When I was a mere lad I vividly remember a commercial featuring Mr. Robert Conrad (Google him, kids) in it, Robert dares the viewer to knock a battery off his shoulder. At the time, Robert was the ultimate TV tough guy.
Mr. Conrad is still with us (I know, I was shocked too) but Hugh Dillon is now the hardest, most intense cat on television these days. Seriously, Hugh could stare down an entire Russian special ops unit.
If you’re not familiar with HD’s work (he’s cool with me calling him that – I hope) you should be ashamed of yourself… because he’s delightful. Since I like you I’m going to sum up Hugh’s distinguished career so you can hold your head high the next time you go out in public.
Unlike most of us who are fortunate enough to be passable at one thing, HD has fused brilliant acting with a fascinating career as a singer songwriter, earning notoriety and opening doors as the lead singer in the multi- platinum punk rock band, the Headstones. One of those doors was a role in the indie-classic, Hard Core Logo, where he played a dysfunctional rock god who slips over the edge and blows his brains out at the end of the film.
Hugh’s own life has mirrored this role at times, though with a decidedly- happier ending. Though technically, in order for his life story to “end” he’d have to actually expire… never mind.
But back to Hugh’s life journey; he’s done the substance abuse thing that seems so tied to a rock ‘n roll lifestyle but those days are long gone. These days Hugh Dillon is living proof that you can not only tame your inner demons, you can integrate their intensity into your life in a positive way. This, more than any other accomplishment in his life is why I am so honored to have Hugh here today. You see, both my parents have struggled with addiction in one form or another and so I have great respect and admiration for anyone who has managed to rise above.
Hugh has taken his infamous history and used it to enhance his acting résumé, with honest and intense – to say the least – roles in Durham County, AMC’s The Killing, Continuum, Flashpoint (the role of lifetime some might say) and of course, X Company. And last but not certainly not least, Hugh can be seen in the upcoming revival of Twin Peaks among a cast that includes returning original series regulars (including Laura Palmer herself, Sheryl Lee) and an A-list cast of guest stars.
But back to Mr. Dillon’s CBC work: based upon the real events of Canadian spy school Camp X during World War II, X Company, coupled with Flashpoint, has earned Hugh critical and public acclaim. Most importantly, to me at least, these two roles have shown the world that Hugh Dillon is that rarest of acting birds: the chameleon. When you watch a Hugh Dillon performance you’re really watching an alternate reality where Hugh Dillon is a CEO, a tactical hero, a spy. And when you see Hugh Dillon perform on stage you’re really watching Hugh Dillon traveling through the days of his life, reliving all the joy pain and everything in-between in the process.
And we’re all going to get a chance to take another journey down the musical rabbit hole with The Headstones when Hugh and the boys release Little Army in June. In fact, Hugh responded to these Qs while rehearsing. (Is this guy great or what?)
And now you’re about to
watch read Hugh Dillon’s greatest performance yet, so get comfortable, the ride’s about to begin…
ONE) My late father-in-law suffered with emphysema and TV soon became his lifeline to the world. Flashpoint was one of his favorite shows and helped give him something to look forward to every day. My question to you (and I do have one) is this: Do you realize just how important the work you do has become to millions of people?
I have been very lucky to have been a part of so many meaningful bands/shows/films.
It comes down to writing and collaboration – and when people want to truly communicate – there is a state of grace that kicks in. The work takes on a life of its own and finds its way into the hearts of others – its meaning full, connected, cathartic and positive, that’s what its about. I’ve been lucky I have had folks approach me from all walks of life and tell me how much a song has meant to them or the Headstones band means to them, or a character I’ve played has meant to them.
And with Flashpoint now in syndication it happens worldwide, often with the police, ha ha ha! For example I’d been living in Paris the last couple of years shooting X Company and I thought I was getting arrested one day on Montparnasse, but the cops just wanted to tell me how much the show meant to them and the positive and realistic portrayal of police work and PTSD.
The writing on that show was so good it transcended language barriers/cultural differences and has stood the test of time. And it is amazing how we can drop all the walls we put up when we recognize the truth and beauty in the stories. Sometime it’s a song a show or even a sport that provides that moment of connection, and life is good and you’re in the moment and you’re connected; can’t beat it!
TWO) You already make unbelievably-cool music with a great bunch of guys but if you could spend a night jamming with musicians of your choice from any time period or reality, who would you choose, Hugh?
THREE) Canadian television has been enjoying quite a Renaissance period the last few years; what’s your favorite homegrown TV product right now?
(I can’t blame him; OB is a genuine worldwide phenomenon.)
FOUR) You’ve been to the edge of your own existence and back and now people identify you as one of the strongest, most intense Canadians of all time; is there a story from the “sweet side” of Hugh Dillon that would shock people?
I will drop anything I’m doing for people who are struggling with addiction issues, and their families.
Specifically when they find they want to stop but can’t; that is a difficult place to be. I have a lot of empathy in those situations.
(If I didn’t consider Hugh a real-life hero before…)
FIVE) Are you still rolling your eyes whenever people ask you for Twin Peaks spoilers? (And I’m not asking by the way. If I wanted to do that I’d ask one of the three hundred other actors in the first episode.)
Twin Peaks was a Bucket list moment for me.
It was a series of bizarre and secretive hoops I had to jump through and then suddenly they offered me the gig; I was in Los Angeles and every actor I have ever respected is jockeying for a position to play anything. -I was again very very lucky and honoured to have been asked. It was surreal and awesome in every way, ha ha!
It was so secretive, until that moment: the second I’m on set with David Lynch, and then it was so perfect and he actually did my make up himself!
He is so specific and so focused on the work; I could smell the American Spirit cigarettes on his fingers. His attention to every single detail is what makes him the master; how focused everyone on set is and how everyone wants to be there, the original independent vibe. Later on I remembered why I recognized it; it brought me back to my roots. It reminded me of how I got into it in the first place, when I started with Bruce McDonald doing Hard Core Logo.
David Lynch makes things that are meaningful, he is an artist making something special. It reminded me of what I want to do when I grow up. 🙂
I don’t know about you, but I’m knackered, kids! Just interviewing Hugh Dillon is an amazing, draining experience, to say nothing of what it must be like to actually be High Dillon!
At any rate, I want to thank Mr. Dillon for being here and of course, my eternal thanks to all of you as well.
See you in the lobby, kids…