Warehouse 13: Nice Guys Finish First – Part 1

Eddie McClintock and Saul Rubinek have been around forever – McClintock in several TV shows and unlaunched pilots and Rubinek as a familiar face on TV and in films going way back. Both are also supremely nice guys who finally cashed in with the success of Warehouse 13, which wraps its strong second season on Syfy Tuesday following an all-day marathon. We had the chance to jump on a call with both men last week (Eddie from London and Saul from NYC) to chat about their success, the show, and what they’re doing while on hiatus.

The men reiterate what we heard from Paula Garces and Tia Carrere a few weeks ago – that the set is one big lovefest. “We all like each other, which is a relief since we’ve signed a long term contract … it could have been hell,” says Rubinek. “We’ve become a family, which is kind of cliché for shows. But we have a good time.” He gives credit to showrunner Jack Kenny, a former actor, for setting the tone. “When he was interviewed for the job, he said was going to bring comedy, drama, and family [together to] make a hit show and he was right.”

McClintock says having a good time is important when you’re working 15 hours a day, five days a week. “We know that we’ve got to get our work done,” he says. “And I think we [do], but we definitely try and keep it light and keep things from getting too tense.” He adds that it helps the guest actors who come in when the set is “nice and easy, [so] they can relax, be themselves, and have fun.”

Rubinek says the show’s success has made it easier for the network to attract top-level guest stars because they want to be on the show, “We’re getting our own little extended reperatory company of actors and they have been wonderful.” Judd Hirsch is coming up in the Christmas episode as Artie’s dad. Adds McClintock “It’s always nice to see them back because you make friends with them.” He gives a nod to Cody Runnels (aka “Dashing” Cody Rhodes), who guested in a crossover from Syfy schedule-mate WWE. “I thought he did an amazing job, on his first acting role,” he says. “When the camera gets in front of your face … and they go, okay it’s your turn … the pucker factor can go way, way up. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Rubinek was delighted to have Roberta Maxwell appear twice—last season and this season—as an agent who worked in the warehouse in the 60s. “[She is] a Canadian actress that I hadn’t seen since I was 19, 20 years old, when she was a member of the [theater] company at Stratford, Ontario,” he says. “And it was wonderful to see her again [this season] in a very moving episode.”

He says that collecting wonderful actors gives an impetus to the writers to bring the great guest stars back. “All of these people, they’ve brought the characters to life in a way that’s unexpected,” he offers. “If the writers want to do more with them … the audience is the beneficiary of that.
Rubinek is aware that the Claudia/Artie relationship, which came about after Allison Scagliotti’s one-off episode last year turned into a series regular role for the 19-year old, has its own fandom. “It’s a wonderful relationship that started right away because of the brilliant writing of [her] first episode,” he says. “We were old friends right away. And some of that relationship that you’re seeing is off set, too. The chemistry between us was magical right from the very beginning and the writers have a great time writing for us.”

Both men are exceptionally proud of the show, and this season, McClintock is glad that TPTB rein him in when necessary. “I love … that the people who are making the show know when Pete should be funny and when he shouldn’t,” he says. “I am such a laugh whore that I will always go for the joke. Thank God there is somebody there that will go … we don’t need it here.” In his 14 years as an actor, Warehouse 13 is McClintock’s first show to get to a second season, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

Rubinek is pleased with the way the second season came together. “The writers had quite an interesting and daunting task after creating a show that turned out to be the most successful series, audience-wise, in the history of [Syfy],” he says. “And now you have to follow it up.” He adds that people in his personal life have a no-spoiler policy about the show. “[They] have asked me not to give away stuff.”

He’s also particularly appreciative that the show keeps exploring the history and mythology of the warehouse while creating an overriding arc for each season, which gives the show a little bit more depth “We all care about each other, so the stakes get higher and higher for us,” he says. “[And] all good series [have] a common denominator like that.” He adds that the writers often come out to Toronto from Los Angeles when their episodes are filmed.

As for the green screen-ery, Rubinek jokes they refer to themselves as “shmactors,” as in “acting schmacting.” The heavier green screen episodes can be daunting. Says McClintock, “You just have to … hope that [it] doesn’t look like, a purple pterodactyl, and trust that the effects guys will not make you look like a fool. You don’t want to look like you’re on the original Land of the Lost.”

Rubinek says the key is to use the technology effectively. “Some of the most affecting stuff that we do is … between two or three people without any effects whatsoever,” he says. “[The producers] are smart enough to know that we’re not going to compete with $200 million movies. The audience is very sophisticated right now. It [has to be done] in the right doses. Anymore and you’d start to cheat [them].”

Both actors are enjoying the break before season three kicks off. McClintock has been pressing the flesh on a press tour through the France and the U.K. and is looking forward to time at home with his family in L.A. He also filmed a guest spot on the upcoming USA series, Facing Kate with Sarah Shahi, which starts in January. He and Rubinek are working on a movie that Rubinek, who has already directed four films, will write and direct. McClintock is also designing T-shirts for Syfy as a carryover to some tees he did for the crew. He’s working on a few designs that will be available soon from Syfy.com or eddiemcclintock.com.

They give big props to the props team on the show. Rubinek shared that his son Andy’s summer stint in the art department clued him in to how much work goes into the tiniest details. In one instance, a designer labored two days on an ancient pattern only to have done it vertically instead of horizontally, so they got lucky when they asked the director if they could rotate it as part of the dialogue and he said yes. “The art department is certainly one of the best in [my] 35 years of working on television and film,” he says. “I’ve never seen a more meticulous … dedicated … and imaginative group of people. I am so impressed. I think the secret weapon of our show is … the dedication and brilliance of the production design and the art department.”

Rubinek’s personal joy is the set that is Artie’s office. “That is where I live. If you come onto that set, it’s magical. They never get tired of shooting it,” he says. “There are all these nooks and crannies that you haven’t even seen on the show in detail. When I first walked on there, I said, okay wow no acting required. I just have to show up here.” It reminds him of Captain Nemo with a steam punk design combination of 19th century with 21st century technology. “It’s put together in a mysterious and beautiful way,” he adds. “They’ve extended that set now into the warehouse and up into the catwalks. There are doorways that we haven’t explored yet.”

Come back later this week for part two of our chat, and check out the season two finale Tuesday night at 9 pm EDT on Syfy.

Photo Courtesy of Syfy

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