Almost Paradise: Christian Kane on Episode 5’s typhoon blockbuster

Christian Kane (right) in Almost Paradise. Photo Credit: Courtesy of J. Goldstein PR)
Christian Kane (right) in Almost Paradise. Photo Credit: Courtesy of J. Goldstein PR) /

Almost Paradise star Christian Kane gives Precinct TV insight into Unbecalming, including filming in a fake typhoon and the scene viewers didn’t see.

This week’s Almost Paradise saw the island rocked by a typhoon and a hostage situation, in a plot that wouldn’t have been out of place in a big-screen action movie. And that’s what “Unbecalming” felt like, too, as the WGN America series pulled out all the stops.

Christian Kane joined us for our next episode postmortem to talk about what it’s like to shoot a TV show in a fake typhoon, his biggest challenge in “Unbecalming,” and the big scene for Alex Walker that got left on the cutting room floor.

Plus, how will the newly announced Leverage revival affect the future of Almost Paradise?

Learn that answer and more in our interview with Christian below, then make sure you tune in on Monday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT for Episode 6! And if you still need to check out this fantastic series, you can stream every episode on Amazon Video.

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Precinct TV: Let’s start with the genesis of “Unbecalming.” How did the idea of a typhoon come into play, especially in the middle of the season? This was an episode that could have been the season finale; it was that big.

Christian Kane: That actually happens in the Philippines and it happened twice when I was there. One day we got to film when the rain was actually coming down. They deal with so many tropical storms. The Philippines being a group of over 7,000 islands, there’s not a lot of landmass to block that thing coming in, so when [a typhoon] hits, it hits really hard.

I think the writers saw that. Kerry Glover, who wrote it, wrote for me on Leverage and she wrote for me on The Librarians. So she took that and ran with it, which I thought was really cool, to show that. Unfortunately some of the days we shot it was 90 degrees with no wind at all. So we had to provide the rain, the wind, which was a lot of fun to do.

PTV: How difficult was this episode to film, considering that Alex in particular is miserable in these challenging conditions?

CK: It was absolutely horrible. It was absolutely the worst episode that I filmed, that I love. (laughs) I love this episode so much. I loved filming it, but it was very tough for me, because I was soaking wet the whole time. They were literally pouring water on me the entire episode, and when it’s 90 degrees, 95 degrees in the Philippines with the humidity already in the air, it’s not fun being wet.

It was eight days and [then] Dean [Devlin] came back in re-shoots on the episode; it was like ten days of me being soaking wet. Everybody’s like oh, that must’ve felt really good in the heat. Well, it’s not because your clothes are wet. It’s just not a good thing when it’s 95 degrees and humidity is above the roof.

PTV: That’s one of the fantastic things about Almost Paradise, though, is that you couldn’t do this story on another TV crime drama. It’s organic to the Philippines.

CK: 100 percent, absolutely. I tweeted last night, I said Alex is a very smart guy. He’s just so focused on what’s going on with him and the plot at hand that he doesn’t look around; he doesn’t wake up to smell the coffee. All the signs [of the typhoon] were there. Everyone else was noticing what was going on, but he was so oblivious to it, because he’s not from there. I really wanted to portray that, and I think we did a pretty good job of doing that.

SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this interview spoils the ending of this Almost Paradise episode. If you haven’t seen Episode 5 yet, watch here and come back when you’ve seen it!

PTV: Alex isn’t the biggest hero in Almost Paradise this week, though. Ernesto gets some great moments and a potential love interest. So can we talk about how great Arthur Acuña was here?

CK: He was. And Chanel Latorre came in and played Sampaguita, and what most people don’t understand is these are big-time stars. These are the Jennifer Anistons and the Cate Blanchetts of the Philippines, and we’ll get a couple of guys in there that are the Anthony Hopkinses and the Brad Pitts of the Philippines.

Because we’re Americans, we don’t realize how big these stars are that wanted to do an American TV show. We’re getting the cream of the crop and we won’t realize it in America, but in the Philippines they’re going to freak out, because there’s all these huge international stars on our show that wanted to come in because we’re an American show. We’ve got some of the biggest actors in the Philippines to come in and do roles like that.

