In ALMOST PARADISE, Monday nights on WGN America and thereafter available on Amazon Prime, Christian Kane stars as Alex Walker. Alex is an American former DEA agent, burned by his former partner and suffering from hypertension. He decides to retire to run a gift shop at an idyllic island resort in the Philippines. However, his expertise is noticed by the local police, who think he’d make a great consultant. Alex thinks he doesn’t want to be drawn back into law enforcement, but he finds he can’t stand idly by when criminals get active in his line of sight.
ALMOST PARADISE is created by Dean Devlin and Gary Rosen. Kane and Devlin previously worked together on two previous series, both executive-produced by Devlin. LEVERAGE, a light-hearted drama about altruistic con artists who entrap rich malefactors, ran for five seasons. Kane played tough guy Eliot Spencer. It has just been announced that LEVERAGE is being rebooted for IMDB.tv, with Kane reprising his role as Eliot, alongside Noah Wyle. Wyle starred in Kane’s other Devlin-executive-produced series, THE LIBRARIANS, a fantasy/action show that ran for four seasons. Kane played slightly less tough Jake Stone.
Originally from Texas, Kane is a producer on ALMOST PARADISE. He also produced and starred in 2018’s feature TINKER’. His other film credits include HER MINOR THING (which earned him a Special Jury Prize at the Phoenix Film Festival), FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and SUMMER CATCH. Kane was also a series regular on FAME: L.A., RESCUE 77, and CLOSE TO HOME, and had a recurring role on ANGEL. Additionally, Kane is a singer/songwriter/musician with a number of albums to his name.
In this two-part exclusive interview, Kane talks about ALMOST PARADISE, LEVERAGE, his music, and more.
ASSIGNMENT X: First of all, how are you doing with all of this craziness going on?
CHRISTIAN KANE: Oh, man, you know. I just left the Philippines a couple weeks ago, and came back to this. I thought I was getting out of Southeast Asia, so I was safe, but it comes to find out, I should have stayed there [laughs].
AX: Dean Devlin has said that he created ALMOST PARADISE about ten years ago, but for one thing, it wasn’t off the ground, and for another, he thought you were too young at the time, and for a third, you were all still making LEVERAGE …
KANE: That’s correct. Actually, the funny thing is, this was an idea of his, and it never really came to fruition until we were getting ready to do THE LIBRARIANS. He started working a little bit more on it, and we were having a conversation, I was on the road, me and Skeet Ulrich, we were on the road in a bus, Jim Wilson had put us in a bus to promote the movie we did, 50 TO 1, so I was traveling the country in a tour bus, promoting a movie, and Dean said, “I need to have lunch with you.” So we went and had lunch, and he said, “How would you like to do THE LIBRARIANS?” I’m like, “Are you kidding me? I’m in.” And he wrote that role for me. It wasn’t like, “Would you like to play a role?” He wrote it specifically for me, which in this day and age in Hollywood, it just doesn’t happen. I mean, it does, but you’re part of the lucky few. So he wrote a role for me. Of course, I said, “Absolutely, I want to do it.” And he looked at me after the lunch, and he said, “Chris, you know, I’ve got something else. And you’re perfect for it. And it’s so you. But you’re just too young to play him right now.” And then cut to five years later, when we’ve had our run of THE LIBRARIANS, and Dean goes, “I think you’re ready.”
And we worked on it for over a year before we set down in the Philippines and started filming. So it was really fun to be a part of that, and watch Dean’s creative mind, and him lead a writing team into what we were going to do, especially based around the character I knew I was going to play. It was one of the funnest times I’ve ever had. Unbelievable filming on a resort island with these beautiful actors that I’ve come to love as family. And everyone took me in as one of their own. I never felt like an outsider or a foreigner. But the process of watching everything come together from ground zero in the writers’ room, and Dean’s head, and in Dean’s office, to numerous conversations with me, that had to be one of the funnest things I’ve ever done in my life.
AX: Even though Dean Devlin had the idea for ALMOST PARADISE beforehand, how did you build your character with him? Were you in the writers’ room, or at least sitting down with Dean Devlin and Gary Rosen, to talk about who Alex Walker would be?
KANE: I spent a lot of time with Gary Rosen and Dean Devlin together. I spent a lot of time with Dean Devlin in his office, going over things that we should do. Dean likes to say we have stories. It’s like, at this point, he’ll come up to me on the set, and go, “Hey, listen. What if we do – ”, and I say, “No, no, I got it, I know exactly what we’re doing, I’ll just go do it.” And Dean really loves that about us. We don’t have to communicate with words anymore, we know what each other are thinking. So he knew what I was capable of doing. Dean has a tendency to push me somewhere where I think I may not feel that I can get there, but he knows that I can. So there was a lot of that. That was the beauty of working with someone for twelve years now. So he knows me. So he’s able to write [a Kane character]. I feel like it’s like Scorsese and DiCaprio, or De Niro. Scorsese knows what these guys can do, and he wants them to do. And so that was the beauty. I didn’t have to really develop the character. On paper, it was more about ideas that we could bring in to enhance what his vision was.
