You may know actor Kristian Bruun from his work in Canadian dramas as Constable Jackson in MURDOCH MYSTERIES or Donnie Hendrix in ORPHAN BLACK. This year, Kristian stars in a new comedy detective show, CARTER, alongside Jerry O’Connell (BILLIONS) and Sydney Poitier Heartsong (CHICAGO P.D., VERONICA MARS).

ComicsVerse is so grateful that Kristian took the time to talk to us about his transition from drama to comedy, theater arts, and his new role in CARTER.  

[Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.]

From left: Kristian Bruun, Jerry O’Connell, and Sydney Poitier Heartsong in CARTER. Image courtesy of WGN America.

ComicsVerse (CV): To start off, can you tell us a little about CARTER?

Kristian Bruun (KB): CARTER is a new detective procedural that mixes the craziness of small town living with the madness of Hollywood. Jerry O’Connell stars as Harley Carter, who plays a famous TV detective named Charlie Carter, who is based on his real life story. He escapes Hollywood after a scandal and heads to his hometown Bishop, Ontario, only to find himself attracting trouble when people find out he’s back. He partners up with his estranged childhood best friends, Sam Shaw (Sydney Poitier Heartsong), a local detective with the Bishop police and Dave Leigh (me), a former-criminal/drug addict turned entrepreneur of sorts, to solve crimes that seemingly fall in his lap due to his fame as a TV detective.

I like to tell people it’s MURDER SHE WROTE meets MAGNUM P.I.; a small town with WAY too many murders mixed with some fun action. Oh, and there’s plenty of comedy too. It’s light, fun, easy to watch. We wanted it to be an antidote to some of the darker programs on TV. It’s very meta, it calls attention to TV detective show tropes and what happens in reality while… also being a TV detective show.

CV: I am a huge fan of your portrayal of Donnie Hendrix in ORPHAN BLACK. I like Donnie because while he gives audiences a more real-world emotional response to the terrifying sci-fi elements of the show, which ends up being very humorous. That being said, CARTER is also a dark comedy. How do you feel about the transition between genres?

KB: ORPHAN BLACK was a dream to work on. We had so much fun filming it. It was much darker than CARTER, but Donnie was part of a lighter story line at first which eventually finds itself drawn into the darker aspects of the show. Going from that to CARTER was a pretty easy transition. It was so nice to spend a summer filming in such a gorgeous location (North Bay, Ontario), working on stand-alone mysteries that were funny and quirky.

ORPHAN BLACK was filmed in deepest, darkest Toronto fall and winter — which really lent itself to the show becoming a sort of character in itself with its cold and snow. The tones are so different, and I think I was ready for that change after five seasons of dark, clone conspiracies. I do love sci-fi though and hope I get to work more in that genre. I’m a pretty big nerd. You can’t keep me away!

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CV: In terms of comedy, you tap into fantastic slapstick (the infamous glue gun scene or your twerking on ORPHAN BLACK come to mind) as well as a darker type of comedy. How do you prepare for this kind of role? Does that come naturally to you?

KB: I think I’m naturally goofy and lean towards comedy in general. That said, when it comes to acting I do believe the more versatile you can be the more chances you have to work in this business. I’ve always made it a point to have a broad scope of study and interests, even to this day. In university (Queen’s University) and theatre school (George Brown Theatre School) we studied classical theatre from so many different traditions and time periods. I’ve studied and performed improv comedy in almost every city I’ve lived in. I’ve performed Commedia dell’arte (an Italian Renaissance form of improv comedy), which is VERY slapstick-heavy. Literally, my character Arlecchino (Harlequin) carried a “Slapstick” which was a long piece of wood that had another piece the same size along it that would make a loud SLAP every time I pretended to hit someone with it.

Sorry, I just turned this into a theatre history lecture. Recently, I’ve been studying the Stella Adler technique.

