Craig Olejnik on Season 2 of 'The Listener,' and Why You Need to Watch
by Annette Bourdeau, posted Feb 7th 2011 1:45PM
TV's favorite telepath is back in season 2 of 'The Listener.' This time around, telepathic paramedic Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) is at peace with his ability to listen to other peoples' thoughts –- for the greater good, of course. He takes his public service potential to the next level this season as he begins working with the IIB, a CIA-ish entity that recognizes the value of having a telepath on the team.
Toby's main contacts at the IIB are played by new cast members Lauren Lee Smith ('CSI') and Rainbow Sun Francks ('Stargate Atlantis). Tara Spencer-Nairn of 'Corner Gas' also joins the cast this season as a triage nurse at St. Luke Hospital. TV Squad caught up with Olejnik to chat about the new cast members, how 'The Listener' is evolving, and what it's like starring on a show that's popular across the globe.
TV Squad: What can we expect from season 2?
Craig Olejnik: A show that's smarter and quicker and has a different pulse to it. A little maturity. At least on my end of the whole deal –- hopefully it translates to the viewer! [Laughs] With season 1 of a show you're trying to make it justified, and you've got two guns to your head. You're just trying to dance the dance and you don't entirely know what number you're dancing. With season 2 you kind of understand the dance, so you're able to approach the work very differently with a lot more confidence.
What are some of the biggest differences you're finding in how you approach it?
With the pilot and season 1, my character and myself, Craig the actor, were really learning what it means to be telepathic. I was kind of viewing it from a distance, trying to understand it and the variables and how it affects the character. And now in season 2 I realized that I don't view the telepathy the same way that I did in season 1. It's not something separate from the character, it's very much a part of the character. Now you're able to breathe in the character differently.
I understand that in season 2 Toby doesn't have as many ethical dilemmas about his telepathy?
Totally. He's kind of at that point where, in your 20s or your late 20s, where you're beginning to accept who you are, and you are who you are whether that's good or bad, you stop kind of judging yourself. And that's what he's starting to do. I think there's a point where he's just dealing the drugs now [metaphorically], you know what I mean? The cash is coming in and it's all good, there's no second guessing, everything is just kind of flowing at that point. Maybe he should get out while he's ahead. He's kind of on auto-pilot.
What are his biggest issues in season 2?
His biggest difficulty is finding time to give to the people that need him. There are people that need him in the IIB, which is this new law enforcement entity that he begins associating with, there are people that need him in his paramedic role, there are people that need him socially. So it's about balancing all of those out.
I understand that you have two new cast members. What has it been like working with Lauren and Tara?
And Rainbow! So we have three. Rainbow Sun Francks, who was a MuchMusic VJ back in the day -– even I remember him from that. It's pretty cool having fresh blood. Lauren Lee Smith, to me, is hands down one of the best actresses I've ever worked with. She's really incredible. She's just an A-list star. It's that simple.
Were you surprised by how successful season 1 was?
Yes and no. No because the crew, the cast -- we put everything into it. Do I think season 1 is an amazing, awesome show? No, not entirely. I think the show had to learn who it is, and we chiseled away, and thankfully we got to have a season 2. Was I surprised about it being popular around the world? Yeah! Because the world has so many different tastes. It's kind of incredible to be on the radar in so many different countries. I know it's so naïve and ignorant, but I didn't realize there were that many TV watching countries in the world.
What do you think it is about 'The Listener' that resonated with people around the world?
There's a formula that resonates with people, but ultimately it comes down to how we flesh out the characters. I watched four seasons of 'House,' and I'm not watching it for the formula, because every week I know what's going to happen. Someone's sick, someone almost dies, they almost don't figure it out. Obviously I'm not watching it for that. It's how the characters react in these situations.
What are some of your own favorite shows?
'Breaking Bad' is the best show of all time. It's phenomenal. It's just ridiculous, really. Watching it I thought, Why would I watch a movie for an hour and a half when I could watch this for a few days?
Is there anything else you'd like to mention about season 2?
I think if people liked season 1, they'll love season 2 and hopefully we'll get some new fans, too. We're becoming a smarter, more intelligent show.
Catch the season 2 premiere of 'The Listener' on February 8 in Canada. Check your local listings for showtimes in your city.