We chat exclusively with Continuum star Victor Webster about the upcoming 3rd season, his work schedule and why he feels lucky.
The critically acclaimed drama, nominated for three 2014 Canadian Screen Awards, stars Rachel Nichols (Criminal Minds, Alias) as Kiera Cameron, a policewoman from 2077 who finds herself trapped in present-day Vancouver and determined to return to her own time while taking down terrorist group Liber8. Webster plays Cameron’s police partner in present day, Detective Carlos Fonnegra, who knows just how important her mission is.
The internet poll that let fans decide Carlos’ direction in the Season 2 finale was fantastic – do you think we will see further fan interaction in Season 3?
I don’t know. I think it was a big hit. I think that the internet polling was a novel idea. I haven’t personally heard of anything like that before. It was almost like those stories I used to read as a kid, and I might be dating myself here, but the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ stories where if you want him to go through the door turn to page 36… I thought it was very interesting, because I think they kind of knew all along where they were going to go with season 3, so it was a nice foreshadowing moment or almost a little tease to let people pick that ending, and be so involved. It was interesting that the people decided that I go and join Julian.
Did they have a script already written had the polling gone the other way?
They did. I have seen it and I am not actually supposed to talk about it. (laughs)
Without giving anything away, can you give us any clues to what we can expect to see this season? It is our understanding that Carlos goes to a bit of a darker place…
He does, he has a lot of things he needs to deal with, some issues he is presented with. He starts to ask what his role in this scenario with Liber8 and Kiera is. His brain kind of goes into an overdrive/problem solving mode and is confronted with many emotional obstacles that we haven’t seen him come across so far. We see how this all manifests for Carlos as he is the type who would internalize a lot of his problems and struggles and he doesn’t really know who he can trust or who he can turn to. So this season he is more of a lone wolf solving and dealing with things on his own.
Up until the end of Season 2, the only characters whose motives were blatantly clear, are Kiera and Carlos. Do you feel that it’s the gray area that makes this show so interesting?
I think it’s really smart of our show to explore the gray areas of everyone’s personality because that’s how we are as people. There is nobody who is 100% good or bad and on our show there is no one who is totally good or bad either. Kiera does things she is not supposed to do. Liber8 has the right idea but goes about it the wrong way, but their thinking is to sacrifice a few to save the many. Kiera breaks rules left and right to get what she needs to because her goal is to get back to her family in 2077 – and what would we do to get back to our wife, husband or child? I know I would go to any lengths possible and break every rule imaginable to get back, so I think that is a very strong point of Continuum is to show the imperfections of all of our characters – to humanize them – and make them a lot more relatable.
Everywhere we look nowadays we are being inundated with new technology, political upheaval and social issues. Do you think that the world of today is influencing how the writers are perceiving the future in the show?
You know; I find that very interesting because I think that Continuum does a great job of reflecting what we see on CNN or other news channels. You will see a story that will pop up on TV or Twitter and I will read a script and the next script we have will have a very similar storyline or I just finish reading a script and a week later I see a story will pop up and I think ‘that is exactly what we are shooting right now’. It is uncanny how the writers seem to have a grasp on what’s happening and how our art is imitating life is imitating art. It’s like this circle we have started spinning around in and we are dealing with the same issues on the show.
Do you personally feel that the future portrayed on Continuum is a glimpse into reality for us?
Oh absolutely. I think things we are seeing on the show are definite possibilities because of where we are going. Look at Edward Snowden; how he exposed how involved they are in checking our emails and telephone conversations and just the whole ‘Big Brother’ aspect of where we are –that’s basically what Continuum is. We have these corporate governments that are involved in every tiny aspect of our lives and we are getting a hint of that now with drones and all the technology out there potentially listening to and looking at almost everything we do, or at least have the ability to if they decide we are someone who needed to be monitored. The show is in 2077, which is quite a ways away, but if you look at where we are now and look at how far we have already come, I think it is completely possible. It is scary. I don’t know if we will get to that extent, but I definitely feel we are moving more towards that direction than getting more of our personal freedoms back.
