Moonshine gives the Vancouver actor a buzz-worthy role

Tom Stevens stars as a lovable but damaged rocker in the CBC drama that takes place on Nova Scotia’s South Shore

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When actor Tom Stevens recently spoke to Postmedia, he lacked sleep, so it was agreed that math problems would not be part of the discussion.

“I just got off the plane. I hope I make sense,” Stevens said, adding a slightly tired laugh. “I’ve been running in the rain towers all night. Then woke up with two hours of sleep to have a small child (daughter Lou) on the plane and fly back. “

The Vancouver actor was just wiped out after wrapping up season two of the CBC drama Moonshine in Nova Scotia.

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In Moonshine, which is also streamed on CBC Gem, Stevens plays Ryan Finley-Cullen. Ryan is a walking bad-choice machine, and is a middle child in the totally dysfunctional family that runs the rustic – code for dilapidated – Moonshine resort on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

The series is packed with colorful characters, conflicts, classic rock and secrets. Think succession, but instead of billions, Finley-Cullen siblings are fighting for old boats and a bar that has seen better days.

The first season begins with the return of the prodigal daughter Lidia (Jennifer Finnigan). Lidia managed to escape the Moonlight’s little world to Manhattan and a career in architecture and a family. Without giving the plot away, type A + Lidia is back on Canadian soil and buried up to her neck in family drama. The siblings who did not go are Lidia’s younger sister Nora (Emma Hunter), a local radio DJ who has a rebel streak as wide as the beach in front of the Moonlight. The other sister is the eternally angry and slightly paranoid Rhian (Anastasia Phillips). The healthiest of siblings is the adopted brother Sammy played by Alexander Nunez.

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The new TV series Moonshine, now streaming on CBC Gem, follows ups and downs in the tight knit and always ready for a fight the Finley-Cullen family.  The actors tasked with playing the adult children in the complicated clan are: (front row) Alexander Nunez, (back row from left to right) Anastasia Phillips, Emma Hunter, Tom Stevens and Jennifer Finnigan.
The new TV series Moonshine, now streaming on CBC Gem, follows ups and downs in the tight knit and always ready for a fight the Finley-Cullen family. The actors tasked with playing the adult children in the complicated clan are: (front row) Alexander Nunez, (back row from left to right) Anastasia Phillips, Emma Hunter, Tom Stevens and Jennifer Finnigan. Photo by Garlande Haney courtesy of CBC /PNG

Rounding out the clan is Ryan, who happens to be Rhian’s twin, and a black sheep-type guy who in the first season is a stony screw, always on the verge of personal destruction.

Alcohol has been a big issue for Ryan, but when we meet him, he has stopped drinking but is still far from sober.

Translation: He is tall all the time.

The challenge for Stevens, and one he has faced, is to deliver a character that is influential but not an overwhelming cliché.

To help navigate the show, Stevens points to Jeff Bridges’ The Dude from The Big Lebowski as inspiration.

Stevens explained that Bridges reportedly wanted to ask the writers / directors, the Cohen brothers, if The Dude had actually taken over just before the scene that was being filmed.

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“He wanted to measure his reaction time based on whether he had taken drugs or not. I would somehow make those decisions myself,” Stevens said. , whether it is mushrooms or grass or coffee or cigarettes. He uses all these things to not drink. I have made decisions where I felt he had just hit the bong, then I would go into the scene. “

Jennifer Finnigan, Tom Stevens and Alexander Nunez play three siblings who are part of the very dysfunctional family business in the TV series Moonshine.
Jennifer Finnigan, Tom Stevens and Alexander Nunez play three siblings who are part of the very dysfunctional family business in the TV series Moonshine. Photo by Garlande Haney / CBC /PNG

Because it’s 2021, Stevens is honest about his own relationship to party and how his past fits well with his present.

“I used to smoke it all the time, that’s why I do not do it anymore,” said Stevens, who has starred in TV shows including Supernatural, The Good Doctor, The 100 and Deadly Class and starred in the FOX series, Wayward Pines.

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“You can be so taken over by it. It can take over your life. It can take over your activities. I had to stop because in my 20s I was having too much fun and was too relaxed with life. So I had to clean up a bit. In a good way, it has helped me get hold of some of Ryan’s stuff. He’s just me going another way. ”

Showrunner and creator Sheri Elwood was team Stevens as soon as she tried him via Zoom for the role of Ryan.

“I probably saw about 100 actors for that role. He was my favorite right from the start. He just has the perfect blend of enthusiasm and the comic chops and also this big well of empathy. I knew he could handle Ryan’s sad clown nature, ”Elwood said over the phone from his Los Angeles home. “Tom has really dug into this character in a way we did not see coming.”

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In Season 1, Ryan’s problems hang like the smoke from a joint. He’s a mess, and everyone knows it, but everyone ignores it for the most part. That apparently changes in season two.

“Ryan’s story was so massive just in terms of his problems. His drinking, his substance abuse problems, that we actually put a needle in it in season one because it was such a big story, and we’re really digging that into season two,” said Toronto native Elwood, whose other TV credits include Lucifer, Whiskey Cavalier and Call Me Fitz.

The inspiration for Moonshine comes straight from Elwood’s own story, as her family still runs the South Shore institution Hubbards Beach Campground and Cottages.

“I can not lie, it was beautiful Meta,” Elwood said. “We did not shoot at the site itself because it is a summer site that is in operation. We built our own little backyard. We cleared a piece of land and built our own sets.”

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Admittedly, it took a moment for Elwood to get used to her mother and stepfather whizzing past in a golf cart while the fictional Finley-Cullen parents (Corrine Koslo and Peter MacNeill) recorded a scene.

“It was nice. It should have felt more strange than it did, but I’ve wanted to get home for a while, so I wrote myself a summer vacation. Which is ironic because not even one of us had a day off. , ”Said Elwood.

During COVID, the cast and crew were locked together, something Stevens said probably went a long way in helping sell the family dynamics.

“We just got into it. We were like siblings. We wanted to fight, make up. We wanted to hang out together. We wanted to drink together. We all just had a time,” said Stevens, who sounded like a true Maritimer.

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For Stevens, months of camping on the seafront in a very small community was not a shock to his system, but more a reassuring reminder of a West Coast childhood.

“We were always going to communicate with artists out on the Gulf Islands. It was just part of our upbringing to camp and be in large groups of artists who all made different media. So this was very close to home,” Stevens said. whose father is a painter and mother a writer.

Vancouver actor Tom Stevens admits he had plenty of party memories to help him get into character for his role as the shattered Ryan Finley-Cullen.
Vancouver actor Tom Stevens admits he had plenty of party memories to help him get into character for his role as the shattered Ryan Finley-Cullen. Photo by Handout /PNG

Stevens says memories from the filming of Moonshine will stay with him forever. In the meantime, he has to put aside thoughts of bonfires, white sandy beaches and fresh air.

“I’m going to shoot a Lifetime movie and it’s all going on in jail,” Stevens said with a laugh. “It’s a little different.”

dgee@postmedia.com

twitter.com/dana_gee

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