Job listings can be intimidating. But at least they are quantifiable: “Must have an MBA,” “Must be proficient in Excel,” “Must type 50 words per minute.” Imagine reading a job listing that stated, “Must be a sports physiotherapist who is obsessed with dogs and is unfairly handsome.”
In Crawford, a new CBC Comedy series, Chad Connell plays Bryce, an unfairly handsome sports physiotherapist who is obsessed with his dogs. The show is an outrageous yet heartwarming series about a dysfunctional family. It is directed and was created by Mike Clattenburg (Trailer Park Boys). Mike O’Neill (Eastern Shore/Trailer Park Boys) is also credited as a creator on the series.
“I’m really proud that the show doesn’t buy into humor as nastiness or sarcasm,” Chad told Entertaining Options. “Everyone is pretty earnest. There are certainly some villains in the show, but ultimately I think the tone is lighter and there is a lot of heart to it.”
The premise of Crawford is basically that everyone is a bit weird, yet somehow they manage to make do and get along. For instance, Chad’s character, Bryce, is part of a rather awkward love triangle. Owen, played by John Carroll Lynch, is the dad of the family. He is a retired police chief who lost the ability to speak (and presumably some of his faculties) when he was shot in the head. Cynthia, played by Jill Hennessy, is Owen’s wife. She is a cereal company executive who enjoys the companionship of Bryce. Cynthia and Bryce’s affair is not a secret.
“Bryce is such a great guy,” Chad championed. “He would be the perfect boyfriend… if only he didn’t choose a woman who was already married!”
When asked how he added such a charming dimension to what could have easily been a vile character, Chad replied, “Bryce was pretty much already fleshed out in the writing. I was lucky to come to a project where the post markers for my character were already there. All I had to do was find a way to make him my own. The way you do that is to find a connection to your own life.”
“Bryce is a side of me that I wish came out more,” Chad continued. “He is upbeat. He commits himself fully to his relationship, and there’s no trepidation. But getting into a character is not a step-by-step process. You can’t check things off and say ‘Okay, I’m into this character now.’ It’s really just about living the character’s life for that period of time.”
Oddly enough, one of the aspects that makes Crawford so funny is that the absurdity of the characters’ situations is never played for the laugh. That was something that Chad instinctively knew he should do from the start.
“I approached the audition like I would a dramatic role,” he recalled. “I had to put the idea that it was a comedy out of my mind. I’m very familiar with Trailer Park Boys. What always struck me about that show was the drama those characters were in, that’s what made it so funny. So I took that knowledge and applied it to my audition.”
The scene that Chad auditioned with was when Bryce was with Owen and he was trying to be his friend.
“I’m trying to be bros with my girlfriend’s husband. It’s ridiculous. But being bros is what Bryce is really seeking, so I figured it would be so much funnier if I just played it like any other drama.”
Chad’s excellent instincts are founded in a lifetime of dedicating himself to storytelling via different mediums. As a child, he took dancing and singing lessons, played Hercules in his first recital, and had a lead part in the Tin Soldier at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. When he was a teen, Chad attended the Ryerson Theatre School. After graduating, he quickly began racking up television credits in series such as CBC Comedy’s Rumours, USA Network’s Suits, alongside Kim Cattrall in HBO Canada’s Sensitive Skin, Global’s Mary Kills People, CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, Freeform’s Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Hallmark’s Good Witch, The CW’s Nikita, and MTV Canada’s Degrassi. Additionally, you can see him in numerous films, including Double Wedding, Steel, Anxietyville, Gone Tomorrow, White House Down, and more.
Besides his television and film work, every Christmas Chad helps produce and stars in a pantomime style musical in his hometown.
“I’m not sure many Americans know what a panto is. A lot of Canadians probably don’t know what it is either. It’s a British style of theater that is always done around the holidays and it uses stock characters,” he informed. “It’s pretty formulaic. You’re going to boo the villain and cheer on the hero. But within that, there’s so much freedom to ad lib and play around with the audience to break the fourth wall and just go over the top. It’s almost like playing a cartoon character, which is the exact opposite of what I do on screen all the time. It’s so therapeutic to just be able to go balls to the wall with outlandishness.”
In closing, Entertaining Options asked about that “unfairly handsome” parameter.
“I try to ignore that sort of thing. That’s up to other people’s opinions of me and I have no control over that. The best I can do is get myself to the gym and hope the rest takes care of itself,” he laughed.
“But when getting a job involves fitting a certain look, you can easily fall into that trap,” he added. “You start thinking ‘Maybe if I lost 10 pounds?’ ‘Maybe if I put 10 pounds on?’ ‘Maybe if I dye my hair darker?’ You start wondering about all these things, and that’s not good. In the end, the best thing you can be is yourself.”