Do you think it’s that portrayal in addition to other atypical things that Continuum does that you would not necessarily see on a network show is one of the reasons fans are so passionate about it?
[pullquote_left]I think it’s a very intelligent show and our demographic is a very smart audience[/pullquote_left]I think it’s a very intelligent show and our demographic is a very smart audience. I think they appreciate the fact that they have to think when they watch our show. You get drawn in, you can discuss the show with your friends, online, and everyone can leave the show with a different opinion of the characters or what has happened. As you mentioned earlier, our show is shades of gray and not black and white. There are questions you can ask about society and yourself and Continuum really promotes that kind of dialogue back and forth between fans of the show, or to think about on your own. I think people like the ability to get involved emotionally and have a thought provoking show with great characters.
In addition to Continuum, do you feel that is more of a sci-fi show characteristic in general due to how they are written and tend to attract a certain type of viewer who enjoys a show they really have to think about and not just being entertained?
I think a sci-fi audience is very smart and they appreciate it. Along with our show having incredible CGI and great action, I think the audience likes to be challenged.
Speaking of action, you have a martial arts background which we saw in Mutant X and to a lesser extent in some of your fight scenes in Continuum. Are we going to see Carlos kicking more ass this season?
We spread the wealth this year a little bit more. Everybody seems to be kicking ass this year. (laughs). Carlos does have a few good fight scenes and we have people doing action that we have not seen before. Different types of action; not necessarily fight scenes but other devices we have used. We have some great parkour scenes this season and in general a different style than what we are used to. This year is more about the characters and the character development so characters have veered off their normal path so we are watching that progress. There is a little bit of a mixture of everything this season. We have introduced many new characters and some interesting things happen to characters you already know.
What about your own training regime. How does it change from The Scorpion King movies to Continuum?
For Scorpion King, Mathayus has to be big so I am eating 10,000 calories a day and lifting the heaviest possible weights that I can and doing little to no cardio. For Carlos, who is much more slim and trim so I am about 15-20 pounds lighter as Carlos than I was as Mathayus. So for Carlos I am back to my normal training routine; everything is circuits. Kettle bells, battle ropes, with heavy lifting for certain body parts and I do a lot more kick boxing, Brazilian jiujitsu, Krav Maga – I mix all that up, which I try and do all the time because it’s something that helps keep me sane.
How often would you do that and how many hours per session?
I would probably get a few training session of 2-3 hours of jiujitsu and then 3 hours a week of Krav Maga. Add that to the regular circuit training that I do which is probably 10 hours a week. I pretty much work, memorize lines and train. That’s my life but I try and see a movie on Sunday nights when I can.
So if you do see a movie on Sunday night what would you see?
Depends on who I am going with. If it’s my pick, probably something dramatic – an action movie.
Excellent choice! As this is The Action Elite, who is your favourite action star currently?
That’s tough…I love Liam Neeson. I love the fact that he is an atypical action hero. He doesn’t have a six pack or huge bulging biceps. He is a normal everyday man. I love that he has made this resurgence as an action star. As far as big budget movies, I love Tom Cruise as well. I think it is hard not to. He is so charismatic and his movies are just really well done.
How about as far as MMA guys in smaller budget films?
I think Randy Couture is doing very well as far as his career. He has been able to transcend into some beefier roles. A good friend of mine Josh Barnett is getting ready to do his first lead in a movie. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson I thought was excellent in The A-Team. He has such a colourful personality and he is able to bring that out in his roles as well, whereas some people you meet in real life are unable to translate that to somebodies else’s words on-screen. But I think he could have a really good career if he is able to stay focused.
