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Gracepoint cast embraces region as home away from home

David Tennant laughs after learning I was born in Glasgow, a kilt’s throw from Paisley where the actor of Broadchurch and Doctor Who fame grew up.
David Tennant as Det. Emmett Carver and Anna Gunn as Det. Ellie Miller in scene from Gracepoint. The series has been filming in the region since January.

David Tennant laughs after learning I was born in Glasgow, a kilt’s throw from Paisley where the actor of Broadchurch and Doctor Who fame grew up.

“You don’t sound very Scottish to me!” Tennant exclaims, his Scottish brogue as big as his smile, before realizing it’s because I’ve lived in Canada since 1965.

“Ah, you’ve acclimatized!”

So, apparently, has Tennant, who didn’t take as long to lose his accent since Gracepoint, Fox’s 10-episode Broadchurch remake, began shooting here in January.

Tennant, who played prickly Det. Inspector Alec Hardy in the U.K. crime drama, affects an American accent to play Det. Emmett Carver, the U.S. cop who investigates the murder of young Danny Solano in northern California with partner Det. Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn).

Charming and playful, Tennant admits temporarily living in Victoria during his first visit to Canada has affected him.

“My dialect coach is giving me notes saying I’m starting to sound too Canadian,” he says with a laugh. The West Lothian-born actor is now filming Gracepoint’s final two episodes.

“I’m not sounding Scottish on set anymore. I’m told some of my ‘abouts’ and ‘beens’ are all going a bit wrong.”

Tennant said he’s also surprised how often he’s recognized.

“I’m not as anonymous as I thought I’d be,” he says. “I thought, ‘Whenever I get out of Britain, OK, I can take my hat off.’ But it hasn’t really happened in Victoria, which, of course, in some ways is very flattering and nice. But it can perhaps be a bit impractical when you’re collecting your dry-cleaning.”

Victoria “has been very good to us,” he adds.

“It affords us a variety of terrains and indeed a variety of weather,” he quips, glancing at clouds gathering on Island View Beach.

“That reminds me of Broadchurch, too. It’s quite a British climate here. The fact you’ll have a beautiful day followed by this is not something I’m a stranger to.”

Neither is Sarah-Jane Potts (Kinky Boots), the Yorkshire-born actress who plays Gemma Fisher, owner of Crestview Rooms and Pub.

“It’s insanely beautiful here, but I think you might even get more rain than we do,” Potts says, laughing.

The Gracepoint cast has embraced Victoria as its home-away-from-home.

Virginia Kull (Boardwalk Empire), who plays Beth Solano, Danny’s grieving mother, returned to Tofino, where she honeymooned with her husband, actor Ryan Young, five years ago.

“It rained but it didn’t matter,” she said. “We put on our Wellies, plopped in the puddles, went hiking and watched the surfers.”

The plucky Texan also hiked Mount Finlayson with castmate Josh Hamilton two days before shooting began.

“On my way down, I dislocated my finger. It was pointing sideways,” she said, gasping. “I thought they were going to fire me.”

Hamilton (American Horror Story), who plays Joe Miller, described Victoria as a “fairly idyllic” location.

“It’s just the right size city with just enough culture,” the native New Yorker said. “The bookstores are reason enough to spend time here and the bar is set very high for food.”

Michael Pena (American Hustle), has been hitting local links and seeing some cultural events, including the Tegan and Sara concert at the Royal Theatre.

“That theatre is amazing,” said Pena, noting he hasn’t had many weekends off. “I’ve been doing press, going off on planes. This weekend, I go to Las Vegas, then New York, then back to Victoria.”

The avid golfer has seized the chance to “blow off some steam” at courses including Bear Mountain, Cordova Bay and Victoria.

“If you wake up at 8, have breakfast, workout and go golf at noon until 5, then study, it’s a cool way to pass the time when I’m away from my family,” said Pena, who plays plumber Mark Solano.

Madalyn Horcher, who plays his teenage daughter Chloe, and Kendrick Sampson (The Vampire Diaries), who portrays her boyfriend Dean Iverson, said their outings have included attending the Victoria Film Festival’s opening gala.

“I really wanted to be involved with Victoria,” said the Pensacola, Fla.-born actress.

Kevin Rankin (Breaking Bad), clean-shaven for his role as the town minister, said Victoria is his favourite shooting location, even beating San Francisco, where he recently filmed Trauma.

“My wife and I have really taken to it. We’re even talking about retiring here,” said the boyish actor, noting they’ve enrolled their 15-month-old daughter in a swimming program, visited Willows and Gonzales beaches and discovered Crumby’s.

“And nobody knows who I am,” he adds. “People think I’m someone who dated their cousin in college.”

Like Rankin, Stephen Louis Grush (Lucky 7), who plays Solano’s apprentice Vince, hails from Louisiana and was surprised to learn a local restaurant (Blues Bayou Cafe) serves alligator.

“If there’s gator, I’m in,” Grush says with a smile. He has spent part of his down time relating his experiences developing Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre production of Laura Eason’s Sex with Strangers to Gunn, who is slated to star opposite Billy Magnussen in director David Schwimmer’s off-Broadway production this summer.

“She’s going to knock it out of the park,” he said.