If you had a mess to clean up – a really big mess – you would call in a professional, right? Well, the small seaside town of Haven has dealt with more than its fair share of big messes over the years thanks to the “Troubles,” a supernatural curse that afflicts some of its townsfolk. Haven’s former sheriff, Garland Wuornos, who also suffered from the Troubles, had Dwight “The Cleaner” Hendrickson take care of such matters. Now his son and Haven’s new sheriff, Nathan Wuornos, also employs Dwight’s services.
Although The Cleaner’s work has become second nature to him, for professional wrestler-turned-actor Adam Copeland, who plays Dwight, the supernatural world of TV’s Haven was brand new to him and his initial involvement in it came as a welcome surprise.
“I had just retired from the WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment], and two days after that I received a phone call from the WWE offices asking if I’d be interested in doing a part in Haven,” recalls Copeland. “I was still under contract to the WWE at the time and I thought, ‘Sure, that would be great,’ because now I had time to actually pursue other things. It [acting] was never part of my mindset before just because that type of work requires a tremendous commitment. It doesn’t really leave you the time or energy to do anything else.
“I thought this would be the perfect time to jump into something almost right away and give me another creative outlet. So that was the genesis of how I became involved in Haven. I can’t speak for sure, but I think initially it was only supposed to be a one or two episode type thing. However, it grew and blossomed from there, and thankfully, too, because I’ve really enjoyed the acting process.”
The Cleaner makes his first appearance on Haven in the second season episode Sparks and Recreation. Dwight arrives to repair damage caused by a severe electromagnetic discharge during a local little league baseball game. After Haven’s mayor is killed in another electrical mishap, Nathan (Lucas Bryant) and his partner Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) discover that the two incidents are connected to the Troubles, and with Dwight’s help, they try to find and help the person responsible.
“I remember coming onto the Haven set and not feeling like the new kid in school, which was nice,” says Copeland. “My first scene was actually with Lucas Bryant. The two of us got to talking and realized we had grown up half an hour from each other. We shared a very similar sense of humor and were familiar with a number of Southern Ontario-type references that unless you grew up in that part of Canada, you wouldn’t even understand. It’s funny, because right from the get-go, Emily looked at me and Lucas and said [jokingly], ‘Oh, no, there are two of you now.’
“So right away it was a totally comfortable set as well as working atmosphere, and as I said, I didn’t feel like there was any pressure on me because I assumed it was kind of come in, do one or two episodes, have some fun, and that would be that. I didn’t look at it as, ‘Oh, I’d better do outstanding here because it could lead to something more,’ and maybe that translated to my performance, I don’t know. I just know that I had a good time that night.”
Like many of those that he cleans up after, Dwight is also among the Troubled. A former Army Ranger, his supernatural affliction surfaced during his time in Afghanistan, and in the second season Haven episode Lockdown it is revealed that his Trouble causes him to attract bullets. This turns out to be less of a curse and more of a blessing after Dwight’s Trouble saves Nathan’s life. As more facets of his character are revealed, this gives Copeland added room to tweak and play with his performance.
“I think in season two it was more of an introduction to Dwight, and to me he’s rather shrouded in mystery, which is how I tried to play him,” notes the actor. “So it became a question of, is he a good guy, a bad guy or somewhere in-between? Is he sitting in purgatory? What’s the deal with him? I felt that would leave more options going forward, and I think it has, because in the third season you start to see that Dwight is actually a good guy. He has a good heart and is a good father, but is tormented. Some of his experiences have left him, I don’t know if tortured is the right word, but there are definitely some issues he’s dealing with.
“So when it all boils down, you can tell that Dwight is a good man who’s really just trying to help. That’s where I saw the character start to go this season, which I enjoyed. It was nice to show some human sides to him that I feel people can relate to, and Dwight encounters certain situations that anyone would be able to understand and, in turn, kind of feel for the character.”
Along with seeing additional facets of Dwight’s personality, Haven fans can also look forward to more onscreen banter between him and his fellow residents in the show’s third season. “He’s definitely had a lot more interaction with Vince [Richard Donat] and Dave [John Dunsworth], which has been so much fun for me on a personal level as well as a character level,” says Copeland. “If I can relate it to family, it’s almost like they’re the eccentric uncles that you sometimes roll your eyes at, but at the same time you know that something’s going on there that you can’t quite put a finger on. I love Vince and Dave. They bring so much to the show and are very much like dark horse characters to me.
“With the Audrey character, Dwight looks at her almost like a little sister, and even more so this season. He understands that she can take care of herself and has taken care of herself, but I think inherently Dwight feels that his job of cleaning up also includes overseeing and making sure that at the end of the day, everyone is OK. That definitely shows most in his relationship with Nathan. My character cleaned up for Nathan’s dad and, this is just my feeling, maybe he considered Chief Wuornos to be a bit of a father figure. Now he’s kind of gone forward with that and looks at Nathan almost like a little brother, so he has to make sure he does right by the chief because of that.
