Sheriff's Department: Interview With Eureka's Colin Ferguson

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Eike Schroter/Syfy

Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) must resolve yet another sticky scientific dilemma in Eureka's Season 4.5 opener "Liftoff"

Former U.S. Marshall Jack Carter had no idea just how much his life would forever change when, five years ago, he and his teenage daughter Zoe stumbled upon the little town of Eureka. This hotbed of advanced scientific research and development became his and Zoe’s new home, with Carter being reassigned as the town’s new sheriff. He has since had to deal with freak climate changes, residents spontaneously combusting, rampaging flying robots and all manner of other potentially catastrophic mishaps not always but usually connected to one of the geniuses at the local think-tank Global Dynamics.

At the start of Eureka’s fourth season, Carter, Dr. Allison Blake, Dr. Henry Deacon, Dr. Douglas Fargo, and Deputy Jo Lupo were sent back in time against their will to 1947 and the founding of Eureka. They managed to make it back to the present day, but to an alternate timeline where things are not all quite the same. In Jack’s case, however, he is still sheriff, and in the season 4.5 opener “Liftoff,” our hero is faced with yet another tricky situation when Fargo and Zane Donovan accidentally launch themselves into Earth orbit onboard an old space capsule with a limited supply of oxygen.

EUREKA-Liftoff-Season-4-Episode-11-5-550x366.jpg“That is a great episode,” says Eureka’s leading man Colin Ferguson, who plays Sheriff Carter. “The best thing about it is Fargo [Neil Grayston] and Zane [Niall Matter]. It was cool to see two such talented actors discover their [onscreen] chemistry with each other, and for the first time those who are watching are going to think, ‘Wow, those guys are terrific together'. I love to see that even with a TV show as old as ours, that we’re still able to find a new spark like that.

Eureka Liftoff.jpg“I have a number of scenes in 'Liftoff' as well as the next episode, 'Reprise,' with Kavan Smith [Deputy Andy - Mark II], who is so fun to have around and be on-set with. He’s an amazing addition to the show. Kavan plays a robot and I sort of bounce off of him. I have to admit that for me it feels pretty effortless for the most part. Kavan is the one who has to do the ‘heavy lifting.’ Between the two of us he’s got the harder job because he’s got to demonstrate that his character is a robot at every turn with his lingo and body motions.

“Our producers have done an incredible job with the actors that they’ve brought onboard. This season you’re going to see a great deal more of Kavan along with Felicia Day [Dr. Holly Marten], Wil Wheaton [Dr. Isaac Parrish] and Dave Foley, all of whom are warm, fun individuals with good energy.”

In the opening teaser of “Liftoff,” Jack Carter is dressed in a tuxedo and prepared for a wedding. Could it be that the sheriff’s long-simmering romance with Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) has finally come to the boil and the two are about to tie the knot? Well, not exactly. It turns out that the ceremony is, in fact, for Deputy Andy and Jack’s smarthouse S.A.R.A.H. It seems Carter and Allison are to continue dating, at least for now, and that is just fine with Ferguson.

salli-richardson-whitfield-colin-ferguson-eureka-season-45.jpg“That’s another aspect of the series that I’m most proud of - the fact that the writers are writing a ‘normal’ relationship between Jack and Allison,” notes the actor. “It progresses slowly. There are problems, real ones, and indecision as well. It’s not a fairy tale romance where they both know right from the start that they’re going to get married and everything is peachy keen once they do.

“Allison has been burned a couple of times, plus she has two children, while Jack is divorced and has a daughter of his own. I just think our writers continue to do a fine job of bringing that sort of reality into the arc that we’re gradually building with these two characters. We keep moving forward with that this season, but with some caution.”

In the aforementioned “Reprise,” Dr. Holly Marten arrives in Eureka to help spearhead an important project assigned by the U.S. government to Global Dynamics. Not surprisingly, she innocently does something that triggers a situation where a number of Eureka’s residents turn against one another. This episode, along with all of season 4.5, was filmed in 2010, and being so long ago, the details of it are understandably and initially fuzzy to Ferguson.

“That was in like 1923 when I did that episode,” he jokes. “Wait a minute; I remember the whole plot now. This episode had to do with the jukebox and it was directed by [Eureka co-executive producer] Matt Hastings. We had a ball filming that one. Matt is always fun to shoot with because he works fast, knows what he wants and it’s all very detailed.

“It was a blast meeting Felicia Day for the first time, and she’s become part of the family at this point. We love her to death. I enjoyed watching her act with and do her improvising with Neil Grayston. It’s clear that Holly and Fargo are going to be friends and it further fleshes out both those characters.”

Something happens to Allison in “Reprise” that will shock not only viewers but also eventually Carter and the rest of Eureka. The sheriff gets an inkling that she might be hiding something, albeit unknowingly, in the next episode, “Glimpse.” In what way does that impact the relationship between the two?

“All I can say is that it impacts it greatly,” teases Ferguson.  “It’s something that builds with Allison and that my character takes note of and subsequently addresses.”

