Five years after we said goodbye to our beloved friends from Dog River, Corner Gas is still pumping out the laughs – this time, with a crowd-funded feature film.
In theatres next week, Corner Gas: The Movie revisits the fictional Saskatchewan town, which is now flat broke and facing a corporate takeover. The long-awaited film will see a limited release in theatres across the country from Dec. 3 to Dec. 7, while a collector’s edition DVD will be available for purchase just before the holidays.
Meanwhile, the eight original cast members of the Canadian sitcom-turned-film – Brent Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewanuick, Nancy Robertson, Eric Peterson, Janet Wright, Tara Spencer-Nairn and Lorne Cardinal – have been enjoying a glamorous reunion tour, attending gala events all over the country and even marched in the Toronto Santa Clause parade aboard their own float.
Hello! caught up with creator and director Brent and star Gabrielle in Toronto, where they opened up about what it was like being back on set and what they think their characters will be doing after five more years.
How did it feel to have your own float in the Santa Clause parade?
Brent: It was a blast. It was surreal. When it was done I got an email from my sister (she’s the second oldest – we’re a big family, and I’m one of seven kids) and she sent me a super-sweet email [telling me about] the first Santa Clause parade I saw. She remembers carrying me to my grandma’s house, because she had a colour TV, to watch the parade. She said I would get so excited watching it, and I’d say, “Me do next, me do next.” She said, “You probably don't even remember making that wish, but 48 years later it came true.” So seeing the response from people when the Corner Gas float would come by, it was overwhelming and very heartwarming.
Gabrielle: It was so fun. The kids were so cute. It was a big honour to be a part of that – my son came with one of his friends and his friends’ moms from school and we all got to yell his name and see him.
Gabrielle, does your seven-year-old son, Mthobisi, know that mom is an actress?
He’s aware of it, but it’s not a really big part of our life. He’d never even been on set, actually, but he did come one day for the filming [of the movie]. He was very relaxed. He was like, “Hey mom, I got to get back to work!” and he’d put his headphones on and get back behind the camera. It was really cute!
What was it like to be part of a Canadian show with such a huge following, even in the United States?
Brent: I keep coming back to the word heartwarming, but, I remember when I was a comic starting out, we all wanted to get into TV at some point. And I remember people saying, “Well, we can’t do good sitcoms in Canada. People aren’t going to watch Canadian sitcoms.” I always thought that was crap – pardon my French – but it can be done. We put a show together that not only did Canadians watch, but it was the first time in history that the number one comedy on TV in Canada was actually from Canada. It wasn't an American show and I take it as a real point of pride.
Brent, you once said you wanted to to end the show 'on top.' Why was that important to you?
I just didn't want the show to start to get weak and old and falter. The show was far too important to me, and I know it was important to a lot of people, and I wanted to respect that. People always said, “You could get one more season,” and I’d say, "Yeah, you can do that almost forever – but do your really want to?" You don't want to be the last person at the party and have the host hand you your coat saying, "Maybe you should leave.”
What did it feel like to reunite the whole cast, six years later?
Gabrielle: I was really excited about being with the cast and our amazing crew again. We really missed each other. I had a slight bit of anxiety over playing that character [Lacey] again, because I hadn’t been in her shoes in six years. But it was such a wonderful experience because the moment we got there, it felt like we never left.
Brent: It felt weird in a way, because none of us expected it to be this easy, and comfortable and natural and it just was. It almost took us by surprise. We were all looking forward to it, but I think we all went into with a little trepidation. But man, when we got together, we had a cast dinner the first night and it felt like three weeks had passed. Nothing had changed. Wearing these characters is very comfortable.
The film is set five years after the series ended. Where would your characters be another five years from now?
Gabrielle: I feel like we say goodbye to those characters, and they just keep living. They keep on doing their thing. Maybe Lacey would introduce a new coffee or a new sandwich, but I don't think it goes much beyond that.
Brent: Do you know at the beginning of the movie, where Brent is leaning on the till reading a comic book? That’s where he is five years from now. That’s where he is 10 years from now. Reading on the till, reading a comic book, telling everybody to relax and settle down. That’s what he’ll be doing for all eternity, I think.