Interview: Why Danny Rahim Found a Home in Primeval: New World

The British star of Syfy's Primeval spin-off talks about how acting took a bad boy and turned him into a dinosaur hunter.

By , Columnist

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

Primeval is a TV show that refuses to die. The series started out as a British tea-time adventure inspired by Walking with Dinosaurs. It lasted five seasons in its original form, despite several cast changes and being cancelled after season three's cliffhanger.

At the end of its fifth season on UK television, Primeval seemed to have been killed off again. Then it got another lifeline when it made the leap across the Atlantic to Vancouver in the form of a Canadian spin-off, Primeval: New World. The new show has since aired in several countries, including Canada, Britain, and Germany. Earlier this month Primeval: New World finally made its way to American television courtesy of Syfy, which is currently airing the series on Saturday nights at 10/9c.

Not surprisingly, Primeval: New World features a completely new and largely North American cast that includes Niall Matter (Eureka), Sara J. Canning (The Vampire Diaries), Crystal Lowe (A Little Bit Zombie) and Miranda Frigon (Sanctuary). The spin-off isn't entirely disconnected from it British origins, though. Aside from getting original series lead Andrew Lee Potts to kick things off with a brief appearance in the premiere, the producers also signed up Brit actor Danny Rahim for the regular cast. 

Rahim plays Mac Rendell, head of security for a fictional company called Cross Photonics. That's HQ for Primeval: New World's anomaly hunters led by the company's owner, Evan Cross (played by Matter). Rahim came to Canada from the UK specifically for the show and we recently sat down with him to find out why the desire to be adventurous makes Mac his ideal role.

How did you become an actor?

When I was younger I didn't always want to be an actor. I wanted to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force and so I did lots of things that geared me into that. Then I found out when I was about 16 that I couldn't because my eyes weren't 20/20.

When I was at school I was told, because I was a bit of a naughty boy at school, the only way I could be in the football team would be if I did something that was out of my comfort zone and that I would have had to apply myself to. So I said, "Okay, what do you want me to do?" They said something like, "Join the art club or go and audition for the school play." 

Me and my friend Mark, we were both on this thing called Report where at the end of every day, we had to go and sign off and make sure we'd been good or even gone to the lessons. We ended up auditioning for Guys and Dolls. We went in there thinking let's just get this out the way so we can be in the team and they ended up casting us as the lead characters.

What excites you most about acting?

I love going away and meeting new people, going to new cities. I love all that. Life remains fresh and exciting and so this is the perfect job. There can be lows when you're not working but you have to be proactive and make sure that you're always doing stuff.

I'm also a swim teacher and a football coach. I teach little kids, kids from low income families, disadvantaged children. That was what I did in between and there was a point where I was either going to do that, because you can't pay money for how you feel when you get a child to be able to swim for the first time, or this. So what I do now is I do both. I act and then when I'm not acting I'll go back and I'll do some teaching.

How much is Mac like you?

In many ways we're very similar. It's sort of a lot of facets to my personality that Mac has or that we share. It's great because I can delve into a lot more and bring a lot more to the character. Then there are some things that I have never experienced in my life, which then requires me to act and to endow things and making things believable.

What do you most enjoy about playing Mac?

Mac is one of the most fun characters I have ever played. When he comes into the team he's very naive and he's not expecting to see what he sees and do what he does. But he's one of those people that's very open to life so he embraces things. I love that about him because he has very interesting reactions to things like seeing his first dinosaur and relating to women and stuff. It's really, really fun. And he loves his extreme sports. He's an adventure person, so within the show he gets to do a lot of cool stuff and drive cool things. As someone who's 26, that's like a dream come true to be on a show where you're doing everything that you potentially would pay for out of work.

He's very loyal, he's very fun, he's friendly, he goes through quite a big journey through the first season and it's nice to see how he reacts to things and how he's appraised in the group. There's lots of lovely relationships forming. This whole season is building the relationships between all the characters and he gets on with everyone really and he has a lot of fun.

What do you know about Mac's past?

He is from the UK initially and what happens is there's a lot of stuff going on with him at home and he doesn't have very many opportunities in the UK. He's one of these kids that could have quite easily got lost and ended up in jail or doing something he shouldn't have done so options were becoming very limited for him.

Evan comes one day and knocks on his door and talks about having known his father and offers him a job basically. Mac, being the outgoing person and having this sort of joie de vivre and embracing life takes up this opportunity and comes over and then becomes security at Evan Cross' firm. The story progresses from there but it all comes from him being this character who just embraces life and takes opportunities.

Is he the kind of guy who would, if there was an open anomaly, go through it? I think he would be and I think I would be, too. I think I'm the kind of person who would take that gamble with the possibility of seeing something I've never seen before.

Is it true that you are a prankster on set?

Everyone is saying this. Everyone who interviews me is saying that I'm the mischief. You know what it is? I just like to have fun. I love to lift the mood on set. It's always nice to see people smile and if you can do that in whatever way and it's not too debaucherous, which mine tends to be, then why not?

After airing the first season, Space (the Canadian channel owned by Bell Media that aired Primeval: New World) chose not to renew the series. The producers are currently looking for new backers for the show.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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