Christie (l) and Amy Lalonde acting out some breakfast.
courtesy Andrew Bako

Drama utilizes Calgary's best aspects

Publication YearIssue Date 

Sex, Shakespearean archetypes and big oil are meeting up in a new series on the CBC premiering Jan. 6. Filmed in Calgary, Wild Roses revamps a classic tale: two high-class families are feuding for ultimate power, making for a dramatic mix of emotions and domineering. After finishing the first season, one of the show's actors, Paul Christie, reflects on some of the hurdles the creative team faced in Roses' creation.

"One of the biggest challenges that got ironed out through the rest of the season was that the creative team wasn't entirely sure of the tone of the show, which comes through in the direction of the first four or five episodes," Christie explains. "Part of that was that some of the writers are from back east, so they didn't quite get a handle on what Calgary was as a financial centre and as a social centre and Alberta as a province."

Christie's perspective of the city comes not just from his time filming the show, but also when he grew up in Calgary and attended the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business. Though coming from a commerce degree to acting seems like an unconventional route, he says his business sensibilities provide an edge given the fact that many artists run double duty as entrepreneurs in order to survive in the industry.

"I can tell that one part of my brain works on a business level, but we have those artistic sides as well," he explains. "For some of us though, there is a whole other world out there to explore than the normal career paths that come out of Haskayne School of Business."

While learning the ins and outs of the business world, Christie volunteered for various TV shows and production companies throughout Calgary, inspiring his true calling in the acting world. He was lucky enough through these connections to land his role on Roses. The show gained attention due to its topical themes and poignant portrayal of the female roles, though Christie says it's something audiences should take with a grain of salt.

"When shows portray women with strong morals and ethics and women who are capable and able to control and manage their own worlds, it will do wonders in the long run for women," he says. "I don't think, for this show, it's necessarily about empowering one bout of people. It's about being a fun, sexy drama that we hope women will enjoy, but men as well."

In addition to the fine line the show walks in regards to its demographic, it faced some challenges existing within and, to a certain extent, fighting against the Canadian TV show stigma. Christie shrugs it off, managing to see positive directions on the horizon.

"At the end of the day, people tend to try to find words to describe entities," Christie says. "You could argue that this TV show is an entity. The simplest way people describe it is the Canadian version of Dallas, which I don't necessarily think is true because, while we do play with the themes of big oil and the smaller ranchy family and these different ideas of rich versus poor and the noble class versus the plebeians, people will end up looking at it more as an ongoing serial drama. Once we get through the first few episodes, we really settle down and it really takes on a very naturalistic tone."