Actor works long, cold hours as Pinkertons detective
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/03/2015 (2712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If the real-life frontier-era Pinkertons Detective Agency had a reputation for hard work and determination, the same may be said for the TV series The Pinkertons, which is winding down the intense 22-episode shooting schedule that began Aug. 25. The show’s production is scheduled to wrap on March 19.
While the agency’s founder, Allan Pinkerton, played by Glaswegian actor Angus Macfadyen, is often seen as the face of the syndicated show (which appears in Manitoba on the independent channel CHCH), he appears only in a recurring-role capacity. Much of the narrative heavy lifting falls to Macfadyen’s co-stars.
Jacob Blair, 31, plays Allan’s hot-headed, two-fisted son, William; Martha MacIsaac plays his cooler, more cunning partner, Kate Warne, the first female detective in the United States.
Blair has worked extensively in both film (The Grey, The A-Team) and television (Battlestar Galactica), but he has never had so much to do in his acting experience.
“I’ve had recurring parts in series before, but never anything like this,” he says. “You would come on in for a couple of days and hang out and maybe you’ve got a couple of scenes to do, and you may have a few scenes that are a little more dialogue-heavy than the others, or maybe a scene that requires a mini-stunt that you have to block through.
“This is all of that, all the time, every single day,” he says. “I’ve never come across anything like this before.
“But I’m still approaching the work exactly as I would any other project. I dice it apart and am very meticulous about how I map things out, so I know what just happened in the scene previous and what’s going to happen,” he says, referring to the fact that dramas are never shot in sequence.
“It took a while for me to figure out that’s what works for me. I didn’t like that feeling of kind of being in limbo,” he says.
On top of a demanding shooting schedule, often requiring 14-hour work days, Blair often found himself being warned about working through brutal Winnipeg winters by helpful locally seasoned crew members.
Blair didn’t need the warning. He was born in Red Deer, Alta., and grew up engaging in typical Prairie pursuits, such as playing hockey, from an early age.
“I’m used to the cold, but in a way, you never really get used to the cold. It still always sucks,” he says.
“But you weather it better than other people. Obviously, growing up in Alberta, we had some pretty cold winters, with a windchill down to -50 sometimes, so when people were telling me about how brutal it was in the winter of 2014, I thought: ‘That’s right up my alley.'”
“My investment in a goose-down-filled jacket was well worth it.”
When he landed the role, Blair and his wife moved to Winnipeg from Toronto and he has come to appreciate the Manitoba locations and landscapes that effectively pass for America in the 1860s, especially the central location in Grosse Isle, the headquarters of the Prairie Dog Central Railway.
“The set decorators have been just fantastic,” he says, applauding in particular local production designer Réjean Labrie.
“He is just fantastic. He’s hit the authenticity of the era. He and his team took a community centre at Grosse Isle and he turned the interior, like a banquet hall, into a full-blown saloon of the era. And it looks fantastic on film.”
Blair says that all helps in getting into the frontier groove, especially given those long days and long weeks of shooting.
“It’s been incredibly intense,” Blair says. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.
Updated on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 6:53 AM CDT: Replaces photo
Updated on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 9:46 AM CDT: Changes headline