Ordinarily, when relaying an interview with you in Q & A style, I cut the chitchat.
But when someone as talented and, well, handsome as Martin Henderson can make a person blush via a Zoom call, it seems like something you might want to know. His persuasive characteristics on-screen are in full view off-screen, as well.
He’s a very busy man, with a fun role on My Life Is Murder coinciding with his work on Virgin River. If you like him on one, you should watch the other. Martin doesn’t pick shabby roles. Check out our full conversation below, and let us know your favorite Martin Henderson roles in the comments!
Nice to meet you, Martin.
You too, Carissa. Where are you? Where are you located?
I’m in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh. And how’s it over there? Is it gloomy and sort of fall weather?
Half of the day today was gloomy, and then the second half was sunny. So it’s doing all right.
Well, whatever the weather, it’s good for your hair. I got to say. If it’s the humidity or what, it’s working for you.
Where are you?
I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada.
Filming Virgin River?
Well, congratulations on that getting so many renewals. That’s pretty amazing.
I know. Crazy, right? I know. It’s insane, but I guess people want more, so we’re giving them more. And it’s exciting that Netflix is behind it.
Perfect. Your career’s going so well overall. Does it surprise you how many opportunities are out there right now?
Yeah, I don’t know. I just sort of take it day to day. I mean, I’m certainly grateful. It’s a funny business. You work on big-budget Hollywood films, and you’re sure it’s going to make a big splash. And they don’t always.
And then Virgin River was a very small kind of idea, really. It’s a little romance based on a Harlequin romance novel. And we knew that there would be an audience for that, given there was a pretty big readership for the books, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be quite as popular as it’s become.
So it’s quite shocking and surprising, but obviously, I’m grateful for that. And it’s nice to be putting something out there too. I think a lot of the success of Virgin River has been based on the fact that we’re in this pandemic.
And here’s a little show that offers so much heart and cozy warmth, and it’s about good people trying to do good things and community. And I think it’s offered people a sense of hope, in a time where there’s a lot of darkness. So yeah, just good, good timing.
What’s your process for finding a role you really enjoy?
Well, I think the first thing is, I consider my job to be a service job. I feel like I’m there to serve the audience first and foremost. And of course, I have to serve the writing. So I look at a script, and I just try to figure out whether I can adequately serve the audience by my portrayal. Sometimes it’s an intuition thing.
A lot of actors talk about this. You don’t always know what it is, but there’s some aspect of the character that comes off the script that ignites something in you, where you go, “Okay, I know I can play this guy. I can play this guy well.”
I mean, there’s a lot of parts I could play, but not necessarily great. There are other actors that would be much better for those roles, and you can feel that sometimes. And sometimes you make a mistake because you get whatever, you don’t want to pass up the opportunity, or you might want the paycheck, or whatever it is.
And you find yourself on set going, “Oh, shit. I should not be playing this role.” And that’s a horrible feeling. So I try to avoid that and be really honest with myself at the get-go. But it’s an intuition more than anything. You get a sense, like, “Okay, I can be this guy.”
So what was it that drew you, other than the fact that it’s Lucy Lawless, to playing her brother on My Life Is Murder?
Well, yeah, as you stated, that was one of the biggest draws, I think, just that I knew Lucy for so many years, socially and through the industry, and had always been a fan of her as an actress. But just as a human being, I just thought she’s such a delightful personality that the prospect of working with her was attractive.
And I think the idea of being her brother. Again, it’s one of those things, where you go, “Ah, that makes sense. I can see myself and her playing siblings well.” Whether it’s aesthetically or just our energy, I kind of thought this could be really interesting.
And then, when they told me the idea for the character, it sounded like a lot of fun. I think it’s always fun playing con-men or villains to an extent. And there’s a lightness and humor to the writing that I find really appealing.
I think I enjoy doing comedic work the most as an actor, which is funny because I don’t do a lot of it. I’m often cast as the brooding, serious leading man sort of kind of guy. And so, yeah, it just appealed to me for all those reasons, I think.
I think it worked out well. I do think that you played good siblings, and he’s such a charming guy with that not-really serious and yet really serious at the same time thing because it’s his sister. So I really like the way you handle it.
