I don’t want to repeat myself,” he says. “We want to keep everything fresh between the actors and those two characters. It’s a plan and there’s a longer arc for those two and I think we’re well on track.”
We can’t wait to see where it goes! The second season of Republic of Doyle is available now on DVD. Season three kicks off in January on CBC.
Photo Courtesy of CBC