Exclusive: Billy MacLellan On His Exit From Bellevue

**Major spoilers for 1.07**

Billy MaclellanLast week WGN America aired the penultimate episode of the season of its series, Bellevue, “The Man Behind the Curtain.” The eight-episode crime drama follows Detective Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) and Police Chief Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle) as they investigate the murder of a young hockey star struggling with gender identity (Sadie O’Neil).

In the episode, the killer was finally revealed to be Detective Brady Holt, played by Billy MacLellan, who was just about to kill Annie when he was hit by a car and killed. SciFi Vision recently talked to MacLellan in an exclusive interview about his pivotal part in the series.

SCIFI VISION: How did you first get involved with the show?

Billy MaclellanBILLY MACLELLAN: I had worked before with Adrienne Mitchell on a series called Bomb Girls, and then I did a guest appearance on a show that she had called Played.

And so what had happened, was I got a Visa to work in the states. So, I got in my truck and started to drive down, and when I was somewhere in New Mexico, I got the audition for Bellevue.

So, I landed at my Airbnb in Los Angeles, and I read the scenes, and I really liked them. And I got my girlfriend on FaceTime, and I put the iPad beside the camera that I was going to record the audition with, and I did my audition.

The first scene was an interrogation scene with Annie and I and one of the hockey players.

Then the second scene was the scene that ended up being in the rain inside the cab of my truck where Annie asks me, “Where do you go to drink?” Originally that scene was set on my tailgate, and since I had driven my truck to Los Angeles, I did that scene on my tailgate in the driveway where I was staying. But when we actually shot the show, it was actually raining, so we couldn’t do that. We moved it inside.

Then I didn’t hear back for a little while. Maybe six weeks later, I found out that I got cast. And once the contracts were signed, I was in my truck the next morning driving back to Toronto so I could hang out with my girlfriend for a month before I moved to Montreal for three months to shoot Bellevue.

Was there something specific about the script or the character though that attracted you to the project and made you want to do it?

The scenes as written I thought were fantastic; they flowed well. Often times as an actor, when you’re trying to learn lines, if it’s not written well, it’s remarkably harder to try to memorize lines. I memorized my lines as I was driving from New Mexico to Los Angeles, and it didn’t take me very many passes, and that’s always a good sign for me. So, that was very attractive to me.

Working with Adrienne was very attractive to me. I had found out that Anna was playing Annie, and that was very attractive.

And I can’t even really say that Brady’s contradictions were attractive, because the truth is, I didn’t know a lot about Brady until we were a couple of weeks into the process.

What had happened - I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone this story before, but what had happened, was I got four or five scripts before I even left Toronto. And someone in the production office, before they sent me episode seven, which is the one that aired last week, she said, “Billy, just a heads up, only you and Anna are getting episode seven, so just a reminder about the nondisclosure agreement. You can’t tell anybody about it.”

And I was by myself in my apartment all day, and I was wracking my brain as to why just me and Anna would be getting that script.

Billy MaclellanBut they didn’t send it to me until I was in Montreal, so I went a couple of weeks without knowing what that actually meant. So, I was trying to figure out a way that it wasn’t me who did it, and I couldn’t figure out a way. [laughs]

So, when I arrived in Montreal, I was there for a couple of days, and I had a meeting with Adrienne and Jane Maggs, the writer, before the first read-through. When I went into the meeting, I sat on this couch across from them, and they said, “Do you know why we’re having this meeting with you?” And I said, “Because I did it, didn’t I?” And they said, “Yes. It’s very complicated why you did it, but you did it, and we don’t want you to tell anybody else.”

So, up until about five days before we started shooting that episode, everyone was playing theories about who they thought did it.

It was so hard, because I really liked these people that I started working with, and when they asked me who I thought did it, I’d have to make up lies. [laughs] My theory, I went right away with Eddie (Allen Leech). I told everybody that I thought Allen Leech did it, because it just made perfect sense to me. Outside of that I was telling everyone I thought Daisy (Madison Ferguson) did it, [laughs] because I thought no one would suspect her.

I was going to ask you about that, because when I talked to Adrienne she had told me that only you two knew. So, what were some of theories that you heard from other cast members on set?

I think Sharon [Taylor] was the only one who might not have gotten thrown under the bus a whole bunch, because Sharon’s character (Virginia) often was just really solid with all of her police work. I think the majority of the folks thought the chief did it. The coach (Vincent Leclerc) was in the running for a while there.

But I had to do more acting off-screen than what I was doing on-screen around that time, [laughs] and it was so painful too, because when you’re hanging out and drinking coffee and stuff and talking about, you know, like, “If we go to season two, what do you think’s going to happen?” I just didn’t have a dog in that fight. [laughs]

I had thought it was the chief early on as well, but then I reasoned it was probably someone who no one would suspect, and was like, “It’s probably that copy, Billy.” So, I thought it was funny, because I happened to guess it was you, but randomly, not really having a reason.

Billy MaclellanIt was kind of interesting as an acting challenge for me, because when you know you did it, like the slightest little move in a scene you’re scared is going to tip someone off.

And when Adrienne and Jane said, “Do you know why we brought you in the office today?” and I had said, “Because I think I did it,” part of me, right away, was like, “Hold on, if I did, I don’t know if I want to know, because which leads towards the better performance? I don’t know.” But then I thought, “If I did do it, and I mistakenly twirl my mustache in a scene, then I’m going to tip off the ending.”

