What’s got drama, romance and horses? That’s easy — Hallmark Channel’s award-winning series “When Calls The Heart.”
Character actor Serge Houde joins the second-season premiere which launches on April 25th with a double dose of the prairie tale.
Although he didn’t start acting until his mid-30’s, Serge has definitely made up for lost time. He’s appeared in more than 150 different projects, including AMC’s “The Killing” and “Hell on Wheels”, and the CW’s “iZombie.” Fans will recognize him from the mini-series “The Kennedys” and as Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s Alzheimer’s stricken Dad in “50/50.” And last year, he received a Leo Award nomination for ‘Best Guest Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series’ for his role on CTV’s “Played.”
We had a chance to interview Serge Houde about “When Calls The Heart” and more.
Give us an overview of your role on “When Calls The Heart.”
SERGE: I play Judge Roy Parker, who arrives in Coal Valley to preside over the Trail pitting Abigal’s Case against Gowen’s Pacific Northwest Mining Company over the deadly mine explosion disaster. But before even setting foot in town, seems the Judge’s Reputation precedes him. In conversations between Jack, Elizabeth and Abigail, there’s talk of Judge Parker being “A man of questionable Ethics.” and of having “…a unique interpretation of Justice.” Even Bribery is mentioned, all of which serves to place doubt as to whether Judge Parker can be trusted to hold a Fair Trial, and if Justice will ever be served in Coal Valley. Judge Parker provides a Transition between the First and Second Season.
What was the hardest part about diving into this era?
SERGE: The clothes and the mud. Buttons, so many buttons. Sometimes you’d give anything for a zipper. Also, the styles were far more formal than we are used to in our casual modern times. Luckily on this series, unlike some other period shoots I’ve been on before, I wasn’t wrapped in itchy wool from head to toe. As for the mud, hard to keep your feet warm and dry, or your shoes clean for that matter, when you’re ankle deep in it.
Why do you think the show resonates so well with audiences?
SERGE: Story Story Story. It’s all about the writing. The ability to tell a story and create characters that audiences care about and can relate to. Combine beautiful actresses and handsome actors and give them obstacles to overcome and bad guys to fight against, and then throw in the possibility of romance. It’s all there. It’s a love story, on so many different levels.
If we could waive a magic wand and go back – how do you think you’d survive during this time?
SERGE: I think given my nature, I’d either be a Frontier Scoundrel or a Military Man. Guess that speaks to the good guy/bad guy persona in me as an Actor. I strongly suspect that back then, your life was quickly mapped out by the circumstances of your birth. That’s why I appreciate the possibilities for personal fulfillment offered by the times we live in now.
You’ve worked on so many different projects, has there been one that sticks out a favorite?
SERGE: I would have to mention two: The mini-series “The Kennedys” and the feature film “50/50.”
These two characters were such polar opposites. One, a tragic Alzheimer’s patient almost mute and totally disconnected from his surroundings; while the other, a feared and volatile Mafia Boss who dares to threaten the President of the United States. Both allowed me the opportunity to work with amazing Directors and Actors I deeply admire.
“The Kennedys” allowed me to experience what it’s like to walk down the red carpet at a L.A. premiere and earned me one of my best critiques. And “50/50” scared me and pushed me as an actor into some very dark areas; but the reward was all the touching critiques and emails I received from people who had experienced Alzheimer’s first hand in their families.
As an Actor, to know that you’ve touched people…well, you really can’t ask for more.
Do you prefer comedy over drama?
SERGE: Let’s just say there seems to be more drama out there for me than there is comedy. But, I do enjoy both and really appreciate the opportunity to do comedy when it presents itself.
I had a funny moment recently with Liv on “iZombie,” I’ve done a couple episodes of “Psych,” and I had a really fun scene with Chris Evans in the feature “The Perfect Score.” As an Actor, you have to understand how you are seen by others. It’s your ‘look’ and that ends up being your casting. I’m a mature man with a serious look, so I usually play authority figures or Dad’s. But I’m open to doing more comedy, so bring it on!
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the acting profession?
SERGE: In this business, like in so many other areas of life, there’s no success without failure. Yes, you will audition for many, many more parts than you will ever get. That’s just the way it is. Some things you can control, while others you can’t. So focus on what you can control: be prepared, be on time, be present in the room, learn to relax and enjoy the audition process because you’re going to be doing a lot of it.
And, when everything comes together and you get the opportunity to work with other Actors on camera and get paid for it, then give it your best shot and enjoy the ride. This is what you wanted and worked so hard for. And remember, the highs are great and easy to deal with, but the lows are what knock many good Actors out of the game. Acting requires equal parts patience, persistence and perseverance. But, passion is a must! Good Luck to you. And see you on set.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
SERGE: When Judge Roy Parker arrives in Coal Valley he arrives in style: a chauffeured automobile. But, the antique “Tin Lizzy” we had made such an enormous racket when its motor was running that it scared the horses. Seeing that Erin Krakow and Daniel Lissing were on horseback in the scene, it was decided that the motor would be turned off and placed in neutral and that a crowd of crew members would push the car with enough force that it would not only enter into frame from the left, but would also pass completely through frame and exit frame right. The sound of a subdued motor was added later.
Thanks, Serge – the car might have been subdued but your talent certainly is not!
For more about Serge Houde visit: www.SergeHoude.com