Hawco, relaxed, is not at all like a man who has spent six months on this show, acting, writing, taking care of countless chores. Hereabouts, Hawco is seen as a kind of Laurence Olivier of the St. John's arts scene, a Renaissance man who is co-artistic director of his own theatre troupe, The Company Theatre, as well as doing movie and TV work. He was, they say here, relentless on getting financial support from the Newfoundland government and getting Republic of Doyle made in St. John's.
This show is outside my comfort zone, really. I'm the only non-Canadian and I've never done this accent before. It's an enormous challenge.
In the TV racket, however, a myth has grown up around Republic of Doyle that it was a troubled series. There's nothing unusual about this. The Canadian TV biz is far from a charitable environment. Jealousy festers, and rumours abound. Here's the legend of Doyle : Hawco envisaged Canadian veteran actor Gordon Pinsent as the dad Malachy. Disappointingly, Pinsent is not available. East Coast actor Peter MacNeill plays Malachy in the pilot, but not the series. Irish actor McGinley is hired. Doyle goes into production in July with writer Denis McGrath ( The Border ) as show runner. McGrath leaves the show in October. Soon after, two others writers leave the show. Next, swine flu hits the set, and production stops. Finally, a storm shuts down production.
Hawco finds this legend very amusing: "Maybe it is due to the fact that we are so far away, and no one knows what is really going on. Truth is, this production has had more than its share of amazing luck. And people can guess or speculate, and I can say whatever I want, but in the end, as we all know, it's about whether anyone likes our show or not. I am hoping they do - obviously."
On the Pinsent matter: "It did work out that he did an amazing guest-starring role for me in Episode 5. Gordon is truly one of my all-time heroes and idols. He has also been seriously supportive over the years and helped me a lot. I am willing to venture a guess that 90 per cent of pitches to every network in this country want Gordon in their show. But alas, he is a busy boy."
On the McGrath issue: "Every production goes through all types of changes among the crew. In the end, it is solely about fit, and chemistry. … It's not personal."
On the swine flu: "Oh boy. That sucked. I got it. It was nasty. We did have a few days delay, but I was able to do a rewrite on a badly needed script. In a way, because I was so sick, I was able to catch up."
On the storm rumour: "That is really funny because it didn't happen. Other than swine flu, which was like, a few days delay, everything else has been business as usual and on schedule. Except my sleep."
In truth, Republic of Doyle is, ah, very Doyle-esque - jokey, frisky. But it obviously owes a debt to TV series of an earlier era, and The Rockford Files (1974-1980) is often mentioned to describe its tone. True? "Rockford is surely one of them, as were Magnum [P.I.]/i> , Columbo , Banacek - Pinsent guest-starred - and all of the other 1970s/1980s cop/P.I shows," Hawco says. "But so were Rescue Me , Cracker , TheMentalist , the first season of Californication , Prime Suspect , Law & Order and Life on Mars . I am a TV fan. And bigger than that, I am obsessed with storytelling."