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This article was published 8/2/2011 (3955 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Season 3 of the Winnipeg-set comedy series Less Than Kind wrapped production on Saturday. While shooting publicity stills, some actors assembled at the Manitoba Production Centre to affirm the coming season will be as funny, sad and caustic as it ever was, despite the absence of star Maury Chaykin, who died on his 61st birthday on July 27.
When the season began production in November, the mood was still sombre, according to Vancouver actor Tyler Johnston, who plays the out-of-control high schooler Danny Lubbe.
"The first couple of days on the set were a little strange. Something was missing. It felt a little bit off," he recalls.
But at a read-through, producer/show-runner Mark McKinney took the situation in hand, Johnston says.
"Mark stood up and he said, 'Sorry guys, can we all stand up and hold hands right now?' And we just stood up and held hands and Mark said some very nice words about Maury and about the show and about how passionate he is about the show, and how happy we all were to be back here," Johnston says.
"It was just a really nice moment to have, just to re-establish our love for the show."
Jesse Camacho, who plays Sheldon Blecher, the son of Chaykin's abrasive patriarch Sam, adds that the Gemini award for best comedy series, handed out Nov. 13, was a huge boost.
"We thought: OK we've got to raise the bar, Maury's not here," Camacho says. "We've all got to pull our own weight.
"I still think we would have done some of our best work. But we were a little down initially because we didn't get to mourn together when Maury had passed."
Camacho points out that the cast of the show is all over the map. He lives in Montreal, actors Benjamin Arthur and Tyler Johnston live in Vancouver, Wendel Meldrum lives in Los Angeles, and actresses Brooke Palsson and Nancy Sorel live in Winnipeg.
"So we kind of just shelved it when we got here; it was like, 'Oh my God, Maury is not here,'" he says. "But we won the Gemini before our first day of shooting. So that was like: OK, we are doing something here, we do have something to do -- we've got to honour him, and honour the show."
Camacho says his role in the family changes its dynamic with the death of Chaykin's character. He may be the youngest member of the family, but he inherits some patriarchal responsibilities. Think Sheldon Blecher meets Michael Corleone.
"It's like The Godfather," Camacho laughs. "The one who resisted it the most is the one who ends up becoming (the patriarch)."
Winnipeg-based actress Nancy Sorel says the uniqueness of the show's comedy and its tone really bloomed this year.
"There's just been a maturing and blossoming of everybody's characters into this otherworldly weirdness. It's so funny," Sorel says, adding that the show's move to HBO has officially rendered the comedy as raw as possible.
"They really upped the ante. There are a few moments where I'm shooting a scene and going, 'I can't believe I'm doing this. What if the children and the neighbours watch?'"
Sorel says her character Clara will expose a different side when she meets her ex-husband at Sam Blecher's funeral.
"She makes some huge mistakes this season," Sorel says of Clara. "She makes some really bad and horribly degrading choices that bring her to a whole new level of shame."
"We definitely are the edgiest season by far," Camacho says. "Absolutely. It's the most Less Than Kind season we've ever had."
Season 3 of Less Than Kind is tentatively expected to air on HBO Canada in the fall.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.