Shattered - Callum Keith Rennie Interview
Posted by Universal Channel
Callum Keith Rennie will be familiar to TV audiences for his roles in Battlestar Galactica and Californication, but now he’s taken on the most challenging role of his career, Detective Ben Sullivan in Shattered. We spoke to Callum recently about the challenge of playing a character with multiple personalities and asked him which actor he’d love to work with in an episode of Shattered.
Your character in Shattered, Ben Sullivan, has multiple personalities. In that respect do you treat each of his personalities as an individual character or does it all feed into your portrayal of Ben?
It’s sort of like holding onto Ben as neutral ground and then the alters were created as individuals, trying to find out individual voices and movement for each one. That was very specific.
Which one of Ben’s personalities do you most enjoy sinking your teeth into?
I think Harry is the most fun. Because a lot of the show is quite dark and for him to show up means it’s going to be somewhat silly and somewhat energetic, not dark at all.
Obviously playing a character with this disorder isn’t common for an actor. Did you put much research into the role before filming began?
I looked at as much video as I could find, read as many books as I could find, talked to a few psychiatrists and what I found is it’s sort of an open book; it effects people in completely different ways. It was completely individual for each case, for each individual how it manifested and at what level. You read all about it and you fill your head with this and you start to see yourself in it; how disassociated I am. It’s fascinating dealing with the human spirit and its coping mechanism.
After watching the first few episodes of Shattered I found it to be hard hitting, intelligent and a lot darker than most cop shows. Were those facets part of the appeal for you?
That was the appeal, because to follow it down like a straight ahead cop show - there’s a lot out there and always has been. But this had different avenues to go down where you’d get caught in one of the alters for one episode and you wouldn’t be doing cop stuff at all. So it gave more of an open ended feel of what a cop show could be.
Was it also part of the appeal to know you could push your own character into darker areas than you’d normally be able to go?
Yeah, I would be trite to have this in an environment that’s optimistic. I think the style, the shooting style of the show, the writing style of the show matches the weight of the issues at hand. I wanted it to be a little brooding.
As well as the multiple personality disorder Ben also has issues surrounding his missing son and fragile marriage. Do you think this unwavering focus on the main character’s flaws is what makes it stand out from other procedural shows?
Yes, because I think you’re watching someone going through a tremendous crisis. By getting through his day to day, to hold on to some semblance of his mind, and staying present makes him heroic. Not so much the we solved this or we solved that, but how did I make it through another day while all this stuff is going on. I think that’s what the challenge is.
Is there any one actor you’d particularly like to work with, perhaps as a guest star on Shattered?
There’s always actors you appreciate. There’s so many. I’d love to have Sam Rockwell turn up and do an episode.
It seems that Ben slips in and out of his other personalities at times of extreme distress, that might mean he’s being threatened or it might mean he’s having a fight with his wife. Can you relate to that desire to be a different type of person in certain situations?
As you’re creating it some of it’s coming from yourself, some of it’s people that you’ve know. That’s the actor’s process. I worked with a coach in LA and we sat down and went OK, let’s definie this character and we’d look through people who would be interesting, not to impersonate but to take qualities of, and found somebody from my life I was able to take those pieces from. For Sam I tried to create an animalistic, simplistic and physical type of vengeful character. The highly intelligent character was based on Ian McKellen’s work, how I see him and trying to create a highly evolved person. So it was sort of pulling it in from everywhere.
The UK premiere of Shattered starts on Monday 18th October at 10pm.
From here: http://www.universalchannel.co.uk/content/shattered-callum-keith-rennie-interview
I've starred in 24 and Battlestar Galactica but I'd love to use my Scottish accent once, says Callum Keith Rennie
Oct 15 2010 Brian Mciver
In his career so far, he has taken on Jack Bauer, Agent Mulder and the last interstellar colony of humans.
As one of the busiest character actors and support stars in Hollywood, Callum Keith Rennie has spent most of his working life playing bad guys, gangsters and evil alien robots.
But the Scot who has become a cult hero among telly fans for his sinister performances is about to get his first leading hero role, and he says it's been worth the wait.
Callum, who was raised in Vancouver, Canada after his Aberdonian family emigrated across the Atlantic when he was a child, is the star of edgy new cop drama Shattered, which launches on British screens this Monday.
He is also enjoying one of his biggest roles to date, starring alongside Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper in family drama Case 39.
And he has used all his experience of working with big Hollywood names to help in his first real centre-stage part, where he plays a homicide detective with a multiple personality disorder.
