Talent On Tap – Patrick Gilmore – Talks Travelers

In the world of cinema and television, Canada can compete with the best. We may have left the gates late, out of consideration for others (because we’re just so darn polite) but we are quickly gaining ground on the competition. Although the US is our neighbor, we still prefer to march to our own drum instead of following like a lost sheep. We are proud of our heritage and our way of life. Our films tend to deal with good stories rather than shoot ‘em up. On the International platform we are being recognized for a wide range of family friendly content. If you took our country on a date, you would want them to meet your parents, metaphorically speaking. In the film and television industry, we would rather lead than follow.

Our brand is recognized as honest, reliable and consistent. We may have been influenced by our neighbours to join the party but we brought our own stories and we have found our audience. As a writer/filmmaker I am very aware of the level of professionalism film crews and actors possess here and how anxious they are to flex that muscle. Although we may have a lot of our talent moving south for work, they always know where home is and they haven’t forgotten their roots.   


One such talented Canadian making his mark on television and film is Patrick Gilmore. Born in Edmonton, you may recognize him from his role on Stargate Universe (SGU) as Dr. Dale Volker or David Mailer on Travelers. He’s also had recurring roles in You Me Her (Shaun), Gracepoint  (Pete Lawson), The Killing as Tom Drexler and most recently, Jann starring the very talented and hilarious side of Jann Arden. He has however been in many more productions that go back to 1995. Still considerably young, he has the experience of a veteran. He was most gracious in taking the time to talk to us from Burbank, California.


“How did you get involved with Travelers?”

“The shows creator, Brad Wright was responsible for bringing Stargate to television and I had the luxury of working with him for the last two years of that series, which was 10 years ago. Since I’ve had a working relationship with Brad, he had me in mind when he went ahead with Travelers. You could say I was in the right place at the right time.”


“Where do they shoot Travelers?”

“It’s a thoroughly Canadian show shot in Vancouver. Everything about the show is Canadian including the cast, the crew, the writers and producers.”


If you haven’t seen the show, Patrick explains it like this; “it’s a time travel sci-fi show.  It’s a little hard to peg because Brad has taken a genre that we’re all quite familiar with and made it unique and with a very distinct voice and interesting take on time travel. As much as the show is about travelling through time, what gives it its fuel and enduring appeal is that it’s more about the relationships and the lives that the time travelers take over in present day. I play the role of David Mailer, a present day person that gets to witness the daily shenanigans, as if I were an audience member for the first time.”


“How far in advance would you receive the script before each episode?”

“It really depends. We were at it for a solid month before we shot the episode but there was a lot of conversation on set about the direction of the show, so we all knew what was coming. In season three it was a little different because the ending was so dramatic, they kept the ending under wraps for most of the cast. We would shoot two episodes back to back, which could get a little confusing for the actors but it encouraged and required them to have an advanced notice of what’s going on so we could keep the real-life timelines in there.”


“Considering it is science fiction and about time travel, is there a lot of green screen acting?”

“Actually that’s the beauty of the show. If you watched it with the sound off you’d never know it was a time travel show. It takes part in present day but as much as they try to write the wrongs of humanity to ensure a safer future their biggest task arguably is trying to blend in with the 21st century and the relationships in their lives. Therefor there isn’t a lot of green screen or visual effects. It’s a relationship driven dramatic sci-fi piece. Throughout the three seasons you get flashes/brief glimpses of the future. When I say brief I mean if you added up all the collective glimpses of the future it might last 5-10 seconds. Having an accessible show is very important to Brad. It’s a brave storytelling point. When Aaron Sorkin created The West Wing, the initial idea behind it was that you would never see the President. I also like to think it’s a page out of Jaws, where the less you see the scarier it is. The glimpse of this dystopian future leaves your imagination to decipher what that is.”


“If somebody started watching it in season two, would they understand what’s going on or would they have to go back to the beginning?”

“I would recommend watching it from the beginning but it’s not a procedural show. It’s a serialized way of storytelling, which is really the backbone of bingeable TV. The episode leaves you with a question that you need answered in the next episode. If you started half way through I’m afraid you’d have more questions that could be answered in one specific episode.”


“What type of role do you play that makes you integral to the story?”

“I guess the general way to put it is that I’m the love interest of one of the time travelers. I’m a social worker in present day whose client goes through a transformation that I can’t easily identify with because the person I’ve been caring for is now a time traveler/a scientist/a doctor, someone I don’t recognize. I’m left trying to negotiate what’s happening and who that person is. I’m kind of a conduit for the audience. As the seasons progress that love story almost becomes the heart of the show. You end up rooting for all the characters but the way the first season ends, sums up what those two characters mean to each other.”


“Can you touch on your characters story arc and how he evolves through the series?”

“A perfect example is my character David. He’s thrust into a world/scenario where he can’t relate to anyone around him. By the time season three rolls around you almost don’t recognize the life that he lives and the decisions he makes. Three seasons have passed that I think is damn near torcher for this character and it shows.”

“What does it mean to you playing a character like this?”

“I think it might be harder to play a role of someone 400 years into the future, whereas with David, he’s a guy you know. He’s a guy that’s never held a gun, he’s never been beat up. He’s a pretty average guy so I think accessing some experience to portray the character is a lot easier than some of the other characters. It gets harder as the show goes on because some of the stuff is pretty fantastic. It’s David’s job to make it believable for the audience.”


“There are so many choices on TV these days, I never know what to watch but Travelers seems to be one that people are really talking about.”

