Allan Hawco stars as Jake Doyle on CBC TV's
It's Tuesday, Day 1 of filming the third season of "Republic of Doyle," and it's like no one ever left the set.
Crew members are hurrying around with equipment, cameras are poised to roll, and the set itself, in a sound stage in Torbay - ready to shoot scenes in the Doyle home, Duke of Duckworth pub, and hospital and motel rooms - has been made up to look as precisely realistic as possible, down to Rose's Chatelaine magazines and nail files on the living room coffee table and a half a sandwich in the glass-doored fridge.
One person, however, admits to struggling a little to get into the spirit until the very last minute.
"Am I Jake Doyle? No, definitely not," said Allan Hawco, co-creator, co-producer and co-writer of the show, who also plays the womanizing, but otherwise good-hearted lead character.
"Until yesterday, I had longer hair and shaved. I wasn't sure I was even going to be able to pull him out again until the cameras started rolling and I started, and I was like, 'Oh, there he is.'"
Although it was an instant hit when it first began airing on CBC TV in January 2010, "Doyle" has grown over the past two seasons.
While it's retaining its trademark hokiness - "It's cops and robbers, there's got to be some silliness," Hawco explained - characters and scenes have become more complex, due mostly to a change in members of the show's writing team. Changes were made during Season 1, and more changes came last season, Hawco said.
"There are writers I would love to work with again on other projects, but I think what we have now is a really strong writing team," he said.
The show, which Hawco estimates has already triggered and spent more than $60 million in this province, is broadcast in at least a dozen countries, available on DVD and Netflix. As a result of its success, it's drawing international viewers and the attention of some high-profile actors, both in this province and Hollywood.
Local native Shannon Tweed will make a cameo as a villain with a connection to Linda Boyd's character, Rose, this season, filming next week, when she's in the province with husband Gene Simmons for the KISS concert in Grand Falls. There have also been rumours about "Gladiator" and "A Beautiful Mind" star Russell Crowe making an appearance, although Hawco wouldn't confirm it.
He did confirm Great Big Sea frontman Doyle - who had a role as a penitentiary inmate in an episode last season - will be back on the show this season, alongside guest actors Scott Grimes and Kevin Durand.
Crowe will be in town at the beginning of August to do two music concerts at the LSPU Hall with Doyle and other guests, including Grimes and Durand. Doyle, Grimes and Durand played merry men to Crowe's Robin Hood in last year's Ridley Scott film of the same name.
"I would love to have Russell Crowe on the show; it would be an honour," Hawco replied coyly when asked if he was in talks with Crowe to also guest star.
Comedian Mark Critch will also be back on the show, reprising his role of taxi driver Ned Bishop.
"If I get in a taxi in St. John's, a lot of times the driver will look in the rearview mirror and say, 'Oh, yeah. You should be driving me,'" Critch said. "I love cabbies. I tried to represent the taxi drivers of this fair city well."
Critch admits he's probably not the most likely choice to play a taxi driver - he doesn't have his driver's licence.
"I go, 'I'm getting out of here!' and then some other guy pops in and drives away," he said with a laugh. "I just never felt like I wanted my licence. I don't need to go anywhere that far, I guess."
As for hints about the storyline from this season, Hawco wasn't giving too much away.
Police officer Leslie Bennett (played by Krystin Pellerin), who was fired at the end of last season, is back, "maybe as a cop, maybe not," he said.
"Jake's actions in the last season have some effects on someone he cares a lot about, and he feels the repercussions of that," Hawco said.