On­screen deaths spark shock, out­rage

Fans un­happy ‘Kevin Can Wait’ char­ac­ter be­ing be­ing killed off

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

Erinn Hayes’s re­cently an­nounced de­par­ture from the Kevin James TV com­edy “Kevin Can Wait’’ has sparked shock and out­rage among fans.

But for many ac­tors, it seems the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing killed off a show is one that’s al­ways on their minds.

Last week, CBS an­nounced Hayes will not be re­turn­ing to play the wife of Kevin Gable, played by James, on the sit­com. In­stead she’ll be killed off, paving the way for a re­union with Leah Rem­ini, James’s TV wife for nine sea­sons on “The King of Queens.’’

“I think it’s ... built into every ac­tor’s men­tal­ity to as­sume as a show wraps ei­ther an episode or a sea­son, to think that you’re un­em­ployed and you’ll never work again,’’ Maria Doyle Kennedy, who plays Mrs. S on “Or­phan Black,’’ said on the set be­fore the lat­est and fi­nal sea­son kicked off in June.

“I was al­ways ner­vous, es­pe­cially af­ter Paul (a main mon­i­tor of the clones) died too in the third sea­son,’’ said Jor­dan Gavaris, who plays Felix on the show.

“There would be char­ac­ters where you felt like, ‘Yeah, these are fan­tas­tic char­ac­ters. I bet we’re re­ally go­ing to see an arc de­velop for these peo­ple,’ and then you’d watch them trickle into the ta­ble read the fol­low­ing week ... only to see on the page that their char­ac­ter was dead and you’re just kind of like, ‘Whoa, this is one of those shows.’’’

Mon­treal ac­tor Yanic Trues­dale of “Gil­more Girls’’ said he never as­sumed he’d be a part of the next sea­son un­til he got the of­fi­cial word.

“Every week there’s an ac­tor that is not re­newed, or fired,’’ he said in an in­ter­view when Net­flix re­vived the se­ries last Novem­ber.

“The seven-year con­tract that you sign when you au­di­tion is ba­si­cally to pro­tect the stu­dio for you not to be able to leave. But it doesn’t pro­tect you from be­ing fired.’’

Re­ceiv­ing such news can still be dev­as­tat­ing, not just the per­son who’s be­ing axed but also their cast­mates.

When Samira Wiley was told her “Orange is the New Black’’ char­ac­ter would be killed off in sea­son 4, she said she ini­tially took it per­son­ally. Af­ter read­ing the script, she un­der­stood it was a nec­es­sary part of the story, but her cast­mates didn’t know un­til a week be­fore shoot­ing the episode.

“By the time we went and shot it, the news was very, very fresh for them,’’ she said in an in­ter­view. “So in a way, even though it was hap­pen­ing to me and I was the one who re­ally had to bear the crux of it, I felt like I needed to take care of other peo­ple be­cause they were so pro­foundly sad.’’

For some ac­tors, go­ing out in a blaze of glory can ease the blow.

“Merle Dixon def­i­nitely went out with a bang,’’ said Michael Rooker, re­fer­ring to his char­ac­ter on AMC’s “The Walk­ing Dead.’’

“He came in with a bang so he might as well go out. When I got the phone call I said, ‘Well, if I’m go­ing to go out, I’m go­ing to go out an ass-kicker.’’’

Rooker knew three weeks be­fore he had to shoot his fi­nal scene, which he said is a long time com­pared to the no­tice some ac­tors are given.

“They get a week, some peo­ple get less than a week,’’ said Rooker.

“De­grassi’’ hasn’t killed many char­ac­ters, but when it does, it’s al­ways been in an or­ganic way that serves the story, said ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Linda Schuyler.

“Any death that’s hap­pened on ‘De­grassi’ has been ... to il­lus­trate a par­tic­u­lar is­sue and not to be vin­dic­tive to the ac­tor,’’ she said.

“And al­ways, when­ever some­thing big like that would hap­pen with a char­ac­ter, I would bring them into my of­fice and we’d talk it through with them be­fore­hand so that they wouldn’t just one day get sur­prised about what would hap­pen.’’

Alexan­der Lud­wig of “Vik­ings’’ sees a pos­i­tive as­pect to be­ing killed off a show.

“Leav­ing can also be the best thing that hap­pens to any ac­tor, it’s just if you’re leav­ing the right way,’’ he said.

“If and when I die on this show, it needs to be ex­tremely pow­er­ful and that serves ev­ery­thing I came on the show for .... To me, dy­ing, if noth­ing comes of it, then that’s a prob­lem.

“If you don’t feel like you’ve shown enough of your char­ac­ter or you’ve been able to show at least one side to your char­ac­ter that makes it in­ter­est­ing, then that is my fear — of leav­ing with­out leav­ing a mark.’’

AP PHOTO

Erinn Hayes ar­rives at night two of the Cre­ative Arts Emmy Awards at the Mi­crosoft The­ater in this Sept. 11 file photo, in Los An­ge­les. Hayes’s re­cently an­nounced de­par­ture from the Kevin James com­edy “Kevin Can Wait” has sparked shock and out­rage among fans.

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