When it comes to upholding law and order in a small town, things like a fender-bender, petty theft and the occasional domestic squabble would likely be among the most common infractions. However, the authorities in Haven, Maine would tend to disagree. This small town once fell victim to "The Troubles," a plague of supernatural afflictions that has apparently resurfaced with a vengeance. While some police officers might be taken aback by such events, Nathan Wuornos is not so easily spooked. Then again, he is not your average police officer. For one thing, he can feel no pain. Nathan is in many ways an enigma, and for actor Lucas Bryant that is part of what makes playing this character on The Syfy Channel's Haven so much fun.
"One of the things I looked forward to about playing someone like Nathan is that he keeps his cards pretty close to his chest," says Bryant. "He doesn't necessarily give everything away, and he's a man of few words, which I really am not. I'm far more expressive than Nathan, so the chance to wrestle myself down to stillness has been exciting for me. I've sort of been using my Dad's side of the family for that. They're from North Dakota and of Scandinavian/Finnish heritage, where there is a tendency to say much less than sometimes is necessary.
"So that was initially one of the main attractions for me with the role, and since then I've enjoyed revealing various side of Nathan. For example, he's got a great sense of humor, but it's really under there, you know? You've got to hang out with him for a while before you begin to notice it. As for the whole not feeling pain thing, that's a fascinating part of who he is. As much as he can't physically feel pain, beneath his quiet exterior, he's quite an emotional individual, and you get to see that in episodes two as well as three and others as we go along. This 'condition' of Nathan's has only worked to alienate him from people and push him further into his shell. However, Emily Rose's character of Audrey is the opposite of that, and she helps bring Nathan out of his shell, which is a good thing.
FBI agent Audrey Parker is Nathan Wuornos' partner in crime as far as investigating the strange goings-on in town. Bryant and Haven leading lady Emily Rose are no strangers, a fact that just happened to come out in the actor's auction for the role.
"I read the pilot script for Haven, thought it was great and began going through the audition rounds for Nathan," recalls Bryant. "That was all going well, and then I found out that Emily Rose was involved with the series. The two of us worked together last year and I like her a lot, so I decided to use her as a pawn in my power play to get the role of Nathan," jokes the actor. "I went into one of the auditions when Emily was there reading with the actors who were auditioning and [jokingly] said to the producers, 'Now, you've gone and hired Emily Rose for this job. I'm not sure if you know this, but she is a bit of a nightmare, a very powerful nightmare.'
"I went on to explain that Emily was like uranium, quite powerful yet volatile and highly unpredictable uranium. However, if they could harness that uranium properly, it becomes quite a lovely 'tool' that they could do all sorts of things with. So I said to them, 'Let me be your thermal sleeve for the uranium that is Emily Rose and we will make this thing happen.' Well, they seemed to believe me, so here I am, but that wasn't the end of it. That got me through the final round of auditions, but then there was the network test with all the execs, including the people from Syfy. For that one, I brought in some coffee crisp chocolate bars, which in Canada are like gold. I think they thought that was a bit weird," he says with a chuckle, "but it wound up working for me because they tasted the chocolate and were sold."
In Haven's pilot episode, Welcome to Haven, Audrey Parker travels to the coastal enclave to investigate the death of an escaped prisoner. Shortly after arriving, she is almost killed in a car accident, but Officer Nathan Wuornos saves her. Audrey discovers that the prisoner's death is somehow connected to a phenomenon called "The Troubles," and in this particular instance involves someone whose moods cause severe weather disturbances. Together, she and Nathan eventually track down the person responsible and solve the case. Working on the series opener remains an unforgettable experience for Bryant.
"First off, there was just the beauty of the places that we were shooting in," says the actor. "There's this one scene in the pilot where Nathan and Audrey are sort of interrogating Marion [Nicole de Boer], who runs the little antique shop in town. It turns out that she's responsible for accidentally causing the weather issues. We shot that scene in Lunenburg [Nova Scotia] at this neat little purple building. I was actually staying that week in this beautiful B & B right across the street, so every morning I could look out my window and see our crew setting up on the corner. It's just this stunning street with the wildest colored buildings, and at the beginning of the scene, Emily and I had to drive up to the purple one in Nathan's Bronco. As we got out of the truck I just remember thinking, 'What an awesome place to shoot.'
"The weather has also been another memorable part of working on this show. Since the end of July and now into August it's evened out a bit, but when we were initially here in April and May you honestly didn't know what to expect. It could be a beautiful sunny day, then pouring rain the next five minutes, followed by huge hailstorms, all of which happened to us when we did the scene where Audrey and Nathan first meet and her car is on the cliff. After we shot that I thought, 'I can't imagine this coming together,' but it did and the scene looked great.
"In that first episode there was tornado/hurricane-like stuff going on, so when we were filming those scenes, the crew had these massive fans that they'd set up on the street, in the forest, or wherever we were, in order to blow air around and make it look like we were in a hurricane. Those fans were literally like airplane propellers mounted on huge housings with wheels and the crew would roll them around.
"They'd have five or six of these fans set up just outside of the camera shot, and the guys would sit there with bags of leaves, dirt and little twigs and throw all that stuff in front of the fans so that it would blow past us, into us and around us during the scene. It was very amusing because you'd be standing there trying to yell out your lines and literally get a mouthful of dirt that just came flying through the air. We haven't had to do anything like that since, but when and if we do Im fully prepared. Now I know exactly what to do, which is keep my mouth shut."
