Warehouse 13 – a vehicle made for Saul Rubinek
September 13, 2011 | Jewish Tribune
TORONTO – The hit TV series Warehouse 13 is back on the air in Canada and its star, Saul Rubinek, couldn’t be happier. “I’m a Canadian,” Rubinek told the Jewish Tribune, “and I’m proud of the fact that we’re filming in Canada. I feel blessed and I’m very lucky at my age that the role found me.”
In addition to being filmed in Canada, the top-rated Warehouse 13 features four Canadian actors in leading roles. As is often the case with TV shows and films made in Canada, the series is set in the United States, and Canadian sites are dressed to resemble American locales. Many of the show’s scenes are shot on location around Toronto; for example, keen-eyed viewers of Season 2’s winter holiday episode will recognize the food court at the Promenade Shopping Centre.
Rubinek plays Artie Nielson, the Secret Service agent in charge of Warehouse 13, a top-secret depository of historical artifacts and gadgets, which possess mysterious, supernatural powers. The artifacts are catalysts for all kinds of unpredictable adventures and have included Harry Houdini’s wallet, the guillotine blade used to behead Marie Antoinette, Torquemada’s torch, Harriet Tubman’s thimble and Man Ray’s camera.
Artie’s Jewishness is treated in a matter-of-fact way, and often with good-natured humour, in the scripts. “The character was modelled after me,” said Rubinek. “My parents are Holocaust survivors.”
Viewers learned in the show’s first season that, before joining the warehouse team, Artie was arrested for trading artifacts on the black market in exchange for the release of Soviet Jews, some of whom were members of his own family.
From its first season, Warehouse 13 has consistently earned the highest ratings of any scripted show in the SyFy network’s 18-year history. It is watched in about 30 million homes in 20-30 countries around the world, Rubinek said. He credited the show’s broad demographic appeal to its wit and its focus on the relationships between the characters. Although it’s made by SyFy, the show does not feature space aliens or intergalactic travel. “We are more a show as if it were written by Jules Verne by way of Raiders of the Lost Ark by way of Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s funny, smart and attractive to families.”
Rubinek said he and his fellow actors, for whom he had high praise, look forward to doing a read-through of the script prior to rehearsals.
“It’s like a page-turner, it’s like a thriller: we don’t know what’s going to happen next. We walk a tightrope: any scene can go in any direction at any time.”
Rubinek’s character is a mentor and father figure to two other agents at the warehouse: Myka Bering, played by Bay D’Espoir, Nfld., native Joanne Kelly, and Pete Lattimer, played by Eddie McClintock; as well as computer whiz Claudia Donovan, played by Allison Scagliotti, and Leena, played by Torontonian Genelle Williams. Another Canadian actor, Aaron Ashmore, joined the team this season as new recruit Steve Jinks. Mrs. Frederic, portrayed by CCH Pounder, oversees the entire operation.
Episodes from the current, third season of Warehouse 13 began airing this month on Showcase and can be seen Thursdays at 10 p.m. (People who want to catch up on the first two seasons can purchase them via http://www.SyFy.com.)
Season Four is scheduled to begin filming in early 2012. During the approximately six months it takes to film 13 episodes, Rubinek splits his time between Canada and New York.
Rubinek is an award-winning stage, radio, television and film actor. He is also a producer, director and author. His book, So Many Miracles, told the story of his parents’ lives in Poland during the World War II and his award-winning documentary of the same name following them as they were reunited with the people who saved their lives during the Holocaust.
He spoke to the Tribune on the phone from England where he is observing rehearsals for a play he wrote but will not act in, Terrible Advice, which will be directed by Frank Oz.
Terrible Advice will preview Sept. 22, open Sept. 29 and play through Nov. 12 at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.