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Enrico Colantoni Talks About New 'Flashpoint,' 'Veronica Mars' Film

by Chris Harnick, posted Jun 4th 2010 10:00AM
Enrico ColantoniEnrico Colantoni is no stranger to having legions of fans. He's known to many for his role in the comedic sci-fi flick 'Galaxy Quest,' even more for his seven years on 'Just Shoot Me' and his turn as Keith Mars on the cult-hit 'Veronica Mars.' Viewers can find him on CBS Friday nights this summer when the hit cop drama 'Flashpoint' (Fri., 10PM ET on CBS) returns to the line-up.

New episodes of the drama about an elite Strategic Response Unit kick off with a bang -- literally. In the premiere episode, the team races around the city to stop explosions set by an eco-terrorist and a member puts his life on the line.

Colantoni spoke with TV Squad about what's in store for his character Sgt. Gregory Parker, his favorite projects, interacting with 'Veronica Mars' fans and his hopes for a 'Mars' feature film.

Let's catch viewers up, what happened when we last saw the 'Flashpoint' team?
Let me think, the last time we were on in the U.S. -- oh my God, so much has happened. As far as the last episode, the U.S. saw, it was 'Exit Wounds,' where we were in a hospital with two brothers, one brother fighting for the life of the other brother. That was pretty exciting. We're going to come into the premiere episode with the family unit dealing with a tragedy within the team. So, I guess what's been happening since then is the camaraderie is building, we're getting more comfortable with each other as actors and with the crew. I think they're going to see a really big jump between that last episode and the episode on Friday just because the stories are much more intense and we get to know these characters a lot more. Now, it's emotionally volatile because we're within the team, there's an investment within each other. Stories are going off into a much more emotional and personal place.

Enrico ColantoniWhat's in store for your character, Sgt. Gregory Parker, this season?
A lot happens to Parker. There's going to be an episode where he gets in trouble on a personal level and it'll be interesting to see him outside of his uniform just dealing with that life stuff. All and all, you're just going to see a lot more intense and critical situations, how we resolve them, how we get out of them. More and more we just get better at making them. The stories are getting better and this usually happens in any show after the second and third season -- all the rehearsal is done, we know each other, we know how to do it. It's just an easier show to watch because we've figured it out I think.

Do you think filming up in Canada helps since you're away from the constant attention some shows get? It just seems creatively that helps some shows.
Well, it helps a lot because come winter, come January, we're the only show in Canada that's filming. We get the best directors, the best photographers, we get the best cameramen. We get all of the best that they do at that time of the year. You're right, there's nobody else around. We get to play, we get to play in an environment that isn't supposed to be a familiar city, but it's familiar to us because it's Toronto, but we don't really mention it by name. From a Canadian perspective, we paint the landscape of the city so that Canadians recognize it. American viewers see this clean city, this futuristic city. They don't care where it is, it's just this cool place to look at. We get to do all that. We don't have to double it for New York or for Chicago, it's Toronto. Whether people know it is or not, they're seeing it for the first time and I think that's one the biggest reasons why people are watching it down there.

Why do you think it does so well for CBS in the summer? It's one of the highest-rated summer series.
I think, one, because it does have a unique look. It follows the same sort of procedural dramatic genre, but at the same time, we represent the good in seldom seen television -- at least in recent history. It's the hero-vision of the police force. Because we can't be easily identified as a SWAT team in the United States, we do have this futuristic look. The city is different, the uniforms are and the attitudes and our egos are intact. The integrity of these people is pure, it's an honest representation of good versus misunderstood. The people, the victims are generally normal people having bad days, but we don't really judge them as bad. We restrict it to the dialog that we have, we want to talk to them first. There's a communication that they wear on their sleeves, they don't want to shoot first and ask questions later, they really, really want to understand and get to the underbelly of what's going on. I think that's unique for American television, but then of course we add the element of the gun-fire and all that stuff so it's still an action drama with a lot of heart and soul. And of course, it's one of four or five new shows during the summer, so what's not to watch?

