In part one of CINESCAPE's profile of Sebastian Spence, the actor discussed his disappointment over the cancellation of his Sci-Fi Channel series FIRST WAVE as well as some of his current plans. In Part two, Spence delves deeper into the series' story arc and considers the possibility of FIRST WAVE being revived.
Season one of FIRST WAVE was about Cade Foster's revenge, exposing the alien's experiments. In Season two, Cade lives with the pressure of being a fugitive and the last hope of mankind. He feels bitterness, pain and doubt as well as compassion, but is no longer frightened. By season three, the character's energy had become much more powerful as he becomes the twice-blessed man.
"After Season one, FIRST WAVE changed quite a bit," Spence says. "Something [series creator Chris Brancato] used to mention a lot during the first season was about the humanity of the show, all the human elements. I was happy with Cade Foster's character, but I thought I wanted one more big alien experiment for him to solve, something diabolical. If I could change one thing, it would have been for myself to be more involved in the show and Cade to figure out all of the alien's plan. By the end of it there was no mystery to what they were doing. We started episodes by saying, 'Hey Eddie, guess what the aliens are trying to do this time!' You know, there was no shock for the actors anymore. I think they could've worked that angle. They could've set up the dialogue to be more valuable. Plans that Eddie and I figure out bit by bit, clue by clue. We could've been much more mysterious and dark.
"But the show was getting more complex in other areas. They put a lot of pressure on Chris, and I think Chris tried to tie up all loose ends. When Traci came on board a lot of interplay between Eddie and Cade vanished. That buddy element was gone and Jordan and Eddie were interacting instead. I told Chris that one thing they shouldn't touch on the show was the stuff between Crazy Eddie and Cade Foster, because they have worked together for so long and there's that whole mythic friendship arc. And all of sudden I'm not able to be with my buddy and we can't work those angles. They would try to work Jordan into it and some people thought that made the show lose something very special. They wanted it to be the other way."
It seemed that the closer Jordan and Cade got, the more Eddie was left out, as if Cade and Eddie were walking separate paths for a time.
"They do get tighter and stronger, especially in the last few episodes. Traci was really upset about the finale ("Twice Bless'd"), because she didn't think Cade would go back in time to meet his dead wife. She believed Cade loved Jordan. He couldn't go back to loving Hannah. I thought -- I never talked about this -- but if Cade had access to a time machine, I think he would probably want to erase the future and go back in time to Hannah. And if he went back to visit her, why couldn't he save her? The writers always have an excuse, though. That's because if we changed the future, aliens might land here and Cade might not be around to save the world and then we all die."
Time travels were a very common and crucial element for FIRST WAVE. "Twice Bless'd" used time travel to pick up where the show began in the series premiere, "Subject 117." Wearing his wedding ring on his finger one more time, Cade travels back to say goodbye to his wife and, in a very big way, to his past as well.
"I really loved Cade and Hannah's last scene. Originally it was bigger. It was so great it gave me the chills. But they cut it down. They had to make it smaller, otherwise everyone would wonder why he didn't stay with Hannah for good." Spence says with a grin.
Apart from the Cade Foster character, Spence's list of TV guest appearances is impressive. He has played a wide range of characters, from a sexually abused child (the award-winning 1993 Canadian miniseries THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT) to a young cop raised in a police family (FAMILY OF COPS). Spence says he's been careful about choosing the roles he plays the best.
"I like building up the character, but lot of times what I prepare for is not what ends up happening because of the director, other actors, whatever," he says. "You can only be so prepared as an actor. Then when you get in there, whatever happens, happens. But originally you try to think on your feet."
Although raised by parents who were both well-known playwrights, acting was not a primary desire in his youth.
"I used to do other kinds of work. I worked at a steel factory when I was very young," he says. "I'd done some plays before that, but I wasn't making enough money to keep me in an apartment. I went to the factory and there was this big machine with buttons. I remember I lied, because they asked if I could read blueprints. So I said yes. They didn't actually take me out and ask me to read anything, because all the job required was hitting two buttons. Anyway I talked and then I went to work. In a sense, I acted. I pretended I was a steel worker. I did that for seven months."
Spence recalls that his first acting job was the Duke of Albany in his mother's stage production of KING LEAR. At first he couldn't move on the stage. He was terrified. Despite that, he did a good job that earned him an honorable mention by the local radio station. Armed with his experiences in theater work, Spence started having success in the TV and film world.
"When I did THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT, I think that was when I started to learn the most about myself as an actor. I sensed acting was what I wanted to do. I felt that I would be successful at it, which is very important to me. From there, acting was all I did for a living. I haven't done anything else since. I don't think I would survive as an actor if I were bad. I'm not saying I'm great, but I'm not embarrassed by my work. I'm very proud of it."
Spence soon became hooked on acting. He moved west to Vancouver and kicked off his acting career in Hollywood North. He was landing film roles and guest appearances on shows. He also stayed in Toronto for the shoot of 1997's FAST TRACK. While playing race car driver Stevie Servine in the film, he had a chance to audition for the role of Cade Foster.
"I've been lucky to work in a TV series where the writing is exceptional," he says. "The writing has a lot to do with a performance."
When asked if he is anything like Cade Foster in real life, Spence remains silent for a few seconds.
"My intensity is the same anyway," he answers. "I'll sometimes take on Cade Foster's persona if I'm in a bad mood, feeling tired. I'll become more like Cade Foster. I drive my friend's crazy. They say, 'Oh, God. Here he goes again. It's Cade Foster time.' I'm a little similar to Cade. My view of the world, my compassion for people. But also it's my aggressive nature, too. My mother used to say that these things would make me a better actor. But I feel things deeper than I should. When I'm angry, I'm very angry. When I'm happy, I'm really happy. When I'm sad, I'm horribly sad. Maybe it also has something to do with my being a Sagittarius. I can't even read the paper anymore. That one has been murdered, that one has been killed. Somebody is abusing a child. It's so sad," Spence sighs heavily.
Spence's popularity has spread with FIRST WAVE. The longer the series ran, the more people got hooked on Cade Foster.
"I still get stopped and people call me Cade Foster," he says. "I'm proud of it, but it makes me sad. No new show airing tomorrow night, no shooting schedule. I haven't talked to Rob [LaBelle] for months. No more Crazy Eddie. To me it's kind of depressing. I'm not trying to get sentimental about it, but sometimes I go, 'God! I wish the show were still on! Tomorrow Rob and I would be sitting on the set, drinking coffee and talking interplay between Cade and Eddie.' The show has attracted enough people that it will live on their imaginations for as long as they have reruns, I suppose. And in my mind, too. I think that it still has a good chance to be picked up somewhere. Some ensemble, a feature film or something. In a way I don't feel FIRST WAVE is really over yet. I don't know if that's my brain or what, but I still believe in it."
Spence recently shot an independent film called SUCCULENT, TASTY AND NICE in which he plays the male lead. He has received various other offers and is more enthusiastic about acting than ever. Working with the excellent cast and crew in FIRST WAVE has given him a firm confidence in his abilities.
"Feature film is the arena that I would like to navigate in the future. And if the FIRST WAVE movie, new series or whatever arises someday, I would definitely come back. Cade Foster is my character. Nobody knows him better than I do."