Much to his surprise, Nathan gains a new partner in Audrey when the FBI agent ends up staying in town longer than she expected. They are assisted, albeit in a somewhat roundabout way, by Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), a local "entrepreneur" and wheeler-dealer. Despite a somewhat prickly introduction, Audrey and Nathan being to warm to one another, while Nathan and Duke continue to rub each other the wrong way, much like two disgruntled siblings.
"With Audrey and Nathan it's been sort of this slow burn of them getting to trust each other," explains Bryant. "She kind of bulldozers her way into my character's world, and I think he's a little shocked, but also fascinated by that. As much as it's a bit irritating to him, he also finds it pretty charming, and as you'll see in the episodes coming up, especially number eight [Ain't No Sunshine], Audrey really starts to grow on Nathan. She helps him change and become a better or fuller person.
"As for Duke, what a jerk he is, huh? I can't stand that guy," he jokes. "Seriously, that's a fun relationship with him and Nathan. Oddly enough, I also knew Eric Balfour before we started working on this series. He and I are having a ball aggravating one another onscreen, and that relationship is sort of opening up, too. The audience doesn't really know what's going on between Nathan and Duke. Little bits of information are dolled out as we go along, but even I couldn't tell you exactly what the heck is going on. I think Duke is a terrific counterpoint to Nathan, and you get to see two very different sides of Audrey Parker when she's with each of them."
Haven's chief of police is none other than Nathan's father. He and his son do not quite see eye-to-eye as far as police procedures, and at one point, Chief Wuornos even comments to Audrey that he hopes some of her professional ways will rub off on Nathan. Although his character and the chief tend to get under the other's skin, Bryant's rapport with veteran Canadian actor Nicholas Campbell, who plays Chief Wuornos, is nothing but harmonious.
"I love Nick. He has a terrific sense of humor and I have a blast working with him," says the actor. "With his character and mine, I guess in every father/son relationship there's an element of trying to live up to your father's expectations, but never quite getting there. Whether it's because of Nathan's attitude or his dad's, well, that's something we're still exploring. We just finished shooting episode 11 where we get to play around with that relationship a lot more. I can't say enough good things about Nicholas Campbell. He's an exceptional actor and it's been a pleasure getting to know and work with him."
Bryant was given the chance to further stretch his acting muscles early on in Haven's first season with the episode Harmony. In it, mentally unstable residents suddenly become lucid, while vice versa, and among the latter affected is Nathan. "I really enjoyed shooting that episode just for the sheer madness of it," enthuses the actor.
"The biggest challenge for me was having enough faith to let myself go that crazy. When you have something like that in a script, you ask yourself, 'What would that feel like?' I have no idea, though, what it would feel like to go mad, and we didn't really have any benchmark for what that type of crazy would look like. So working that out with the director [Rachel Talalay] and the other actors who also had to behave like that was a wonderful creative challenge. Stephen Lynch, who does our make-up on the show, did a very cool job of helping me out in that episode, and Eric Balfour was incredibly supportive and right there with me in the scenes we shared."
Not long after Nathan temporarily loses his sanity, Duke has a near-death experience as a result of rapid aging in the episode Ball and Chain. "Seeing Eric in that [old age] make-up was crazy," says Bryant. "I'll never forget walking onto the set the first day he was wearing his old man prosthetics. Eric was standing around talking with some other people, but I couldn't even talk to him for the first 10 minutes. It was just too weird. I looked at Eric and laughed. It was kind of shocking and slightly horrifying.
"It really was an incredible transformation, and the thing is, if you look at someone wearing a mask or that type of make-up, you think, 'Well, I can see their eyes and I can tell that it's still them, in there.' But I couldn't even find Eric in there when I looked at him, and that was very odd. So that's my initial crazy memory from that episode, and then also how beautiful the episode looked. We shot at Peggy's Cove, which is a huge Canadian landmark, and I thought some of the stuff at the end of the story with the lighthouse there on the rocks and the sun going down was incredible. We were extremely lucky and blessed that it was a gorgeous day and that we got such an amazing sunset. It all seemed a bit magical."
Having begun performing onstage at an early age, it was Bryant's high school drama teacher than helped inspire him to pursue his dream of acting professionally. "It's always been something that I loved and wanted to do, and thankfully things have been working out for me," he says.
"As much as it didn't feel like it at the time, this really has been a total step-by-step progression, from one-line parts to one scene parts to guest-star and recurring roles. One of the first bigger parts that I did was a guest-spot on a Canadian TV show where I got to play a kid who was also a famous Hollywood actor. Thinking back now, that was kind of strange as well as hopefully foreshadowing. Not that I'm a famous Hollywood actor - yet - but my first big break was sort of playing the end result of the dream that I had. I was very fortunate in that the cast on that project was warm, welcoming and helpful, and it just felt right to me. It was like that was where I belonged."
Along with several made-for-TV movies, the actor has guest-starred on such shows as Odyssey 5, Sex, Love & Secrets and Dollhouse as well as been cast in recurring or regular roles on M.V.P., Faux Baby and Queer as Folk. He is genuinely pleased with how his character's story arc has played out so far on Haven, and is looking forward to peeling back more layers to Nathan Wuornos as time goes on.
"In the season finale there's an explosive cliffhanger which I'm hoping will keep everyone hanging on for, fingers crossed, season two," says Bryant. "There are so many places to go with this show, and I'm thrilled about that. Slivers of the town's larger mythology have been given out here and there in episodes, but there is still so much more left to understand. And, again, there's so much that I, Lucas, the actor, still does not understand, but that's all part of this adventure."
As noted above, photos by Chris Reardon or Eric Ogden and copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!