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September 4, 2015

Allan Hawco Dishes on the Success of 'Republic of Doyle'

by Anne Brodie, posted Nov 15th 2010 4:30PM
Allan Hawco is about as close to a mogul as it gets in Canada these days. The creator, executive producer, writer, and star of 'Republic of Doyle' has parlayed a winning first season into global sales and five Gemini nominations. Not bad for a show just one year old; not to mention it's set in the relatively obscure world of St. John's, Newfoundland. Hawco, a Newfoundlander himself, plays Jake Doyle, an unconventional private eye who creates almost as much trouble as he resolves. He's a gifted sleuth with colorful baggage and an eye for adventure. Females make up 56 percent of the show's fan base and there's little wondering why -- Hawco's loaded with charm.

TV Squad spoke with Hawco direct from the St. John's set of 'Republic of Doyle,' where he's shooting an episode for the second season. He was up-front about Newfoundland humor, what the show's secret is and why they don't do stereotypes.

Jake's an interesting protagonist; he apparently has wild testosterone levels, a temper, loves a brawl, and can't help himself around women.
He is an anti-hero. The thing for me is when I watch the show, or cutting and editing, I'm constantly, consistently surprised with what a cool character he is. I'm nothing like him. Jake is a fearless anti-hero in that he has flaws. Most interesting lead characters have flaws, and if you look at the top 10, you'll see that they are riddled with flaws that they're trying to overcome. But then they are allowed to be superhuman the way we need them to be. You see them having trouble in their personal lives and understand how they think. Jake is selfless in a lot of ways just as he is selfish. He's so confident that I envy him. I've always envied that confident point of view and that's why it's so much fun to write him. I love to write my fantasies, the ones we have as viewers, through him.

'Republic of Doyle' is a phenomenon. What is it that's hit a nerve?
I am reluctant to acknowledge any of those things you said because I think if there's anything, people are interested and they've expressed that and people are watching and it's very exciting and humbling. All I can do is say we started in the beginning to make a show we feel Canadians will identify with, and what I mean by that is tell stories that we would access our sense of humor in Canada. We have healthy sense of it here, and by starting out making sure it doesn't take itself too seriously, but approaches the work seriously. There is a lack of self-importance.

Is there an identifiable Newfoundland character that shapes the series?
I'm a Newfoundlander, and a Canadian in general, so there's an honesty we're trying to bring to it in characters relating to each other. We have the TV idea and plots but we try to keep the interaction at a human and realistic level as much as possible. Not to shake the logic so it feels too far beyond. It's a big part of our culture as a country and we celebrate it, so we won't make fun of it and we won't do stereotypes.

Is this a bit of a Bronx cheer to Toronto and Vancouver, where 99 percent of Canadian crime shows are shot and set?

If I was out there in the universe trying to make a serious crime procedural in rural Canada I would be laughed at. So I felt when you take strange circumstances and put them together in St John's, you have to have a light touch and acknowledge how unusual it is. TV has depended on police/detective procedurals since the beginning of time.

Guests Gordon Pinsent, Mary Walsh, Seamus O'Regan, Victor Garber and Shaun Majumder guest starred on Season One. Who's on for Season Two?
We've got pretty cool people. Pretty awesome people!

You're not going to tell me?!

[Laughs] I've been lucky to be in the industry for 15 years -- mostly in Toronto -- and I've come across these people I've been lucky enough to work with over the years. It's so much fun to invite them to come to my little world and play on the show. I think aside from the story, it's important for me to get to a place where we're in really good shape. The most important thing for me is to make sure every actor around me is 10 times as talented as I am. You always want to be the dumbest person in the room so you can get smarter.

You're fortunate to have created your own series. Times are tough in Canada and everywhere for film and TV production.

I gotta say it's like we feel we are always living in a way that's nostalgic for the present. The CBC has been so great and everyone's on board, so we never had those challenges. How do we make it better and better? We learn and work hard and we love what we do and want to improve. I am so proud.

How far is 'Republic' seen?
We broadcast in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Russia, the Balkans and Australia, the UK and Germany. We are working on the US, China and Japan. It's incredible. It's been very well-received and it's exciting for us. I think these countries respond to the exoticness of the show and the humor.

I bet people tell you that you look like Colin Farrell all the time.

Yeah! But I like to think of myself as the reject brother, the bad one who got all my mother's leftovers. I'm Danny DeVito in 'Twins,' next to Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Allan Hawco will make a personal appearance in support of the DVD release of Season 1 this Friday at 12PM at HMV 50 Bloor St. W. in Toronto. 'The Republic of Doyle of Doyle': Season One is in stores now.

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