There’s a mix of triumph and transition in the days ahead for actor and North Canton Hoover grad Eddie McClintock.
The triumph is coming home as a bona fide celebrity, co-star of Syfy series Warehouse 13. He’s a guy who can get field passes for his family at tonight’s Browns-Bills game. He also has a showcase for his independent movie, a fish story, which will be shown at the Canton Film Festival in the Palace Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
In the movie McClintock plays Eddie Jenkins, a fugitive who inadvertently causes an accident that kills family man Nick Stern (played by Sam Roberts, who also wrote the film) just as Nick is finishing a cabin he has built for his family. Months after the accident, Nick’s family and friends are still struggling over the loss when Eddie returns to the area and — after another accident — Nick’s spirit is able to take over Eddie’s body. That lets him reconnect with his loved ones and try to heal their emotional wounds.
McClintock became involved because the director, Matt Birman, was stunt coordinator on Warehouse 13. In his self-deprecating way, McClintock said he was not the producers’ first choice as the movie looked for bigger stars — but he told Birman, “ ‘When you get to the bottom-bottom-bottom of your list, I’ll be waiting.’ … And Matt called me one day and said, ‘Eddie, we’re at the bottom of the list.’ ”
Still, it’s the kind of movie that has McClintock talking more than once about redemption — for Nick, for Eddie, for Nick’s wife and children, for almost everyone in it. They are all stuck emotionally, trying to find their way through and past their grief. “They all get a chance to fix things and move on with their lives,” McClintock said.
Audiences appear to respond to the heartfelt emotion in the piece — and the way it has, in McClintock’s view, “a nice message and a decent moral compass. … It’s a film about happiness and hope.”
Story inspired by father
The story was inspired by Roberts’ own father. “The night before he was going to show everyone this cabin, he was killed,” McClintock said. The actor paid close attention to the writer, soaking up the emotional force that had Roberts in tears between takes and conveying that in Nick-as-Eddie.
Shot in Canada two years ago, a fish story has been making the festival rounds and won prizes at the Burbank, Calif., festival and Connecticut’s Moondance International Film Festival. Dan Kane of the Canton Repository, who has long known McClintock, heard about the film and recommended it to the Canton festival; Kane will be joining McClintock for a Q&A following Saturday’s screening. (Tickets are $5 at http://cantonpalacetheatre.ticketforce.com/)
Referring to his Warehouse 13 character, McClintock said his fish story role “is a real departure from Pete Lattimer, the character everybody’s been seeing me play for the last five years.” While Warehouse 13 has plenty of drama, McClintock came to it after a lot of sitcom work and has often worried that he has been pegged as just a comedic actor.
With a fish story, he said, “It’s an ego stroke for me to let everybody know that comedy is not the only thing I do. It’s an opportunity to express myself in a different way.”
The local screening also lets him show doubters how far he has come as a person.
“When I left North Canton, I think it’s safe to say that there were a lot of people who didn’t expect much of me. I was a good athlete but other than that I was a bit of a [screw-up].” The Wright State University graduate has more than once told how, as he was finishing high school, one of his coaches told him that college is not for everyone — and McClintock could do all right staying in town and working for the parks department. Instead, he straightened out his life, pursued acting and can now come back to the area with the idea of expressing “who I really am.”
But this is also a time of change for McClintock. Warehouse 13 has completed production of its final season for telecast in 2014, and it’s a short season, just six episodes.
Ending it “was terribly hard,” McClintock said, “after five years of 15 hours a day, five days a week, for nine months [per season]. Frankly, I think we had at least another 22 [episodes] in us. … I think that there’s some big, big licensing fees that kick in when you get to a certain number [of episodes]. The accountants upstairs don’t take into account that people love the show still, that it’s still a quality piece of television. They just go, the numbers don’t add up, we’re done.”
Those accountants, by the way, were not at Syfy itself but at its parent company, Comcast, he said. “Syfy fought very hard with Comcast. Comcast was just going to cancel it. Syfy fought to get us those six episodes.”
And those six episodes include at least two that he thinks rank with the series’ best work. One is the finale, and one has Pete and other characters pulled into a Spanish-language telenovela. “I took Spanish lessons for two and a half months so … it would look natural,” he said — but that was in service of great farce.
Series finale emotional
The finale, in contrast, is very emotional. “These people are my family,” McClintock said. “And I’m not going to see them that much anymore.” Realizing before one scene that it was one of his last with the other cast members, McClintock said he was so shaken that writer-director Jack Kenny asked for another take “with a little less crying.”
So what’s next? He’s meeting with casting directors — and happily finding that some are fans of his Warehouse work. “It’s nice to know that some people are in my corner and want me to succeed,” he said, and he’s been in talks about working with former Hercules star Kevin Sorbo. For the moment, he said he’s “gainfully unemployed.” But he has been in that spot before. And, like the characters in a fish story, he has always found his way through.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.