“We don’t have the budget of many other shows so word of mouth is our best advertising. The fans love us and there’s a whole legion of Traveler fans on Twitter that have done a lot of work for us and I gladly appreciate it.”


“Is it fair to say that your show will attract more of a good story audience rather than your average sci-fi audience?”

“I would hope that it would appeal to both. The way that the show is packaged and sold, it looks sci-fi and we are in the sci-fi category. People that are into sci-fi might move on but the stories I love are the ones where people show it to their husbands or wives that don’t normally subscribe to sci-fi. The show is cleverly written and the performances/talent behind the show are also a credit as well. The way that season three ends, I feel that its such a masterful piece of writing that I’ll forever be proud of. The talent in front of the camera are names worth taking note of because you’ll be hearing a lot about them. Eric McCormack is very well known but Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, Nesta Cooper and MacKenzie Porter should be household names. MacKenzie is a perfect example, an Alberta girl whose career started in music. In this show she had to play a mentally challenged woman and immediately had to switch gears to become a kick-ass time traveler. I think in the three seasons she’s played 3 or 4 versions of herself. I think that’s a lot to ask from an actor, to take one character and make 4 different colours. I think one of the highlights of the show is the amazing performances.”           


“How many writers are on the show?”

“I think we have five or six, which are all Canadian. Brad developed the show with a lot of these writers. One of our writers on the team, Ken Kabatoff was an office assistant ten years ago on Stargate and now he’s a writer on the team and a force to be reckoned with. It becomes a family affair. In this industry it can become very transient, so to be able to work with people that you know and trust just makes your job so much easier. A lot of people on Travelers are people I’ve worked with going back to Stargate; camera operators, hair and makeup, so it really feels like a family.”


“When you first came on board with Travelers, did you have to come in for a chemistry read?”

“There wasn’t any chemistry reads but I was brought in for a screen test. Kind of a funny story; I was sitting in my car before the screen test when Brad knocked on my window. I told him that I hope I don’t screw it up. He told me he wrote the part for me and that it was mine to lose. I went into the screen test with that in mind and it all worked out.”


“How different is this character from your own and is it challenging to play a character like him?”

“It is because David is blindly optimistic and quite a hopeful character. I’m not saying I’m not but in trying to discover the weakness in David, I think it’s his blind faith in humanity that probably caused him the most grief but it’s also the most endearing thing about him. I don’t think I share the same blind faith. What was easy to connect with David was the way he spoke. In getting the script, I could understand the pacing and the tone of this character. There’s a melody in the way that David talks that I immediately understand and get. It was written with my voice in mind so it really gave me a leg up in my journey to find who this character was and he’s not me. Sadly, I think I’d be a better person if I were more like David. I think we all would.”   

“Since the show has had three seasons, have you been green lit for the fourth yet?”

“No, there’s been no word on that yet but hopefully we’ll know soon. It’s a little different this year because for the first two seasons were a co-pro between Showcase in Canada and Netflix, so we would find out usually the end of February. The third season was strictly Netflix and they bought out Showcase, so it became a Netflix original. We shoot here a lot sooner now and Netflix holds all the keys now.”


“In saying that, would the writers go to work on future episodes while waiting for a decision on the next season?”

“I think they have a good idea of where they want to go but there’s no sense in paying people to write if it doesn’t go through. I really can’t speak to that because I’ve been a little out of touch with the producers and writers right now. I think everyone is waiting for news.”


“Do you have any other shows you’re currently working on or involved with?”

“I did a TV show for CTV that is going to air this spring called Jann. It’s a comedy starring Jann Arden. It’s set in Calgary in September/October. She plays a version of herself, a struggling Canadian icon and I get to play her brother in-law. I can’t tell you what a joy it was to act opposite of Jann and to be part of a project like this. As you know, she is multi-talented; writing books, podcasts, making albums and speaking engagements. She’s now dipping her toe into playing the lead in her own show. I’m excited for Canada to see this side of her because we all know she’s a musical icon but I want people to know how talented and funny she is.”   


“Since you split your time between LA and Vancouver, do you find that there’s more opportunity in LA?”

“If I had the choice I’d love to stay in the Canadian industry and help enrich/explore that. There’s a lot of talent in Canada and a lot of competition. There are also a lot of outlets for TV right now. I watched the Golden Globes and I didn’t recognize 80% of the shows being nominated. There’s Hulu, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, so it makes it hard to keep track. I think there’s more opportunity in Los Angeles because it’s more of a mecca for TV and film. My career is a business and I want to be available for more opportunities. With that being said, most of my opportunities are coming from Canada, which really speaks to how busy Canada can be.”


“Would you say that the future for Canadian TV is quite healthy in comparison to ten years ago?”

“A hundred percent. A number of years ago we went through the hash tag ‘Save BC Film’ era. I’d gone to the rallies and it was a scary time for Vancouver. There was a mass exit of talent that were either going south or just hanging up the skates forever. Some were heading to Toronto in hopes of greener pastures. It was a stressful time for Vancouver and now here we are almost 7-8 years later and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Vancouver so busy. Our crews are being stacked with talent fresh out of college because there’s such demand for crew. It’s exciting and I realize everything ends but I feel like this is an incredible time for Canadian film and television and I’m very excited to be part of it.”

What a pleasure it was speaking with Patrick Gilmore. He has such passion for acting and his home country of Canada. If you haven’t watched Travelers, you owe it to yourself and our Canadian talent to support it. That’s what being Canadian is all about after all.  


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