'Sullivan's Crossing': TV icons Chad Michael Murray, Scott Patterson reunite for Canadian drama
"We have the moms and the dads now, that grew with us, all wanting to watch more adult content, something that they can identify with," Chad Michael Murray says
CTV is bringing Canadians a mini Gilmore Girls reunion with its new original drama Sullivan's Crossing (premiering March 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app), which stars Canadian Morgan Kohan, alongside Gilmore Girls alums Scott Patterson and Chad Michael Murray (also the star of One Tree Hill).
Sullivan's Crossing centres around Maggie Sullivan (Kohan), an ambitious and talented neurosurgeon in Boston who finds herself in some complicated legal trouble. Having to lay low, Maggie journeys to a Nova Scotia campground called Sullivan’s Crossing, her childhood home, which is run by her estranged father Sully (Patterson). Helping Sully out on the campground is Cal (Murray), who had no idea Sully had a daughter. As Maggie is thrust back into this close-knit community, she has to face her complex past, while her future looks more chaotic than ever.
“She's someone who's built a life around her, to the way that's expected of her, and is finding that maybe it's not fully true to her, and I think a lot of people can find resonance with that, which I did,” Kohan told Yahoo Canada. “Her finding herself back in a small town and kind of reckoning with those two versions of herself was really interesting to me.”
“I'm from a small town as well. So I have some experiences of that. That really resonated with me."
Based on the Robyn Carr novels, adapted by showrunner Roma Roth, who is also executive producer of Netflix's Virgin River series (based on Carr's books as well), Sullivan's Crossing really taps into two beloved TV genres. There's the medical drama aspect with Maggie's career, with light echoes of a show like Grey's Anatomy, but it's also very much a family drama, sort of like a This Is Us or Parenthood.
“I feel like there's so many different parts that we get to play with," Kohan said. "There is the family drama, there is the medical side of things, there's the city life, there is the small community relationships and friendships. That, I think, just makes it a little bit different.”
“I believe that everyone will see something in the show that they can resonate with and see themselves a part of.”
'He was a guy that was not unlike Luke from Gilmore Girls'
The moment the first images of Sullivan's Crossing were released, fans of 2000s TV were quick to express their excitement about TV legends Patterson and Murray coming together for a new show.
For Patterson, he explained that his character "grabbed" him after reading some of the scripts. Having lengthy conversations with Roth about Sully, Patterson found similar beats to his Gilmore Girls character Luke.
“He was a guy that was not unlike Luke from Gilmore Girls, and I thought at that moment, well OK that's a little bit intriguing,” Patterson told Yahoo Canada. “Not that I wanted to repeat myself, but I read the first couple scripts and I thought, ... this is a guy who is as complex.”
“He has a real history and a real connection to that land. … I guess he really resonated with me, and on a lot of different levels, the way that Luke did. I had a choice whether I wanted to do this or walk away. I mean, I'm not a spring chicken anymore and I have the luxury of sort of passing on things, ... whereas Gilmore was the beginning of my career. But I just thought I could do a lot with [an incomplete canvas], which is the kind of writing that I like. I don't want it all spelled out for me.”
For Murray, he revealed that it was showrunner Roth's "selling" the character of Cal and his journey, including the trials and tribulations of his past that bring him to Sullivan's Crossing, that made the actor want to come on board for the show.
“This is a guy that I identified with," Murray said. "I felt a symbiotic relationship in healing, I also felt that he’s just good for the world.”
“Cal’s journey is a lot deeper and a lot darker than you would imagine. I think that he came to Sullivan’s Crossing to heal and that's something that we don't know about him. ... I'd like to really believe you're going to fall in love with him. There's just something very open minded and beautiful about what his journey’s been and how he comes together in this world of Sullivan’s Crossing.”
'She's one of the best young actors I've ever worked with'
While there's no denying that Patterson and Murray are TV icons, they are both also very quick to praise their Canadian co-star Kohan.
“She's very gifted, she's very intelligent," Patterson said. "Her acting IQ is very high and there isn't a lot of discussion that needs to take place with her.”
“She's sort of an unknown commodity in the States and that's not going to last for long. She'll become very known. She's got that actor's shorthand where she just gets it very quickly and we just do the scene. … Very impressed with her and she's one of the best young actors I've ever worked with.”
Murray, teasing what's to come between Cal and Maggie, is telling Canadians to "get your popcorn ready" because it's a relationship that he believes "people are going to want to fight for." Also, made more impactful by the acting synergy between Murray and Kohan.
“Morgan was so inviting and she was number one. Checked in early, checked out late, ready to go, ready to do the work," Murray said. "She was always open to hearing anything that other people wanted to bring to the table."
"We just created that dynamic between Cal and Maggie that her and I really were able to create as well, just a bond of friendship. She comes to hang out with the kids and my wife, and we got to know each other really well.”
For an actor like Murray, who really epitomized the teen heartthrob for an entire generation, moving from the teen-based drama world to a more multigenerational drama is part of "growing with your fanbase."
“I think the audience is going to adapt with us," Murray said. “Scott and myself were both at the WB, that turned into the CW, ... and those were more teen dramas, teen angst, but dramas. Now you can take it to more adult drama and more adult storylines."
"The fanbase that grew with us back starting in 2003, 2004 is now 20 years removed from that. They're 20 years older. We have the moms and the dads now, that grew with us, all wanting to watch more adult content, something that they can identify with, a relationship that they can get excited about. It's an exciting thing to be a part of and I just hope that everyone jumps on for the ride and goes on this journey, because I'll tell you, they really start ramping up around [Episode 5]."