Dennis Quaid braves the elements to join Fortitude

The US actor has joined several Irish stars for the thriller in the chiller, writes Gemma Dunn
Dennis Quaid braves the elements to join Fortitude

IT WAS one of 2015’s biggest TV hits, and with a second season about to land, Fortitude — the gripping Arctic thriller centred on the deadly fictional town of the title — is on the hunt for its next batch of sightseers.

“How can the coldest place on Earth create such warm memories?” asks cast newbie, Dennis Quaid, in Sky Atlantic’s promo video.

“Go and experience the warmth of this charming little town for yourself, and freeze your precious memories in the ice. You will feel so at home, you’ll never leave...”

But don’t be fooled.

For while icy vistas and roaring volcanoes make for a breathtaking backdrop, viewers who enjoyed the first run have witnessed the turmoil — and murderous shocks — beneath the mask. And, for its lively locals, little is about to change.

As we rejoin the island, perched on the Arctic Circle, the residents have overcome the parasites that previously tore their peaceful community apart. But their respite is set to be short-lived, with the mainland cutting off funding and supplies, a threadbare police force, and another mysterious death rocking the community.

Quaid — who joins cast members, Richard Dormer and Sofie Grabol, as well as Irish actors, Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Love/Hate) and Michelle Fairley (Game Of Thrones) — invites us to take a closer look...

JOINING THE TEAM

Pegged as Sky Atlantic’s most ambitious project yet, it didn’t take the Texas-born star — whose previous credits include movies, The Parent Trap, Far From Heaven, and The Big Easy — much convincing to join the international cast. He was sold after watching just one episode.

“The imagery was incredible, the actors were really good, and it seemed to be centred around the characters, and a story that even the characters didn’t understand,” the 62-year-old says of the big-budget hit. “It’s the kind of show I like to watch.”

PLAYING THE PART

Quaid plays Michael Lennox — a fisherman in search of a lucrative King Crab catch, in order to bring in some desperately needed money for him and his ailing wife, Freya (Fairley).

“I guess he’s an expat from the US,” notes the father-of-three (he has a son, the 24-year-old actor, Jack Quaid, with ex-wife Meg Ryan). “He’s been here for quite a long time — enough to marry a girl and have kids.

“His wife is going through health problems, which is life-changing for everyone, and it’s his mission to save the love of his life,” he adds.

ON LOCATION

The setting, with its wilderness and stark environment, can’t go unmentioned.

“I’m playing a fisherman, so I worked it so I could go out on the Arctic Sea for research. How many times do you have a chance to do that?” Quaid says. “It was just glorious!

But there were hairy moments amid the Nordic noir, the actor admits: “Just getting to work could be daunting. We had to take what they call a ‘Super Jeep’ every day. It was a wild ride.

“I love being in locations like that,” he adds, confessing to “doing all that stuff the insurance company says ‘Don’t you dare do!’

“It’s one of the most fascinating, exotic places. I say that Iceland is like Hawaii in the Arctic.”

SCREEN TIME

Recognised worldwide — “If you’ve done 100 movies, you’ve been around for 40 years, somebody’s grandmother knows me” — Quaid is no stranger to screen time. And the divide between TV and film, he says, is closing fast.

“It used to be quite a wide gap for actors who were doing film. They didn’t really want to do television, because of the care and quality of the writing and production. But [since] about five years ago, that’s all changed. It’s the new independent film, only, hopefully, following a 50-hour format over five seasons,” he says of small-screen work.

“It gives them a great chance to unfold a character and do some very interesting work.”

  • Fortitude returns to Sky Atlantic on Thursday, January 26

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