Christian Kane shows new side of TV crime dramas in Almost Paradise

Almost Paradise (WGN America/Courtesy of JGPR).
Almost Paradise (WGN America/Courtesy of JGPR). /

Almost Paradise star Christian Kane tells Precinct TV what drew him to the series, how he reunited with Dean Devlin, and what the show has in store.

Christian Kane is fighting crime like you’ve never seen it before in the new TV crime drama Almost Paradise. The WGN America series follows his character Alex Walker, a former DEA agent whose plans for a quiet retirement are scuttled when he breaks up a police drug bust.

It’s completely different from any other TV crime drama, primarily because it’s set in the Philippines, introducing a different culture and tone to audiences who are used to shows that take place in Los Angeles and New York. But beyond its island backdrop, the series is aiming to put fun back into the procedural, and certainly adding some fun into spring TV.

Precinct TV talked to Christian after last week’s series premiere to discuss why he wanted to play Alex Walker, what it’s been like to work again with Dean Devlin after The Librarians and Leverage, and how Almost Paradise is going to continue to grow moving forward.

Learn more in our interview with Christian Kane below, and watch new episodes Mondays at 10 p.m. on WGN America, or if you don’t get the channel, you can also watch online through Amazon Video.

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Precinct TV: Were you and Dean Devlin looking for another series to collaborate on before Almost Paradise, or how did this series come your way?

Christian Kane: It’s a funny story. I was on tour with Skeet Ulrich; we had done a film called 50 to 1, and we were promoting this film. Dean calls and goes hey, man, it’s time to come in for lunch. I said sure, so I got back to L.A., and I went and had lunch with Dean. He goes, do you want to do The Librarians? He was like, I wrote the role for you. And I was like yeah, let’s do The Librarians [Then] he goes, I’ve got this other project, that he’s had for a while. He goes, but you’re just too young to play it right now.

Cut to five years later, when The Librarians had done its four-season run. [Dean] goes, I think you’re old enough. He had this in his pocket for about 10 years. He came up with it on his honeymoon, and he’d worked with it with Gary [Rosen], and stuff like that. So I never really left. We kind of moved from The Librarians into this. It just took about a year to get everything going.

PTV: It’s important to highlight that you have a producer credit on the show, which is the first time you’ve been a producer on a TV series. What does that mean to you?

CK: It is cool. Dean gave me that because he saw that I was working so hard in the Philippines. He goes, I’m going to make you a producer, because you’re doing a lot of work out there. At one point, it was just me out there. I was the only American, so I was talking to the local people out there. The crew was almost a hundred percent Filipino, and I was trying to tell them how we do American TV, and how we do Dean Devlin TV, and how fast we run stuff, and just built a family out there off of that. So he goes you’ve done enough work, you should be a producer. That was very much an honor for me.

PTV: Dean had you in mind for Almost Paradise, but what was it about the show or about Alex Walker that made you agree the project was a good fit for Christian Kane?

CK: It’s Dean Devlin. It’s a Dean Devlin production, and I became an actor a lot because of the films that he made. He loves comedy, he loves action, and he loves drama. It’s really tough to put us into a category on Leverage, Librarians, or this show, because we like to do all of it. There’s an underlying comedy about this thing, where my character tries to cover up what’s wrong with him inside with comedy, but then there’s also the drama of it, and then also it’s a good plot.

Some of the writers [are] from Leverage and Librarians, and those things always had a wrap-up, and it’s really fun not to string people along. It’s really nice to have that wrap up. That’s the kind of TV I want to make. And Dean keeps throwing these characters at me that I just absolutely love, that are tailor-made for me. It’s fun to work with a guy like that.

Almost Paradise
Almost Paradise (WGN America/Courtesy of JGPR) /

PTV: The biggest question mark with the pilot was that we learned a lot about Alex, but not a lot about the other characters around him. Will we get more information about them in the rest of the season, in the same way that Alex is learning about them, too?

CK: You had to come in from his point of view, and one of the reasons why is because we were hoping that a lot of people that were Leverage fans and Librarians fans would come over and check it out because I was on it. And he is the lead character, so you’ve got to explain a lot about him.

