Sci-Fi Storm

A talk with Warehouse 13‘s Eddie McClintock and Saul Rubinek

by on Jul.22, 2012, under Television

I had a chance to take part in a con-call with Warehouse 13 stars Eddie McClintock (Pete Lattimer) and Saul Rubinek (Artie Nielsen), answering questions about the upcoming fourth season that starts tomorrow night on Syfy at 9/8c. And it’s always fun to talk with them…they truly enjoy what they do and they have fun doing it.

With the producers being very spoiler-conscious, it was difficult for them to talk about anything specific about the upcoming season, although I did ask my typical [and, alas, only as there were many on the call] question – were there any episodes in the upcoming season as being important to themselves or their characters?

Eddie: I hardly remember what we did – I’m serious. I was very proud of some of the stuff that I did in the premier, and I remember feeling some pride along the way. So specifically, I’m sorry. I’m not really sure. Maybe Saul, you can enlighten me.

Saul: Well, we can’t be too specific. You know, this is what’s happened for everyone. Every single character has to call on resources that they didn’t know they had because things are less certain than they ever were. And things that you’ve thought were for sure and people that you could count on for sure, you can’t anymore.

And as a result, all the characters have to grow in order to survive. And that’s true for all of us. Specific moments we can’t tell you about without spoiling it for you, but as we talked about earlier, we’ve earned the right. Maybe our fans will tell us that we haven’t, but I hope that the reviewers and that you guys will say, “Yes. You know, we’re glad you took chances. We’re glad you didn’t rest on your laurels. We’re glad that things have stepped up.”

I’m trying to think of any of the characters that – even our recurring characters that have not grown this season by dent of the terrible circumstances that they find themselves in and their consequences.

Allison [Scagliotti, who plays Claudia Donovan] was talking about this. If there was going to be a theme for this ten episode arc it would be consequences I think. It’s great for us and great for the fans that in the fourth year what could’ve been a procedural that had a great premise and could’ve been the artifact of the week and that could’ve been fun. It was never that. Never that. They always took chances and the chances are even deeper now. I think that’s the best I can say without giving stuff away.

Elaborating on the darker tone of the upcoming season, given the events of the third season finale:

Eddie: I know that as Joanne was saying at Comic-Con, and I thought it was well put, she said that we’re still painting with all the colors that we were painting with before, but we’ve added a darker color.

So it’s not necessarily that the show has taken a shift tonally, but there are these great consequences. The fact that H.G. Wells is dead. The fact that Jinks is gone. The Warehouse is gone. Mrs. Frederick is gone. We have to deal with that.

And to come back from that and be jokey and ridiculous, it just wouldn’t make sense. It all seems disrespectful to the show. And again don’t get me wrong; Pete is still using his comedy to protect himself from the fact that he is devastated by the loss of his friends.

Saul, what do you think?

Saul: Yes. The show is definitely darker.. As I told you, there are tremendous consequences to bringing the Warehouse back, which is what will happen. That’s not going to be a spoiler. People aren’t going to be shocked by that.

We always have tried to maintain a balance between the humor of the show and you really don’t know from one second to the next where the jokes are going to come. That’s still true.

No matter how dark we get, there’s going to be lighter moments. We don’t take ourselves that seriously. But on the other hand, we’re not so light so that we’re just fluff. And I think people care enough about these characters and see all these different sides to them that we can stretch.

On a fourth season of a very successful show, it wouldn’t be outrageous for the writers, the studio, and the network to say, “Play it safe. We’ve got our core audience. We don’t want to mix things up too much.” But what happened is that they stepped it up.

I think you’ll see this season that they have taken some chances. I don’t know yet whether all those things have paid off. They seemed to when we were doing it. You don’t know until the show gets air. I can tell you that certainly in the premier it paid off big time.

They’ve taken tremendous chances. The writers, the producers, executives have all decided that we’ve earned the right – that Jack has earned the right and the staff has earned the right to raise the bar and to stretch things a little bit, and that our audience will go with us. We think that’s true.

And so, that’s what’s happened to us. We worked really hard – extremely hard this season because we were given stuff to do that had not been required of us for three years.

So that’s what I can say without spoiling things for people. I hope the fans are the recipient of that kind of risk taking.

