Fans of the Canadian smash hit series ‘Republic of Doyle’ are gearing up to say goodbye to their favourite characters this year. After five successful seasons on the air, the upcoming sixth will be the last for this witty, fast-paced crime-solving drama. ‘Republic of Doyle’ is going out on top, and fans can expect the final season to tie up loose ends. I spoke with ‘Doyle’ star, Mark O’Brien, today about his role as Des, the series coming to a close and his experience directing an episode.
TVRage: The sixth, and final, season of ‘Republic of Doyle’ is coming up in the fall. How do you feel about the series coming to an end?
Mark O’Brien: I feel odd! It can be a sad thing when you know that a series is coming to an end, but I just feel happy. It is really good to be able to wind it down on your own terms and to be excited for the next thing. I am really excited to end this chapter and go on to the next thing. I think if we had found out that we were ending the series in between seasons I would probably feel a lot different. It is oddly like a liberating experience. It is like reading a book, you get towards the end and think, “Cool, I am almost at the end. This is exciting!” and then when you finish it you pick up another book. It is a fresh kind of excitement
TVRage: You did some directing for the upcoming season of ‘Republic of Doyle,’ what was it like to be behind the camera of ‘Doyle’ this time?
O’Brien: It was great! I feel like it is good, in whatever you do, to see it from other points of view. To see the whole show from that point of view was really interesting, and it also gives you a greater respect for directors and all the work that goes into it. Sometimes as an actor you show up on set and don’t want to do what the director has in mind, but as a director it is something you thought about for weeks. For me, it reminded me of how great it feels to collaborate and to work with people from different departments. Work with the actors, work with the producers, work with the director of photography and collaborate. You are all making it together. When the credits come up at the end of the show there are hundreds of names there. The reason why is because they all did something. Normally, as a director, you have talked with every single person on that list of credits at some point during the episode you were directing. I loved just collaborating with everyone.
TVRage: Looking back on your audition for the role of Des, did you ever imagine that the series would evolve into what it has become today?
O’Brien: Oh my god, no! I couldn’t have, it was so beyond me. It is so hard to be on a television show, to get the job. It is very difficult, because so few shows are actually chosen to be made into a pilot. So few shows are chosen to go into development, and so few shows are picked up for another season. Even one season, or two, or three! It is such a rare treat to get that, so I couldn’t even fathom it. Now, going into some point in the future, I would be able to fathom it but at the time I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t something that was real to me.
TVRage: Des has evolved so much over the past five seasons, going from a bit of a delinquent to a valued member of the team and a Private Investigator. What has been the most challenging part of playing this character?
O’Brien: I think the most difficult part was exactly what you just said. Every character in the world is different, but if you are playing more of a “straight man,” it is a bit more of a straight path. When you are playing someone who kind of grows up on a show it can be odd. If I started a show, and I was playing an eight year old and was eight myself, and ended the show as a fifteen year old and I was fifteen myself, you are naturally growing up anyway. I was in my mid-twenties when we started, and I was playing a seventeen year old. Playing someone younger, and evolving as someone who is actually younger than you, was a challenge. Especially considering he was such a goofy and silly character. To try and keep that, but also mature the character as well was hard. He had to mature, but he had to maintain who he is, and it is not who I am. I am older than that, I don’t fall down as much! (laughs) You have got to maintain that balance, and that was a challenge. It was always interesting.
TVRage: Can you tell us anything about how Des storyline picks up in season six?
O’Brien: I think what happened with Jake and Leslie, with Leslie being buried alive, kind of affected all of us. In season six it weighs very heavily on the entire Doyle family. That affected us all in a lot of different ways. Season six is much more serialized, as opposed to episodic. The repercussions of the finale runs through and affects all of us in a lot of different ways. It is really exciting, especially building up to the finale.
TVRage: What can you tell us about your some of your upcoming projects?
O’Brien: I have three movies in post-production right now that I acted in. One is called ‘Len and Company,’ one is called ‘The End of Days at Godfrey Global Inventory,’ and the other one is called ‘The Dark Stranger.’ I am also on an episode of a show called ‘Saving Hope’ this year. As soon as we wrap ‘Doyle’ I will be directing a short film that I am really excited about because I have only once before directed something I didn’t write or produce. I was just the director, which is a really fun challenge because it is all about bringing your own thing to someone else’s idea. I am very excited about that, and I will be working with a lot of former ‘Doyle’ actors. After that I have a television show in development and a movie in development. A lot of working is trying to get work (laughs). A lot of my days are spent going, “Oh, that is a good idea. Maybe someone will help me get that made!” or “That is a good idea, maybe within the next five years that will happen.” You have to have about ten of those, and you hope that one of them will actually make it to that first day of principle photography. You only live once, so it is good to spent it as busy as you can!
Season six of ‘Republic of Doyle’ will be airing this coming October on CBC. You can follow Mark O’Brien on Twitter at @markobrienNL.