The great thing about this show is Marc Roskin directed the first and second episodes, and Marc Roskin directed a lot of Leverage and a lot of Librarians. He’s a producer on all three [series]. He had the tough, tough job of introducing characters and introducing backstories. When you only have 45 minutes to do it, not counting commercials, it’s so tough to get the ball off and running. You have to establish characters, you have to give some backstories, and you also have to have a plot that keeps people interested. You have to have a storyline.

It’s always tough on a show to get it going like that. Most shows don’t do it until the fifth episode. Some take a whole season. We actually do it in the middle of the second, going into the third. Marc Roskin did an unbelievable job, because it is tough.

PTV: How does Almost Paradise evolve over the remainder of the season?

CK: It just gets better and better, and faster and faster. When you do the first episode, and sometimes the second, and a lot of times the fifth, you have to introduce people. You can’t just go off and running, because nobody knows who these people are. You start learning more about the characters as you go along. Thank God we didn’t have to take up five episodes, or even a season, to do that. We get faster and better, a la Librarians, a la Leverage, right off the bat.

That’s what’s so great about this show. You’re going to know these characters. You’re going to feel for these characters. You’re going to care about them…It just takes a while to get the crowd to know these people, and then by the third episode, you’re going to know them all and you’re really going to care for them. But once you start caring for them, that’s what makes good TV, and that’s what keeps you in the seat.

PTV: Is there anything in the upcoming Almost Paradise episodes that you’re particularly excited for TV crime drama viewers to see?

CK: My buddy Richard Kind, who was on Leverage and who was on Librarians, he comes in to play a role. The show gets darker, it gets faster, but when he comes in for this [episode], which is a little over halfway through, it’s so funny. It’s a serious show, but because you’ve got Richard Kind in there, the comedy matches with the drama, and the stakes are really high in this one. And because it’s Richard Kind, just his comedy value, his [expressions are] so funny because he’s so animated. I think it’s going to be a fan favorite.

That was fun, to get to have that much time working with Richard. We spent the whole week together just bouncing off of each other, and that was a really fun thing to do.

PTV: The obvious selling point for Almost Paradise has been its being set and shot in the Philippines. Can you explain how that’s influenced the season?

CK:  I think for the first season we really wanted to protect the fans, so we give you a lot of the stuff that you guys have missed, especially from Leverage. If you’re a Leverage fan, we’re giving you a lot of the stuff we’ve missed. The fights get deeper, bigger, more dangerous I think than Leverage ever had, because now they can just concentrate on me. There’s a lot of action out here and these Filipino stunt guys, they will throw themselves under a bus. They’re good at what they do.

And of course the whole country is pretty much painted in martial arts. These guys can do stuff that I’ve never seen people do in my entire life. In the second episode, there’s a big fight that’s coming up, and it doesn’t even involve me. I think it’s one of our best fights of the year. Arthur Acuña, really shines in the [second] episode. You really find out a lot about him, and people are going to absolutely love this guy and his talent, but it’s one of the best fights we’ve had.

I love the fact that there’s more action. I don’t think I’ve fought more in anything than this show, and I love to do that, because it’s really not fighting, it’s a dance.

Dean Devlin always seems to try to take me outside my comfort zone. He seems to think sometimes that I get too comfortable, and I get caught up in myself. So he always throws me something that I can just barely handle, and that’s what makes working for him fun and playing the characters that he’s created.

PTV: This is a show that a lot of people are still finding and learning about, so is there anything you want to say to people as they discover Almost Paradise?

CK: Dean was really smart when he used the Philippines. An American show has never been filmed there before. Most people know what Korea and Japan and China look like, because we’ve seen it on TV, we’ve definitely seen it in the movies. Nobody really knows what the Philippines looks like.

So especially this day and age, when we’re all stuck at home and nobody wants to be there, turn us on. It’s my honor to be your tour guide and take you on a vacation to the Philippines. So much beauty, so much culture, so much spiritualness; it’s a fun ride. Put your seat belt on because, like I said, it gets faster.

How to watch Almost Paradise on Amazon. dark. Next

Almost Paradise airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America; you can also watch episodes online via Amazon Video by clicking the banner above.