The point of this is to say it all takes work and training and study and I’m a naturally curious person but not necessarily a naturally talented actor. I have to prepare a lot to really feel comfortable playing a role. So while some roles are easier to pick up than others, I tend to think that’s because of the various characters I’ve studied and played in the past. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I haven’t been pigeon-holed to one sort of role and for that, I am very grateful.

Kristian Bruun
Kristian Bruun as Dave Leigh in CARTER. Image courtesy of WGN America.

CV: On CARTER you play Harley Carter’s (Jerry O’Connell) best friend, Dave Leigh. What drew you to this role? Can you tell us what audiences can expect to see from Dave?

KB: Well, let me be completely honest. When I got the audition for CARTER, I saw the character breakdown and thought, “There’s no way I’m going to get this role. A former drug addict, rough around the edges kinda guy? No way.” But I really liked it, partly because it was so different than things I had played in the past. So I just went in and did my thing and the producers seemed to like it. This job is so funny and strange that way. As for what audiences can expect, I’d say Dave is a curmudgeon with a big heart. Loyal as all get out. Always being reluctantly pulled into trouble, always ready with a wise-ass comment, always carrying his dark years with him. He’s more complex than he seems.

CV: Dave, Harley, and Sam (Sydney Poitier Heartsong) are supposed to be reunited childhood best friends. How does this dynamic play out? What has it been like working with Jerry O’Connell and Sydney Poitier Heartsong?

KB: We really lucked out. Jerry, Sydney, and I have a blast when we’re around each other. The chemistry you see on screen is the same off screen. We joke a lot (maybe too much?) and hang out after work. I mean, we were in North Bay for three months. That’s a ton of time to spend with people, and yet we wanted to hang out on the weekends. I think that really says something when you already spend 12-15 hours a day, every day of the week with people! Same with the crew. We were all up there for a long time. We all banded together. It was like work and summer camp rolled into one! I think you’ll see that on screen, and as the characters become closer again, like when they were kids, that connection gets stronger and stronger as the season goes along.

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CV: I have read that you travel a lot, and have lived all over the world. CARTER and ORPHAN BLACK are both shot in Canada, where you are from originally. Are you enjoying the location?

KB: I love working in Canada. It’s home. It’s comfortable and familiar. My friends and family are close. And northern Ontario is my happy place. Get me by a freshwater lake, give me a canoe and a paddle, and I’m blissed out exploring for hours. I’m in Los Angeles these days, it’s so hot and dry out here! Now I’m homesick for a skinny-dip in a lake. Ask me how I feel to be in Los Angeles during the winter though and that’s a very different story!

CV: When it comes to bringing characters to life, who/what are some of your main creative influences?

KB: This will seem like a dark answer but I was thinking of the actors I cherish recently. I realized a lot of them died from drug use or suicide. Chris Farley, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Williams are the first that come to mind. They were just so brave and put everything out there, but it came at a price. I’m inspired by their performances but also learn a lot from their mistakes. I also really love John C. Reilly, Tilda Swinton, and any actor who can be a chameleon. Those are the performances that really excite me. That’s what I want to strive for.

From left: Sydney Poitier Heartsong, Jerry O’Connell, and Kristian Bruun in CARTER. Image courtesy of WGN America.

CV: Besides acting for TV and film, you are also a stage actor and a multi-talented/multi-instrumented musician. Are you working on any projects outside of CARTER right now that you can tell us about?

KB: When you make a living as an actor you end up having a lot of free time on your hands, so I try to fill my days with learning new things. When I moved to LA I didn’t have any instruments with me, so I bought a keyboard and I’m re-learning piano. I’ve started bringing my instruments to LA every time I fly home — one at a time as a carry-on because there’s no way I’m checking an instrument with an airline! Besides working on a few music projects, I love to write. I’m writing a short film about homelessness in LA that I want to direct and a feature film set in Finland. There. I said it. No abandoning it now. Now I really have to do it. Thanks for that!

Be sure to check out Kristain Bruun in WGN America‘s CARTER .

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