Christian Kane spoke over the phone with Solzy at the Movies to discuss his upcoming role in the upcoming WGN America series, Almost Paradise.
Almost Paradise premieres March 30 on WGN America and marks your third collaboration with Dean Devlin following Leverage and The Librarians. What was it that attracted you to the project?
Christian Kane: Well, first of all, like you said, Dean Devlin was involved with it. I’ve worked him for 13 years. We did Leverage together. We did The Librarians. It’s funny, because I sat down about five and a half years ago, he spoke to me and he said, “Hey, do you want to do this project called The Librarians?” And I’m like, “Absolutely, if you’re involved.” He said, “I wrote the role for you.” They physically wrote the role for me. He goes, “Man, I’ve got something else but you’re just a little too young to play it now.” That was five and a half years ago. Five years later, he goes, “I think you’re old enough now.” He had this beautiful idea of an ex-DEA agent struggling with hypertension and just trying to relax but the world won’t let him. I jumped at it. It was a project that I wanted to do. Not only that but just being filming in the Philippines and in a different environment. It takes you out of your comfort zone and it looked like something very interesting to me.
You play former US DEA agent Alex Walker in the series. What can you tell us about him?
Christian Kane: I can tell you that he’s just trying to find peace. The country will not allow him to do that where he’s at. It’s really great what Dean did because the bad guys are not Filipino. It’s not like we’re taking down people there. It’s all these international criminals that come there and I think that they can run their underground business in a country that won’t notice them. We’re not taking down the local people there. The local people and me are taking down international criminals. It’s a fun ride. If you like Leverage, in that sense, if you like that kind of genre, this is right up your alley.
Generally speaking, what do you typically look for in characters while reading a script?
Christian Kane: One of the reasons why I’m very fortunate to hitch my ride with Dean is because he’s a big action guy from Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot. He loves action and I love action and so there’s always got to be a physicalness to the character. What really drew me to this was I usually wear my heart on my sleeve on characters but I have my sleeves rolled down. This guy rolls them up—he has it out there. It’s very emotional role to play. He’s dealing with so many things that hit him in the face and also hit him in the heart. To me, I’d never played a character like that. I’ve never dove into a character like that and played him for a long amount of time. That’s something that I really look forward to in this role. There’s got to be some physicality to me for it to be fun but at the same time, this guy, like I said, the emotional stress to put on him. He covers everything up with comedy so there’s a huge comedy aspect of it. It hits all the senses and that’s always what I love. When I’m watching something, are you gonna feel everything? I don’t want to just be sad. I want to be sad. I want to be angry. I want to be happy. I want to laugh. And this guy does it all so it’s great.
What other things do you take into account?
Christian Kane: Well, it’s got to be interesting especially for television. If it’s not interesting and then you’re stuck playing this guy for a long time, it becomes monotonous. It becomes something that you just walk through it and you find yourself sort of phoning it in. Fortunately, I’ve not played a lot of people like that especially not in the last 15 years of my life. I did have a role one time where I just had no interest in it. I didn’t care about him and I didn’t care about other things around me so it just became a paycheck. As an actor, that’s not what I want. The money has never been an issue with me. I just want to work for the rest of my life. I love doing this. I’m fortunate. The Lord has blessed me. I’m just like, if I can do something for long periods of time that I love the character. I did that with Eliot Spencer and Leverage. I did that with Jake Stone and The Librarians. I’m definitely gonna do that with Almost Paradise.
Almost Paradise is the first US TV series filmed entirely in the Philippines. Can you talk about the experience?
Christian Kane: Yeah, that’s a very good subject to bring up. It’s kind of crazy because there’s never been an American series ever filmed in the Philippines. In that sense, no one really ever has seen the Philippines unless you vacation there or maybe caught glimpses of it in Jason Bourne or something like that. We all know what Korea looks like, we all know what Japan looks like, and what China looks like because we’ve seen those places but no one’s really ever shown you the Philippines. Dean Devlin, who’s a Filipino American, wanted to showcase that. What we did was we use the Philippines as another leading actor. I mean, the Philippines itself should be on the call sheet. We use the backdrop, the colors, the culture, the spiritual side of it. It really is a lead actor. There’s not a lot of people that have seen that deep into the Philippines before so this is going to be something new for a lot of Americans. I would venture out to say a lot of people in the world. We’re excited to show that. We’re excited to show these people who are just the nicest people in the world. The rest of the cast was Filipino. The whole crew is Filipino. They became my friends and family. A little bit of this tells their story and so it’s kind of nice to do that as a viewer especially with the times that we’re going through right now. Everyone’s at home—let us take you on a vacation. We get to take you on a vacation to the Philippines and I’m honored to be a tour guide on that.
