Interview: The Creators of ‘Flashpoint’


Something I do want to address is, the show has so much vibrant talent in it, Amy Jo Johnson, Hugh Dillon, Enrico Colantoni, how did you go about casting the show originally and finding that mix of known actors at the same time finding unknown actors?

Mark: Well, we developed the script for Flashpoint as a two hour movie of the week originally on the Canadian network CTV. And then that got turned into a pilot order ultimately, and we worked closely with Marie La Traverse and I think most of those casting strokes of genius came from her. We had just seen a show called Durham County which I believe airs on ION in the states and is a TMN (The Movie Network) show in Canada. Which is a terrific limited run drama and Hugh Dillon played this bruiting, intense cop at the center of that series and it’s just a dynamite performance. And I knew him from a movie called Hard Core Logo, a Canadian film which Hugh essentially plays a version of himself, I don’t know if you know this but Hugh is a punk rocker with a very popular band here called The Headstones. He had quite a reputation for living hard. So seeing him in this show Durham County was kind of a revelation because he didn’t have a Mohawk anymore, he looked like Bruce Willis he became an actor and we thought, well he’s this really great actor that is on the verge of becoming probably quite big, but we worried we had written Ed as being a charmer and guy with an easy going sense of humor…

Stephanie: He definitely had that streak of mischief in him.

Mark: That wasn’t really something you get to see in Durham County but, Anne brought this interview that Hugh did on this show called The Hour which is an in depth interview with George Stroumboulopoulos which is in Canada, and here’s this guy that is humble and charming and funny and has a great smile and we just thought “he’s it.” And we really wrote our perception of the character completely to conform to who he is, and we enjoy a really close relationship with him and talk to him almost daily through production, great collaboration.

Stephanie: And Enrico Colantoni was also an Anne Marie La Traverse brainwave. There’s just a beautiful, compassionate, intelligent quality that he has. A guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously but is, he is someone you would want to see come to your rescue if you were in trouble.

Mark: Yeah, and he’s a wonderful actor to write for and we feel very lucky to get him. You know we knew him as Papa Mars and Just Shoot Me guy, and all those projects he’s quite famous for. And he’s the kind of actor where everyone goes “really, he’s Canadian?” We thought, maybe we can see if we can get him and we were lucky because Enrico has a brother that works on the Toronto Police Force for many, many years and I think he showed the script for the pilot to his brother and his brother said “yeah, this is good, I get this. This is something you should think about doing.” And we’re glad to have him, but it’s a big cast and it’s challenging, when you’re a procedural show you don’t get to tell character’s stories every episode then you have to throw out those character’s stories sparingly, we have a vas of both Hugh and Enrico, and also Amy Jo [Johnson], and David Paetkau

Stephanie: Sergio

Mark: Sergio has really been moving forward in season three he takes up even more and more screen time. A great all around actor who comes from the theater.

Stephanie: And Michael Cram as well rounds out the team because we feel very lucky to have this massive amount of Canadian talent pool that has not been over exploited yet and that these are unfamiliar faces perhaps to American audiences who don’t have any preconceptions about the people that they are meeting and we get to start from scratch with them.

I did notice some people that I have turned onto Flashpoint and the two faces that immediately pop to them are Enrico and Amy Jo because a lot of the people I’ve turn onto the show are 20 now which means they were 5 or 6 when Power Rangers was still running on television. And Enrico a lot of people still know thanks to Just Shoot Me reruns.

Mark: Enrico is always happy to do his Galaxy Quest character any time you ask.

FSR: Are you surprised at the reception the show has received?

Mark: Of course, yah know, we’re very surprised, I mean we’re surprised its done well in the states, we’re surprised its done so well in here in Canada as well. We traditionally her in Canada have a stable diet of US television shows, and Canadian dramas have historically been harder to get Canadian’s to watch. The fact that Canadian’s watch their own shows as much now is tremendous. I mean, being on CBS is the icing on the cake for us and it’s amazing to think that something you and a bunch of writers are thinking up, and a team that work real hard to make these little episodes happen every week are being watched by millions of people and I think the biggest thing that it’s done for us is just that there’s been a lot of cops watching the show. I think what personally makes us feel proud isn’t so much our demographic numbers or anything, but it’s when we get a letter from an officer that says you get this right in a way that I don’t see has gotten right with a lot of other shows.

My last question is, In “Behind The Blue Line” we see Sam really get hit by the effects of a bad call, so what can we look forward to in the know wrapped third season and the upcoming fourth season?

Mark: Well, in that episode, Sam goes through what I think every person on that team has gone through at one point or another. Where you let someone get really, really close to you and you identify with them and you lose objectivity and I think that it doesn’t matter how good an officer you are or how much insight you have into human psychology. It’s impossible to put your own humanity aside and the cliffhanger isn’t, is Sam going to leave the team? We sort of wanted to restate the theme of the series in that episode. The human cost of heroism, and show it reflected with the guy who was newest to the party, and he comes full circle and has truly now learned what it means to take on that job. Looking forward to the third season, the first episode we shot of season 3 airs this Friday, it’s an episode called “Unconditional Love.” And we set up a story line in that episode that will ripple throughout the next 13 episodes. And it’s a story line that concerns Ed and a new arrival in his own house hold. I think we’ve spent a lot of time talking about Parker’s past and his son Dean, and that character we’ll see in season 3. And Parker get’s to know his son and he hope that’s the beginning of an ongoing story as we move forward to the fourth season as well.

Stephanie: We look through the third season through the prism of family. So a lot of profound questions are being addressed through our team about belonging, about the bonds that bind them closely to their own blood or their other commitments. They’re going to be going up against a pretty frightening team of white supremacists. They’re going to be dealing with some challenges that they never faced before. We get to learn about Ed’s troubled younger brother who’s also a cop. And that’s an extended story that we really, really enjoyed working on.

Mark: We’ll see more of Jules and Sam. And I know it’s probably ways down the road but we love the finale for season 3 as well. It stars Victor Garber and it’s sweet.

You just keep finding so many great actors that the nerd community just loves. Like Victor Garber from Alias, love that guy.

Stephanie: [laughs]

Mark: Yeah, and he’s Canadian.

Mark: The only non Canadian actor that has ever been on Flashpoint is Amy Jo and she’s actually in the process of getting her citizenship. She was living in Montreal when we cast her so it’s a point of pride that we bring so many Canadian actors back up from Hollywood to guest star on Flashpoint.

And that will do it. Thank you both very much for your time.

Flashpoint airs Fridays at 9pm on CBS. If you want to check out some older episodes of the series you can watch the most recent on CBS.com. Or pick up seasons 1 and 2 on DVD at your local retailer, Amazon.com, or rent them on Netflix. You can also check out an audio version of this interview on Fat Guys At The Movies where you can also find more of my TV reviews.

From a young age, TV guru Merrill Barr has been obsessed with the small screen. And one day he decided to put that obsession to good use.

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