‘Private Eyes’ star Jason Priestley on Canadian pride and returning to the director’s chair

By Clare Douglas

"More madness, hijinks and hilarity” ­– a short and sweet promise made by Jason Priestley on what’s to come in his hit detective series, Private Eyes. The show’s sophomore season (which kicked off May 25) sees the Canadian back on the crime beat as primetime’s smoothest talking PI Matt Shade, whose banter-filled working relationship with fellow investigator Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) has made for some must-see TV.

Jason Priestley
The Canadian superstar is back on the case with a new season of Private Eyes

Since production on the series kicked off in 2015, the Vancouver native, 47, has become an honorary Torontonian, and is proud of the spotlight his series is putting on his home away from home. “Toronto is a character in our show. We go out of our way to celebrate it and all the exciting multicultural things that go on here,” says Jason, whose footprint on the city will be indisputable when his star on Canada’s Walk of Fame finds its permanent residence on King Street East, during an unveiling ceremony in June.

Ahead of that milestone, we caught up with the father of two (daughter Ava is 9 and son Dashiell is 7) to chat about the distinctly Canadian project, his work in front of, and behind, the camera and his children’s take on show business.

Jason, what can fans look forward to seeing this new season?

I’m most excited about the way we continue to break the fourth wall for the audience. We did a whole race-car thing out at Mosport with James Hinchcliffe and an episode around Toronto Women’s Fashion Week with Jeanne Beker. We [film] at iconic places or events and have iconic people show up, which adds a level of realism to the show.

Will Matt and Angie ever find romance in the midst of their roller-coaster partnership?

They’re settling into their roles and figuring out how to work together and how to use each other’s strengths and weaknesses for their collective betterment. There are a couple of impediments put in their way to stop them from actually getting together. I think the two of them are quite close because they have a common goal of always doing what’s best for the agency but they also want to take care of each other as well. Where that leads, we shall see.

You directed the season première. Was it fun to step back into that role?

It was remarkably seamless, as it always is. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s just second nature to me now. It was a very ambitious episode but I think we were successful in shooting a very big episode, a very big season opener.

Do you remember the first thing you ever directed?

The very first professional thing I directed was an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 called “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.” And I got Burt Reynolds to come and do a cameo in it for me. It was pretty cool. I was 23 years old.

Have your kids shown any interest in show business?

Not yet. My daughter just finished third in the all-around [gymnastic event] in the state of California last weekend. I’m very happy that she’s following that path. [ Smiles]

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