L-R: Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) and the unflappable Vincent (Christopher Gauthier in the Eureka/Warehouse 13 crossover episode, "Crossing Over." Photo by Eike Schroter and copyright of The Syfy Channel.
If you grew up watching TV between 1982 and 1993 you might remember a sitcom whose locals hung out at a place where "everybody knew their name." Well, the characters in the Syfy Channel's hit dramedy Eureka also have their own little oasis, Cafe Diem, where the same thing holds true. It's ebullient proprietor, Vincent, has a Ph.D. in Molecular Gastronomy and can whip up anything your little heart desires. Nothing pleases him more than a satisfied customer, and actor Christopher Gauthier, who plays Vincent, can certainly attest to that.
"My character started out as somewhat of the town nurturer or 'den mother,'" notes Gauthier, chatting during a break in filming on Eureka's Vancouver set. "Vincent is also a tool to get people into a social environment outside of Global Dynamics and their whole Sci-Fi world. And I've always thought of Cafe Diem as being a stable home away from home for everyone, not unlike the bar on [the TV show] Cheers.
"Over the past four years, Vincent has continued to act as a pillar as far as, again, being that nurturing guy, and I love playing that. I mean, he hasn't developed too much in the sense of character, the exception being an episode such as [season one's] Purple Haze where he became mean. Otherwise, nothing much has changed for Vincent or me on the show, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word."
The actor made his first Eureka appearance back in 2006 in the show's pilot episode. From the very beginning it was obvious that he and Cafe Diem were the perfect combination, like peanut butter and jelly, so it might surprise some fans to learn that the show's producers were initially looking to cast someone very different from Gauthier as Vincent.
"If you've seen me you know I have the long curly hair, the big sideburns and all of that," he says. "When they had the casting call for the Eureka pilot, they were looking for, I'll use the term metrosexual, was sort of what they were after with Vincent. So when I arrived at the audition it was basically a bunch of guys who were wearing half-tops and skintight jeans, and there I was in my plaid shirt. If they were going for another look, then I gave them the antithesis of that, so it was really funny.
"As each actor came out of the audition room, they commented, 'Tone it down,' or don't be too eccentric, let's say. When it was my turn, I just did my thing and they [the producers] were like, 'Perfect.' They loved it, and I think it was probably the juxtaposition of my burlyesque physique mixed with some effeminate tones," jokes the actor.
"So that whole process was fun, and then from there we filmed the pilot, which was incredible. It was shot in Nanaimo [British Columbia] and we used helicopters and tanks as well as rode around on segways. It was exceptional. I knew then that Eureka was going to be something special and it's turned out to be just that."
Whether you are a local or just visiting, Vincent prides himself on giving everyone who walks through the doors of Care Diem the best service possible. When it comes to his regular customers, he knows all their likes and dislikes as far as food and drink, as well as enjoys friendships with some of the establishment's more familiar faces.
"Vincent has this ongoing thing with Sheriff Carter [Colin Ferguson] in that he bastardizes my character's food," says Gauthier. "He'll come in and Vincent will put out this elaborate meal and Carter will ask for ketchup. However, I think my character finds that quite endearing and at this point he's totally used to it.
"He also has a good rapport with Deputy Jo Lupo [Erica Cerra]. Vincent knows how she likes her coffee and stuff like that. He probably has the most affinity, though, towards the sheriff's daughter Zoe [Jordan Hinson]. She ended up working in the cafe for a while and Vincent feels a real paternal sense towards her. I think he just loves pretty much everyone in town."
Given that his character is such a gastronomic guru, is cooking something that also excites Gauthier? "You know what, I wish it did, but it doesn't at all," he admits. "After four years on this show, you figure I might have taken up come culinary pursuits. I do every once in a while, but my wife is just so good at it that I leave it to her for the most part. I did buy [chef/TV personality] Tyler Florence's book Tyler's Ultimate, which is a show on the Food Network, and I made the French Onion Soup recipe. It was a damn fine French Onion Soup, but it was a four-hour endeavor. So I figured if that was cooking, you know what, I'll just leave it to the people who know how to do it and won't take four hours doing it," says the actor with a chuckle.
Although Vincent pretty much sticks to his nurturing/hosting duties in most Eureka episodes, the show's writers do occasionally get him out from behind the counter, allowing Gauthier the opportunity to further stretch his acting muscles.
"In [the first season episode] Alienated, Vincent, Jo Lupo, Fargo [Neil Grayston], Taggart [Matt Frewer] and Spencer [Shanyn Solberg] get together to watch an alien movie that Spencer downloads from a satellite," recalls Gauthier. "The satellite is, in fact, a tool for making people paranoid, and the five of them end up kidnapping a U.S. senator [Garwin Sanford] who they believe is an alien. That was a neat episode to shoot.
