Interview with Eric Balfour of SyFy’s Haven
by Michael Arthur Jewell
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Change is the drive of life, the constant theme of our art and literature, past and present. Actor Eric Balfour gets more than his share in this week’s episode of Haven (Fridays at 10:00 EST) on SyFy, when his character, the modern-day pirate of Haven, ME transforms into a hundred year old man in a matter of hours. The veteran of big and smal screen co-star of previous hit dramas Six Feet Under and the prime-time powerhouse 24 sat down with us to discuss his geriatrification in SyFy’s new hit supernatural detective series.
Haven is an original series based loosely on famous novelist Stephen King’s 2005 novel The Colorado Kid with his cooperation. It depicts an FBI agent’s (Emily Rose) tenure in a secluded Maine fishing village populated with residents cursed with extraordinary and dangerous supernatural abilities. Balfour plays Duke Crocker, a jack-of-all-trades smuggler who keeps coy about his past. Duke takes nothing at face value and believes rules were meant to be broken, traits that drew Balfour to the character.
The actor, 33, admires the chameleon-like transformation of screen fixtures Gary Oldman and Meryl Streep, which is why he especially appreciated the challenge of episode 5 entitled “Ball and Chain” in which a tryst with a mysterious woman causes Crocker to age at a super-accelerated rate. The transformation required hours of prosthetic special effects and a red-eye flight from the shooting location of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the effects studio in Toronto for each of the episode’s more than three days of filming, where he often had to breathe with the aid of a straw. He was fascinated with the effects artists’ conceptualization of his actual aging and by assuming the physical limitations of the elderly to fully inhabit the character. In our conversations, Balfour references Sean Penn’s performance in Dead Man Walking, where ”in dealing with death, (he) faces life.”
Balfour, who plays Duke with a confident, roguish charisma has already seen the benefit of the show’s rapid popularity with fans’ reactions through social media. He feels “so overwhelmed and honored by the response” and shows his appreciation to dedicated fans with personalized videos and twitter posts. At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, America’s largest alternative cultural convention he was blown away by the positive response by those who in his own words “proudly let their freak flag fly.” He especially understood the fanatical devotion of the science fiction fan who is so “sincere about their passion, it’s hard not to be contagious.”
Ever the professional, Balfour feels a special connection to the cast, crew and writing staff of Haven which is becoming confident in the story’s direction for the town. “Chemistry is starting to grow between Emily (Rose) and Lucas (Bryant) between takes” which allows him to embrace each episode with a new-found energy. “Every new episode provides new challenges,” he says.
“The actor only has the power to say ‘no’ to a role,” after that, Balfour is devoted to the vision of the writers and feels privileged to make art as his living every day. He brings a dashing note to the supernatural thriller, and this week’s episode is pivotal to the fate of Duke and the town of Haven.
Watch Balfour on Haven Friday nights on Syfy Channel
Michael Arthur Jewell is a cartoonist and writer living in Chicago. Place-mats in Chinese restaurants say that he is affectionate, yet shy. You may check out his website here: http://www.funnyanimalbooks.com.
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