Global -- Mondays
Finding Middle Ground
Enrico Colantoni Straddles The Fence Between
Comedy And Drama In "Remedy"
By Eric Kohanik
“I am still a man without a home,” the 51-year-old actor half-jokes inside his dressing-room trailer in downtown Toronto. “I have kids in Los Angeles. I have parents in Italy. But right now, there's nothing more rewarding than feeling appreciated by the people that I was born into. I was born in Canada. There's something huge about that. I don't think I would have done it any differently.”
Born in Toronto, Colantoni graduated from the Yale School of Drama in the U.S. and carved out a career in American television, from such comedies as Hope & Gloria and Just Shoot Me! to dramas including Veronica Mars and Person of Interest. But it was his five-year stint back in Canada, as tactical-police-squad sergeant Greg Parker on CTV's Flashpoint, that added another twist.
“Parker was fantastic. He was wonderful to play,” Colantoni recalls. “But after leaving that show, all I yearned for was something a little lighter.”
Longing for stuff on the other side of the fence isn't new for Colantoni. “I like exactly what I'm not doing in the moment,” he concedes. “A day didn't go by on Just Shoot Me! where I wouldn't go, 'I want to do something dramatic, single camera.' The good thing is I always get what I ask for.”
Colantoni figures he has found a good compromise in a new Global series called Remedy. The show revolves around fictional Bethune General Hospital, where the adventures of those interacting on the upper floors of the hospital occasionally intersect with the misadventures that occur in the basement of the building. Colantoni tops the ensemble as Dr. Allen Conner, the chief of staff who spends most days on the upper decks of Bethune General. At the opposite end is Frank Kanaskie (Patrick McKenna), who works in the basement as the supervisor of transport and housekeeping.
“There's a lot of an Upstairs, Downstairs dynamic to this show,” Colantoni says. “That's the tone of the show when those two worlds meet. Allen is constantly battling two worlds. I think that's what's going to set it apart from other medical dramas.”
The interactions often have comical consequences, which appealed to Colantoni. “The biggest reason I wanted to do it, from an acting perspective, is that there is comedy in it,” he explains. “It really is a hybrid. It's not the comedy of Just Shoot Me! It's not the drama of Flashpoint. It's right in the middle.
“There's an undertow to this show that makes me laugh. It's either built in with the dynamic of the relationship of the family members or, sometimes, it's just blatant comedy. That's what intrigued me.” Colantoni is also tackling other chores on Remedy; he is directing the sixth episode.
“To be able to see something from that perspective, it turns the light bulb back on,” Colantoni says. “Doors that were closed to me at one time are now open for me on this show. That just makes me feel like I'm welcome, that my opinions have value, that I have a stake in it. It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“That's why I came back to Canada. I've gotten to play historic figures, heroic figures and, now, I'm allowed to direct an episode of a television show in its first season – in its first season! – which is unheard of and generous beyond everything I've ever experienced. That's what I love about being home.
“I'm Canadian again. I'm here. I want to stay,” Colantoni says, and then adds with a smile, “unless somebody wants me back in the States.”
Remedy – Global – Mondays
(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - March 2014.)