Carter's Kristian Bruun on playing a reluctant sidekick and 'solving crimes and busting bad guys in the woods in a light-hearted way'
Kristian Bruun plays the lead character's best friend, Dave, who is a lighthearted, loyal guy with a dark past
Ever since it premiered on WGN America, 'Carter', starring Jerry O’Connell ('Billions'), Sydney Poitier ('Chicago P.D.') and Kristian Bruun ('Orphan Black'), has garnered quite a lot of reviews as a lighthearted detective comedy. O'Connell is stellar in his portrayal of an actor playing a detective on a hit television show until he is forced to retreat to his sleepy hometown after an embarrassing public meltdown in Hollywood. Back home, he decides to tap into his acting experience to become a real-life detective, partnering with his two best friends, Sam Shaw (Poitier) and Dave Leigh (Bruun).
And while it may seem like the classic buddy comedy role, Bruun's character is the element of subtle darkness in the plot with his past as Bruun himself describes - the roughness around his edges. Maybe it is this concoction of just the right amount of humor mingled with secrecy that has helped the role of David Leigh evolve into such a fan favorite.
As for the other factors enjoyable about the role, Bruun himself shares some insights in a casual chat with MEAWW. Excerpts from the conversation:
How did the script appeal to you when you decided to take the role of Dave Leigh?
Dave was so different from other characters I’ve played in the past and I love that. I never want to play the same type of character over and over - which is something that happens a lot in Hollywood. It’s easy to get pigeon-holed into a type of role. He’s rough around the edges but has a big heart and is loyal as hell. And he has a few dark secrets he keeps hidden away, which is always appealing.
Could you walk us through the audition process?
Since they were auditioning for the role in Canada, my first audition was a self-tape (basically a homemade audition). I read the character breakdown and actually thought there was no way I was going to get this role, but I did the tape anyway because the character was new and the writing was quippy and fun (thanks to our creator/showrunner Garry Campbell - he’s a legend). Since I didn’t think I had a chance, I just had fun with it. A week later I was in Toronto filming something and I was asked to come in for a Producer’s session for 'Carter', and it happened to be on my one day off. I remember being very relaxed because I still didn’t think I would get the part, plus I had just moved to Los Angeles and wasn’t really looking to book another show that shot in Canada for three months, so I took the pressure off myself.
The rest is history. I guess it was just meant to be! And the timing was better than I thought - summer in LA can be slow work-wise and spending it in North Bay, Ontario, is heavenly.
If you had to describe the character of Dave, how would you?
Dave is a rough-around-the-edges former drug dealer/addict-turned-entrepreneur (he’s the owner of a local coffee truck). He has a dark past but a big heart and while he is reluctant to see Harley return to their hometown and get the old gang back together (with Sam, a local police detective), he’s secretly really happy to have his buds again. A loner by nature, he realizes it’s his friends he lives for. Loyal to a fault, he always ends up in trouble at Harley’s side.
Do you find any similarities between Dave and yourself?
Hahaha, I do! We both love Northern Ontario! We can both handle a canoe and survive 'in the bush' as we say (canoe tripping/camping). We love a good beer and an excellent cup of coffee (hence Dave’s business). And we are loyal friends to those we love. Oh and I also really love flannel plaid shirts but that’s a no-brainer. I’m a good Canadian boy.
How is this show different from the ones you have done before?
Recently I’ve done darker shows, and while this one has those elements in it, it’s meant to be a bit more relaxing and fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love to play in the moodiness of a good drama or thriller like 'Orphan Black' or 'The Handmaid’s Tale', but this crime show felt so different; solving crimes and busting bad guys in the woods in a light-hearted way. It was just a joy to shoot with all the small town characters and do comedy. It isn’t my first procedural, though. I spent six seasons busting old-timey bad guys as a constable on 'Murdoch Mysteries'. This time it’s nice to be someone who can operate outside the law a little.
When you first took the role of Dave, how did you think the audience would react to your role and the show?
You just never know - especially with the first season of a show! You spend so much of the first season just trying to figure out how everything works in this world we’re creating. What’s the tone? How funny can we be? Where can we poke fun at the genre and where can we BE the genre? My job is to give Dave life. Make him real, maybe even relatable to some people. I hoped people would like him, of course, but ultimately every character’s job is to serve the story and I just made sure I was there to support Harley the way a sidekick needs to. I actually think people won’t recognize me as Dave, what with the beard and his northern attire! Ultimately the who-done-it aspect of the show is really important, but I think people also tune in for the dynamics between the characters. I hope people watch 'Carter' and fall in love with these three crime nerds.
How is it working alongside Jerry O’Connell and Sydney Poitier?
We have a LOT of laughs off camera. Days on set can be long (12-14 hours a day on average) and you spend a lot of time waiting around between camera setups and scene changes. Jerry usually holds court with his impressions - no one is safe from his impressions. He really keeps you on your toes. You do something stupid and I guarantee it’ll make its way into one of his stories later that day in front of everybody. Jerry also bought this old car from our vehicle wrangler. It was an old 1960s boat of a car, olive green, falling apart. And he loved to give people drives in it. This thing was rotting on the inside and you’d hit a bump and rusty metal shavings would be falling into your hair and blowing into your eyes - you had to wear sunglasses for protection! You would see it driving around North Bay.
Everywhere. He was like a taxi service in that town. I swear, I saw him driving strangers around. It was hilarious. Side-note: North Bay, Ontario, loved Jerry O’Connell so much they gave him a key to the city. They haven’t done that in like 20 years!
How would you describe the friendship between Dave and Harley?
When we first catch up with Dave he’s pretty angry at Harley. The two have been estranged for years and to make matters worse, Harley had a character on his show extremely similar to Dave, a street-wise junky named Dave Leach (Call Carter). There’s a lot of love between the two, though, and quickly they fall into their old dynamic of Dave being the reluctant sidekick. After all, Dave did lose a toe helping Harley on an adventure when they were kids, something he reminds him of in their first scene together. So yeah, there’s a few issues there but pretty soon the two are thick as thieves. Maybe that’s a bad expression for them.
Why do you think Dave decided to be part of Harley's plan to become a detective?
I think Dave is just happy to have his best friend back. His life had taken a much darker turn than Harley’s and whether he realizes it or not Dave is at his best when he is at Harley’s side. He also wants to make sure Harley doesn’t get hurt, or worse. Sam and Dave have a quiet pact to keep an eye on Harley; he may be a genius, but he can be clueless to the dangers around him.
What are some of the things people can expect from the upcoming episodes of ‘Carter'?
A lot of hi-jinks, plenty of comedy and some ‘out there’ mysteries to solve. Oh and a lot of guns being pointed at me. Dave even comments about how many guns he gets pointed at him. And that is something I love about the show - it’s very meta. We constantly reference TV detective shows and how they work. Sometimes that stuff comes true, sometimes we flip the genre on its head. We love to make fun of TV detective shows while also being one.
How do you think your character will evolve in the show?
I hope we will dive a little deeper into Dave’s backstory. We get to understand some of his dark years in the camp episode (one of my personal faves), we even see some of his talents!
Overall I hope he gets into more action (I love doing stunts) and deepens his relationship with Sam - by far the most tricky dynamic due to her being a cop and his past as a criminal.
What are some of your other future projects?
I just finished filming a movie with Tony Hale ('Veep', 'Arrested Development') and a whole slew of amazing actors called 'Eat Wheaties', and besides that, I am focusing on some writing/directing projects I would like to get off the ground. I’m always sending out updates on Twitter and Instagram: @mrkristianbruun. And I love exploring my new home, Los Angeles. We’re getting to know each other. It’s a work in progress.