Callum said: "I'm so excited about Shattered, it's something I've really enjoyed working in and it's very different from anything I've done before.
"I've always been a character actor and done a lot of support work. I've never really been the lead actor, so I'll try and use what I've learned along the way from the other projects.
"I've taken a lot from watching other great people doing it whether it's David Duchovny, Kiefer Sutherland or Paul Gross.
"I've been able to see how they operate and work their way through the mayhem of being the lead of a show.
"Being front and centre comes with different territory that can be daunting, such as the amount of time you spend on the set working, but it's also great to have a say in how the show moves along.
"As support, one of the appeals is that you don't really have to answer a lot of questions, you just have to get your head down and work.
"On the other hand, as lead, you're steering the ship forward and hoping everyone is on track and keeps in good spirits. It just comes with a different bag than I'm used to."
The new role is in a hit Canadian-produced thriller series where Callum stars as a policeman who is fighting crime as well as his own psyche.
He said: "I play a detective who we discover is suffering from multiple personality disorder, so I have to try and keep it under wraps.
"It ends up affecting every aspect of my life and I'm trying not to let it overwhelm me and still doing detective work while acting out and all these things are happening.
"It's a great part and it's nice not to be limited to playing one character all the time. But it was pretty daunting in the framework that there are real people who suffer from this.
"You need to make it authentic because in real life kick it's usually an extremely subtle thing where people might not notice, so I had to do a lot of research.
"The audience end up being a participant, wondering if he has just turned into somebody else.
Then they watch the mayhem that ensues and the problems he has trying to piece events together while one personality blacks out."
Callum, 50, has enjoyed a packed career, playing key parts in many of the biggest programmes to come out of Canada and the US in the last 20 years after making a late start to the game aged 30.
He got his big break in mountie drama Due South, where he played do-gooder hero Paul Gross's partner in the final two series.
He then appeared in a wide range of Canadian films and TV projects, as well as parts in US sci-fi shows such as Jessica Alba's Dark Angel and Eliza Dushku's Tru Calling.
But he came back to the attention of Hollywood as enigmatic cylon robot hybrid Leoben in the remake series of Battlestar Galactica in 2003, and that led to work in moves like Wesley Snipes' Blade Trinity, Ben Affleck's thriller Paycheck and Ashton Kutcher's The Butterfly Effect.
He stayed on Battlestar until its finale in 2009, and in that period other major TV roles have included the Stephen King horror series Kingdom Hospital, lesbian drama The L Word, the X Files movie and as a rock svengali in the second series of sexy comedy Californication.
Recently, he had a key part in FlashForward, played a serial killer in slasher series Harper's Island, and was a Russian gangster in the final series of 24.
The key thread through all these parts is that he usually plays the bad guy.
Callum said: "There's no real reason for playing lots of bad guys. The way it usually works is that if the lead in a show is a good guy, and you're not the lead, then you're the bad guy. I do get a kick out of it.
"I don't see myself that way so it's fun for me to play the opposite of who I am.
"I like to find interesting things to play about the part, and the motivation to play the bad guy not as a bad guy, but just as a guy making different choices.
"My favourite role like that was Leoben in Battlestar Galactica. For me it was fun to play someone who was not human, and with no set place in time.
"I didn't have to hold on to the rules of how one behaved, or lived, or died, and that was a great thing to play."
With the hit Battlestar his biggest calling card to date, Callum said it's definitely one of the most enjoyable projects he has been part of.
"That was so great because I had no idea where it was going. I originally signed up to do the pilot, and I'd never done a sci-fi show before so I was curious about it. All my work in the episode was with Edward James Olmos, and I've always really liked his work.
"When they went into production with the rest of the series, I didn't know my character went further than the pilot, but they wrote me back in which worked very well for all of us."
He added: "The other highlights have included working on Californication with David Duchovny, again 15 years after I had first met him, and that was very close to my heart. The show was really well written so to be on it was a real privilege.
"Being on 24 was a great opportunity to work with Kiefer, and to be in that environment was fantastic.
"It was funny on 24 because I'm a Scots-Canadian and I was working with the great Scottish actor Tony Curran, and we were both playing Russian gangsters.
"Tony was a fun guy to work with and he has become a real friend."
Playing Russians and aliens is now second nature, but the one thing he has never had the chance to play is a Scot.
He said: "I've never played Scots or got the chance to do my Scottish accent. I'm always trying it out in auditions but they always say no. I'd love to act in a Scottish accent for once."
