AL­LAN HAWCO

Canadian Geographic - - DISCOVERY - IN­TER­VIEW BY ALEXAN­DRA POPE

The ac­tor and co-pro­ducer of the new se­ries on his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy and life in the 1700s

A bru­tal and chaotic pe­riod of Cana­dian his­tory gets the Game of Thrones treat­ment in a new Dis­cov­ery Canada se­ries that fol­lows the agents of ri­val com­pa­nies as they fight for dom­i­nance in the North Amer­i­can fur trade in the 1700s. Cana­dian ac­tor Al­lan Hawco, who co-pro­duced and stars in the show, dis­cusses why its value tran­scends en­ter­tain­ment. The time pe­riod is so rich in terms of po­ten­tial for high-stakes con­flict, with all these dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion in the fur trade. It’s re­ally North Amer­ica’s com­ing-of-age. The show takes a lot of dra­matic li­cence, but the writ­ers worked very hard to make sure all of it was plau­si­ble. I had never re­ally thought of the 18th cen­tury as an ex­cit­ing time pe­riod, which is com­pletely ridicu­lous when you start to break down the vari­ables. My char­ac­ter, Dou­glas Brown, has come over from Scot­land with two of his brothers, and they’re on the brink of bank­ruptcy. The re­al­ity is that just cross­ing the At­lantic at that time was a life-or-death sce­nario. These peo­ple had to be fear­less to stake a claim in the New World. Of the three Browns, Dou­glas is more thought­ful, less prone to shoot from the hip, whereas his brothers are con­stantly in­volved in may­hem. I don’t know what it is about us as a na­tion — if we’re self-con­scious about our past or if we sim­ply don’t be­lieve that it’s in­ter­est­ing to oth­ers — but there are so many dif­fer­ent parts of Canada’s story that could be ex­plored in film and tele­vi­sion, and it’s sur­pris­ing they haven’t been tapped into. Brad Pey­ton, the di­rec­tor, set the bar very high, and I feel like ev­ery­one in­volved in Fron­tier brings it to a level that’s com­pet­i­tive with any­thing else out there. I think Fron­tier is go­ing to in­tro­duce peo­ple to a part of our past that’s in­ter­est­ing but also ter­ri­fy­ingly ugly. There’s a lot we can be ashamed of, but that should pro­pel us to move for­ward as a na­tion and not re­peat the mis­takes of the past. I know we’re talk­ing about en­ter­tain­ing drama, but you hope that stuff like this has a deeper im­pact.

Al­lan Hawco in char­ac­ter as Dou­glas Brown in a new tele­vi­sion se­ries about the North Amer­i­can fur trade in the 1700s.

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