AX: Dean Devlin has said, and I have no reason to believe he’s wrong, that ALMOST PARADISE is the first American-made scripted TV series shot in the Philippines.
KANE: One hundred percent. There was a learning curve on both sides. They adapted some of the stuff we do. And of course, we’re different, and we’re different even as an American TV show, because we filmed LEVERAGE, we filmed LIBRARIANS, we filmed what should be a ten-day shoot, and we slammed it into seven. We work fast. You’ve got TV guys, the Jonathan Frakes and the Marc Roskins, directing. We work really fast, and we cram a lot into those days. And they weren’t used to that. And then we had to get used to the way they filmed, and adopt some of their ways. And so it was a huge learning curve off the bat, but by the time we were done, it was a well-oiled machine, so that was a lot of fun.
AX: What do Filipino productions do that’s so different?
KANE: A lot of shows over there work twenty-four hours a day, and then take twenty-four off. And there was just no way that we could do that on a show like this, because it was too big, and it was too heavy –
AX: And the unions, Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America, might have something to say about that …
KANE: Absolutely. And that’s another reason. With me being, as I am, in the guild, that would have been a very, very expensive show for them [laughs].
AX: ALMOST PARADISE is set in the Philippine city of Cebu, which is a real place. Are you actually shooting in Cebu?
KANE: We shot a lot in Cebu City, which is right there, but we were actually on an island just off of that [Mactan, where the central city is called Lapu-Lapu]. Lapu-Lapu is very famous [as an individual in Filipino history], because Magellan colonized all of the Philippines, but this is the one island that [the Spanish] never touched. The reason why is because Magellan got off the boat and Lapu-Lapu stabbed him, shanked him right there, and killed him. So Lapu-Lapu is a hero of this really beautiful island. It is Cebu, but it’s its own island. Of course, I say “its own island” – there are over seven thousand islands in the Philippines, but this is a very special place to me.
AX: Do they speak Tagalog there, and have you had to learn to speak Tagalog?
KANE: I spoke Tagalog, because the crew is from Manila. There are some locals on the island who spoke Cebuano [a variation of Tagalog], but most of our team came from other television series in Manila, and they spoke Tagalog. So it’s funny, I learned enough Tagalog – it’s kind of like when I went to – I was in Argentina for two months. I spoke Spanish, but it’s a different Spanish. There’s some Portuguese mixed in, and it’s funny how quick you pick up a language when you want to eat something. So I learned what I needed to learn to thank people, tell them they look beautiful, and, “Yes, I’ll have some more rice, please.”
AX: You were a producer on the movie TINKER’. Is ALMOST PARADISE your first time as a producer on a TV show?
KANE: First time on a TV series, yes, it is. I’ve produced a few things, actually, but who knows if I got credit for it? [laughs] But this one, it was in my contract that I was going to be a producer, but not so fast [contractually, Kane’s producing credit was not supposed to start when the series began]. And Dean saw the work that I was doing down there – this show is important to me, and he saw how hard I was working, and he saw a lot of the things that I was doing, and I felt it was my job to lead by example, so I don’t feel like I went above and beyond the call of duty, but he seems to feel like I did. I still don’t believe it, but he seems to think I did it, so he made me a producer halfway through the season. And I thought, “What an honor.” Dean Devlin has always been encouraging with me, and for him to actually give me something that he thought I deserved, it was such an honor. So halfway through the season, I became producer, and that’s something people can’t take away from you.
AX: Well, your name is on all the episodes as a producer …
KANE: Yes. Dean decided halfway through [production] that he was going to make me a producer on the show. Which means I get credit for all of them. But it’s really fun to see that card pop up, especially on a show that you worked as hard as you did on it.
AX: What makes Alex Walker different from Eliot Spencer in LEVERAGE? They’re both guys who have pasts that have taken a toll on them, and they’re both trying to do something to reduce the psychic toll.
KANE: Yeah, exactly. There are a lot of similarities, and I can’t get around that, Number 1, because Christian f***ing Kane played them both. But somebody asked me the other day, “Do you think Alex Walker and Eliot Spencer would get along?” And I said, “No.” I said, “Alex Walker – I stole a lot from [the LEVERAGE smartass character] Alec Hardison and, more importantly, Aldis Hodge [who played Alec] as an actor, for Alex Walker. Alex Walker is using comedy to cover up things that are wrong. And if you remember, Eliot cannot tolerate Hardison for very long, and that’s how I think he would feel about Alex Walker. Because Alex – he’s very smart, even if it doesn’t look like it, he thinks about what he’s going to say or do before he does it. Eliot’s a more, “I’m going through that wall first; whoever’s on the other side, I’m going to hit him in the face.” So one of them is very precise – well, they’re both precise, but one of them is precise with his brain, and the other one is precise with his hands.
AX: Onscreen at least, you’ve been kicking the stuffing out of people for quite a long time. Did you have to learn anything new about kicking the stuffing out of people for ALMOST PARADISE?
