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The Edmonton Journal caught up with Fillion by phone in Toronto, where he was doing publicity for The Rookie. The below interview has been edited and condensed by the Edmonton Journal.Q: What kind of preparation was necessary to play a police officer?

A: We have a couple of police consultants who taught us how to arrest and handcuff somebody, and how a taser works, and gun safety. You give actors a gun loaded with blanks and that’s a very dangerous piece of equipment. The charge is explosive. Going through police weapon training with the cast fills me with a real sense of peace. I know everyone there knows enough to keep us safe.

Q: There is a lot of pelting down pack alleys and jumping on to cars in The Rookie. How tough is the role physically? Do you do your own stunts?

A: There’s an awful lot of running and you have to load up on bananas and coconut water to make sure you have enough potassium in your system, because if you don’t you’ll cramp up at night. You have to keep hydrated and you’d be a fool not to stretch first.

But I’m not the guy who is desperate to do their own stunts. I’m the guy who wants to go home not limping. It’s very important that you don’t get hurt. You have to come to work the next day.

Q: Your character, John Nolan, is middle-aged. How often do good roles come along for aging men?

A: Well, I’m 47 and playing a 40-year-old and I really like the sound of that. I wonder how John Nolan will age. When I hit 50, we’ll see. Thank God I have a team of people to keep me pretty.

I like that (my character) is looking at life through fresh eyes. That he’s an established human being, been married, had a child, and now he’s starting over. Everything to him is a first again, and that’s a neat thing to be able to say when you are in your forties. To have firsts is super-important.

Q: You’re celebrating a quarter-century in the entertainment business. What has the experience taught you?

A: As an actor, I always thought one of the things I could teach if acting dried up for me, which it inevitably will, is acting with distraction.

They teach you how to act at school, but no one says ‘go back two lines and do it again, and this time, stand over there and make sure the light hits you right here, and don’t look down to see your mark.’ Your job as an actor making TV is not just to create something believable, but to re-create it, over and over, and make it look like it’s the first time. I’m old hat at it now. I can do it by accident.

Q: You’ve had a successful TV career, but you’ve also known unemployment, and you’ve said before that a television career is fragile. Do you still feel vulnerable, even with a new series attracting a lot of buzz?

A: I still feel that success is fragile and that this business is fickle. Think of actors you’ve enjoyed over the years who are no longer acting. Sometimes it’s their choice, but very often the industry moves on without them and they are forced into that choice. It’s all too real.

People say to me, “you pick great roles.” But it doesn’t really work like that. I am looking for a job, hat-in-hand, like anyone else. I’m just lucky that the roles I’ve done have resonated with people.

Q: On a light note, did your parents write your Wikipedia entry? Because it notes that your dad’s family was part of the Quebec diaspora in Massachusetts.

A: I can tell you it wasn’t my parents, because Wikipedia has my name incorrectly. Christopher is not my middle name.

Q: So what is your middle name?

A: That’s a little something I want to keep for me, something a little mysterious.

Q: Wikipedia doesn’t say anything about your family life, either, like if you are married or have children.

A: I keep that kind of stuff personal.

Q: When you come back to Edmonton, what do you like to do?

A: If I am able to come back in the summer, the Fringe festival is always a big hit for me. I love seeing the city on fire that way, and seeing the support for the theatre community makes me feel good. By the way, the Varscona is a beautiful facility, they did a great job of renovating it. Backstage… the men’s bathroom used to be a health code violation just waiting to happen. Now it’s so gorgeous.

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