Continuum : Season One is released on DVD on 28 January, so, if you haven't heard much about it yet, now's the perfect time to learn about this excellent little Canadian sci-fi series. And because we care, there's a non-spoilery interview with lead actor Victor Webster below!
All you need to know is that he plays Carlos Fonnegra, a police detective in Vancouver who teams up with Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols), a cop from the future who finds herself thrown into the past along with a group of terrorists.
However... if you've already watched season one, you'll be pleased to hear that there's a spoilery interview with Victor Webster on the next page . And yes, he does discuss his naked shower ninja fight. Like we wouldn't have asked about it...
Interview by Jayne Nelson
SFX: How would you describe Continuum to someone who hasn't seen it?
Victor Webster: “Let's see... That's a very interesting question because it embodies so many different genres in the television world. It is very character-driven. It has a lot of sci-fi elements, action elements, and it's a procedural drama. It's almost like they've taken the best of each type of TV show that's out there and incorporated it into one, in a way that works and doesn't get too convoluted.”
Why do you think it's been a hit?
“Because I think it has so many different allures to the audience. They can identify with something that they enjoy. So for people that really like the action genre, we closed down a block of Vancouver and shot off 2,000 rounds of ammunition one day, which is unheard of for a TV show like ours!
“It's very well-written, you can completely understand the characters and where they're coming from. You can relate to somebody on the show, whether it be Rachel’s character, Kiera, being a fish out of water and being torn away from her husband and her son and really no hope of getting back unless she can find a way. And there's the unfolding of a story and the solving of a puzzle, which I really enjoy – I love watching those shows where you get to figure it out with the characters.”
What attracted you to the role of Carlos Fonnegra?
“I really liked the dynamic between him and Kiera – him being a very 'by the book' police officer. He moved from Colombia and realised that this is the land of milk and honey, so to speak, and loves making a life for himself, and is a very virtuous person and likes to see things done the right way. And then Kiera comes in and abandons all sense of … what word am I looking for... well, basically any rules! [Laughs] There's no such thing as rules to Kiera. Because she's trying to get back and she has no obligation to justice or the laws of 2012. She just abandons everything to get what she needs while under the guise of working for a secret government agency while tracking these guys down.”
Kiera lies all the time to Carlos – she doesn't really have a choice – and yet he does seem to trust her. Why do you think that is?
“Well, everything that she says that she's going to do, she does. She gets the information and the leads that I need to close these cases, and I believe, maybe not beyond a reasonable doubt, that she has full autonomy from the US government to do so. And so I am closing cases based on the information she's given me, although how she got that information may be questionable, but for me, I can chalk it up to, 'It's above my pay grade!' Which I can do for a little while, but there's just too many things that point in the direction of something is fishy in Denmark. So I need to figure that all out.”
Do you enjoy working with Rachel Nichols?
“She's great. She's really talented, and she's exceptionally sweet to everybody on the set. She treats everyone like family. I do the same. I really enjoy going to work every single day, so we share a common mindset in that. It's easy to work with somebody like Rachel because she comes so prepared emotionally, ready to do the scene, she knows all of her lines, we're both very similar in that mindset as well. But we're both very, very different, you know? I'm like a 12-year-old kid most of the time and she's very well-educated, a cerebral person, with a great sense of humour. We're completely different in that sense – as our characters are, her coming from the future and me being an on-the ground cop in 2012. So the characters lend themselves to the actors.”
Are you jealous of all the fantastic tech that Kiera has?
“Me personally? Absolutely! As Carlos, I have no idea that she has any of it. But as Victor, sitting here, I want the multi-tool, I want the suit... Obviously not that suit because it wouldn't fit me very well. I could get my own extra-large man-size suit. Absolutely. Seeing what our visual effects team has done with the show, all the politics and the corporate dictatorship aside, I would love to spend a week in the future that they created. It's incredible! Visually and the toys that they've come up with, like that electronic eye-shadow applicator that they did for Kiera. These little toys that just remind you of where you're at.”
