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Interview with Ty Olsson: Borealis and Supernatural

Ty Olsson, who has been starring as Benny on Supernatural this season, has been very busy on Twitter lately promoting a new movie, Borealis. Ty was gracious enough to agree to the following interview.

Q: When and where can viewers see Borealis?

Ty: It airs on Space channel at 6pm PST /9pm EST Friday, January 11 and again at 4pm on Saturday, January 12 and you know if you’re in a country that doesn’t show it, you  should totally find a stream.

Q: Can you give us a quick take on what Borealis is about?

Ty: Borealis started as the kind of script that doesn't come around very often: Intelligent, witty, funny and relevant.

The year is 2045 and the ice caps have melted , enabling the discovery of the last oil and gas reserve on the planet ....Where else but in the Canadian North . It's a front row seat to the beginning of the end. A future we have all seen coming for years. Borealis is the "gold rush " town that springs up to give ya anything you need . For a price. Introducing Vic Carboneau , ex ultimate fighter turned entrepreneur, hotelier , and Canadian customs officer. You could say he staked his claim first. Problem is. everyone wants a piece of the action . Russia, China and even the crippled US of A are all jockeying to lead the last natural resource rape and pillage . The town "Borealis" and "Vic's tavern" just happens to be right in the middle . Vic is the kind of reluctant hero who just wants to make his money like everyone else, but when one of his friends ends up with his throat cut by the Russian mob, well, that’s bad for business ... And damn it - this is his town . He built it.

It's the Wild West of the future, and life comes down to one thing: Survival .

Q: Can you tell us more about what your character? What are his big motivations?

Ty: Vic is the ultimate reluctant hero. A man with a big heart but without any overpowering sense of duty. It seems the world conspires to pull the truth out of him. An unpleasant money hungry entrepreneur with a heart. It actually allows for a lot of what we find ourselves following along with in his journey. He’s a deeply scarred man with a secret. Vic says it’s none of his business! But somehow can’t help but rectify the wrong. When all he's built and worked for is threatened, along with the life of a friend, we see the real man come out.

Q: We’ve seen the cage fight stills, so can we assume your character is a bit of a fighter? You’ve done some fighting yourself, so was that aspect of filming pretty fun?

Ty: Amazingly fun!! The creative team actually gave me a lot of leeway when it came to the fights. We wanted choreography that was exciting for the camera and audience but also authentic and gritty and true to a trained MMA style. The funny thing is all the “bad habits” you try and erase in training you kinda need to bring back for camera. Wide looping punches instead of tight straight punches, for instance. We had stunt coordinator and stunt man Paul Lazenby do the choreography. Someone who knows MMA and knew the particulars of doing it for the camera . I can’t wait for people to see the fights.
The last fight of the show  was shot over 7 hours. The short reply is that getting
 my ass kicked in a real 15 minute MMA match woulda hurt less. Seven hours and in virtually every shot I felt like I was hit by a truck.

Q: Do you have a preference of genre? Are you drawn to science fiction projects? What attracted you to Borealis initially?

Ty: The script was just so good .  Rarely do we get such amazing material to work with that is also real and gritty. It’s the wild wild  west of the future!! I play a bad ass MMA fighter in the future!! I mean come on people!! What boy - MAN  - doesn’t dream of that!! hahaha
I love the sci fi genre, and finally our tech has caught up to allow us to truly do these genres justice.  They are modern day fables. How can you not love the genre!!

Q: Who are the other main characters?

Ty: The world created in Borealis is so layered and textured, and the audience will be treated to a nice amount of the name game as they watch . Almost all our cast has been seen in the sci fi genre. Truly an amazingly talented cast. I don’t want to give away too much of what each person brings to the show because  they are so integral to what makes the show work and need to be experienced firsthand . With the heavy international presence, we see an array of characters who simply can’t be described. Michelle Harrison , Patrick Gallager , Christine Horne, Cristina Rosato, Greystone Holt , and Bryan Dick and Terry Chen ..and many more. It’s a stacked cast!!!

Q: Space ordered the pilot – which is a two hour movie – and then also ordered some additional scripts, I believe. Is there a good chance we’ll get to see more Borealis?