What were your favorite things to do when you didn’t need to be on set?
Christian Kane: Well, it definitely was a resort island so we would go we would go to the ocean. I spent a lot of time in the water there—something that you don’t really get to do. I know I live in Los Angeles and the ocean’s right there but 95% of us don’t venture down. I got to be in the water. I got to experience the food. I’m a huge foodie so I went around and tried to soak up some of the Filipino cuisine there. But other than that, we really worked every day. It’s really hot in the Philippines so you get exhausted just being there in such a great way. But not to say we didn’t venture to the bar every once won’t have a cocktail afterwards and after work, that was nice. We were at the resort. We’re filming on a resort island but just as an actor, it doesn’t get much better than that.
What are you doing to keep yourself from going stir crazy during the quarantine?
Christian Kane: I am not. I’m going stir crazy. I’m talking to you—that’s what I’m doing. Like I said, I’m in Los Angeles so you can’t go to the gym. You can’t go to eat at my restaurants. I just got back a week and a half ago literally from the Philippines. I came into this. I was so looking forward to going to my hots, my restaurants, and I can’t go. I play a little guitar when I’m not doing this. I’ve been I’ve been playing Call of Duty quite a bit.
It must be different with the typical usual press tour not happening the way it usually does.
Christian Kane: It’s not ideal. Usually, I’d be out there and talking to a lot of the morning shows and promoting stuff. Someone asked me, “How do you feel about this? You know, you’re promoting something during this bad time in America? Well, not America in the world.” And I said, “Well, the thing is, is that I worked really hard on this, and the crew in the Philippines and the other actors—we all worked really hard on this so I wouldn’t be doing the justice not go out there.” And I thought to myself, Man, everyone’s home. Everyone is dealing with this. Everyone needs an escape and entertainment has always provided that in the world. A lot of things are shut down. A lot of things didn’t get to finish. We actually got to finish the day before they shut down the Manila airport—it actually was our wrap date. Me and Dean Devlin were walking through the airport and watching gates shut behind us. We got on the last flight out. We finished and we got something really good in the can. It’s a fun ride. I think that right now when people need entertainment more than anything, really, I mean, not more than anything but almost as much as everything. Let us take you on a ride out here. You know what I mean? I don’t mind being out here and talking about the show. Let us take you on vacation. You’re on the couch anyway. It’s a bad time. So let’s take you to the Philippines a little bit. You can watch me throw punches.
I was just about to ask—when did photography wrap?
Christian Kane: It wrapped two weeks ago today. I was supposed to stick around for an extra couple days. We were gonna do some insert shots and some other things. I had to pack up. I spent five months there. I got to set that morning and Dean goes, “You’re leaving tomorrow morning with me.” So I had to literally—we wrapped at 6:30 AM. I went back to the hotel, packed all my stuff, and didn’t sleep. We were up for 36 hours, flew out of Cebu City to Manila and got on the last flight, honestly, from Manila to LA. Like I said, we were literally hearing the gates close behind us. We got out of there just in time. It’s very strange that we wrapped the day before Manila shut down so we were very fortunate in that sense.
To end on a happier note, The Librarians was one of my favorite series when it was on the air. Is there a moment working on the series that stands out?
Christian Kane: There’s things I’ve learned about The Librarians that that stand out to me, which was Noah Wyle really taught me that it’s okay to make fun yourself. He taught me a lot about—I’ve learned from the best when it comes to comedy to be honest with you. I’ve been around a lot of people. John Larroquette had a lot of hand in that from The Librarians but Noah taught me that it was okay to make fun of yourself. That really helped me because I was always the tough guy and this and that, and this and that. It was fun to do that with that character. I tell you, if it wasn’t for playing Jake Stone, The Librarians and watching Noah kind of take the helm in that situation, I’m not sure that I would have been able to bring the comedy aspect as much with Alex Walker and Almost Paradise. So, to me, there’s stuff that stands out but it’s all a learning thing because you’re always learning as an actor. If you don’t learn from the person next to you, then you’re an idiot—you know what I mean? I learned a lot from them. With Rebecca Romijn, I played her brother on King & Maxwell so we already had a pretty good brother-sister relationship, which kind of ended up what happened on The Librarians as well. So, for me, The Librarians was a really great thing, too. If I wouldn’t have played that character, I don’t think Alex Walker would have been able to make fun of himself as much as he did because of watching some of the other people around. If you didn’t pay attention to John Larroquette’s dry comedy, you’re an idiot because that’s Comedy 101 right there for people like me that don’t do slapstick.