So, they told me, and then my goal playing Brady was to just try to play my cards as close as I could to the chest and try to layer in a little bit of a performance, in that if someone was to do a rewatch, would they catch a different side glance or a little bit of a tell? It was really an interesting and fascinating way to approach a character. It was a real gift.

When I talked to Shawn earlier in the season, he was saying that there are some clues, and that’s what I was going to ask you about - I mean, I haven’t done a rewatch yet, but can you think of any specific things that were added or that you added, that do kind of tip that on purpose, if you’re paying attention?

Well, I mean, there are definitive layers. One thing that pops into my brain, is the very first moment we meet Brady, he’s actually really hung over, and I asked if I could grab a water bottle and I could hold it against my forehead to play up the fact that I was in really rough shape the previous night. And that first scene, when we first meet Brady, is actually the very next morning after he was sitting in his truck with Jesse (O’Neil). So, Annie comes in and is kind of teasing him about his hangover, so right from the very first scene, Brady is lying, and he’s hiding.

And there’s this thing later on where I’m the one that drove Jesse’s mom (Victoria Sanchez) home; I think that’s in the second episode.

And then there’s the scene when Sharon and I are in Jesse’s bedroom, and I’m searching under the bed for some drugs, and Sharon finds some drugs in the closet. I know the whole time she’s going to find them, because I put them there. [laughs] And you know, on that day, Sharon didn’t even know that I put them there. She didn’t know where we were going, so I felt very sneaky for three months. [laughs]

That has to be a fun and different experience to play it like that though.

It was, but it was just so challenging, because, you know, Sharon and I spend a lot of time together, and Shawn and I spend a lot of time together, and you know, in the wee small hours when we’d be talking about the show, just inevitably something would come up and I’d have to lie to their faces. It was brutal. [laughs]

Was there something that you kind of used to connect to that dark side of him? How did you get into that mindset?

Well, right from the moment I found out I was doing it, I started physically training quite hard. I probably was about 160 pounds when I found out, and during Bellevue I was at about 183. I was just trying to pack on - I felt that Brady was a guy that needed to be able to handle a physical situation; so I trained quite hard. And one of the things I do when I train, is I often have a playlist on my phone for that specific character, and some of the music was really dark.

Billy MaclellanAnd if you were to ask me before Bellevue if I would ever start to get my brain confused about Billy and Brady, I would think that it was kind of a ridiculous question. But sitting with him for so long, and having to actually lie to my coworkers probably added to it as well - you know, when you’re at work for ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day, and then when you’re not at work, and you’re training, and you’re listening to this stuff and just trying to get into that mindset, it did really change my energy.

And when we finished, the last day of shooting was in the studio. It was our only studio day in the entire shoot, and it was all of the stuff inside the truck for episode seven. So, I sat in that seat all day, and Anna was sitting in the passenger seat for some of it, and then Jesse, and then Briana (Amber Goldfarb). So, it was an exhausting wrap for me.

And in terms of what I brought to it, you know, I’ve been lucky enough to have in some ways gone through the ringer and come out the other side, so I was able to bring that.

And I don’t know if there’s anybody who doesn’t somehow feel like they don’t belong somewhere. And a lot of my life, especially when I was a lot younger - you know, it’s difficult when you’re younger, especially, to just escape a feeling of “I don’t belong here.” And then you try something else, and you go, “I don’t belong here either.” So then you wonder, “Do I even belong anywhere?”

So, for Brady to be super meticulous and good at what he does, and to be very passionate about his family and those people who he considers family, I can touch on that really easily. But then when it really hits the fan, I think he feels that he’s actually in Jesse found some sort of a kindred spirit, who he can say to, “I don’t feel like I belong either, and you need to get the hell out of here.” But Brady’s problem is rage, and in trying to actually do the right thing, Brady gets in Brady’s way. It hurts him, and it hurts Jesse.

Can you talk about your last scene in the series, getting hit by the car, the logistics of shooting that stunt?

I just thought it turned out so good, and it has nothing to do with me! It has everything to do with my stunt double, Alex Arbruster, who is a friend of mine, and first doubled me on the TV show Covert Affairs. Since then, he’s doubled me on Gangland Undercover, Defiance, and Dark Matter, both for Syfy, and Bellevue where he got hit by a truck [laughs], and he doubled me in a movie that’s coming out this summer with Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka, something called The Silence that I’m really excited about.

Hey look, let me say that I did have to lay there on the hood of the truck myself, [laughs] and I was soaking wet, and it was Canadian winter time, and it was overnight, and it was really cold. And I only share that story with you, because they had on, I don’t know, the headlights of the truck were on or something, and someone at one point said, “You know, maybe we should start the truck, so we don’t kill the battery.” And when they started the truck, because I was lying on the hood, it got so much warmer, and I thought, “Why hadn’t anyone started the truck two hours ago?” [laughs]

Billy MaclellanYou’ve been in a lot of sci-fi; you pop up everywhere it seems like. Is that intentional, or just what roles you happen to have gotten?

I really dig it. I mean, the characters are always so super fun.

And I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about this, but if that’s something that interests you, there’s going to be a surprise coming out pretty soon, because I was working on something very recently that I’m not allowed to talk about, but if you’re digging the stuff for the Syfy channel, then it’s probably a good thing. [laughs]

Then I’ll have to interview you again when that comes out!


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