Interview

Republic of Doyle Star Allan Hawco Discusses The Show’s Success

allan-hawco-republic-of-doy

Five seasons ago, the creators of Republic of Doyle never would have thought that a cop drama set in St. John’s, Newfoundland would have lasted this long. Now that the show has become so successful – even expanding to an American audience – the showrunners have had to make bigger plans. Star and executive producer Allan Hawco spoke with Real Style about the growth of the show and its success.

Real Style: We are part way through the new season, so what can we expect from the rest of this season of Republic of Doyle?

Allan Hawco: In terms of the overall series arc, we’re fighting against the problem that Leslie had where the annulled husband from her past showed up, throwing a wrench in the happiness of Jake and Leslie. That certainly plays out throughout the season in a very dramatic way. It comes close to a pretty cool conclusion. This is the year where we tackle their relationship status in a serious way.

RS: Is Jake going to get a little more serious? Do you think it’s time for that?

AH: I think Jake was ready to be serious a long time ago. It’s funny, we’ve talked about it so many times in the writing room, when we’re building these stories and building these plots for the scenes. There just wasn’t an organic time for them to be together properly. It wasn’t that we were doing it on purpose or intentionally per se. We were just feeling out what the characters were supposed to do. It’s very important for me that these other characters are not just revolving around Jake, that they have their own lives. So the back story for Leslie came from her own story, not so much to do with Jake. They just, very often, happen to coincide in an organic way.

RS: It’s nice when shows don’t rush it. You lose all the good stuff that comes before.

AH: I think that it just naturally lends itself to a particular type of drama. I mean, you could ignore it. You could get them together right away and that could be the story. It just wasn’t what story the show was. We were discovering it as we were piecing it together. For example, all of season three, those two characters weren’t even talking to each other, because Jake had really jeopardized her life and her career. She had to ask herself some pretty serious questions about whether or not she was going to let him influence her. Somewhere in around season four, he wanted her back. They were close this year.

RS: After so many years, where do you find inspiration from?

AH: You’ve got a lot of really talented writers working with you. You’ve got people putting forward strong ideas, a lot of which were around from the beginning, which you sort of stock pile. When your job is to sit in a room and make believe and come up with fun stories for these great characters to play out, it’s an endless world of opportunity for them. Obviously they’re not going to be going to space and you don’t want to be jumping sharks and doing silly things, but there’s so much from the natural headlines that you can rip from daily, in terms of you’re A plots and your crime. Last year, we had Leslie undercover a lot. For the first five or six episodes, she was undercover doing drug enforcement, and it got a bit of criticism from some people who don’t know Newfoundland very well, saying, “well, there’s no way a cop in Newfoundland would be able to go undercover.” Of course, there are undercover operatives all over the place.

RS: Are you bringing Newfoundland to the rest of the country?

AH: Sometimes I feel like that’s an opportunity we have, is to open our doors to the rest of the country. Now we’re on all over the States. We’re on like CBS Tuesday nights at 9 in Rochester. How did that happen? In every different state, every different region, we’re on a different network. We’re certainly bringing exposure to the rest of the world that might never have happened. That was my initial dream. To see that fruition is pretty special.

RS: In an interview, you’ve said that you started out with a five year plan for the show and then decided to make it bigger. Is there still a bigger plan for the show?

AH: Yeah. Five years I think was short-sighted, because I think that we couldn’t believe that even one year would happen. So you look at five and then you think, “we’re not even close to finished.” By about Season 3 I realized, we’ve used all these Season 5 arcs anyway. Then we built a whole new bible for up to seven years. So there’s lots of life in the show: if not seven years, maybe six and a feature film or seven and a feature film. I know what the feature film is, I don’t know what that plan would be, but we’ll likely steal from that for Season 6.

RS: That’s a pretty good position to be in.

AH: It could be worse. Like I said, this is what a lot of people strive for. All I was trying to do was tell a fun story, and I guess that’s the best way to start: to create something you believe in.

RS: Do you still make episodes like that, so that you would enjoy them?

AH: Yeah, I have to be in love with all of them. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There’s some that I feel like we missed the mark. There’s some where I feel like we’ve over-achieved. Budget is always such a big problem. You’re always trying to cajole the numbers to work in a way. We only get so much to work with comparative to your American competition. People here think 1.5 million dollars for an episode is a lot, and it’s not. It’s so expensive to make good TV. People back in the day used to say, “Why does Canadian television look so Canadian?” It’s because we didn’t have any money. It just translates – the money spent in crew and lighting – to production value. So we try to squeeze every drop of blood out of that stone turn-up. How’s that for a mixed metaphor? I think, though, in the last five years, that’s transformed. That myth has been debunked. The industry has been producing some pretty quality material.

RS: So many Canadian shows are getting picked up in the States now too.

AH: Yeah, but what’s unfortunate is that it becomes a measure of success is whether you’re on an American network or not. For me, I’m only interested in making Canadian television for Canadians, first and foremost. That’s got to be your plan. And the ideas that I’m attracted to making in other material is often extremely Canadian, that other people try to talk me out of it because it’s not international enough. But my theory has always been that if you make something you believe in, people will be drawn to it. Or they won’t, but you’ve got to take that shot.



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