Interview With Eureka’s Colin Ferguson
It was at the ungodly hour of 9:30 on a Friday morning that I found myself walking to Sydney’s Sibel Hotel to chat with Colin Ferguson, the Star of the Sci-fi Channel series Eureka.
As I enter the Hotel lobby I am caught completely off guard to see a cheerful and friendly Colin waiting for me in the lift. As we start talking I’m refreshed and surprised by how down to earth, open and funny Colin is. Before I’ve even turned my recorder on we’ve already chatted about politics, Australian history, Colin’s acting career and even had a brief delve into his love life.
Admittedly once I switched my recorder on things got a bit more like a conventional interview:
Christof Bogacs: So what do you think of Australia, and how are you liking it so far?
Colin Ferguson: Yeah I love it. I loved it even before I sat down. No its true, honestly true. I was on the plane and meeting all the Australians on the plane and they were so open, everyone’s really kind and involved. It just makes for a fantastic trip.
CB: For those who don’t know, in Eureka you place Sheriff Carter. What’s it like playing a Cop? Have you ever thought about getting into law enforcement yourself?
CF: I would love to be the cool cop. If I was going to be in law enforcement I’d love to be that guy, you know, who pulls people over and lets them go, that’d be cool.
I have a bunch of friends in the LAPD and in seeing what they go through, it’s a real job, it’s a haul. I don’t know if I could do that. Having said that I’m too old to be honest , 35 is the cut of off (just too old!). But what’s it like? Its great!
I don’t have to do wardrobe fittings because I wear the same costume every day. It’s awesome! It dries really fast so when we’re shooting in the rain and everyone has to change clothes into their doubles I don’t. I just stand in front of the heater and the moisture wicks away, God bless polyester!
It’ a good gig. I get to be the moral compass of the show, I get to be the ethics behind it if you look at it from that stand point and I enjoy that. It’s a responsibility that I dunno, I’m flattered by it.
CB: When you first read the script for Eureka what were you’re impressions of the show?
CF: I thought it was good. It was one of those times when it’s what I wanted to do. It was a one hour comedy-drama , it was on a network that looked like it was going to go for a little bit. At that period of time they (the Sci-Fi channel) were doing a tonne of pilots and none of them would go. They did like 20 pilots a year and only 3 of them would go. So the chance of getting something on the air was really remote at that point in time, they’re a little more selective now. They don’t take things to pilot unless they are a little more interested.
So, I go into the audition and you don’t think your going to get it, you figure it’s going to go to anyone of the other people who are there, Like Ed Kurr. He always was at everything I went for, ahhha, could have killed him!
Usually what I do in the audition doesn’t get me the job. I try to put in as much humour as I can, or I find things really funny and I do it once and the person in the room will say “That’s great, now take out all of that and we’ll see where we are.” I find that really boring, I’m not suited to that.
So, I took a breath and did what I did and Jamie Paglia, the creator, was in the room and he said “That’s exactly what we’re looking for”, which usually doesn’t happen. So it went from there.
CB: The comedy in Eureka, how much of that is scripted and how much is improv?
CF: That was a weird thing and it leads to another time to be honest. Battlestar Galactica was everything at that point in time on the Sci-fi Chanel and so we came out with our thing. What they were trying to do was thread the needle, they were trying to make a more mainstream sci-fi show to get more main stream viewers because their sister network USA was doing so well. So this was their attempt to bridge that.
Having said that, they were really nervous at that network about comedy and so after the pilot, I mean I was throwing in everything that I could throw in, it was working. All through the first season every director who came onto direct the show was told very clearly by the network “this is not a comedy, don’t make it funny”. So they would come in and come up to set to work with us and…we’re a bunch of idiots! So you could try to take the comedy out but it never really worked. Ultimately in the editing they realised that’s were the heart of the show was, and to be honest that’s were my heart is.
CB: Do you watch much sci-fi yourself, or is it more that you’re in it but it’s not really your interest?
CF: I’ve watched it, I mean I don’t have a chance to watch anything these days because I’m always in hotel rooms. Galactica shot on the same lot as we did in Vancouver and Stargate was across the street, so when I was bored I’d walk over, I knew the cast, because we’d walk over and watch them shoot.
It was always so hyper serious, where as you’d go on to our set and it’s not, right! We’d have some experiment that’s turning people green..you know something like that! So, it was a great counter point on the lot. I have a tonne of respect for what they did but it was so clear we were doing something very different.
CB: What’s it like on the set of Eureka? What’s a normal day shooting the show like?
CF: Its hard. Its long. Its umm, we do ’16’s’, so when your shooting in Chilliwack that’s about nineteen hours at the end of the day. Its long.
We move quickly, we do about nine pages a day, that’s with stunts and comedy and special effects and all that stuff so it’s a really hard shoot. For as much as we like to have a fun time, it’s a really serious shoot. We like to get it right and we go again and again until we do get it right.
But it’s good, It’s your family. That crew has seen the best of me, they’ve seen the worst of me, and they still support me to this day. I’m actually seeing one of them, Steve Benjamin, who now lives in Melbourne. So its good, we’re really, really close.
CB: How did the cast take it when you found out that season five was the last season, that you we’re being cancelled?
CF: Oh, fine. I mean it was, we had done 80 episodes at this point and we didn’t think we were going to do much more. sci-fi doesn’t really go beyond that any more, they do 5, 6 seasons , so some people were down but you know a network gave us over 200 million dollars to make 80 episodes of television and kept us going through a writer’s strike and massive recession and the show made me in a way I wasn’t before so I think if you’re anything but grateful, you’re sort of missing the point.
Are you a Eureka fan? What’s your favourite Colin Ferguson moment? Tell us in the comments below.
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