On 19-2, a new cop drama premiering tonight at 9e 6p on Bravo (that's Bravo, not Comedy, we know), Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes star as two Montreal police officers forced into a reluctant on-the-job partnership. But in real life, the actors are solid buds: in addition to having already worked together on five projects (most recently the sci-fi blockbuster Elysium), they also accidentally bought the same Canada Goose coat—a true sign of Canuck friendship. Fans of the viral web series Letterkenny Problems will recognize Keeso from his days complaining about All-Dressed chips in a barn, but while he plays another small-town boy on 19-2, this character is more about bulletproof vests than plaid. Before the series premiere tonight, we spoke with Keeso and Holmes about capturing the cop vibe and working with good friends.
Comedy: Tell us a bit about each of your characters on 19-2.
Adrian Holmes: I play Nick Barron, I'm Montreal police. I grew up in Little Burgundy, a rough area. I've been on the job for a while, and Harvey, my partner, is like a father figure. But we go out on a call and he gets shot, and I didn't call for backup, so I feel guilty and shameful. I take six weeks leave, and I come back to find I've been assigned a new partner, Ben Chartier. When I'm on the job, I feel the most in control. And outside of my job, I'm not as in control. When I don my uniform, that's my happy place.
Jared Kesso: Ben, my character, is from a small town. He's a by-the-book guy, and when he moves to the city he finds it a lot more difficult to do things by the book when he's partnered with Nick.
19-2 is based off a Quebec show of the same name. How did you make it your own?
AH: Like any project, before I get into it I like to connect with the script and allow myself to connect with the character on my own without being influenced by any other performance. I watched bits of the French version on YouTube, just to get a sense for the tone of the show. But I wanted to have my own interpretation.
How did you both prepare for your roles as police officers?
AH: The Montreal police took good care of us. They prepared us, because it's a very accurate depiction of cop life—the calls we go on are very funny and original. We went on ride-alongs and simulations, and did a lot of boot camps. That helped us get into the heads of these characters. They're both such beautifully flawed characters.
JK: Both Adrian and I work with one-on-one acting coaches. When something like this comes along where we're in pretty much every scene, you really want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. So Adrian and I both had a lot of consultation with our acting coaches. Adrian's even came up and spent some time on set during the pilot and helped us out.
The show is set in Montreal. What do you think makes Montreal a compelling setting for a cop show?
JK: I’m a really big fan of true crime. So I was well read on the history of crime in Canada: the biker gangs, the Hell's Angels, Walter Stadnick, "Mom" Boucher [two members of the Hell's Angels], as well as the Italian mob. I was really curious to see if we were going be tackling any of that stuff. But what we learned from the police officers on our ride-alongs was that the high-level gangs, like the Hell's Angels and the Italian Mob, their game is so air-tight you never hear a peep out of them. It's the low-level street gangs, the young kids. So that's what we explore.
You two had already worked together several times before shooting 19-2. What are the advantages to working with somebody you're already close with?
AH: You feel so much safer when you're working with someone you already know. Especially when you're dealing with the issues we're dealing with. It can get pretty heavy and intense, and if you're working with somebody that you're comfortable with and know you can trust, then you can go to those places.
JK: I'm a grump even on the best of days, you know? And we worked side-by-side damn near every day, 13-14 hour days. And coming out of it, we're even better friends—I call this guy one of my best pals now. It's impressive, because when you're in each other's faces like that all the time, it's easy to get at each other. But I couldn't have asked for a better partner in this.
What were some of the most challenging parts of working on the show?
AH: We'd do three episodes at a time, and sometimes it would be a little challenging figuring out where you are. But yeah, the cold. I'm a tropical cat, so I like the warmer temperatures. Thank you Canada Goose.
JK: Yeah, we both got real nice matching Canada Goose jackets.
Same colour?
AH: Everything. We didn't even buy them together. We showed up on set, and I was like, "Of course." Same size and everything.
Jared, your web series, Letterkenny Problems, has gotten millions of views on YouTube and is currently up for a Canadian Screen Award. Where did the concept come from?
JK: It came from a very genuine place for me, being from a small town in Ontario. A pal of mine and I, we had an anonymous Twitter account based on the problems of my hometown, called @Listy_Problems. There are 5000 people in Listowel, and we had 1500 followers, so the numbers are pretty good—safe to say almost everybody in town who had a computer was following Listy_Problems. I just got reading through them one night and laughing a bit. We were doing it anonymously because we didn't want to piss off the people of our hometown. But I said to him, I think if I shot this, it could be pretty funny. And so we decided to blow our cover.
Did you ever imagine it would become as popular as it did?
JK: Making comedic sketches for Youtube, you just kind of throw shit on the wall and see what sticks. We never imagined it blowing up the way it did. But I think the reason for its success is that Canadians are famous for having a laugh at themselves. We're always willing. So where Trailer Park Boys left off, I think we saw a window to jump in there. Everybody knows somebody from Letterkenny, everybody knows somebody from the sticks who's just all wrapped up in that hick lifestyle and the hick accent.