I'd love one of those! Although I get the feeling it would go through batteries quite quickly.
“But do they use batteries in the future? Is everything powered by, say, the oxygen in the air? I don't even know! It would save me a lot of time as well. It's hell drying my hair and applying my makeup in the morning. It takes forever.”
And shaving your legs...
“Oh yeah. I got some hairy legs, too, you know? I use a lawnmower.”
Is it true that you're quite a little show – you're on a Canadian channel, it's not like you're on an NBC budget...
“That is very true, and we really stretch our budget. We don't waste a single penny. All the money goes on screen; there's no frivolous expenditures and they put all the money in the right places.”
There must be some goodwill towards you from the city of Vancouver because you actually feature the city instead of pretending it's somewhere else!
“Creator Simon Berry loves that city and he wanted to create a show around the city and not hide Vancouver but show it in all of its glory. We use a lot of very recognisable landmarks and areas in Vancouver to show how beautiful that city is.”
Although it does rain a lot...
“But that's part of our show too. Our show isn't a bright, sunny, happy show; it isn't a half-hour comedy, you know? It's bleak in some senses because that lends itself to the feeling of Kiera especially, and how she's feeling in her world. So Vancouver is a perfect place for that, where it can be a little grey and overcast and it lends itself almost as another character in the show. It's like X-Files used to be.”
Can you tell us about season two? [Note: we spoke to Victor last week, and he's only started filming this week.]
“The one good thing about this show is that they don't tell us anything! We find out what our characters are doing when we get the script. I've no idea what's happening in season two – it's going to be a big surprise, as much for myself as it is for everybody that watches the show.”
So, what's your view... Are Liber8 good guys or bad guys?
“The way to look at it is this: if corporations have taken over and it's become a corporate dictatorship, and this world that we live in is completely changed, and they have an opportunity to come back and change the future, so that we have a better place to live and a better life for ourselves... that would a freedom fighter. But the way that they do these things: killing people, bribing public officials... It's not necessarily the proper procedure [laughs]. So they may do the right things the wrong way.”
If we had the chance to go back in time and stop the banks causing the global recession, would we do it? We probably wouldn't kill people along the way, but it's an interesting moral conundrum, isn't it?
“Yeah, it depends on who you send back! Within Liber8 there are people who share the views and people who disagree with the views. Once they've gone back in time, some people are on board with the tactics and some people aren't. So within their own family we have infighting.”
I'm glad because we get Kellog going rogue and doing dastardly things.
[Laughs] “That's one thing that we love about the show, is that they present a pro and a con to each side. As an audience member you get to side back and figure out where you lie and talk about it and discuss it.”
Do you want Carlos to find out Kiera's secret? I'm curious to know how he'd react...
“I'm split 50/50. Yes, I do, and that exposes a whole new world to Carlos, and on the other hand, ignorance is bliss!”
It would expose him to more danger, as he'd accompany her on some of her missions...
“My personal opinion is that it's going to get more dangerous for Carlos in the second season already, because I'm a really good cop, and I'm getting closer and closer to Liber8 each day that I'm allowed to investigate and follow leads. So I have a feeling, and it's already been hinted at in season one – they've already come after me, they tried to frame me for murder – but it's going to get a little hairier in season two.”
Mentioning that episode where Carlos got framed (“ The Politics Of Time ” ), it contained the now-infamous naked fight scene...
I will admit, the first time I saw it I wasn't thinking, “Oooh, he's naked!” I was thinking, “How did he do that fight scene without any padding ?” Were you bruised to hell the next day?
“I really enjoy the physicality of any role that I get to do, you know, like when I did Scorpion King 3 the costume didn't lend itself to hiding any padding as well, and I was being bashed up against trees and thrown by elephants and diving off 20ft waterfalls and tackling people into the water. I really enjoy that. I don't mind getting bumped and bruised, I don't mind getting hurt, I do MMA [Mixed Martial Arts] three days a week and train with some really, really good guys who beat the crap out of me, so there's a sick and twisted part of me that really enjoys that.”
