Lethbridge Herald

CBC launches new anti-war series


- Bill Graveland

The ’60s are very much alive in the new anti-war TV series “Fortunate Son,” which premiered on CBC this week.

The series, set in Ladner, B.C., follows the Howard family as they help smuggle Vietnam War deserters and draft dodgers across the Canadian border as part of the undergroun­d railroad in the late 1960s.

Kari Matchett, who starred in “Covert Affairs,” plays Ruby Howard, an American who fled to Canada as a fugitive for her part in the anti-war protest movement. One of those she helps is Travis Hunter, played by Darren Mann, a deserter and drug addict whose life becomes intertwine­d with the Howard family.

Matchett was born in Saskatchew­an and lived in Lethbridge from Grade 2 until her graduation. She basically left the day after when her mom and stepdad moved to Calgary.

After studying at Red Deer College, she was accepted into the National Theatre School in Montreal and studied Chekhov in Moscow.

“Just a second. I was just wiping off my heroin make up,” Mann said with a laugh as he sat down for an interview with The Canadian Press, in a cabin that’s reminiscen­t of the decade, complete with a potbellied stove, near Springbank, west of Calgary.

Mann, best known for the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and the film “Giant

Little Ones,” said his character has many layers.

“When I read ‘Fortunate Son’ and saw Travis’s character with Vietnam behind him and PTSD, the heroin addiction, he doesn’t know anyone here...I was all over it and really wanted to get it.”

Mann, who is 30, said the Vietnam War is his mother’s era, but he did research on drug addiction, PTSD and the war itself.

“There’s a really, really good Ken Burns documentar­y actually. I didn’t know a whole lot about the Vietnam War to be honest and then I watched that and was just blown away at what I learned.”

Matchett, 49, was “obsessed” after reading the script.

She said the series, which includes eight one-hour episodes, is timely considerin­g what has been happening in the United States.

“I had the good fortune of having a wonderful drama teacher in high school for one year who was from the United States and she was a child of the Sixties...and we did a reenactmen­t of Kent State in Ohio in the sixties where four students were shot,” she said.

“What was happening in the Sixties is alive again. In the Vietnam War, with so many injustices and so much corruption, is happening now and so as a society we’re embracing a lot of notions that happened in the Sixties again.”

Matchett starred in the TV movie“Plague City: SARS in Toronto,” “Betrayed,” a fictionali­zed tale of the Walkerton water crisis set in the Prairies, and appeared opposite Timothy Hutton in the A&E series “Nero Wolfe.”

Matchett sung in the LCI jazz choir, danced at Studio One and took drama courses at the Bowman Arts Centre.

On the big screen, she has appeared with Jennifer Lopez in “Angel Eyes” and Paul Gross in “Men with Brooms.”

Executive producer and showrunner Andrew Wreggitt said the inspiratio­n for the show came from colleague Tom Cox from Seven24 Films in Calgary.

“When he was growing up in 1968 his mom and family were helping draft dodgers and deserters come across the border and they were Americans themselves so we heard lots of anecdotes and stories from Tom about that,” Wreggitt said.

“There’s a lot about 1968 that resonates today and the further you go into it the more issues you end up running into from 1968 that are still with us, unfortunat­ely.”

Wreggitt was 12 and living in North Vancouver during the height of the anti-war movement.

“My parents would drive us into town and I would see the hippies playing their guitars on the sidewalk and I thought, when I grow up I want to be a hippie.”

Rick Roberts, who plays Matchett’s husband Ted Howard, is the oldest main cast member at age 54.

“I was three years old so for me it’s like reflecting on my parents’ lives at that time because they were in their 20s. It’s good as an actor to be reminded of who those people were and what the Vietnam War was for them and what a real call for action it was,” he said.

“I’ve been really curious about the current political climate right now and how much 1968, where the show is set, mirrors what’s going on and the kind of call to action.”

Kacey Rohl, who is known for her parts in “The Killing” and “Hannibal” was just back from the Toronto Internatio­nal Film Festival and the premiere of her film “White Lie” at the time of the interview.

She had shaved her head for “White Lie” and was sporting Twiggy-like hairstyle for the series where she plays Matchett’s daughter Ellen, and a potential love interest for Mann’s Travis Hunter character.

“I always tend to do a lot of research but I watched a huge 10-part Vietnam War documentar­y so thank you Ken Burns,” she said.

“I really hope that when people see ‘Fortunate Son’ that the parallels strike them. I think the current political situation, worldwide, but particular­ly in the States is mirrored in 1968 and the story that we’re telling.”

“Fortunate Son” premiered Wednesday.

 ?? Canadian Press photos ?? Kari Matchett, who plays Ruby Howard, is seen on the set of the new CBC series “Fortunate Son” near Calgary.
Canadian Press photos Kari Matchett, who plays Ruby Howard, is seen on the set of the new CBC series “Fortunate Son” near Calgary.
 ??  ?? Kacey Rohl, who plays Ellen Howard, walks on to the set of the new CBC series “Fortunate Son” near Calgary.
Kacey Rohl, who plays Ellen Howard, walks on to the set of the new CBC series “Fortunate Son” near Calgary.

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