Inevitably, someone asks about what artifacts we’ll see this season…

Saul: It’s really hilarious how you guys ask us the one question that we can’t answer. You know that we’re going to have to spoil everything if we start talking about this.

I can tell you this though, our show is not called Giant Chasm in the Ground 13, it’s called Warehouse 13, so obviously they’re going to figure out a way to bring the Warehouse back. But we’ve had artifacts. We’ve know that there’s a downside to using them. There are always consequences. And what the writers decided was that there had to be some consequences that were irrevocable. There were consequences that would be so dark that – so it that it wouldn’t just be easy.

So, “Oh, they’re dead. All right. We have an artifact for that.” “The Warehouse is gone. We have an artifact for that,” so everything becomes easy. It’s not going to be that easy. And whatever we use will have consequences for the life of this – of the characters and for the life of the series.

So that’s what I can tell you is that the use of artifacts becomes a darker and more dangerous and less takebackable thing than ever before. Would you say Eddie that’s true?

Eddie: Yes. And not necessarily that it changes the show totally, but certainly there will be fallout from the use of artifacts that we cannot take back. You know, that stay with everybody. The change, it changes everyone permanently. But from week to week you still have fun ones and it stays light.

But definitely like Saul said, we don’t want the show to become predictable, so you have to be able to know that we can’t just fix everything every time.

When it came to guest stars, the producers wanted to keep some secrets, but it seems that Eddie and Joanna Kelly (who plays Myka Bering) spilled the beans pretty well the previous weekend at Comic-Con…but we can expect the return of Lindsay Wagner, Rene Auberjonois and Kate Mulgrew this season, and we all know that Brent Spiner will appear in multiple episodes.

How does the cast feel about the extra-long (20 episodes, with a typical Syfy order of 13 episodes) season?

Saul: Well, they’re really two seasons. It’s really a real vote of confidence from the network and the studio to do that with us. That’s how we felt. I mean, it’s a little harder I would say on those of us that have kids, and Eddie is farthest away. I don’t live that far away because I’m in New York and my kids are older, so it’s a mix. A little different. My daughter is in college and I can get back. That’s the hardest thing for Eddie, right Eddie? That longer season?

Eddie: Yes. If my boys and my wife could be in Toronto with me all the time, it would be much, much easier. It’s a quality problem. I’m on a show that’s been on the air for four years now. I’m making a living as an actor in Hollywood in arguably one of the darkest times in the American economy, so I really have no complaints [jokes] except Saul is the only one.

For such a usually light-hearted show, what’s it like doing some of the more dramatic, heavy scenes?

Eddie: Well for me, it’s always great to be able to work with Saul – and unfortunately, we don’t get to do it as much as we would like. Not to blow too much smoke here for Saul, but I have such a great deal of respect for his work and the way he approaches his work, that anytime that I can be a part of that, I think it makes me a better actor and I think my work is better.

The opportunity to really do something serious with Saul – it’s those moments for me that make all the moments of tedium worthwhile. I do all the other stuff and I love the other stuff as well, but it seems like the one you’re talking about – ones that actually move me, I don’t have to work up emotions for those scenes. Saul is present; I’m there, the writing’s good, and things just happen.

Not to be too trite, but that’s the magic of what we do I guess.

Saul: Thanks Eddie for that. I think that we’re a team. Over the last four years we’ve really become a team. We’re like a family. It’s not like we don’t have bumps with each other like any family does, but we have certainly one of the best crews in Toronto, and I know that because I’m a Toronto actor from way back and I know Toronto crews.

We’re a show that other crews envy because there’s no prima donna. There’s just hard work and a lot of fun, a lot of which is because Eddie really keeps things light and entertaining. I call it his buffoonery. But it’s true and we do have a wonderful time together.

Eddie: Why are you laughing when you say that?

Saul: I think that you’ll find that might be a common denominator for shows that work is that when there is that team and that mutual respect and fun that’s going on and everybody’s working together, the work is fairly easy.

We’re especially blessed because Jack Kenny – our show runner is available to be on the set with us. He used to be an actor. He’s incredibly collaborative. If things don’t fit in our mouths the way that they were written on the page, things are changed. We get to improvise a little bit, and we’re extremely lucky.