Thank you. Yeah. Well, a testament to the writers. I think they know how rare it is to see siblings in stories. It’s not a common relationship that’s portrayed. And so, I think they’re really just taking a lot of pleasure from exploring the ways in which you can screw with your sibling.
And you know all their buttons, and you know all their dirty secrets, and you can lord things over them. And both characters are so manipulative. And it’s like you said, you’re like, “Are they seriously? Are they being sincere, or are they using one another?” And there’s a bit of both. Right?
And that’s what makes it really interesting because the characters and the audience at the same time are trying to figure out who’s being honest here. And that’s really fun.
Well, and they didn’t even know. The characters themselves are saying, “Did you mean that? No? Yes?” And you’d say, “Yes.”
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
It’s a lot of fun. How often have you been able to go back to New Zealand and work?
Now and then. I mean, typically, I go home to not work. I usually go home just to see family and friends and connect.
I’ve spent the last 26 years, basically my whole adult life, out of New Zealand. So home remains a really important place for me, to just kind of get my feet on the ground. And it’s such a wonderful antidote to sort of what I do for a living and the world that I sort of find myself in because of that job.
And to go home is just so grounding. And it’s my people. I don’t know. It’s that thing of home. I don’t know where home is for you, but I don’t feel that anywhere else in the world. And so, it’s a very, very special place for me.
But usually, like I said, it’s in between jobs that I’ll pop home. So it was quite rare to be home. And I was actually home, funnily enough, this time, to do a movie that we were shooting in New Zealand. It was an American film that went down there because of COVID.
And while I was in quarantine, the writers of My Life Is Murder got wind that I was in town. So they actually reached out and said, “Oh, if you’re going to be home, do you want to come and be Lucy’s brother?” And I thought, “Oh, that sounds great.” So it just worked out.
Yeah, sure did. Do you think maybe you could come back for season three?
We’re talking about it. I’m definitely open to it. It’s really complicated with the quarantine situation in New Zealand right now because they had an outbreak. They’re trying to stamp it out. I don’t know if they’ll be successful. So as they come to terms with the reality, I think they are also trying to rethink what the quarantine situation will be. So it’s all a bit of a question mark.
I mean, I’m up here in Canada, till kind of Christmastime anyway, shooting Virgin River. And then, with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to get home around Christmastime. If there’s a season three, then it’d be nice to try to squeeze that in before I come back here to do season five.
It’s incredible how much time you guys are spending in quarantine right now.
Actors internationally, you’re two weeks here, two weeks there. It’s got to be rough on you.
Yeah. Canada, fortunately, has self-quarantining. So you can quarantine in a private residence, which is infinitely better than the hotel situation. I’ve done it twice in Canada now in a home, in a house. And I did it in New Zealand in a hotel.
And the hotel is so much more like a prison cell after about six days. It just really gets to you. But in a home, it’s not too bad. I don’t mind it. In fact, every time I’ve been quarantined, it’s because I’ve been about to start a job.
So I just try to use that as a forced way to focus on prepping for the script and doing my work without a lot of distractions and kind of enjoy it, actually.
What else do you have coming up that we don’t know about?
Well, the film that I mentioned that we shot in New Zealand, Project X, is probably almost done. So I’m just waiting to hear what their plans are for a release. Because, of course, it’s a feature film, and it was supposed to be a theatrical release. And it would be a real shame if it’s not.
It’s a ’70s period piece, and it was shot in that sort of ’70s style and very cinematic and very visual. And so, I’m hoping it does get a cinema release. But with everything that’s going on, I don’t know if that’s the case. So just waiting to hear about that.
And then obviously, Virgin River. We’re in the middle of season four right now. So that’ll be probably coming out sometime next year. And then season five. So yeah, not much time for anything else. They keep giving me Virgin River.
You just don’t have any time, really.
Well, thank you so much, Martin. It’s really great talking to you today.
Yeah, you too. Enjoy Pittsburgh, and yeah, your hair looks great.
Thank you. I’m going to tell everybody you said that. So look out, social media.
I think they already know.
Thanks so much, Martin.
You can catch Martin’s juicy and uncharacteristic role on My Life Is Murder on Acorn TV. Check it out!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.