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Haven returns: A Q&A with Eric Balfour

'Haven' star Eric Balfour talks about his character 'Duke,' and what to expect in Season Two of Syfy's supernatural TV show. 'Haven' premiers tonight at 10 p.m. on Syfy.

By Tiffany VogtThe TV Addict / July 15, 2011

Lucas Briant, Emily Rose and Eric Balfour (r.) star in Syfy's 'Haven.' The second season premiers July 15.

KCSPresse/Splash News/Newscom

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When Stephen King first wrote the short story, “The Colorado Kid,” he probably never envisioned that it would inspire a modern day supernatural television series. Syfy’s series HAVEN features not only a mysterious town with inhabitants that are stricken with abilities that border on the supernatural and super-freaky, it offers a complex look at a trio of heroes caught up in the story of how to solve the puzzle of what brought these troubles to the little town of Haven. During a recent press call, Eric Balfour shared what makes his character Duke Crocker tick and also provided a few key insights on the upcoming season of HAVEN.

How is the dynamic within the cast change, as the show has progressed?
ERIC: Last season, me and Lucas have had a history together — we worked on a show before and we have a really good rapport, and Emily and Lucas had worked before together — but we hadn’t all worked, the three of us together. So we really became friends last year. This season, we really have learned to look after each other and support each other. It really is a really tight bond. Most shows don’t have this small of cast. Most shows have seven or six regulars or even sometimes more. It’s really the three of us that are permanent fixtures on the show. So we really have become like this little unit and little family in a way. So I think the biggest difference from this season to last is just our camaraderie and our comfort level. I mean I love Emily and Lucas and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them.

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What do you enjoy most about working on HAVEN?
ERIC: I love playing Duke, I really do. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the writers for writing this character because he’s so much fun to play. He has no boundaries. He can say what he wants. He can do what he wants. He doesn’t have to abide by anyone’s rules and I think that’s probably something I enjoy in my own life. So I just love playing Duke.

So if there’s more to learn about Duke, do you feel you’ve got a handle on who he really is or is he still somewhat mysterious to you now going into the second season?

ERIC: It’s always interesting because the writers are always throwing new little twists at us about the characters that we didn’t know. I mean from an emotional standpoint, I feel like I definitely do understand Duke. I love this dude. I just think he’s awesome. So in that regard, yes. But there’s always – in every episode there’s always some little twist the writers are throwing at us and little hints that they’re giving us and we find out some new twist about the show. I’m never completely sure of exactly who Duke is, but I think at his core I really do understand who he is and I like him. He’s fun.

Since we see more of Reverend Ed when the show returns, can you talk about working with Stephen McHattie and what it’s like to play off of his intensity?
ERIC: Stephen McHattie is pretty fricking awesome. He’s an odd bird in some ways. He really is an artist. That I appreciate so much — that he takes what he does very seriously and he’s very good at it. But he doesn’t have sort the normal, linear conversations like the average Joe does, and that kind of makes him fun. But, at the same time, you’re always a little unsure of what Stephen McHattie thinks and you’re always kind of trying to figure him out. But I think that makes him really fun.

Can you kind of talk about the new character that’s kind of coming into your character’s life and about her — or are you not allowed to talk about that?
ERIC: Yes, I can talk about it. So Duke has this woman come into this life. And Duke — is sort of, I guess similar to me in that way that he – Duke is attracted to dangerous women. He is one of those guys who doesn’t like anything that comes easily. He likes the challenge and he likes a certain amount of danger and game and suspense. So this woman comes into his life and definitely starts to turn things upside down and really is a catalyst for a big part of where Duke is going this season and really in future seasons too.

Are we going to get more of the town’s past this season and more about what’s going on?
ERIC: Oh, yes. We’re going to find out a lot about this town and we’re going to find out a lot about how Duke is connected to this town and to the troubles.

Are we going to get see more about how what happened with Duke and Nathan?
ERIC: We are definitely going to start to see Duke and Nathan’s relationship evolve. But thus far, we haven’t spent a lot of time as we did last year examining their history. I think last season we had a lot of references to sort of what caused their rift and the possibilities of what they once were friends and no longer are. But this season we’re really sort of moving forward with their relationship and seeing what it’s evolving into.

Over the last year, you have done everything from TV to film. How you felt about doing those gigs and what was so unique about HAVEN that probably stands out for you?

