Last night, WGN America premiered its newly-acquired series, Shoot the Messenger
. The eight-part event series follows reporter Daisy Channing (Elyse Levesque) when she witnesses a murder and discovers a scandalous cover-up. She is helped by her co-worker and senior reporter, Simon Olenski, played by Lucas Bryant, her editor, Mary Foster (Alex Kingston), and Detective Kevin Lutz (Lyriq Bent).
Bryant recently talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about his character and his work on the series, as well as the end of Syfy’s Haven
. SCIFI VISION: How did you first becoming involved with the show? LUCAS BRYANT:
In Shoot the Messenger
, I got involved because Sudz Sutherland had directed some episodes of Haven
, and we hit it off when he was out in Nova Scotia. I liked him, and apparently he liked me. He sent me this script for this show that he was hoping to do with CBC and asked me if I’d be interested, and I said "Yes, absolutely."
And then, I guess it was just a couple months later, he called me back and said, "It’s a go. It’s going to happen."
So, it was one of the easiest things to get involved with ever. It was as simple as that.Out of curiosity, when did you first shoot this, because obviously it was on CBC first.
Initially the episodes aired on CBC on Canada, but now it’s been acquired by WGN. It was 2015 when we were shooting it. You already talked about knowing Sudz, but what was it that attracted you to the role or the script?
Knowing and liking Suds and wanting to work with him, again, was a big part of it, and then I met his wife, Jennifer [Holness], who is the co-creator of the show, and she was super cool as well.
So, there was that, but also, it was partially inspired by events that had taken place around that time in Toronto. Mayor Rob Ford - I don’t know if you remember him, but his scandal was a big deal for a while, and he was kind of an idiot celebrity that came down here and made a splash in the States as well, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel - the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto. The show is not based on that story, but there are elements of that story that inspired it, for sure. And I guess to tell a story that was about political conspiracy and cover ups and race relations and sexual debauchery in politics and the police, all these things - well, I mean obviously they are stories that have been around forever and especially these days we are seeing a lot more of them come to light, but at the time we were making the show, it was something that I had not seen a lot of on television, and I was really excited to be telling that story. For creating your character, was there anyone or anything that inspired you other than the script? Something that you thought of as you created him, anything like that?
I didn’t have a particular model or mentor that I was trying to emulate, no, but we were in touch with journalists who were friends and acquaintances of Jenn and Sudz that they had used in their research and in creating the story. So, a lot of time spent with them was totally eye-opening and intriguing and inspiring.
But I had just done the television show, Haven
, which was based less so in reality. The idea of playing in a real world with real people who have real jobs - not that being a detective in a small town is not a real job, but the supernatural elements took it out of this world, but a more subdued and realistic dramatic world was something that we were definitely going after, as well as the reality of working in a newsroom, particularly a print paper, in this time when a lot of those publications are really struggling too. Even though you were acting rather than actually working as a journalist, did it ever feel kind of strange to be on the other side of that, since you are used to talking to journalists like me? Or did you not think about that?
I’m never used to anything, but did it feel strange to be on the other side of it? I don’t know if it felt strange, but it was definitely cool to explore how stories are told and how people try to control the stories that are told and how people like you try to find a new angle on telling these stories. Can you talk a bit about your character’s relationship with Daisy and some of their complications?
Simon is still a young guy, but he’s more of a veteran in the newsroom. Daisy is a complete newjack, so she has a lot to learn, but she also, I think, has a lot of untrained ambition that he finds attractive and exciting, and I think reminds him of his own journey. So, that's something that is enticing to him, and the more time they spend together, he's put in this kind of mentor role with her, and the more time they spend together, the more difficult it becomes for him to maintain his professionalism. Can you talk a bit about working with Elyse and Alex?
I’ve been so lucky in general in all my jobs to get such wonderful castmates to play with. Elyse was a lovely partner in crime, and she’s a very talented actress and quite a lovely person and hilarious and silly. So, we had a really easy and good time together, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to do that with.
And Alex is an incredible actress and a very powerful and smart and capable and cool woman. And I think she was doing Doctor Who
at the time, but because of her schedule, she had to shoot all of her scenes in about a two-week period. That forced the schedule to smash all of the newsroom activity, all the stuff that she was in, into a continuous two-week block. That was a beautiful accident, because then it brought us all together in that same set every day for a long spell, which really doesn’t happen that often in television, and we got to work on this story every day for a number of days. So, it lent a continuity to shooting that you don’t often get, and I think we were really lucky to have it, and I think that comes across. I was going to say, does that though make it confusing at all, but you did blocks, though, I know, with Haven, filming more than one episode at a time sometimes. Was this sort of similar?
This was a weird block, because, like I said, we had to do all the newsroom stuff in one block, so some days we would be doing from, you know, four, five, six different episodes. Thankfully, it’s all a continuous story that they’re chasing down, so as much as possible, things were scheduled as chronologically as possible, so that we could follow where we were at in terms of following leads and new parts of the story that came out and Mary, our boss’s, requests of us. It worked surprisingly well for such a possibly confusing situation. Before we go, I wanted to ask you about Haven, if I may. When I talked to you last, we were talking about the finale, and how you felt about the way they ended it. I am curious, now that you've been away from it, do you have in mind how you would like to have seen it wrapped up, if it were up to you?
It’s interesting that you bring that up, because I don’t have in mind how I would like to have seen it wrapped up, but I can tell you that the more I’ve lived with the ending that we shot and the further away I’ve gotten from actually doing it, the more I like it. It feels like at this point I can’t conceive of another possible ending. At the time I was unsure of whether we were doing the right thing, and I guess to some extent everyone was; how can you ever know? But like I said, the further I’ve gotten from it, the more I like what they wrote and what we did, especially that last season, when we were doing twenty-six episodes. It was a long run there at the end, and I was right in it: emotionally exhausted and probably, well definitely, very sad about the fact that it was all coming to an end. So, I felt unsatisfied, but I think a lot of that dissatisfaction was the sadness of having to let that thing go.
Why? Do you have an ending that you wanted to see? Not necessarily, but I would have liked it to have stayed our Audrey (Emily Rose). [laughs] That’s the only complaint I had, though I do get it made sense for the show.
I know, I know. Right, that’s the thing. But I guess since then, maybe it’s just a cop out, but I’ve told myself that there was no way around it, and that in some ways it is our Audrey. Do you still keep in touch with them?
Definitely, I do, I do. I see Emily and Eric [Balfour] and Adam [Copeland] as often as possible. We’re all still very close. Do you have anything else you want to promote?
[About six weeks ago] I was on another Canadian show, Frankie Drake Mysteries
, that nobody can see in the US until WGN acquires it as well. [laughs]
There’s also a movie, Walk to Vegas
, directed by Mr. Eric Balfour, who is an incredible director, and I had a blast working for him.