Although Jack’s daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson) is away at college, Allison had the opportunity to become better acquainted with her while she lived with her dad in Eureka. During that time, Carter also got to know Allison’s young son Kevin. That relationship has grown in unexpected ways in the alternate timeline. Ferguson has nothing but good things to say about Trevor Jackson, the young actor who plays Kevin.

“What an incredibly talented kid,” praises the actor. “Trevor is a fantastic dancer and toured with [the stage production of] The Lion King for I don’t know how many years. He’s got a wonderful singing voice, too. Trevor has the brightest, most open face as well as the best personality and he’s so easy to work with. On top of all that, Trevor is deferentially kind as well as respectful and he’s really into the work. If I had a kid, he’s everything that I’d want my kid to be.”

The actor also shares some screen-time in season 4.5 with the little baby (or babies) that play Allison’s little girl. Ferguson seems quite at ease during those scenes. “I was once in a relationship with a woman who had a child and I had a lot of kids around me when I was younger, so it [handling a baby] comes very naturally to me and I know what to do,” he says.

“It’s a challenge, though, working with a baby because they don’t understand and you can’t expect them to. You can’t ask them to do anything that they don’t want to do, nor should you, and when they want to leave, the shot is done. We’re quite fortunate because the babies who come to work on our show are lovely and all that, but they’re the wildcard in your day because you just don’t know how things are going to turn out.”

Just prior to starting work on season 4.5, the Eureka cast and crew filmed the show’s 2010 Christmas-themed episode “O Little Town,” which aired on Syfy last December. In it, the “Santaology” technology developed by Dr. Jim Taggart (Matt Frewer) is tampered with, threatening to shrink the entire town out of existence.

“Everyone really enjoyed doing that one,” recalls Ferguson. “I think the writers did everything that you could have asked them to do with an episode like that. They knocked it out of ballpark. It was feel-good, it had a fun Christmassy-vibe to it, and I was so impressed with it. It’s definitely one of my favorites that we shot last year.

“As for season 4.5, I already mentioned we did an episode with Dave Foley [The Kids in the Hall], and Matt Frewer came back for that one, too. I had a ball working with them, and Dave has actually become a good friend. That story is another highlight for me. Wallace Shawn [Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine] also did two episodes in season 4.5 that you’re going to see. He plays a relationship consultant who comes to Eureka to analyze what’s going on around town in order to see if everything is on the up-and-up, which is really funny. Wally Shawn is just amazing, and we liked him so much that he’s coming back for season five.”

Production on season 4.5 of Eureka wrapped in October 2010 and even before it began airing this month on Syfy, the cameras began rolling again this past April on the fifth season. When it comes to Ferguson’s character, viewers can look forward to seeing Jack Carter become more comfortable with his Eureka surroundings as well as with those around him, especially Allison.

“I think it is part of the longer progression for my character,” muses the actor. “Back in the first season Jack was nervous about being a part of anything. He’d been burned by his previous relationship and was bad at being a father. From there we watched him embrace his daughter as the greatest woman in his life and she eventually goes off to university. We also watched as Jack decided that he really wanted to be a part of this community and the lives of those around him in a profound way.

“The next logical step, which is what we’re focusing on right now, is that my character wants someone to share his life with. He seriously wants to open up and be a part of a relationship, and that’s what I’m playing in season five. Jack is opening up the boundaries of protectionism, or should I say lowering them, and embracing the future and what will hopefully be a lovely marriage and a lovely life.”

In Eureka’s third season the actor had the chance to step behind the camera and direct his very first episode, “Your Face or Mine.” He did so again last year with “The Story of O2.” Fellow castmate Joe Morton (Henry Deacon) has also taken a turn or two in the director’s chair, and so has Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who directed the upcoming season 4.5 story “Omega Girls.” At the time of this interview (the end of June), Ferguson was prepping to direct his next episode, which was scheduled to begin shooting in early July.

“Half of this episode takes place underwater and it’s one of those situations where, because it’s water, you hope for the best but you’ve got to be prepared for the worst,” he explains. “There’s going to be some stuff that we’re just not going to be able to get [on film].

“Water is a tough medium to work in and we’re shooting some very important scenes underwater, so fingers crossed. [Co-executive producer] Robert Petrovicz has done four water episode and he’s got it down pat as far as what to do, but, again, it’s water and Robert knows that if you get a leak, things get real complicated real fast. It’s always good to try something new, though, and filming underwater is not something that I’ve done a lot of so it should be fun.”

Speaking of fun, Ferguson has no doubt that fans will be having plenty of that when watching season 4.5 of Eureka. “A lot of little Easter eggs will be dropped throughout the episodes and they all come to fruition at the end of the season,” reveals the actor. “We have a terrific sendoff at the end of 4.5 and an amazing premiere when we return for season five.”

Eureka airs Mondays @ 8:00pm EST/PST on Syfy.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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