Friday, October 2, 2009

Chris Potter : Canadian TV's Busiest Actor


Hard to believe but the promising young actor I first interviewed on the set of Material World has matured over 19 years to become Canadian TV's most productive actor.
The way Chris Potter figures it he's done hundreds of hours of episodic TV on both sides of the border including seven series beginning with Material World (1990-92) and continuing through Top Cops (1990-92), Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993-97), Silk Stalkings (1993-07), Queer As Folk (2001), Wild Card (2003-05) and now Heartland which begins its third season on CBC-TV Sunday night at 8.
Plus he's guest starred on everything from One Tree Hill (2005) and Law & Order: SVU (2004-95) to such TV flicks as Sex TRaffic (2004) and two Hallmark TV flicks The Good Witch (2008) and a sequel.
"My secret is I like to work," he laughs on the phone --when we talked he was doing preproduction on an episode of Heartland which he'll also direct.
"But I also have to work --I have four kids."
And when I ask why I didn't see him at the CBC fall TV launch he jokes "I guess I wasn't inmvited!" The CBC family drama is stressing the teenagers on the show to rachet up ratings with young femaler viewers.
"I did the Heartland pilot --I was in an extended cameo and I thought it just might fly. Adults tell me they can watch it with their teens and not fall asleep. I'm the dad this time but the role feels right and it's grown in the story."
And CBC feels so strongly about the show as a bridge to younger viewers who normally are not attracted to this networks fare that 18 episodes have been ordered this season.
Does Potter remember much about our first interview in 1990? At that time he was still living in London, Ontario, unsure about continuing his acting career, worried it wouldn't provide steady employment.
I remind him he proudly showed off his first dressing room which was the size of a cubbyhole and he says "That I remember."
Silk Stalkings was up next and shot in San Diegfo where he relocated his growing family. He thought he might stay south but an offer came to play David Carradine's son in the Toronto sequel to Kung Fu.
"It was quite a ride. I phoned him from Calgary two days before he passed --he was in Bangkok. David was a magnificent eccentric. When he died I mourned him and went to his funeral attended by 500 friends. Three ex-wives were there, grandchildren were there, we all went back to Jane Seymour's Malibu pad to pay our respects. He had hundreds of friends."
Initially Potter was signed for only six episodes of groundbreaking Queer as Folk shot in Toronto and nicely casting him as gay chiropractor.
"They asked me to stay the season which I did but I was commuting back to San Diego and the money was very poor. So I asked for more the second season and they declined so I left ."But he received his best acting notices to date and made several pilots including Astronauts (2002) that never sold.
Back in Toronto he co-starred with Joely Fisher in Wild Card. He agrees with me the first year was pretty good but a change of producers meant a dumbing down of story lines and viewer decline.
"But one of the original producers got me on Tge Young And The Restless for 12 episodes. She told me she wouldn't kill off my character (Ewan Owen) but put me into a coma. So I'm still in that coma, I guess because I never went back!"
Potter started directing on the set of Silk Stalking, says he wants to do more of it in the future.
But he'll continue acting, too. "In November I'll do the third installment of the Good Witch TV movies for Hallmark. They say they will be getting out of the TV movie making game after that because costs are so high."
But he'll also hopefully continue at least a few more years on Heartland. "The stories are still fresh, the scenery is magnificent and these kids have great energy. What's not to like about this family saga?"
HEAERTLAND RETURNS TO CBC SUNDAY NIGHT OCT. 5 AT 7 P.M.

8 comments:

Gina said...

thanks for the post about Chris, I am a fan of him.

Louise Mah said...

Dear James,

Thank you for the rundown on Chris. The only correction I will offer is that he was in Toronto for Kung Fu: The Legend Continues with David Carradine first and then he moved to San Diego for Silk Stalkings where he commuted back and forth for Queer as Folk.

I have known Chris since 1995 and am currently running his fan club, Chris Potter Official Fan Club (CPOFC), with my sister since 1997.

Excellent article!

immertreu said...

Thank you very much for this wonderful entry about Chris! And yay! that he will be in Good Witch 3. :)

Val said...

Thank you very much for that great article, James.

Chris is an amazing actor and I hope we will get the chance to enjoy more of his work on the small and perhaps big screen in the future.

Thanks again.

dvlaries said...

Since chiropractor Dr. David Cameron in Queer As Folk, Potter has never lost fascination with me. Thanks a boatload for any new print about him. :-)

Dawn M. Nevills said...

Yahoo, Family Man....smile.

Hugs babes and Babe for me. xo

Stay healthy and loving.

God Bless........

Anonymous said...

I'll never get tired of reading that article. I have to say that with the years Chris has become not just flawless, but astounding in his work.

Thank you again for the piece, and please, remember him again! Soon.

Ellie

coventrydude said...

The only thing I've seen Chris Potter do was season one of QAF, and he was, to my mind, an integral part of the ongoing story of the tug-of-war between the characters Brian Kinney, Michael Novotney, and Dr Dave(Chris's character). Some of the best-acted and best-written scenes involved those three characters, and they're still in my memory 16 years after they aired. I can't imagine another actor playing Dr Dave nearly as well as Chris Potter. I read about the conflict years ago about the San Diego issue, and I also read an unconfirmed account from a reporter that Chris eventually wasn't happy playing a gay character. All I can say is that if I were Chris putting together a video of my work in resume terms, I'd want some of those scenes available to show prospective filmmakers and show runners what I can do, and with this much time past, I hope Mr. Potter was proud of that work.