Billy Camp­bell is very dis­cern­ing in the roles he plays but his pa­tience has paid off with the chill­ing new hit Cana­dian crime se­ries Cardinal

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - SEANNA CRONIN

ou’ll get chills watch­ing Cardinal, thanks to its snow­pow­dered mix of mur­der, mis­chief and mystery.

The Cana­dian drama, part of SBS On De­mand’s new Crime Time line-up, fol­lows De­tec­tive John Cardinal as he re­opens a cold case in Al­go­nquin Bay, On­tario. The se­ries is based on Giles Blunt’s award-winning mystery novel Forty Words for Sor­row.

“It fol­lows very much in the spirit of the nov­els,” says star Billy Camp­bell. “There had to be some de­par­tures be­cause it’s just a dif­fer­ent for­mat.”

Billy, best known for Dy­nasty and Once and Again, orig­i­nally turned down the role to spend more time with his fam­ily – he be­came a dad for the first time at 55 – be­fore his wife en­cour­aged him to take it up.

“I have a ten­dency when I read some­thing to pic­ture my­self as the cast­ing di­rec­tor or pro­ducer,” he says.

“I think, ‘Do I see my­self in the part? Would I cast my­self in the role?’ And if the an­swer is ‘no’ which, you know, fairly of­ten it is then I can’t even think of do­ing the thing. It’s very dif­fi­cult for me to even au­di­tion for it. But this I saw my­self im­me­di­ately in the part and it ex­cited me ter­ri­bly.

“I turned it down ini­tially be­cause I promised my wife I would be there for her dur­ing her last year of ar­chi­tec­tural stud­ies ... but she read it and said, ‘I think you should do this’. She had the good taste to re­alise it was a fan­tas­tic role.”

While Billy was born in the US state of Vir­ginia, he has per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada and has been hol­i­day­ing there with his fam­ily since he was a child. But not even work­ing on a film in the Antarc­tic could have pre­pared him for the chal­leng­ing con­di­tions he faced for Cardinal.

“Our first day of shoot­ing was -40C be­low zero and that was ex­tremely chal­leng­ing,” he says. “There was equip­ment that was mal­func­tion­ing be­cause of the cold.

“It was dif­fi­cult to be out­side for more than a few min­utes at a time. We had to keep run­ning in­side and then rac­ing out­side to shoot dif­fer­ent set­ups. It’s very dif­fi­cult to speak in a nor­mal fash­ion when your face is that cold.”

De­tec­tive Cardinal is a tor­tured, brood­ing man who was re­moved from the homi­cide squad af­ter go­ing over­board in his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a miss­ing First Na­tions girl.

But when the girl’s body fi­nally turns up, he is re­as­signed to the case with new part­ner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse). What he does not know is that Delorme is be­ing as­signed to in­ves­ti­gate him as part of a fed­eral po­lice cor­rup­tion probe.

“He does re­alise that some­thing’s up – some­thing’s fishy – but at the same time he’s driven enough that he doesn’t want that to over­whelm or get in the way of what they’re about at the mo­ment; in that sense he’s a good cop,” he says.

And there’s plenty more Cardinal to come. Within a month of go­ing to air in Canada, the smartly-writ­ten se­ries was re­newed for an­other two sea­sons.

“It was hugely grat­i­fy­ing the show was so well re­ceived in so many places,” Billy says.

“We’re in more than 100 coun­tries now and we’ve had a huge suc­cess in France, the UK and Scan­di­navia, which I’m par­tic­u­larly ex­cited over as I live in Nor­way now with my wife and child.

“A lot of TV breaks the cardinal rule of fic­tion writ­ing, which is you don’t have to tell the au­di­ence some­thing they al­ready know ... but the au­di­ence is in­tel­li­gent and they put things to­gether.” Cardinal is avail­able to stream on SBS On De­mand now

Billy Camp­bell and Karine Vanasse star in new Cana­dian crime thriller Cardinal, stream­ing now on SBS On De­mand.

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