[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Here at TV Goodness, we claim our favorites, and if you’ve read me a while, you know how I feel about Lucas Bryant. Color me stoked when the Haven alum popped up in the cast list for a new Hallmark Channel movie, Tulips in Spring. which premieres this Saturday at 9/8c. I recently chatted with Bryant one-on-one about the film, Haven‘s conclusion, his recent film release, The Girl King, and his upcoming Canadian series, Shoot the Messenger.
Tulips in Spring marked a return to work for Bryant after a nice break. Shoot the Messenger wrapped in Toronto late last year and then, after an annual trip to Australia for the holidays, he took some time to hang out with his family. When Hallmark came calling, he was happy to go back to work, and even happier to switch gears to a romantic comedy.
“I got sent the script and I read it and thought it was lovely and that was that. It was a 14-day shoot in and around Vancouver, where I hadn’t been in a while, so that was nice,” he says. “We were in beautiful locations so that was gorgeous. I play Tom, who is working at the family farm of Rose, who’s gone back to help her parents. He re-introduces and re-inspires her to get in touch with her true self. He helps her see that she could be part of her family life again.”
The film was a nice change of pace after five seasons of Haven, followed by another drama in Shoot the Messenger. “It was cool to be able to smile and have a good time, not that my previous characters don’t have a good time, but this guys is much more relaxed and easy and comfortable,” he explains. “There’s definitely a genre thing that Hallmark has expertly developed over the years, but I think the thing to hold onto as an actor is just that there’s a lot of heart, and if you can get to the heart of things, you’ll be right where they need you to be.”
Bryant had a ball with co-star Fiona Gubelmann (Wilfred). “One of the things I enjoyed most was playing with Fiona. She and I were encouraged to have fun and enjoy each other, and there were some great scenes where we got to goof around and play off each other…that classic romantic comedy stuff.” he recalls.
“There’s a scene where Rose finally tells Tom she has a boyfriend back home. He’s mostly just listening because that’s the kind of guy he is, but there’s some playful ribbing. She’s reluctant to tell him, and he knows there’s something happening between them, and there’s some playful joking around about how great her boyfriend is [except] she hasn’t been [acting like someone who had a boyfriend]. She’s digging herself deeper in a hole, and I just keep watching her dig.”
Haven wrapped up its run late last year (my thoughts on that are here) and Bryant was kind enough to revisit the role and the show’s conclusion. He was happy with where the story ended, more so with some distance on it now, but says his first initial read through of the last script gave him pause, too.
“I’d be curious to know other people’s reactions. I think it’s something that the more I’ve sat with it, the more of a satisfying ending it’s become in my mind. I know when I initially read it, I had some reservations. I didn’t know if it was going to be the ending that people wanted,” he admits.
“What that ending was or is or could be, I have no idea, and I’ve since come to see or feel that it is the perfect ending as far as Audrey and Nathan’s story goes. I can’t really picture it happening any other way at this point, and I do feel the further I get from it, the more satisfying it feels to me. I hope people have that experience, too. There was something timeless about their love story. Even when she was Sarah or Lucy, that person was still in there for Nathan, whether he was actively seeking it or not. I’ve had to let [any] questions be a beautiful ending.”
While he says Duke’s fate wasn’t a complete surprise because the show was built around the idea that sacrifices would be made, he didn’t actually find out the how and when of it until he received the script for that episode. “I’m just guessing here, but I imagine that Nathan having to kill Duke was something that was always in the pipe, regardless of how it had to work out,” he points out.
“I think Duke being the martyr was always the plan, but we didn’t have those conversations. I don’t think I knew anything about that until that script. I’m trying to recall now. I think I suspected that things were coming to a head and something had to give, It was shocking, regardless, but it wasn’t out of the possibilities of reckoning.”
While nobody’s broached the topic of getting the band back together for a follow-on film or web project, Bryant says he’d return in a heartbeat. “We haven’t had those conversations yet. I would definitely be willing to have then, and see where it goes,” he says.
“I love those characters and I would love to do anything with those people again. Emily [Rose], Eric [Balfour], Adam [Copeland] and I would gladly go on the road and do a traveling circus show. We all really dig each other so that part would be easy. [If] the people who make those decisions can get that thing going, that would be great.”