“The only one that doesn’t exactly fit into the whole equation for Dwight is Duke [Eric Balfour]. There is very much a butting of heads, Alpha males-type of feel to that relationship. He’s the one person that I don’t think Dwight will ever see fully eye-to-eye with, but at the same time begrudgingly almost likes but certainly respects. They’ll work together, they’ll turn on each other, they’ll work together again, they’ll turn on each other again, they’ll get into a fight, they’ll share a shot of Jack Daniels, and then they’ll get into another fight,” jokes the actor. “That’s been a great relationship to play out.”
“I did a scene earlier today with Emily that was our first one-on-one scene together, and no one really quite realized that, wow, this is the first time that Dwight and Audrey are together without Nathan, Duke, Vince or Dave, this is interesting – and it really was. I think you got a bit more of that brotherly/sisterly aspect of their relationship from this scene. Maybe it’s because it’s so fresh in my mind, but that scene really felt good to me. It gave me a chance to sink my teeth a little deeper into the fact that Dwight is this caring guy that just wants to look after everyone.”
As Copeland previously mentioned, acting was not in the forefront of his mind as far as a future career when growing up. He was interested in being a performer, but in quite a different type of venue. “The only thing I ever wanted to be was a wrestler,” he says. “When I was very, very young I wanted to be an archaeologist, and then from there I wanted to be in the rock group KISS,” says the actor with a chuckle, “As long as I can remember, though, it was wrestling, and that’s what it was going to be.
“Once I became a wrestler and then as the years progressed I came to the realization that, well, I’ve done everything there is to do in wrestling, and now I can’t get cleared physically to do it any more, so what can I do? Anytime I’d done any acting I really enjoyed it, and it’s something creative. No matter what it is, I have to do something creative. That’s just the way I’m wired. I don’t do well in offices, so I need be doing something, whether it’s writing a book, painting, drawing, the theatrics of the WWE or acting, I need this. So I guess it [acting] is somewhat of a natural extension of the wrestling, but it was a happy accident, for sure.”
Copeland spent much of the 1990s wrestling on the independent circuit throughout Ontario as well as the Great Lakes region of the United States under the stage name of Sexton Hardcastle., In 1996, he competed in his first WWF (World Wrestling Federation) match, and a year later he received a developmental contract with the WWF. The wrestler made his debut as Edge in June 1998, and was subsequently drafted into the WWE where he continued to compete until his retirement in 2011. Behind all the testosterone-driven bravado and ringside theatrics, this was a job that required a great deal of stamina and staying power.
“Nothing was really fleshed out at the beginning with the Edge character,” he explains. “He was mysterious and that was about it. I don’t think the WWE knew what he was supposed to be, and as a 23-year-old kid I definitely didn’t know. I figured we’d decide that as we went along, which is just what we did. That’s why there were so many different stages of the character over the years, and I’ve always related that to movies. At first The Brood [WWE wrestling trio with Edge, Gangrel and Christian] was The Lost Boys, and then Edge and Christian were like Bill and Ted in Bogus Journey.
“From there, Edge slowly morphed into more of a traditional baby-faced good guy, and then he went completely in the opposite direction and became this lazy, manipulative sexual deviant who was the most evil guy on the show. So there was kind of this progression throughout, which I enjoyed, and the key to staying relevant in that industry is re-creating yourself before you get stale.
“When it comes to challenges, it has to be the travel and physical punishment,” continues Copeland. “You’re traveling 250 days a year and doing 220 or so shows. Factor into that trips to Australia, South Africa, England, Malaysia, Europe, etc. Imagine then flying back to the U.S. on a weekend and doing a live show on the Monday. You have to look human, but you’re almost supposed to be superhuman. It’s impossible, though, to look and feel that way after getting off a plane, traveling a further 30 hours and going straight to a live show.
“You’re getting thrown around, and then you have to hop into a car and drive 200 miles to the next show. You arrive at your hotel at 4 a.m. and have to get up around nine in order to get your workout in as well as get everything else accomplished that you need to before you get to the show. So your day starts as soon as you wake up and doesn’t end until you get into that hotel. Then you have a half-hour or so of your own time to relax and process the day before you fall asleep.
“It’s an amazing job, but it’s also an extremely tough one, and I have yet to encounter any other form of entertainment that has that type of travel, including intense worldwide travel, without the benefit of private jets and chartered buses. Once we hit the ground, we’re on our own, and you add another level to that when you’re managing your own hotels and rental cars. So you’ve got to have your act together, that’s for sure.”
With a whole new set of the Troubles set to plague Haven in the show’s third season, Dwight Hendrickson is going to be kept busy, which suits Copeland just fine. “Last season I did four episodes and this season it ended up being seven, so that was great for me,” says the actor. “When I found out that Dwight’s Trouble was that he’s a bullet magnet, I honestly believed that he wouldn’t be around for very long, so I’m thrilled that that hasn’t been the case.
“With each new layer I’ve gotten to peel back with the Dwight character I’ve thought, ‘OK, I must be doing something right,’ and any time I’ve been asked to do more episodes, it’s felt a little bit like a tip of the hat. So it’s all good and I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
As noted above, Haven photos by Adam Secore or Michael Tompkins and copyright of Syfy, while other photos retain their original copyright, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!