Almost Paradise: Christian Kane talks teamwork in dynamic episode 2

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

Almost Paradise star Christian Kane dishes on what made Episode 2 so dynamic – and the team dynamic behind the scenes that makes the show stand out.

Almost Paradise planted itself firmly on the TV crime drama map with its second episode, “It’s Personal,” which showcased a different way of making a crime drama than viewers have seen before. The series has quickly become a breath of fresh air, and not just because it takes place in the Philippines.

Precinct TV connected with Christian Kane to talk about what happened in Episode 2, the behind-the-scenes creative decisions that made the episode work, and the one big thing that audiences learned about Alex Walker that might come back in the future.

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for Almost Paradise episode 2. If you missed the episode, you can catch up here.

Hear what Christian had to say about “It’s Personal” in our interview below, and make sure that you tune into new episodes every Monday at 10:00 p.m. on WGN America—or through Amazon Video if you don’t get WGN.

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Precinct TV: What’s remarkable about this episode is that Alex is a supporting player. It’s Ernesto’s (Arthur Acuña) episode. Many TV shows wouldn’t be able to have their main character take such a big step back, especially right out of the gate. So what was this episode like for you to play?

Christian Kane: The fun thing about it was, I was in every scene. They made me in every scene and I’m like guys, these characters are big enough, bad enough, where I don’t have to be in every scene. They stopped that. I started calling [co-creator] Dean [Devlin], and I’m like Dean, I shouldn’t be in here. He was agreeing with me. He was like you know what? Let’s let these characters take it. They’ve earned it.

It was so much fun to see these guys go out on their own and do their own thing, and that’s how you care about it. If I’m there every time something happens, you stop caring about the characters. You’re really watching me. That’s why I wanted to give them as much love as I absolutely could. I trust [the cast] so hard it’s ridiculous. It makes a better show because now you start caring about the other characters, which is what makes a good show.

PTV: That’s reflected in the on-screen dynamic, too. Alex has a great scene with Kai (Samantha Richelle) where he’s teaching her a technique, not just telling her what to do. This show has so much more of an ensemble feel than other TV crime dramas. Did you have talks about wanting to create a certain dynamic, or did that just evolve organically?

CK: The fact of the matter is that no show is good enough to go off of one person. It’s just not. You have to have a team of individuals who can go off on their own and do their stuff. I learned from some of the best on that. Timothy Hutton trusted me to go do that. Noah Wyle trusted me to go do that, and I had to trust them and I did full-heartedly.

Art Acuña is an actor in his own right. He’s unbelievable. I didn’t have to teach him anything. Now Sam hasn’t done that much stuff. This is her first series. But as soon as I saw she could go out on her own, which I saw in the first episode—everybody just wanted to let them go do what they wanted to do. That’s why we don’t have to wait until episode five, or even a whole season, to care about these characters. They did it on their own. It was okay for me to let them go.

It’s not like I’m an authority, but it was so great to see them go out there and do their own thing. You learn about their pasts. You learn about who they are, and it’s fun to watch, because these writers actually gave the story to them where it’s not literally like, hey, let me introduce this character. They did it in a plot that is so watchable, it’s ridiculous.

PTV: That doesn’t mean Alex doesn’t shine, though. You have a great reaction shot when he sees that what’s being smuggled is actually kidnapped girls. How did you make that scene say so much without a single word of dialogue?

CK: That was an Eliot Spencer. It really was. All those emotions ran through [Alex], but then once that’s over, it literally turned into [his Leverage character] Eliot Spencer, and I leaned on that character a lot for that, because at that point—sex trafficking, little girls—I was like “Who do I look to?”

I look to a lot of actors to find something, and it just so happened that I got to look to Eliot Spencer, because at that point, [Alex] just wants to take as many people out as he can. Normally I look for a bigger, better actor. Is there a Gary Oldman scene out there, is there an Anthony Hopkins scene out there, is there a Meryl Streep scene out there? And I literally had to steal from Eliot Spencer.

PTV: One of the reasons it hits home for him is that he has a college-age daughter. Will Almost Paradise reveal more about that relationship in future episodes?

CK: I can’t get into it too much, but that is an ongoing thing. That’s one of the things that he is dealing with, and you will see it. There’s a really good episode with Richard Kind, where he comes in and he discusses that again. But that is a backstory that he’s dealing with pretty hard, and it’s going to be fun to watch that unfold.

PTV: Which creates a fun conundrum for the show. The whole premise of Almost Paradise is that Alex is trying to get away from his past, so how do you continue to flesh out the character while also maintaining the idea that this is a fresh start for him?

CK: I think that’s the fun part of being a writer on the show, is the fact that there is no agenda. What they’ve got to concentrate on is the fact that he just wants to sit there and be peaceful, and it just doesn’t happen. Whatever they throw at him, which is fun for a writer, he has to deal with. Not only is that a great storyline, that’s what’s fun about writing this character. He doesn’t want to be involved. He does not want to be a part of this police force. He doesn’t want to be anything else.

You’ll find out over time [that] except for Art’s character—who really is the soul of the show, who really believes in Alex, and really wants him to commit to helping him solve stuff—everyone else has their own agenda about using Alex. Alex is a pawn.

And Alex, though very smart, doesn’t realize that he’s being moved across the chess board, because when he gets moved across the chess board, he literally looks at how do I kill the queen? That’s just him. It’s so fun to watch the characters play him. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else in the room. He doesn’t realize that everyone is playing him.

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

PTV: Which leads to another important point that Almost Paradise has which other shows don’t. There’s a scene in “It’s Personal” where we find out that Alex has been turning down cases. He doesn’t need the cops, and the cops don’t need him all the time. They can function on their own as well as together.

CK: That’s exactly what we wanted the viewers to think. We wanted them to think that they had this under control, which they do. He just makes it better. With all his years of undercover stuff, he’s actually been able to make it better.

[Alex] hasn’t gotten to the point where he cares about the Philippines yet, but you see that he cares about the people. I think that that will help people understand what’s going on with him. He just really cares about people It’s not the Philippines just yet that he cares about, he just cares about individuals. He cares about people, and he cannot stand bullying. That’s the one thing that you’ll learn about Alex, is that he just will not tolerate bullying.

I would like to put that out there, because I can’t stand it. Christian Kane can’t stand it either. I don’t like bullying. I don’t like people doing that. I got bullied my whole life, and I love this character, because he does not put up with bullying, and it has no place in the world.

How to watch Almost Paradise online. dark. Next

Almost Paradise airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America. If you don’t have WGN America, you can stream the show online; find out how by clicking the banner above.