ERIC: Well, as far as HAVEN is concerned, I just loved that this show took place in this very quirky, macabre, funny world. And I love the character. I love that HAVEN, while it has all this mystery and it has all this danger, it also has this very small town warmth and it has this sense of family — and it’s strange. I’m always pushing the producers and the writers to actually perpetuate that even more — because I think one of the most interesting things about this show is how sort of odd everyone is in this town. I mean when you think about the characters, Vince and Dave who run the newspaper, I love those guys. They’re just funny and weird and goofy. And I’m hoping to really, as the show goes on and we move into further seasons, that we really, really keep pushing that boundary even further.

How was it guest starring on NO ORDINARY FAMILY and how was it different from your HAVEN experience?
ERIC: Obviously, the biggest difference is that HAVEN and the crew and show have become like my family. I mean, we really are lucky. We have an amazing crew and we have a lot of fun together. It’s always interesting to go to another show, as a guest, and to sort of be an outsider. But it was a lot of fun. I mean hanging out with Michael Chiklis was really cool. And it was actually cool because the couple of weeks that I was there, he was right in the middle of releasing a song that he had produced and sang. So it was really fun watching the dude from THE SHIELD — this sort of tough guy — actually really being like giddy and like a little kid. He was so excited about this song. So it was really fun to hang out with him. And he was a really cool dude. And I got to hang out with Lucy Lawless, who is just awesome.

Do you know if there’s going to be an answer as to why there are “troubles” in HAVEN or why they come back?
ERIC: I do know for a fact that Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, the creators of the show, definitely 100% know exactly what’s going on in this town. So some day, I know they will [tell us], but I think it’s probably not going to happen for like Season 5 or 6. They’re going to prolong it as long as they can. But they definitely, definitely, definitely have an answer. They know exactly what’s going.

Do you have a guess?
ERIC: Do I have a guess? I’ve always imagined, in my mind, that what’s going on in HAVEN is in some ways, it’s almost like global warming. As things shift in the universe of HAVEN and the world shifts and humanity shifts, things change. And while at one time, HAVEN, this town, was exactly — as its name ensues — was a safe HAVEN for people that had these supernatural curses or troubles or afflictions. So as nature changes, something happened in the energy of this town that created this Molotov cocktail of supernatural occurrences. And I always felt that it was much more evolutionary versus being one single action.

You’re playing this ambiguous character in HAVEN, and you don’t exactly know what’s going on with him from week to week. How do you get in the mindset to play this part?
ERIC: What it usually entails is a lot of phone calls and emails back and forth from the writers. Because this show is so intricate in its dynamics, you’re always having to ask questions and to get questions answered. There’s two different schools of thought. Some people like to keep the actors guessing because they want their responses to be honest. For me, as an actor, I like to know what’s coming ahead, because I feel like it is my job to paint a palette, and to know that if I’m going from A to B, there’s certain hills and valleys that I’ll want to hit along the way. So I like to know the answers. So a lot of the time it’s me reading the next week’s script and then sending like two-page emails to the writers with a thousand questions and they just go, ‘Oh, man. Balfour is emailing us again. What are we going to do?’ But they’re always really cool about it. And they always take the time to answer our questions and talk us through things. I’ve got to hand it to them. They’re amazing in that way that really appreciate and respect how much we have breathed life into these characters. So they really do value our opinions about what our characters do. It’s really neat. It’s cool.

Other than the fact that you’re both attracted to dangerous women, what characteristics do you see in yourself, that your character Duke has?
ERIC: I think the most obvious answer for me is that we both have an aversion to authority. Neither one of us likes rules very much. I think that would be the most obvious thing to me when I think about how me and Duke are similar. It’s interesting. There’s a lot of similarities. I think Duke is innately more confident than I am in some ways, which has actually been really kind of a blessing for me in my own life. Playing Duke, I have to get outside of myself and really have strong belief in who I am as Duke because that’s what makes Duke really kind of awesome is that he has a confidence and a charisma that I’ve sort of learned a little bit from playing him in my own life. He walks through the world believing that he can do anything and that the rules don’t apply to him in that. Anytime somebody said you can’t do something, that’s just a challenge for him to do it. It’s a lesson that I’ve sort of taken in my own life.

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