Ty: Well you would think so, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, it hasn’t been slated for follow up episodes, which personally I can’t understand. Watch it. I’ll wager it hits a note with a huge number of those who are able to watch it. Here's the problem. I’m here trying to do the promotion essentially by myself. I feel so strongly about this project, that it has an audience, that it is engaging, that I’m reaching out, asking favors trying to get the word out. I only confirmed it was airing at all 2 days ago. It airs Friday!!!!  You can’t advertise a yard sale in that time, so I have no idea what’s going on. I am so thankful for the power of twitter and the internet that there is any way at all to advertise. I’m just hoping people love it as much as I do.  I would love to be behind the beginning of a cult following that pushed this show out to be viewed. I’m not kidding: Watch it! If you love it, go spray paint "Borealis lives" on a BELL media building. Ok not spray paint... chalk drawings maybe, something water soluble...

Q: The pilot filmed in Alberta- how was that? How does it compare to shooting, in say, Vancouver?

Ty:  The major difference is ...
I am good looking in Calgary. Large men with facial hair totally fit in !! HAHA I love Calgary; I’ve shot there half a dozen times, and it was the perfect spot for Borealis. Borealis is set in a globally warmed north. so during the fall and winter months, the brown tundra-like feel fit our needs perfectly . While Vancouver tends to stay lush and green (but wet) all year long. The big difference for this project was living in Calgary for almost the entire time. I shot almost every day. With 12 -14 hour days, working out at lunch hour, I really learned what it was like to truly “live” on set and  in a hotel...

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges when filming? A lot of the promotional shots show a lot of snow...

Ty: HMMM Y’know... considering the size of the project, the size of the cast, it went surprisingly well. No unusual challenges. Which ironically is probably why we're now fighting to get seen. This is our challenge right now: we had a great shoot, we have a great show, and for all sorts of silly reasons, we haven’t been picked up or advertised for our airing . This right now is our biggest challenge. Just getting our work seen

Q: If Borealis goes ahead to series, do you think it will continue to shoot in Alberta?

Ty: Absolutely. It is the perfect spot for it, but at this point, shooting it anywhere would work! hahaha

Q: You’ve been really active on Twitter promoting this project, so I think it’s safe to assume you are really hoping for it to go forward. SyFy has a new show coming out in April, Defiance, that seems to have some similarities. Revolution has been really successful this year too. Do you think Borealis is the right type of story at the right time?

Ty: Well I don’t know those shows, so I can’t really comment on them but I’ve often described Borealis as a peek into the future we all know is coming: the front row seat to the beginning of the end . The earth has been pillaged and now it’s just scrounging for the scraps . We get to watch it all come apart. WE KNOW ITS COMING cause they’ve been saying it for years ... Borealis shows the international scrounging right along with the scrounging on a smaller level, food riots, drought, and civil unrest. I don’t know... the oil companies may not think it’s a good time for a show like this! haha
Here's the thing to remember in all of this. Borealis is a Canadian produced tv show. Of course the U.S. market is desirable, but I don’t think Space channel is actively “competing” with  SyFy. Borealis is a uniquely Canadian take on the world of 2045. I think we Canadians sometimes are the last ones to support our own work. I’m excited for people to see Borealis. I’m in it, I’m proud of it. It’s good!! Watch it. If you love it, tell someone you wanna see more, if you don’t that’s fine too. At least you watched it and had the chance to make that decision. I’m hoping it airs in the states and maybe if enough people like it ...the power of the people can say, “MORE !!”

Author’s Note: I’ve been watching Revolution and have seen what’s coming for Defiance. I think that Borealis is very much in the same vein as these two shows – a post-apocalyptic-type civilization with an interesting group of people trying to survive. Borealis has the potential as Ty points out, to be that uniquely Canadian spin on a genre that is really popular right now. Interestingly, Defiance is also shot in Canada. Fans of Revolution should like Borealis!

Q: We’ve been very much enjoying you on Supernatural this year – coincidentally, your co-star Michelle Harrison was also in an episode of Supernatural in season five. In fact, her episode was the one that introduced Jon Gries character Martin who Benny just killed (we assume) in the last episode! I’d be re-miss in not asking one question about Supernatural, so will we be seeing more of Benny this season?

Ty: We see him at least once more. I know that much. I’m having such a good time playing Benny, and Supernatural is just great how to work on. SPN fans? Best in the world!! No joke. I’ve been  honored to be welcomed in by the SPN family. Shout out to the #bunnies and the #tygers... Let’s see if there are enough fans out there for some #VICtims!


Don’t forget to watch! Friday, January 11 at 9pm EST/6pm PST or Saturday, January 12 at 4pm.

For more information on Borealis, here's a link to the IMDB page.

Have any questions for Ty? Ask them in the comments below and I’ll post a follow up before Borealis airs, Ty’s schedule permitting...