Well, I did. Yes. That’s an example of how things are on the set with Eddie all the time.

When we do serious stuff together, it’s fun, it’s quick and it’s easy, and we don’t do it enough. The way the show’s tracked out this particular year, we had less to do with each other than even before, so we’re hoping that’ll change. But we have a great time together. I’m sure that’s obvious from watching the show.

Eddie was asked about how his character has changed from how he perceived the character at the beginning.

Eddie: Well, I can tell you the biggest parallel that I think – between myself and my character – when we started this years ago, the character of Pete, if you remember in the pilot, he has a one-night stand with some girl he just met. He kind of gives her the boot, you know, he gently suggests that she go because he’s got to get to work. And, it turns out his work is to guard the President.

So I think we see that, he doesn’t take his job all that seriously, and I think he’s a little overly egocentric. He’s pretty wrapped up in Pete. He’s a recovering alcoholic, so even though we don’t know that, it’s kind of a classic condition of the recovering alcoholic which I’m well aware of because it’s me.

As we’ve gone along and as he’s made these relationships and cultivated these relationship with the people that he now calls family, I think he has realized that the world doesn’t revolve around him and he’s better served to feel that the world revolves around the protection and care of his family.

You know his father died when he was young. His mom and him weren’t that close. She kept the secret that she was a Regent from him.

The parallel being when I started the show, my wife and I just had started having children. Before that, [his wife] Lynn and I did things for ourselves. And we realized, and especially now that my boys are five and six, just everything that I do is for my boys really, except for when I buy Prada shoes.

It’s really for the boys. But I think Jack always smacks me for doing that. I would say that I have grown – I have become less selfish. It’s become more about my boys and my family, and I think that that’s kind of the journey that Pete has made and continues to make.

I always look to Pete as a way to be a better man. The way Jack Kenny has written him, he’s so honest and so unjaded, and such a pure guy. He comes from such a place of pure joy that I just hope that it rubs off on me.

With Brent Spiner’s guest role this season, he will be working again with Saul, who appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Most Toys” as a trader who tries to add Spiner’s character of Data to his collection. He was asked what it was like working with Spiner again, and if the roles were somewhat reversed from “The Most Toys”

Saul: Yes. I’m not going to tell you exactly what happens, but it does – the whole nemesis thing was great. We’ve even put some clues in for our fans that relate to us having done “The Most Toys”. Some lines of dialog that suggest that we’ve worked together before, so that’s fun. It’ll be fun for fans to figure out.

It was a great season for me because I got to work a lot with Brent. We got to renew our friendship because we live in different cities now. And we started off actually in the theater together. We did a play in New York together in 1979, and the reunion was when we did the Star Trek TNG was in ’89. It was ten years after that and here we are, wow, 22 years after that. It was awesome. We had a great time.

Guest actors on the show always seem to speak highly of their time with the cast and crew, always enjoying it, and often mentioning Eddie as making the experience enjoyable…

Eddie: Oh, wow. Well, that’s a great compliment, that’s really nice to hear. I really wasn’t aware of that.

I’ve done probably 60 guest spots on 27 different television shows, so I know how uncomfortable it can be and how difficult it can be to show up on a show that is already established. It’s basically like showing up at somebody’s door with your sleeping bag and going, “I’m going to be lying in your living room eating potato chips in my underwear for the next seven days, so I hope that’s cool with you.”

Like we’ve said before, we work 15, 17 hours a day. There are dynamics on the set that as a guest star you don’t know about. You don’t know who’s feuding with whom, and who’s sleeping with whom, and what…

So for me, it’s just I love to try and make people feel comfortable. I think it makes for a better work environment. I think it makes for a better show. And, it’s just the person I am. I’m always so thrilled to see people come on the show. And I’m just so proud. “Really? You want to do our show? Our little show? You want to be on our show?” So, I’m always flattered that they want to come and work with us.

As always, it was a fun call – Eddie is a blast on the phone and in person (I was lucky enough to “hang” with him and Lynn last October during Halloween Horror Nights, and I hope to meet Saul in person soon (and someday perhaps I’ll make it to Comic-Con!)

Be sure to catch the season premiere of Warehouse 13 tomorrow night (Monday, July 23rd) at 9PM ET on Syfy, followed by the second season premiere of Alphas!


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