KANE: [laughs] I wish I could give you a great answer, but no, I didn’t. I’ve been doing this dance for a long, long time. I’ve come a long way from being beat up by every girl on ANGEL, and Angel himself [played by David Boreanaz], which is where I started. I always did my own stunts. That was where all the fights really came in. Mike Massa on ANGEL was fantastic, the stunt coordinator, also Boreanaz’s double. And I was expendable. So when a fight came up, Mike let me do it, and I usually ended up fighting Mike, because he was Angel’s stunt double, and I kind of learned to dance from there. Then of course, obviously, with Eliot, and I did a lot of action with Jake Stone in THE LIBRARIANS.
This is just another walk in the park for me. It really is a dance. It’s not that I’m a tough guy, it’s the fact that I’m a good dancer when it comes to the fighting. It was fun to show other people what I had learned from other people. Also, one of my favorite quotes that I live by is, “You learn to fight by fighting,” which is Bruce Lee, and that’s how I learned to fight, was by fighting, and it was really fun to go down there and show them what I do there. And especially Sam Richelle, who plays Kai, she had never really done any fight training. We have a really good stunt team, and I had choreographed a couple of fight scenes with me and her, and it was fun to watch someone try to learn and take in what I’ve been able to do for the past twenty years.
AX: Do you have any fight scenes with Arthur Acuna, who plays police detective Ernesto Alamares?
KANE: There are fight scenes, not with him [fighting against Alex].
AX: So you’re fighting on the same side? Arthur Acuna looks proficient in his fight scenes.
KANE: Yeah. He’s pretty proficient in stuff like that. And that’s the beauty of it. I love the fact that I’m more of a barroom brawler in this thing, and he’s very much a martial artist. And that’s why it’s so fun to watch us fight. I’m swinging for the fences, and he’s putting them in there where he needs to, and I love the fact that we both get to have different styles of fighting, and the stunt people team really works with us, not with me but with him, giving his own style of fighting, so there’s no confusion about who knows what.
AX: Alex has talked a little about his daughter. Are we going to meet her?
KANE: [laughs] Why is this the biggest question? Everybody wants to know. I don’t know. She will be talked about more throughout the season. In Episode 7, Richard Kind, who’s a dear friend of mine, we’ve done four things together. He was also on LEVERAGE, he was on THE LIBRARIANS, we did another film [ALL STARS]. I asked him to fly to the Philippines, and I’d treat him to golf every day, and he said, “I’m coming.” So Richard Kind came in to play a role with me, and you find out a lot more about my guy’s story, and a little bit more about my daughter.
AX: Are you going to get to sing on ALMOST PARADISE?
KANE: I do get to sing. Dean made a promise to the fans when he started this thing, “There will be some music.” And there’s an episode, I can’t exactly remember which one it is number-wise, because we shot out of order a bit, but there’s a big music episode, and I’m not only playing in it, but I’m also singing, and there’s a little twist at the end. So I can’t wait for that one to get out there.
AX: Did you have any input into the look of Alex’s gift shop?
KANE: I didn’t. And I didn’t want it. The only thing I had was the fish, and then I said, “You’ve got to put some guitars in there.” The reason I didn’t want to put my two cents in is, every episode, the gift shop gets better and better. And I’m waiting for people to catch onto that. So by the end of the show, it’s going to be this really beautiful, prestigious thing. But we were very careful to only add it every episode, just a little bit more, clean it up a little bit more, put some paint here a little bit more, add a surfboard here. And so it was really fun for me. I had my fingers and my hands and my say in so many different other things that that was something that I did not to have a hand in. I wanted it to be a surprise, because it was so fun for me to walk in there every time, and see something had changed, and something had gotten brighter and better.
One thing I thought was really fun is, when I went through the hole in the floor in the first episode. Marc Roskin was directing, and Marc was fantastic. Marc had the hard, hard job of telling a great story right off the bat, while also introducing everyone’s character, and shooting something that’s beautiful. And he has forty-five minutes [of screen time] to do it. And he did such a good job of kicking this thing off. Everything starts off a little bit slower than where it’s actually going to get to, because you have to make time to bring people along with you. Now, we’re moving so fast that we don’t have to do that anymore. But I went through the floor, we were looking at the hole, and me and Marc looked up at each other, and go, “Let’s patch it up. And let’s do a job where you can see where the patch work was.” And it actually does make a creaking sound every time you step on it. So throughout the season, people come into the gift shop – me, Ces [Quesada], who plays Cory, Sam – they always walk in, and everybody steps on it, and it makes it sound like they’ll go through it again. And that was just the luck of the draw, it was just something that me and Marc Roskin came up with, so that’s a little gift that we wanted to give the fans. And that gift shop is actually built on the water. It’s not CGI. It’s still standing there, ‘til we get back for second season. So it’s a real gift shop, and people are starting to come out and take pictures of it. I think that it’s just outstanding, that we can just do that.
Article Source: Assignment X
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