TONIGHT: Ferreira, Lehman shine in Motive –
Main Motive-ators Louis Ferreira, Kristin Lehman and Brendan Penny

CTV’s new “Whydunit” drime drama Motive starts tonight around 10 p.m. ET, immediately following the Super Bowl.
I though the pilot was slick if a little too by-the-numbers.  It is a good thing the killer was given away in the first few minutes because the case was otherwise easily solvable. Hopefully things get a little trickier in the coming weeks.
What intrigued me, however, were the characters, particularly Det. Angie Flynn plated by Kristin Lehman. Her wisecracks were cop-show-cliched but Lehman made them sound authentic. The domestic scenes with her teenage son felt real, as did her banter with Det. Oscar Vega, played by Louis Ferreira. Lehman brings a weary but driven energy to the part that seems exactly right.
I met the cast with a few other reporters on a set visit out in Vancouver a couple of months ago. CTV hosted a dinner with the cast first at the downtown Vancouver restaurant Market at the Shangri-La Hotel.
This was a brilliant move on many levels. First, the food is truly heavenly at Shangri-La. The crab cake appetizer alone is your motive.
Second, this cast seems to really enjoy each other’s company. We all had a really good time, and if you think that doesn’t make you want to pull for a show a little bit, you’ve never eaten opposite a TV critic.
It was a pleasure to meet Lehman who seems as down to earth as her character and even more interesting. Effortlessly attractive at 40, she’s seems ready to carry a show after her success on The Killing.
It was especially good to catch up with Ferreira. The guy never stops working–check out his IMDb page, it is like a list of half the TV shows made in the past 20 years. You start to forget all the things he’s done on both sides of the border. His Canadian credits are very A-List, including Durham County. The guy also played  Donald Trump in a TV-movie and David Maysles in HBO’s Grey Gardens. Even the shows that bombed, like Hidden Hills and the Fighting Fitzgeralds, were better for having him in them. He’s made a steady career lately out of guesting on top shows such as Breaking Bad, 24, Touch and NCIS. He’s got all the stories, from Bochco to Sutherland to Campbell to Barrymore to Cronenberg.
I hadn’t seen Ferreira since he changed his name back from Justin Louis. The actor explained that he made the switch five years ago to honour his late mother and their Portuguese roots. It was a personal decision and a costly one for a time–ditching a brand he’d worked hard to establish, Ferreira says he didn’t work for a year-and-a-half.

Ferreira and co-star Lauren Holly

Things have worked out, however. He’s happy to be in Vancouver and sharing a condo with his teenage son. Over the years, Ferreira has always mentioned his kids and, despite the gypsy life of an actor, has kept the son he had custody of close whether he was in Toronto, Vancouver or L.A.
Landing Motive wasn’t a sure thing, he confides. He auditioned like everyone else. He did scenes early on opposite Lehman and, seeing that she had been sent the wrong sides, asked to work it all out with her beforehand.
Then he got released. Ferreira figures the producers didn’t feel he was “TV handsome” enough. Other actors tried on Det. Vega but, eventually, the producers came back to Ferreira–days before the series went before the cameras.
We chatted about that and more in the interogation room on the Motive set. He spoke about his tough early days as a “Jane-Finch kid,” a reference to one of Toronto’s sketchiest neighbourhoods. Ferreira told me he left home at such an early age I don’t even trust my own notes.
I’d watched him horsing around earlier, sharing a non-politically correct “Half Nelson” joke with co-stars Roger Cross and Brendan Penny. Director Sturla Gunnarsson told me how valuable that was, the horseplay, on a show where actors are locked together 14, 15 hours a day. Ferreira seems like a chemistry guy to have on your team, the one in the dressing room who brings all these intangibles that makes everything else click. That and he’s good at his job. Must be why he works all the time.
For more on Motive, check out this feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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