|| Print ||
|Written by Kelsa Staffa|
|Monday, 14 February 2011 00:00|
Sitting in a suite in the Chateau Laurier, I'm waiting for three stars of CBC's new spy comedy, InSecurity. Natalie Lisinska plays the beautiful team leader of the fictional National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Alex Cranston; Matthew MacFadzean plays Burt Wilson, a generally unaware team liability; and Richard Yearwood plays Benjamin N'udu, a suave agent with a strong love of weaponry. When the three actors bounce through the door they're all smiles, joking with each other and me, looking genuinely happy to be there. We chat a bit about the premise of InSecurity, a comedic homage to the procedural drama that pokes fun at clichés at every turn.Even while mocking the stereotypical spy genre, the humour of InSecurity walks the fine line of good comedy without becoming over-the-top. "I think that's where the directors come in," explains Lisinska. "We all sort of just commit to it, 100% commitment, and the directors kind of tweak us as to when you can go further into the comedy and when it works better to play it straighter. We just kind of give them everything, and they edit what they need."
Yearwood adds, "It's hard for me to find the comedy because these guys have done a lot of comedy, but I have not. You know, even though it is my personality to be silly and fun, but usually I'm playing a really hard-nose, mean, or scientific kind of guy, so it's hard to find the comedy in N'udu. So I really relate to the sweetness of his character to find the comedy line."
With such colourful characters in the show, I wanted to know if the actors' personalities were also shining through. MacFadzean started, "I'm pretty much an idiot. I admire how much Burt believes in himself, and believes in the right thing, and his people, and supports his team. And I think I identify with that." Says Lisinska, "Matt and I have been involved with this project for three years. And I think that over the course of that time the characters have evolved, and they've evolved to sort of take on more of our characteristics. So Alex is definitely a part of who I am because as they've written the scripts they've kind of just incorporated Natalie into her." Yearwood jokes about the deadly N'udu, "I am the character. But now I'm holding it in."Both MacFadzean and Yearwood are long-time veterans of the theatre, while Lisinska's work has mainly been in television and movies. I asked about which medium the three of them prefer to work in. "There's a big difference. It's a style, you know," explains MacFadzean. "I know less about film and television, so I prefer it right now because I have a lot to learn about it. I feel very comfortable and at home on a stage, and I always like to be in a situation where I learn the most." Yearwood: "For me, working with this cast, crew, producers, has probably been the best experience I've ever had." MacFadzean interrupts to say, "Oh, I say that, too," just as Lisinska chimes in with, "Yeah, absolutely, yeah. It's fantastic, really a sort of abnormal experience." Continues Yearwood, "We all hang out afterwards. Let's say we finish at 4:30 in the morning. At 6:30 we're still there, hanging out. And not just us, but the crew. Everybody, we're just hanging out."
And that translates onto the screen where the agents of InSecurity appear to be a tight-knit team. Lisinska credits The B Team, a short film completed in 2009 and featuring several of the cast and crew, for creating a core team for the show to build upon. "I think maybe that created a strong foundation for Richard, Will, and Grace to come into and create a feeling of familiarity. We've been involved with the production team for the last three years, so I know that the show has just started, but [it] has been a long time in the making." MacFadzean continues, "Before The B Team even came to pass, this is the same crew that was working on Corner Gas. So there, they've already formed a family together." Laughs Yearwood, "We were the last people to be cast in the machine. And they were just hoping that we were nice. I know that sound really cheesy, but they were a family first, and they were just hoping that we gelled as a family. And we did."
I asked how The B Team differed from InSecurity. "The B Team was a great concept," states Lisinska, who was one of the stars of the film. "But InSecurity is more active. The characters are actually in the field, and they're able to do the missions, and it's always more interesting watching people doing things as opposed to sitting around." Of Yearwood's character, who wasn't in the film, Lisinska says, "I think that N'udu adds a certain element of danger and menace which InSecurity definitely has."
The show features, as its core team, a representative from many cultures, along with their associated stereotypes. For example, Lisinska explains, "N'udu is making fun of an existing archetype in the spy genre, which is the strangely aggressive, dangerous African-American character. And it's like, why the hell is that guy so mean and nasty just because he's black?" In addition, there's the super-brainy Jojo Kwan (Grace Lynn Kung), epicurean Quebecois Claude Lesage (Rémy Girard), and ladies' man Peter McNeil (William DeVry). "It's a spy show, so you're going to see bad guys, you're going to see riffs on the genre, you're going to see riffs on the archetypes of the genre and classic themes," says Lisinska. "It's a parody of a Canadian bureaucratic entity. And Canada is known as being multicultural. So it's almost like NISA, in a way, has filled those quotas."
InSecurity airs on CBC on Tuesdays at 8:30pm. Find more information, including a Twitter feed of both agents and actors.
Tags: can con, cbc, exile, i am the character, insecurity, interview, matthew macfadzean, natalie lisinska, parody, richard yearwood, silly, stereotype, the b team, tv