Spend any time on Vancouver film sets and you know the drill: Vancouver substituting for Anytown, U.S.A., Canadians talking like Americans, hide the mountains when it’s set in the Midwest, hide the ocean when it’s set in Colorado.
That was how Vancouver’s A.J. Buckley got his start as an actor more than a decade ago. Turns out that sense of location-identity confusion is everywhere. These days, Buckley is based in Los Angeles, where he has co-starred for five years as lab tech Adam Ross on CSI: New York (L. A. plays the Big Apple), and he’s heading to this month’s Sundance Film Festival with the new small-town drama Skateland (Louisiana plays Texas).
And Buckley still hears the call to come back to Vancouver every once in a while, most notably in his recurring role as an inept ghost hunter on TV’s Supernatural (B. C. plays various U.S. locales).
“Shreveport is kind of like Vancouver back in the day,” says Buckley of the Louisiana city that stood in for Skateland’s Lone Star state. “I once went to Bulgaria to shoot Oregon — I thought for sure when I read the script I was going to Oregon. Terrible movie — that movie was called I Need to Pay My Bills.”
The actor’s life can mean taking any job to meet the rent — Buckley was sleeping in his car when CSI first came along — but the security of a regular TV role allows the option of picking jobs for love. Skateland is set in the mid-1980s at a small-town roller-skating rink that’s owned by a Grateful Dead fan who mentors a teen looking to escape the small town.
New discovery Shiloh Fernandez plays the teen, opposite Twilight’s Ashley Greene as his love interest, and Buckley is the Dead-Head.
“It wasn’t the starring role or anything, but it was a great character piece of this guy trapped in the 1970s,” says Buckley. He juggled work in Shreveport with his ongoing duties on CSI during a month’s filming in 2008, racking up frequent-flyer miles.
Just into his 30s, Buckley is new to playing the older guy. “I like getting older, now it’s the cops and the lawyers. It’s a fresh chapter.”
Skateland’s writers were Texas-born brothers Brandon and Heath Freeman, with their friend Anthony Burns, who directed the movie, all making their first feature.
“They’ve become my good friends,” says Buckley, who will take time off from CSI’s nine-month shooting schedule to go to the festival. “They’re these good old boys from Texas, it’s their first film and they’re going to Sundance.”
Meanwhile, Buckley is waiting to hear whether he will rejoin Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles for an episode this year. Buckley and actor Travis Wester play two goofy rivals to the demon-hunting brothers played by the show’s stars. Supernatural’s currently-filming fifth season will likely be the show’s last.
But Ed and Harry, the characters played by Buckley and Wester, will live on in their own web-based horror comedy series.
Supernatural creator Eric Kripke hired the two to write 10 episodes and star in the spinoff series, due to start filming this March in L.A.
Ed and Harry, the Ghostfacers, have become Supernatural fan favourites since they first appeared midway through the show’s first season. Buckley says dorky Ed was a role he had to lobby for.
“Originally they didn’t want me,” he says. “I am a huge dork, let’s not kid anybody. But casting was like, no he’s too good looking. I never get that, are you kidding me? Usually I’m not good looking enough and now I’m too good looking?”
OMG! I’m so watch!