Roger Cross on Filming Coroner Season 3 and a Challenging Arc for Mac

Tonight, we welcome Coroner back with its Season 3 premiere.  And after previewing the first episode, you’ll want to buckle up for another twisty, turny ride.

Roger Cross, aka Detective Donovan “Mac” McAvoy, chatted with us ahead of the premiere about not only filming during COVID but how it’s incorporated into the storyline and finding moments of levity when dealing with dark subject matter. He also teases some health challenges that Mac will be facing this season.

Warning: there are some minor spoilers ahead for the season premiere.

Watch Roger Cross in Coroner Wednesdays on CBC and on CBC Gem, and if you haven’t already, read our interview with creatives Morwyn Brebner and Adrienne Mitchell.

From the first moments of the premiere, COVID is front and centre. Why do you think it was important to include that in the Season 3 storyline?

You can’t deny it, especially when you do any kind of show that has to do with medicine, coroners, or crime. Denying and not dealing with it is silly. I’m glad we’ve dealt with it in the way we have, that we’re making our way through it and doing our best. In dealing with long term care facilities in the premiere, historically there have been several of those places that have had issues. So dealing with that, and with COVID really shining a light on how bad some of those places are. It’s a good thing that people are more aware, but it’s also bad because it’s happening. It was a no brainer for us to deal with it, and there’s no point in shying away from these subjects.

Even with Black Lives Matter, we dealt with that subject in Season 1. What’s great about Morwyn Brebner and the rest of our writers, they deal with these real subjects in a human way and there are people out there that can relate to them.

Mac and Jenny find themselves at a memorial for their victim, and things take an unexpected turn when they unknowingly eat weed brownies. Can you share a bit about filming those scenes?

From day one we’ve had that degree of levity. In the midst of the craziest circumstances, you see something that looks out of place, and it makes you laugh. Or someone says or does something that brings joy. In this case, it’s completely accidental, but in that moment, Jenny and Mac bond with each other and take care of each other. We went outside and had that great moment where we just laughed. When we were filming, it was a genuine moment for us. We enjoyed laying down in the grass and cracking up. Now that people know these characters, it’s fun to see them have these moments of levity. It was fun to shoot, but I guess you won’t have me singing at your wedding or anything like that any time soon.

I thought you did a fantastic job. Also, I know it’s a memorial, but I want to go to a party like that.

Exactly. Karaoke is always a hit at every party I’ve been to. You put the mic out there and by the end of the evening, people are fighting over it. It’s fun for Mac to get that opportunity to express something inside him that he would never normally do because he’s such a controlled guy.

I had to take a moment to catch my breath at one point in the premiere where it looks like Mac is facing some health issues. Without getting into any spoilers, can you tell us a bit about that arc?

Before the season started when I talking to Morwyn about storylines, she asked, “What do you think of this?” She and the writers did their research on the steps if this were to happen to someone, and shared it with me. I can say it’s something that’s touched almost everyone’s life, including myself. When you get to tell this story and hear other people’s stories about what they went through, it’s devastating. The story is beautifully done. Donovan MacAvoy is used to being in charge, and not being in charge is something he’s dealing with this season. We’ll get to go on this journey with him to see how he handles it.

Are there any specific cases that you’re excited for viewers to see?

There’s an interesting one where Mac gets to talk about old Jamaican folklore that will be interesting. We get to tell ghost stories, and we get a little throwback to the 80s. There is some really great camera work, too, and the directors knock it out of the park. We have a 10-minute shot that goes from outside then onto a car, following me into a building all the way through.

When you look back at filming this season, is there anything that really stands out for you?

It was an amazing season. It’s funny, with COVID looming over us, we made it through. When we wrapped last week, it was a breath of relief. Getting through the season without any real incidents was a huge credit to the team and the group that we had working with us in the city to keep us safe. You had to put a mask on after you finished a scene, and stay away from people you normally associate with. It was strange, but we were in it together. We wanted to get the season done and make sure we all stayed safe, so everyone was on board.

Do you have any final thoughts about Season 3 that you’d like to mention?

I think you’re going to enjoy the season, and the final shot that we did near the end of the season finale is brilliant. The scene is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and everything at the same time. It was a tremendous way to wrap things up with that final shot.

Photos Courtesy of CBC

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