So basically you're a masochist?
[Laughs] “In a light sense of the word, yes!”
Well, respect is due for that naked fight scene, because it really does look brutal!
“Thank you! I've got to give a lot of that to Kimani Ray Smith, our stunt co-ordinator. He choreographed an amazing scene and put together the breakaway shelving unit and the breakaway glass. Mind you, we still got cut and definitely lots of bruises. But there were no serious injuries and the fight looks a lot more brutal than it really was. Although it was, as far as fight scenes go on television, a pretty gnarly fight!”
Was that your favourite fight scene so far?
“That's been one of them, and I liked the fight in the kitchen as well, which was actually a full day and a half of shooting that sequence and we used about half of that fight that we shot because it was too long. It was an incredible fight.”
Could it surface as a DVD extra?
“That's a good question. I don't know.”
Are you glad there hasn't been a hint of romance between Carlos and Kiera?
“You know, that's a really tough card to play because she has a child and a husband back at home and one of her main focuses is to get back to the two main loves of her life. So introducing somebody like me, who she sees on a daily basis, and introducing a love story between us, could really convolute the whole situation, unless they were to do it very creatively. And knowing our writing staff, they're very capable of doing that! It's interesting to see where it'll go. I don't know if that'll happen. They might just throw us a curveball and next thing you know, 'Wooo!'” [Laughs]
Suddenly you're both naked and in a shower, except without the fighting!
“Aw, you need a little fight in there!”
It's so rare to see a TV show where the male and female leads don't end up having a fling, but, as you say, it's complicated. Then again, Kiera does seem to have had a dalliance with Kellog...
“I like that they left what happened with Kellog kind of ambiguous – you don't really know what has or has not happened. I just feel like after every episode you watch, you're left with so many more questions as you have been given answers to.”
What's the deal between Carlos and Betty (Jennifer Spence)? Were they going out once, and it ended badly? That's the sense I'm getting from you guys...
“You know, it might have happened! [Laughs] You never know what happens after a few shots of tequila at the Christmas party! And then you've got to maintain a working relationship... I dunno, that's interesting to play out as well. We've definitely been written that way and hinted towards it but nothing's been... Nobody's ever come out and said anything. I think Jen Spence, who plays Betty – fantastically, I might add – her and I have that kind of B-story where the audience is going, 'What's going on here? What happened?' That's fun.”
It's good when a show's got layers.
“That's life, right? We've always got a million things going on at once. We may have two or three main focuses, but there's always a million layers in our lives. It's nice for a show to reflect something that's so true to our lives.”
And we've all got drunk at the office party and snogged someone we shouldn't have snogged.
[With feigned innocence] “Aw, come on, not me!”
Have you spent much time with Erik Knudsen (who plays Alec) off set? You've barely spent any time on screen with him, and yet he's a main character...
“It's interesting, isn't it? Near the end of the season is the first time I have any interaction with him whatsoever, but of course not knowing of his interaction with Kiera. It's difficult when you're working opposite schedules and you're working so much. He's a great guy, he's into music, he's smart, he's very similar to his character. He's a really talented actor. A cool guy.”
Okay, final question: what in the series so far has been your favourite scene to shoot?
“Probably two. I loved the kitchen fight scene, as far as the physical fight scene, a lot of shooting, using the surroundings, going through walls... just a lot of fun to do. The next one is probably a really intense scene between Kiera and I up on the rooftop in the episode where I was accused of murder. It's when she comes out and confronts me with knowing that I was with the victim that night when I'd denied I was, or even knew her. I basically ask her to keep it under wraps and I put a lot of trust in her. That very intense scene between the two of us stands out as one of my favourites.”
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