‘It’s just a magical town’
Actor Jerry O’Connell enjoying his time in North Bay
Jerry O’Connell seems to be having a ball in small-town Northern Ontario while shooting his new light-hearted detective procedural, Carter.
The 43-year-old actor, who stars opposite Sydney Tamiia Poitier in the series now being shot in North Bay, took some time in between takes Thursday to chat with local media about the show and what’s it been like to work in the North.
“It’s really fun to come to North Bay right now because I have a feeling it’s right before the rest of the world finds out about it,” said O’Connell, excited to be a part of capturing the city on film and sharing it with the world.
“The people are so nice. It’s just a magical town.”
In the series, North Bay serves as the fictional small northern Canadian hometown of Bishop that O’Connell’s character – Harley Carter, the star of an American hit TV show – retreats to after an embarrassing public meltdown.
Once back, Carter, who plays a detective on TV, teams up with Poitier’s character, Sam St. Clair, a longtime friend and veteran cop, to help solve real crimes.
“It’s really dramatic at times . . . it’s super cute. It’s like if Cardinal had a really great sense of humour,” says O’Connell, poking a little fun at CTV’s serialized drama that’s also being filmed in North Bay. “It’s like if Cardinal had a couple drinks and just let it all loose on the dance floor at The Voy.”
Yes, O’Connell has indeed visited the Voyager Inn on Delaware Avenue several times, and like many locals, is apparently now affectionately referring to the hotel as ‘The Voy.’
It’s a testament to how much he has immersed himself in the community since shooting began last month.
Wisecracking to reporters while on set at Amelia Park, O’Connell gave a string of shoutouts to local businesses he’s visited with crew members and co-stars, including The Crown and Beaver Pub, Fraser Tavern, the Station Tap House & Steak Co and the Waltonian Inn on Lake Nipissing’s south shore.
His public outings in recent weeks have been well document by local residents who have posted pics of themselves with the actor on social media.
“North Bay is as much of a character in Carter as we all are, so it’s sort of fun to really embrace that,” said O’Connell, joking about how he’s working at building up a fan base in Northern Ontario.
Geoff Richardson, an owner of the Voyager Inn, said O’Connell first came in last month during a Def Leppard tribute show and has since returned a couple times, including on karaoke night.
“He’s as down to earth as you could possibly imagine,” said Richardson, noting the actor doesn’t have a problem mingling and having his picture taken. “He’s a lot of fun.”
Richardson said it’s been great to have cast and crew members frequenting the hotel and other local businesses.
Poitier, who’s been staying in a house on Lake Nipissing with her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, said they both also have been enjoying their time in the city.
“Everybody is welcoming and the city is beautiful. It’s been a really, really wonderful experience for us,” said Poitier, noting her daughter is particularly fond of the Northern Tikes indoor playground on Main Street.
Although she lives in California, Poitier says North Bay’s location – nestled on the shore of Lake Nipissing – is one of the city’s most distinctive features and one of the first things she mentions to friends about the city.
Shooting of the 10-episode series will continue in North Bay until mid-October.
Bell Media and Amaze Film + Television are producing the series for Sony Pictures Television Networks’ international channels, including AXN. Carter is slated to premiere on Bravo in early 2018 before joining Canada’s CraveTV streaming service.
O’Connell said “the sheer beauty” of the city has been the most striking thing about shooting here. And hopes to be able to return to film a successive season during the winter.
“Hopefully, with success, we come back when it’s really snowy and do some snowmobile episodes ,” he said, noting the show, with a backdrop like North Bay, wouldn’t be complete without some winter episodes.
Jerry O'Connell speaks to reporters Thursday on the set of Carter during filming at Amelia Park in North Bay.
Sydney Tamiia Poitier and Jerry O'Connell were on set at Amelia Park in North Bay Thursday during the filming of the television series Carter.