How do you see the relationship between Carlos and Kiera developing this season? Any chance they will become more than platonic?[pullquote_right]We go against the grain and I think that’s another reason people are constantly surprised by what we are doing and that’s always very interesting.[/pullquote_right]
I know that is not going to happen this season. Kiera goes on a very interesting journey herself this year, as does Carlos so in the midst of all of that I think it is very difficult. Not to give away any spoilers, but there is not really any room for that this season. Who knows what will happen in Season 4 or 5; our show is so atypical. I think the average show would have the two leads have a connection or some sort of sexual chemistry that they play on but as you’ve noticed by watching the show, we don’t play in the normal sandbox of other shows and we live in a very separate world and we do what is unexpected. We go against the grain and I think that’s another reason people are constantly surprised by what we are doing and that’s always very interesting.
Because Kiera is portrayed by Rachel Nichols are you upset there have been no love scenes?
(sighs) I was trying to have a word with Simon Barry (creator and lead writer of Continuum) and I said ‘Simon, how are you going to keep this platonic? You have this beautiful partner and you have got this…strapping detective who is this Greek or Viking god, an unleasher of fury – how is he possibly going to stay away from this goddess who he has next to him?’ But… no. (laughs)
The way he explained the story to me was that it is not your typical TV show, although that may not be out of the realm of possibility, it is not something we are going to lead towards anytime in the near future. But, who knows…
So if they called you into the writer’s room one day and were given carte blanche, what would you pitch? Apart from the love scenes with Kiera?
(laughs) I’ll leave that to greater minds than myself but there is one thing that I would love to do and that is at the end of the series. I would love for Carlos to go to the future, whatever that future is and just have his mind blown. That is something that would be very interesting.
Have you ever read a script and thought to yourself ‘Carlos would not do this’ and discussed it with the writers?
There is always trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn’t and you get to know your characters voice really well while the writers have to write for fifteen different characters, so I think I am the most focused on my character and if what he is saying rings true and if what he is doing feels right for Carlos. There is always an open dialogue and discussions but it is very rare where I would bring anything up. Maybe a tweak here or a tweak there but there have been no major issues at all. Honestly, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be on a show that is just really well done. The show looks great, the directors we bring in are seasoned and imaginative and put together these visual pictures as well as telling the story. Everybody that I act with is on point, comes to work with no issues, no ego, no divas and they bring their A game every time. I think the planets just aligned for us and we got really, really lucky.
Even with Erik?
Well I don’t know. If there is a weak link anywhere, it is going to be Erik Knudsen. I mean come on! You can’t be THAT good. He is a diva. He only wants green M&Ms in his room, he has to have a masseuse on set, he has someone following him around with an umbrella outside, it’s crazy. He even brings his own paparazzi and rides an electric scooter everywhere. (laughs) If anybody knew Erik the way that he really was, that is so opposite of who he is. He is the most easy going guy ever.
Obviously the show is done on a season to season basis, but have you ever received any indication on how the show will end?
No, not at all. I think the writers in their minds have an idea of how ultimately it is all going to culminate in the end, but it all depends on how many episodes we have for them to get us there. Hopefully we get a fourth, fifth, sixth season etc. I am on a ‘need to know basis’ and I don’t want to know anything about the show in advance unless I absolutely have to; until I pick up that script and read it. So, I haven’t asked but from what I know and what I’ve gathered they have a pretty good idea and I think it will be pretty huge.
[pullquote_left]The fans can ask some of the most profound questions that can really blow your mind[/pullquote_left]Any plans to appear at the FanExpo in Toronto this year?
I don’t know what they have planned for us. Summers can be tough for me if I am shooting other projects but I am really looking forward to getting out there and meeting everybody that watches the show and talking with them and seeing what’s on their minds – the questions they have and the fans pick up on everything. They have watched the episodes, sometimes multiple times and are so involved in the characters, and because I am concentrating so much on my character I can sometimes not really notice the big picture and the fans can ask some of the most profound questions that can really blow your mind. And you realize how involved they are in the storyline and how much they appreciate what we do and that feels good.
Well I know we certainly look forward to speaking with you again and wish you continued success with your career and Continuum.