Chanel was really, really great for coming in, and who knows what Ernesto’s going to do [next]. I love the fact that Ernesto, when he takes his glasses off, you know it’s go time. We haven’t seen that since the likes of David Caruso, but I just think he does it better. You know when Ernesto takes his glasses off that s–t’s about to hit the fan.

And we had John Storey on [as Lockhart], who was on Leverage and Dean’s best friend, and he did an amazing job.

PTV:  The last act of “Unbecalming” is a melee in the lobby of the police department. What were the logistics of filming that? How much time did that take?

CK: It took a lot of time to do it, but we were running out of time. We did it probably ten times. And what you lost was a huge knife fight between [Alex] and El Diablo [played by Ryan Eigenmann]. There wasn’t enough time to show it, but there was a huge knife fight. The sad thing is, we did the fight twice, and then finally I grabbed the knife and I go wait, this is a real knife. And he was like yeah, I thought you knew that. We did the knife fight twice with a real fricking knife, and finally I said you’ve got to shave this down. So they came in and made it dull.

You didn’t get to see it, and that’s one of the things I hate, because we worked really hard on that…But I think it was more important to show that Nonie [Buencamino]’s character Ocampo is a politician, and he’s somewhat of a strong politician, but also somewhat of a pushover. And they really wanted to concentrate on the fact that at one point Ocampo was very much a cop. I stepped back; I didn’t get upset. I was more excited about the fact that they showed that at one point Ocampo was a cop, and Ocampo can still whoop ass. I loved that.

PTV: That scene is another example of the incredible parity in Almost Paradise. Every character had at least one moment to shine in that sequence; no one dominated it.

CK: That’s exactly what it was and that’s what we went for. And I think that’s what makes us a really good cast. Every single person there, whether it be Sam Richelle, whether it be Art Acuña, whether it be Nonie, they all step back and let me shine when they know it’s my time to shine. And I do the same with them, they do the same with each other, there’s no flack. We all want everyone to shine.

That doesn’t happen on TV. There’s some egos out there, and we don’t have that on our set. And that’s why the cast bonds so well and I think that bleeds out into living rooms.

PTV: This episode also features an emotional turning point for Alex where Cory, his landlord, refers to him as family. What was that moment like for you to play?

CK: It was great. Ces, who plays Cory, is the Judi Dench of the Philippines. This unbelievable actress, who’s so well-known, comes in and plays this role and just beats me about the head and shoulders. So when you finally get to see her, you realize oh, she has a heart. I looked at her and I said you know, when we do this, people are going to absolutely fall in love with you, because they realize that you’re not a dragon lady.

I actually asked her to slap me; that was not in the script. I said I’m going to give you a hug, and she was supposed to just push me away. And I said go ahead and slap me, because it’s comedy. I said people will absolutely love this, because you lose the dragon lady-type vibe and then you get it right back with the slap. She was totally game for that and loved it.

And what you didn’t see was after that, I turned to Sam and tried to give her a hug, and she punched me in the chest. You can see me still holding my chest in the end, but they cut that out. It was funny because he didn’t care. He gets slapped and then gets punched, and he just doesn’t care [because] everything he owns is still alive. [Cory] really saved his life by protecting the gift shop.

PTV: It’s bigger than that as well, because for the first time, Almost Paradise shows us (and it seems like Alex realizes) that he has roots here. That he has invested emotionally into Cebu.

CK: That’s what’s happened as the season progresses You realize that Alex, to a fault almost, he starts caring about what’s going on. In the next episode, that becomes very evident as well. He starts really caring about Kai and because Kai cares so much about the island, he starts caring about the island. And we don’t know, but I feel like that might be one of his downfalls as well—he starts caring too much again when he’s supposed to not care about anything at all.

PTV: Last but certainly not least, you’re involved in the Leverage revival that was announced last week. What does that mean for Almost Paradise?

CK: We don’t know yet. The beautiful thing about it is, it’s the same producer on both [shows]. Dean has assured me everything’s going to work out just beautifully.

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Almost Paradise airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. on WGN America. If you’ve missed any of the episodes so far, you can watch them online via Amazon Video.