KING OF THE CAS­TLE

Nathan Fil­lion thought ro­mance would ruin his show. But it’s do­ing bet­ter than ever, he tells Colin Vickery

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

HOW long will Nathan Fil­lion keep on play­ing mys­tery nov­el­ist Richard Cas­tle? That is the ques­tion Cas­tle fans are ask­ing as the US crime drama heads to­wards its sixth sea­son fi nale.

Cas­tle has al­ready been re­newed for a seventh sea­son but it is any­one’s guess what the 43- year- old Cana­dian ac­tor will do af­ter that.

A year ago, news emerged that Fil­lion was a no- show on set, sup­pos­edly be­cause he was locked in a dis­pute with his bosses over his de­sire to move to a four- day work week.

In Novem­ber, the Na­tional En­quirer re­vealed more trou­ble be­hind the scenes. Fil­lion was re­port­edly up­set that co- star Stana Katic, who plays NYPD de­tec­tive Kate Beck­ett, was get­ting too much at­ten­tion and screen time.

All of that comes af­ter Fil­lion sug­gested in 2012 that seven sea­sons of Cas­tle would be his ideal.

So is Fil­lion get­ting itchy feet? Is it time to move on?

“That’s a good ques­tion,” Fil­lion says be­tween scenes on the set of Cas­tle.

“This is the long­est time I’ve ever spent em­ployed. This is un­com­mon – hav­ing a tele­vi­sion show that is on the air and not in dan­ger of be­ing can­celled and suc­cess­ful for six won­der­ful years. This is a gift horse I do not look at in the mouth.

“[ As an ac­tor] I do get to do things that I’ve never done be­fore – in­vest in char­ac­ter. I’ve never done a char­ac­ter for six years be­fore. I feel like I know this guy [ Richard Cas­tle] pretty well, and I feel like the au­di­ence does too.

“The au­di­ence is in­vested [ in the show] and I don’t feel like they’re go­ing to go any­where any time soon. There is a won­der­ful se­cu­rity in that.

“[ But] as an ac­tor, yes there are fewer and fewer and chal­lenges. So would it be nice to play another char­ac­ter once in a while? Ab­so­lutely.”

The sheer num­ber of hours on set seems to be an is­sue for Fil­lion. When you play the ti­tle char­ac­ter in a TV se­ries, you are guar­an­teed to be in pretty much ev­ery scene.

There are plenty of days when Fil­lion doesn’t see the Cal­i­for­nia sun. He ar­rives at the stu­dio be­fore 6am and doesn’t wrap fi lm­ing un­til well into the night. No won­der he wants a four- day work week.

“This [ Cas­tle] is a ma­chine – we have to make it work and the hours are in­cred­i­bly long,” Fil­lion says.

“It’s not a glam­orous life. It is a bit of a sac­rifi ce. You don’t have much real life. That is the chal­lenge.

“We’re kind of locked in here. It is a walled com­pound in a big build­ing with no win­dows. It seems a lit­tle in­su­lar. It seems a lit­tle confi ned at times.”

Fil­lion can’t be un­happy with Cas­tle’s rat­ings. The cur­rent se­ries is the most suc­cess­ful yet, with about 13 mil­lion view­ers per episode in the US.

The pop­u­lar­ity comes de­spite Fil­lion’s long- stand­ing ob­jec­tions to Cas­tle and Beck­ett be­com­ing a cou­ple.

For years, Katic had been lob­by­ing the show’s cre­ator An­drew W. Mar­lowe to al­low Cas­tle and Beck­ett to be­come ro­man­ti­cally in­volved. Katic even reck­oned they should have a baby to­gether.

Fil­lion dis­agreed. He was adamant it was the un­re­solved sex­ual ten­sion be­tween Cas­tle and Beck­ett that kept au­di­ences watch­ing.

Fil­lion knew that shows such as The X- Files, House and Moon­light­ing had slumped in the rat­ings once their lead char­ac­ters be­came ro­man­ti­cally in­volved.

“I hate be­ing wrong,” Fil­lion laughs. “[ I thought] it was want­ing them to be to­gether that kept peo­ple watch­ing. I fi gured if you give them what they want … they would start chang­ing chan­nels.”

Katic per­sisted and the rest is his­tory. Cas­tle pro­posed to Beck­ett at the end of sea­son fi ve. The cur­rent sea­son started with Beck­ett ac­cept­ing Cas­tle’s mar­riage pro­posal.

Fil­lion’s dire pre­dic­tion never even­tu­ated. Mar­lowe has kept things fresh with a job dilemma for Beck­ett, a deadly toxin for Cas­tle and the re- ap­pear­ance of Cas­tle’s mys­te­ri­ous fa­ther Jackson Hunt ( James Brolin).

A re­cent episode where Cas­tle and Beck­ett had to take care of a baby also showed they have wildly dif­fer­ing views on chil­dren.

Mar­lowe prom­ises the pair will walk down the aisle in a sea­son fi nale, but fans should ex­pect a hitch – Cas­tle is renowned for its cliffhang­ers.

CAS­TLE

Tonight, 9.45pm, South­ern Cross

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