Life in small-town Canada agrees with Fred Ewanuick. The native of Port Moody, B.C., was a natural to play the lead on Dan for Mayor, back for a second season later this week.
Ewanuick came to the role straight from Corner Gas, in which he played Brent Butt's best friend Hank. On either show, Ewanuick was an immensely likeable character - the sort of guy one might hope to find in any tiny Canadian burg. Although he was "asked to leave" his college theatre program, Ewanuick honed his craft by studying with Vancouver acting coach Shea Hampton. He made his small-screen debut - as a gnome - on The New Addams Family in 1998 and followed with guest turns on such filmed-in-Vancouver series as Cold Squad, Da Vinci's Inquest and Monk. Corner Gas arrived in 2004 and lasted six seasons.
On Dan for Mayor, Ewanuick shines as a bartender who decides to run for mayor of fictional Wessex, Ont., and actually wins the election at the end of the first season. He spoke to us from Vancouver last week.
That entire first season was Dan's election campaign. Will it become a different show now that he has the job?
I think of the first season as being one big, long pilot broken up into 13 parts. The second season isn't going to focus on "Here's this dumb guy doing mayor things." It's more about Dan trying to be a good mayor. That leads to more comedy and more of a traditional sitcom setup.
Does Dan have something to prove?
Yeah, to himself and to his friends and everybody else. Instead of giving up and being this slacker mayor everyone expects him to be, he wants to do a good job and make something out of it. Of course, he's naive and in over his head half the time.
How do you make Dan different from Hank on Corner Gas?
There's already distance between the two characters. It's not on my mind when we're shooting. I was just concentrating on being Dan as best I could. But there was a thing I used to do, the eyebrow raise, that worked really well for Hank. It doesn't really work with Dan.
What type of roles are you drawn to?
I've always loved honest characters. That's why I love Dan and that's what I liked about Hank on Corner Gas. In Dan's case, he actually has some brains. He gets into situations, but then he's quite determined to make the best of it. Part of it is ego - he doesn't want to look like an idiot - but he also really wants to fix the problem.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Canadian feature French Immersion?
The movie was directed by Kevin Tierney, who produced Bon Cop, Bad Cop. We shot it in this town called Saint-Césaire, just outside Montreal, and it was a blast. I play this postal guy from Alberta. He's one of a group of Anglos who have gone to this small town to learn French for various reasons. It's just a whole bunch of French people and English people trying to get along.
Do you have moments when it seems unreal to be starring in your own TV show?
Every day! It still blows my mind that people pay me to act like an idiot. I mean, I got scolded in school for doing what I'm doing now.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Dan for Mayor returns June 5 on CTV.