Hugh Dillon and Enrico ColantoniYour character is sort of the father figure to the team, does that extend to off-set stuff too?
We've become such good friends that it does extend itself into real life. Hugh Dillon [right, with Colantoni] and I have a wonderful relationship -- he's done very little as far as professional acting is concerned and he'll usually come to me and we'll talk about scenes and we'll talk how to break it down. We'll talk about moments and how to get an overview of a scene and stuff like that. So, yeah playing a sergeant to these guy, it's an easy part because they -- how do I say it -- they have a degree of respect for me. And of course I get to play their sergeant so I'm lucky that way.

Have you heard from any police officers since you've done the show? Whether they're saying, "Oh, you're doing great," or "Man, that's not how it happens at all."
Every police officer -- whether in Canada or the United States -- who have seen this show, appreciates us showing what every one of them feel, but aren't allowed to show. We've all come to recognize policemen as stoic and rigid and their black and white perspective of life and the world. Every one of them that's come up to me have always said, "Thank you for portraying them as human," because that's what they all feel. They all feel the emotional commitment to their jobs, they all feel an attachment to helping and to preserving peace and I guess over the years they've just gotten a bad rap. When we're portraying policemen that well up and really care about the kids and really care about the people involve and regret having to kill somebody, they recognize that because they all go through it, they're just not allowed to show it.

You've done a lot in this business. What work are you most recognized for?
I love hearing the attention 'Galaxy Quest' gets after 10 years, I love the loyal fan base that 'Veronica Mars,' but you know what? Everybody remembers 'Just Shoot Me' and I'm very proud of that. It's still on TV and people still catch it and laugh about it and I personally have wonderful, wonderful memories working with those people. We still are in contact and we still have lunch three or four times a year. Those people are all dear to my heart and I'm very, very proud of those seven years we spent together.

Kristen BellI spoke with 'Veronica Mars' creator Rob Thomas a couple of months ago and he said he still wants to do a 'Veronica Mars' movie.
I hope he does.

But, Joel Silver [an executive producer on 'Mars'] came out a few days ago and said there's no way it's going to happen. What's your stance on this? Would you do it? What do you think?
Of course I would do it. I would want it to happen, it just seems like -- I don't know, maybe Joel crunched some numbers, but it seemed like he was interested a year and half ago. I don't understand what changed in the business, or maybe that's just it, the business changed. Maybe putting $20 million into a four million-viewer show on television isn't worth the gamble? I think it would make an outstanding movie. I know Rob had some great ideas.

Now, 'Veronica Mars' has some pretty intense fans. I may be one of them. But, have you had a really crazy fan interaction?
No, nobody's crazy. [Laughs] What's crazy -- what I define as crazy -- is how intensely passionate 'Veronica Mars' fans are. More so than any other fans because it's like a 'Just Shoot Me' fan will come and pat me on the shoulder and say, "Hey, that's fun stuff," but you can see in the fan base of 'Veronica Mars' that there was an actual connection to those characters. A real appreciation at a soul level. An understanding -- an intimate understanding of those people. It gets very intimate when I meet them on the street, it becomes very, very intimate because we shared something. I know that any fan of 'Veronica Mars' is hardcore and loyal, so I give them the time, we spend time talking about because it warrants that. It's like somebody is recovering from a drug addiction or alcoholism, it's like they're in recovery, they demand time and I think that's what that show was. After so many years it still resonates. There's nothing crazy about that. Just normally intense and intimate, they just bring that, "You're Keith Mars. You don't understand, you're Keith Mars," you know? It's like, "Yeah, let's talk about it." [Laughs]

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Awesome article. I still hope for a Veronica Mars movie, and I agree with him completely when he says that VM fans have an intimate connection with the characters.

June 05 2010 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I sat and clock-watched from yesterday after reading that you were going to be speaking to Enrico and would be posting afterwards, got really excited because its not often you get to hear much from Enrico. This didn't disappoint was really nice to read aswell, think that Papa Mars described the Veronica Mars fans perfectly, thats kind of put in to words how each of the fans I know feel. Love that he knows this aswell & he takes time to speak about it, wish I lived in America &had a chance of bumping in to him.

Hope Enrico joins the crazy world of twitter soon so we can all tell him how much we love him.
Great read Chris thanks x

June 04 2010 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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