The final season of Haven was released on DVD last month, and Bryant recorded commentary on his directorial debut, “Enter Sandman.” “I did a commentary with Shernold Edwards, who wrote the episode. I don’t know if there are extras [on my episode],” he says. “There weren’t any big scenes from that episode that didn’t make that episode. My director’s cut was different than the one that went to air, but that’s always the case.”
His experience helming Haven was so positive that he hopes to do it again. “I’m always entertaining the idea of directing I absolutely loved it. It’s hopefully something I can do if and when we get a future with Shoot the Messenger. I’m looking for and open to all these opportunities. I had an amazing time doing that.”
The Girl King is a feature project Bryant worked on in the spring of 2014, between the fourth and fifth seasons of Haven. After playing the film festival circuit last year, it landed online and on DVD in December. The role took Bryant to Finland for a story set in the 17th century and based on an actual Queen.
“[Kristina of Sweden was] quite a dynamic historical figure. She was in many ways responsible for what Sweden has become [with] learning, higher education, and an appreciation for art. Before her, it was a dark and dreary place,” he explains. “She wanted to create an Athens of the North, and that made her a very polarizing figure.”
“She courted the showier aspects of Catholicism and…ended up renouncing her throne and going to join the pope in Rome. She falls in love with one of her ladies in waiting, and that was a very forbidden thing. She was inspired by Descartes and other philosophers and, again, that was not something that was particularly embraced by her immediate world.”
“It’s a cool story and an amazing script. It’s also been mounted at Stratford. That was what was hugely exciting for me. I read the script [by Michel Marc Bouchard] in mid-2013. I was doing a Comic-Con thing in London for Haven. [It] was a beautiful script and very different than a lot of things I had been doing, which was mostly Haven at that time, so I was totally into it from the get-go, but it [took] a long time to come back around.”
Bryant had to fight for the role, and after chatting on Skype with the director, Mika Kaurismmäki, he finally put himself on tape to prove he could do something besides contemporary. “[After they saw the tape], thankfully they thought it could work. I grew out a mustache and beard; I had a lovely twirly mustache,” he laughs.
“The wardrobe was fantastic and wild and really amazing stuff. It was a huge and crazy dress-up party. There were actors from France and Germany and Sweden and Canada so we had to develop some sort of accent for then time. It was a really cool experience.”
One side benefit of the project is that it put him back on family soil, so to speak. “My Dad’s side of the family is from Finland, That was very strange and cool for me. I landed in Helsinki and felt like I’d been there before,” he says.
“I could see my Grandmother’s eyes and my Aunt’s cheeks, and everyone looked so familiar and then they opened their mouths. I was contacted by a man at the local Chamber of Commerce [who thought] we might be related [and he] sent me a bunch of info on my family and where we linked up from the little village in Finland. It was very cool.”
Since he’s been able to jump from drama to comedy to period roles, I asked what his dream role would be for one of our Twitter readers, and he said there’s no limit to what he’d like to do. “I’m always trying to answer that question for myself. [I’d like] to continue doing all of it,” he shares.
“I’d love to play a rock and roll star; I’d love to sing in a movie. I’d love to do a movie musical. I’d love to do a really strange noir, perhaps Scandinavian period piece. I’d like to do a totally silly 30 Rock-style comedy. The actors who inspire me are the ones who do it all and reinvent themselves in all these wildly different worlds.”
The next time Bryant will be onscreen after this Saturday is in Canada’s Shoot the Messenger, an eight-episode conspiracy thriller that we will hopefully get in the U.S. at some point. For now, it’s slated to run on CBC in Canada later this year.
“I am in every episode. I have seen three of them and pieces of [others] because I have been doing ADR and it looks fantastic. I play an investigative journalist who works with Daisy [Elyse Levesque from The Originals and Cedar Cove], who is our lead character. She’s a young rookie journalist, and she stumbles onto a case that is a story that is bigger than she anticipated and bigger than she can probably handle, and so I become her partner in trying to figure out what exactly is going on,” he explains.
“It’s huge. She starts with a little piece of it and it quickly spirals into something larger that involves politicians, police, wealthy land developers, and the mob, and gangs, and the Somali community in Toronto. It’s wild.”
“It’s original material for the show, but astute viewers may notice some similarities to events in real life in and around Toronto. We did eight episodes and that story concludes, in a way, but it’s definitely open to continue and Daisy’s story as a reporter is just getting started.”
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