"Another good one was Right as Raynes. It was a little meatier acting-wise and there were some scenes with Vincent and Zoe that really showed my character's nurturing side. So far, though, the very best [Vincent] episode for me is one that I previously talked about, Purple Haze. That story was so cool because I got to be a complete jerk. Vincent is always so nice and cordial and paternal, but in this episode I smashed a plate over someone's head and we all got thrown in jail. That was a real hoot to do."
Longtime Eureka fans know to expect the unexpected each week with the show, and this year has been no less surprising. In the fourth season opener Founder's Day, five characters take a trip back in time and then return home to the present, only to an altered timeline. While change is sometimes a good thing, it still takes getting used to.
"When I heard about what they [the producers/writers] were planning to do this season, my first instinct was to be a little scared," says Gauthier. "After all, you don't know exactly how it's going to affect things, including your character. Like I mentioned before, I've got sort of a cozy little thing going on where Vincent is this pillar, and I didn't want to disrupt that too much. Having said that, it was exciting at the same time. Who knows where it could have gone for me. Thus far things have remained relatively unchanged for me and Vincent, and there's a sense of relief that came with that, along with a sense of maybe wishing that some little things would have changed with my character."
Out of all the fourth season Eureka episodes shot so far, Gauthier especially enjoyed working on a one-off Christmas episode that will air In December. "I had a ball," he enthuses. "There are some great scenes with me, Neil and Jordan that we had a lot of fun with.
"Each of the episodes has been so different this year, and from my character's perspective, because he sort of lived through the alternate timeline, Vincent doesn't notice any of these changes. However, from my perspective it's been awesome to watch these changes unfold. It's been a blast to be a part of this season, and the writing is just insanely good. The balance between the dark elements and the comedy combined with the character development is terrific, and on top of that we're getting to reestablish these characters with all this new development."
Growing up in Armstrong, B.C., Gauthier was in elementary school when he saw saw a local theater production of Sing A Song of Sixpence, and began thinking about becoming an actor. He latered trained at the Vernon School of Speech and Drama and made his professional debut onstage. "I was around 20 years old when I decided to take the plunge and came to Vancouver to give it [acting] a try," says the actor. "It was slow going at first, but things began to pick up and it's just been great."
Agent Cody Banks, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Edison and Watchmen are among the actor's feature film credits. On the small screen he has appeared in a variety of made-for-TV movies as well as such series as Cold Squad, DaVinci's Inquest, Psych and Smallville, first playing a LuthorCorp technician in Delete, and then later guest-starring in two more episodes as Winslow Scott a.k.a. Toyman.
"The LuthorCorp role was just a small thing that I read for, and then to play Toyman I had to audition all over again," says Gauthier, "but they didn't label the role as the Toyman at the time. It was just a guest-star spot so as not to give anything away to the folks who were auditioning. They had actually offered me another smaller role prior to Toyman, and I'm so glad I didn't take it because then I couldn't have done this one.
"I like meaty, meaty parts and I dove right in with Toyman. The hospital scene I did with Justin Hartley, who plays the Green Arrow, was a little brutal. I'm not that agile of a person, so the pained look on my face was probably real. There wasn't much acting involved there," he laughs. "Another scene that stands out for me is one from the second episode I did [Echo] where my character gets shot in the leg. That was really cool and very intense. There was also the scene where Tom Welling [Clark Kent/Superman] is holding Toyman over the edge of the nightclub roof and is about to drop him. My entire Smallville experience was a blast. It really was."
Gauthier's other genre roles include Walter "The Adjustor" in Sanctuary's Hero, and Ronald Reznick in the Supernatural episodes Nightshifter and Are You There, God? It's Me...Dean Winchester. "I was really nervous going into Sanctuary," says the actor. "It was my first real guest-starring role that I had been offered, and it was sort of right up my wheelhouse. The character I played in Supernatural was similar as far as being nerdy, meek, cordial and all that.
"I had a such a good time on Sanctuary, and I'm actually going to be in the fourth episode of the show's [upcoming] third season. I think it was the earnestness of the Walter character that I enjoyed playing the most, especially when he gets his superpowers. For a bungler, Walter is convinced he's doing such a good thing, you know, and again, playing his earnestness was wonderful.
"With Supernatural, that was fun because I tend to be cast in a lot of comedic roles, and the Ronald Reznick character sort of got me away from that, although he is funny and, I think, produced a sense of comic relief. There again there was a sense of earnestness with him. For Ronald to be a conspiracy theorist and then have it justified and validated like that was just amazing. I really adore playing characters that possess such love and innocence, and I think it's one of my most memorable roles yet."
Along with his second Sanctuary guest-spot, the actor recently filmed Health Nutz, a short TV comedy movie for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in which he plays Doc Joe Dang. "Other than those two projects, I've just been continuing to have fun on Eureka," says Gauthier, "and I'll say It again, it's been such a blast this year. I think it's the best season yet and the show deserves all the kudos that it's getting."
As noted above, photo by Eike Schroter and copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!