If Kim Coates knows anything, it’s villains and heroes.
I had a chance to sit with Kim and chat about the new season of his smash television show, Bad Blood, premiering this October where he plays the role of crime boss, Declan Gardiner, who not only takes a Montreal-based crime empire for his own, but does so with the degree of cunning of a man who knows how to play the villain’s role as if it was written for him.
“You’re so good at being bad.” I started.
“Rumour has it!” he jokes.
“Why are you so good at being bad?” I asked.
“Ah, you know. These eyes are these eyes; these cheeks are these cheeks … but I’ve never had worries about being bad.”
Of course, Kim has never had to worry about the distinction between heroism and villainy – and playing it on screen. He knows he brings his best to any role given him. If you’ve watched Sons of Anarchy, you can easily see he’s the type of actor who throws himself in to a role and loses himself in a character.
It’s Kim’s heart that we see, regardless of if he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy.
“Look, I’ve played so many heroes, Blackhawk Down, Pearl Harbour, I’ve done comedy, but Kevin Costner said this to me when we were doing Waterworld: it’s about the role.”
There’s a wisdom in this. After all, who am I to challenge Kevin Costner? But in my mind, you can’t identify with that role unless you’ve got the discernment to know how good or bad you need to play.
“I do know that some of the best written parts are the devilish kind; the offbeat, wackiest written characters, and that includes the villains. I just gravitate to the role.”
I had to know what it was about Declan Gardiner that brought Kim to that role.
“Declan is a mobster but he’s a legit character. He does bad things, but he doesn’t lie. He’s thorough and comes from a place of purity. He’s one of the best characters, ever.”
I’m lucky to have gotten to know Kim a little bit in the last couple of years. I’ve personally seen firsthand the type of man he is. He’s a legit character too. He knows purity of character, of motivation and of personality. He is legitimately a caring person with a firm understanding of how to recognize a hero.
I wanted to clarify if Declan Gardiner was a character motivated by honour or pure self interest.
“It’s never been self-interest for Declan. He’s studied the gangster life with Vito Rizzuto and he listened. He’s a good listener, and that’s what great acting is: great listening. He’s a super loyal character though, so don’t ever cross him.”
Last season, 3.2 million people in Canada tuned in to see this gripping drama about an underside of the country that not a lot of people know about. It’s against the grain for Canadians to be this way, but to be fascinated by this portrayal of evil is also a sign of its unique and authentic draw.
“It was so well-written,” Kim explained without any hesitation. “It was so well-written by Canadians and performed by Canadians. How proud is that? This season it’s all Canadians and it’s about Montreal and Hamilton. We shot there, here in Toronto. To Mark Montefiore’s credit, his entire team, Nataline Rodrigues over at Rogers, they had a mantra and they threw it down and got the best people they could find. All Canadian and I’m just so proud.”
Giving credit to others says volumes about this guy’s character.
Bad Blood is a visceral show. Based on real events and people, there’s not only a sense of history but also experiential history that gives its drama a sense of authenticity and reality. We are drawn to this show because of that sense of reality. Peoples’ lives and the stories they are based on make for the best stories.
This just doesn’t extend to Kim’s performance though. Kim knows on a human scale what matters. Kim has been a champion for Childhood Cancer patients. It’s clear that he knows how to be a hero because he’s seen it firsthand, embodied in the young warriors who face this disease every day yet still dare to be a kid. Kim has supported Sick Kids here in Toronto and charities like Megan’s Walk, Camp Ooch and other organizations who support these kids. Kim is there with them, and that has to be a powerfully informing influence in anyone’s life, especially with someone like Jadyn Schill, a young cancer hero turned angel.
You never want the phone call even though you know it’s coming.. will never forget any of our visits and laughter.. just last week..was so beyond special.. you’re in a better place now my darling Jadyn … spread those wings angel .. because you ARE and angel… RIP love Kimbo xo pic.twitter.com/YTgq7GqS3z
— Kim Coates (@KimFCoates) March 6, 2018
To be able to switch so flexibly between hero or villain is a laudable trait. Kim just dismisses this as just having the right role. But I see this differently; I see this as Kim being able to discern the right role. Whether he’s Tiggy, “Griz” Martin, Ronnie Hortense, or Declan Gardiner – Kim Coates knows the right role because of the nature of his character because Kim knows the good in his life, he is able to play at being bad. Whether he was taught that or it’s a natural gift, doesn’t matter.
That’s just the measure of the guy.
In the end, Kim knows real life and that informs his roles. Bad Blood Season Two is on City TV October 11. It’s a show that you can’t afford to miss.