April 19, 2013

Hollywood North: Vancouver shows its face along sci-fi Continuum

Mark Leiren-Young / The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver has a rep as sci-fi city.

Over the last few years the city and grey skies that cinematographers love (but David Duchovny wasn’t keen on) has played host to Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Eureka, Sanctuary and 61 flavours of Stargate. But after a single season, Continuum has carved out a special place as a Canadian fan fave a sci-fi show that’s made in Vancouver and proudly set in Vancouver (in two different timelines), which kicks off Season 2 with its world broadcast premiere Sunday, April 21 at 9 p.m. on Showcase.

The series stars Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron, a cop from the future trying to pass herself off as a cop in the present day as she tries to stop a group of terrorists from her era known as Liber8. At least, it’s considered a terrorist group in her own era. “The great thing about the Sci-fi genre is you can kind of get away with being a little bit political,” Nichols said. But she’s amused that fans are never quite sure what the politics of the show are. In the first season the series created by Vancouver writer Simon Barry even took on the made-in Vancouver Occupy movement.

While she’s careful to avoid spoilers, Nichols told The Sun that this season things have changed for Keira. “Last season was very much about getting home and going home and whatever it took. If I needed to partner up with the bad guys, if I needed to use my brain, it was all about getting home. The second season is a lot about responsibility,” Nichols said. “It’s a little about the effects of my actions in the present day, how they’re potentially changing, sacrificing, ruining, reinventing, however you wanna say it, the future and the idea that there’s a responsibility that I have to take, that everybody has to take, for what happens in the present and what we do in the present and how it changes the future.”

A former model, Nichols said her favourite aspect of acting is “becoming someone else.” Although with a season under her belt (and form-fitting futuristic police uniform) the lines between her and her character are blurring. “Kiera and I are very, very similar,” Nichols said. “I like the confidence of now feeling as though any decision I make for her is the right decision because I am her, which I’m sure sounds kind of crazy. But I like the work, I like the process, I like becoming someone else for a bit and absorbing different character traits and then finding a commonality between myself as Rachel and whichever character I’m playing. There’s a real adventure there and it never ends.”

Her other favourite aspects of this part include getting the chance to occasionally kick butt — although she’s quick to mention she has a stunt double for scenes that would make the insurance companies nervous. “I’ll do as much as they’ll let me do,” Nichols said. “I love fight scenes.” She’s also enjoying exploring her maternal side (in her future timeline). “I’ve never played a mom before and I love playing a mom. In Season 2 there are a couple of really tough episodes where I have to deal with the fact that I’m away from my child and it’s a real challenge.”

Nichols had killer Comic Con cred even before landing the lead in Continuum. She was on J.J. Abrams sci-fi spy smash Alias and she’s starred in remakes of The Amityville Horror, Conan the Barbarian and the Star Trek relaunch (where she played a sexy green goddess) — so she’s bound to be swarmed when the Continuum cast appears at FanExpo Vancouver (Saturday at noon at the Vancouver Convention Centre).

“Sci-fi fans are the best,” Nichols said. “They’re always very inquisitive and if you do something well then they will support you and love you and tell their friends to watch your show. If you do something half-assed, they’ll kill you. And they have every right to. That’s what I like about them is they won’t take any crap. And if you mess up on the timeline, or if you break the rules of time travel, they’ll come after you and that keeps us on our toes.”

… Speaking of time travel … The same day Continuum kicks off Season 2, the Vancouver International Film Festival celebrates B.C.’s past with Tidewater Television, a look at the work of legendary local TV producer Phil Keatley, at the Vancity Theatre (April 21 at 2 p.m.).

Keatley pioneered on-location shooting for the CBC with the iconic series, Cariboo Country. Special guests include Julia Keatley (Phil’s daughter and producer of shows like Godiva’s and Cold Squad), actor Sally Campbell and author, former MP and original Cariboo chronicler Paul St. Pierre.

On-screen stars of the trio of Keatley’s shows being screened include Vancouver historian Chuck Davis (playing a deejay), Chilliwack’s Bill Henderson and Chief Dan George in one of his earliest onscreen roles.

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