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Stars of 'Trailer Park Boys' ditch alter egos to play themselves in 'Swearnet'

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TORONTO - While the newest season of "Trailer Park Boys" premieres next month, the show's stars are sidelining their famed alter egos Ricky, Julian and Bubbles to portray their similarly salty-tongued true selves on the big screen.

Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Mike Smith headline "Swearnet," which premieres on Friday. The film centres on the trio launching an uncensored online network after losing the rights to "Trailer Park Boys" and a sought-after network deal — a plotline that doesn't veer too far from reality.

Last year, Wells, Tremblay and Smith acquired the rights to the franchise from the show's original producers, a deal which included prior TV series, specials and the first and second feature films. But at the time they wrote and filmed "Swearnet" — which was shot in Halifax and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — Wells said they were no longer doing the show.

"We just kind of wanted to tell the story about us trying to get some new stuff off the ground and being censored and regulated and how frustrating that was, I guess. It's kind of the exaggerated story of all of that," he said in an interview at a downtown Toronto cafe alongside Tremblay, Smith and co-star Pat Roach (Randy on "Trailer Park Boys"), who portrays Swearman, the channel's foul-mouthed, spandex-clad mascot.

The real operates on a subscription model, just as it's portrayed on film. Site visitors can see the actors in and out of character, with everything from "Trailer Park Boys" set visits and adventures on the road to reality shows and Skype chats.

"We're really trying to develop this into a full functioning, all-swearing network," said Smith.

Smith said they also shoot a weekly update called "State of the Union," where they provide Swearnet viewers with details on how they've spent their week.

"When 'Trailer Park Boys' started there was no Facebook or Twitter or any of that stuff, you know, so you would reach fans however you could," Smith said.

"It's so much obviously easier now. ... The instant feedback element of social media is awesome for us."

The "Swearnet" film features notable appearances from famous faces including fellow Canadian comic Tom Green, American funnyman Carrot Top and rock vocalist Sebastian Bach. The star support also extends to "Trailer Park Boys," which premieres its eighth season on Netflix on Sept. 5.

Tremblay said American late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel has watched the new episodes and said it's the best season yet of the mockumentary series, which is set in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park. They're slated for a return appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" the same day the new episodes are made available on the subscription service.

Smith said Season 8 will see his bespectacled character, Bubbles, with a "new and exciting business venture," while Ricky (Wells) is semi-retired and Julian (Tremblay) has a business. What's more, they'll be faced with the dilemma of trying to buy the trailer park before one of the villains of the series does the same, he added.

"Trailer Park Boys" has also cultivated an overseas fan base, with Smith noting that they perform a live version of the show and have played in countries including the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

"The fans are pretty much universally crazy everywhere we go."

Wells said the made-in-Canada sitcom has managed to transcend borders due in part to the humour and its characters.

"When you strip all of the guns and drugs and everything away it comes down to love and family, and I think you can relate to that wherever you live in the world."

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

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