He added: "I'd love to get back to Scotland - I want to play golf at St Andrews. I've not been back since the 80s because all my family and my life is here. But both my parents are Scottish, and although I grew up in Canada after moving over, all of my family are proud to be Scots."
Shattered premieres on the Universal Channel (formerly the Hallmark Channel) at Sky channel 130 and Vir.
Found here: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-interviews/2010/10/15/i-ve-starred-in-24-and-battlestar-galactica-but-i-d-love-to-use-my-scottish-accent-once-says-callum-keith-rennie-86908-22636006/
Shattered – a stonking showcase for its mesmerising hero
It's all about a homicide detective with multiple personality disorder – and Callum Keith Rennie is just the man for the role
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian, Oct 19, 2010
I love Callum Keith Rennie. I loved him in Don McKellar's film Last Night, I loved him as Lew Ashby in Californication, I loved him above all as Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski in the later series of Due South. I even sat through David Cronenberg's eXistenZ just to see him, and that's a Jennifer Jason Leigh-filled two hours of my life I'm never getting back.
He's a brilliant, mercurial actor, alternately twinkling and smirking, calm and volatile, intense and insouciant, intelligent and suddenly adrift. He turns on a sixpence and it is quite mesmerising to watch.
As such, he is the perfect choice to play the lead in the new police drama Shattered (Mondays, Hallmark). Ben Sullivan is a homicide detective with multiple personality disorder. It's been in apparent abeyance, but re-emerges – as luck would have it – in the opening episode when he and his new (young, blonde, idealistic yadda yadda) partner Amy come under fire from a serial-killing baddie. His alter ego tells Amy to shoot the man because he has a gun. Turns out he does not. They fake the necessary and get away with it, though young, blonde, idealistic, yadda yadda Amy is Not Happy.
Though it is – dissociative identity disorders aside – formulaic, it's fast and slick enough to carry you with it. The real problem is with the split personality element. You can understand why it always sounds like such a good idea to writers and producers – three, four, five characters and portions of dramatic tension for the price of one! – and actors salivate at the prospect. The benefit to viewers is less obvious. One actor in multiple roles only draws attention to the artifice. That he can play them all only makes it more obvious that he is – well, playing them all.
At the moment, only one of Ben's alternative personalities has emerged, so things are still plausible. But it is an odd situation. The greater the parts become, the less the sum will be. It may be more helpful to consider it as a stonking showcase for Rennie and hope that it leads to better things.
Found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/oct/19/shattered-cable-girl-lucy-mangan
Shattered Episode 1 - Review
Posted by Peter Holley
Shattered isn’t just another police procedural show. It‘s rougher, tougher, could drink you under the table and has a smokers cough. In a good way. You see, most new cop shows that arrive on our screens fail miserably when trying to set themselves apart from the established behemoth franchises such as Law & Order and CSI. Not so with Shattered. This is a series that focuses on a character – Detective Ben Sullivan (Callum Keith Rennie) - who has multiple personality disorder, whose wife is mentally ruined and whose son is missing, presumed dead. In short Shattered is the Dennis Hopper of cop shows.
The first episode bypasses all the normal getting to know you nonsense and shoves the audience straight into a situation where one of Ben’s alter egos coaxes his new partner, Detective Amy Lynch (Camille Sullivan), into killing a murder suspect in cold blood. What a swell guy. Here in lies Shattered’s real hook; it’s darkness. Ben’s character is complex for obvious reasons and rather than treating his disorder with kid gloves the show let’s the various personalities – the tough guy, the brooding intellectual, the party guy, etc - fly off the handle, meaning if you’re a small time crook and you’re going to start throwing your weight around you’re likely to get Detective Sullivan’s head in your face, as actually happens in episode one. Ethics and morals fly out the window alongside the police code of conduct.
Managing to weave an intriguing murder mystery story around Ben’s struggle to hang onto his sanity, Shattered plays out as a police procedural show that’s coiled like a spring, ready to unleash mayhem at any moment. Alongside his marital and personal problems we find out that Ben is actually an excellent cop, but that reputation hangs on a thread. The moment one off his alter egos goes too far Ben’s world will come crashing down around him. In this respect Callum Keith Rennie should be given kudos for managing to make the audience feel empathy for Ben, rather than disapproval.
Shattered is a welcome departure from the tried and tested cop show formula. Not afraid to pull a few punches, it’s at times unashamedly dark, but also well written and acted enough to pull it off.
Found here: http://www.universalchannel.co.uk/features/shattered-episode-1-review