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Sci-fi made sexy on 'Eureka'

By Melissa Hank

TV Guide crunches numbers with Ed Quinn, who plays a genius mathematician on Space’s quirky drama 'Eureka'

Ed Quinn, Space
Ed Quinn as Nathan Stark

Lounging in his 20th storey loft in Vancouver, Ed Quinn sounds relaxed and confident. And with his sci-fi drama Eureka heading into its second season with five million U.S. viewers – a healthy number for a cable show – he has no reason to worry.

Quinn’s character, Nathan Stark, is a Nobel prize-winning mathematician and the head researcher in Eureka, a town partly developed by Albert Einstein and packed with geniuses.

The show may centre on scientists conducting research for the U.S. government, but life isn’t all theorems and deductive reasoning. In fact, the show often abandons reason for quirkiness and – gasp! – fun.

We talked to Quinn about where the unique series is headed, his side career as a musician, and his character’s beguiling combo of brains and braggadocio.

TV Guide: Are you a sci-fi buff?
Ed Quinn: I love science fiction, but having met hard-core sci-fi fans … [laughs] I’m not on their level.

TVG: They are pretty passionate about their shows.
EQ: The show’s a success because of the kind of fans that science fiction fans are. They love their medium, so they’re going to tune in to a new show. But if it’s good, they’re going to tell friends and create websites. They are also very patient, and they give shows a chance to grow.

TVG: I heard that Eureka was originally going to be an animated series. Do you think that would have worked?
EQ: Maybe it was going to be animated or maybe it was just an idea, but I think it would have worked – it’s so fun and quirky. You could probably get away with a lot more if it were a cartoon.

TVG: Some critics say the show’s a little too quirky …
EQ: It comes down to taste. In the television landscape, there’s so much of the procedural that it’s hard for comedies to find any real estate. But I think our show’s such a success because we’re not afraid to be a little loony, a little zany at times. We’re always trying to ground the characters, but we are a science fiction show and I think it gives us licence to have fun.

TVG: The show revolves around a town filled with geniuses. Do you think that would work in real-life?
EQ: Ah … I don’t know. [Laughs.] I hope it would work. I grew up in an academic family, I went to Berkley, and my father was a professor. Berkley is kind of a town full of geniuses, and there are parts of it that work and parts that definitely don’t.

TVG: Your character, Nathan Stark, is cold yet charming. What makes him tick?
EQ: He has such a passion for science and his work that sometimes he blurs the lines between right and wrong. Anytime you’re that obsessive it affects your judgement. It does make him cold and somewhat stoic, but I think we’re going to see in Season 2 a big shift in his character.

TVG: Can you tell us any other details about Season 2?
EQ: Well, Jack Carter’s estranged wife comes to town, taking the love triangle even further. Actually, all the characters go through a huge shift in their characters.

Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Ed Quinn, CP
Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Ed Quinn in 'Eureka'

TVG: There’s also a mathematician on Numb3rs. Do you watch that show?
EQ: I do! I actually was at a celebrity event with [Numb3rs star] Rob Morrow talking about the show and how much fun he was having on it.

TVG: How do you compare the two shows’ portrayals of mathematicians?
EQ: Well, in French society, scientists and great minds are celebrities, and that’s why I like the idea of Numb3rs. I have a lot of friends who are world-renowned mathematicians, engineers and researchers. And I may actually love the fact that my character is the way he is – brash and roguish in tailored suits – because the work they do really makes the world go around.

TVG: Some fans say Nathan is eerily like Tony Stark (Iron Man) from Marvel Comics. What do you think?
EQ: It’s absolutely true that Nathan Stark is inspired by Tony Stark, and he came from straight from the mind of a comic book aficionado. It’s no secret that the creator of the show, Andrew Cosby, is also the co-creator of Boom comics, with Ross Richie. And they are huge fans of Iron Man.

TVG: Switching subjects, you’re also a guitarist, right?
EQ: Yes, I am. [Chuckles.]

TVG: You’ve played with Scattergood and Mad Theory, but you just released your own CD, Quinn. Can you talk a bit about your music?
EQ: I started playing when I was about 11 or 12. I was fortunate enough to grow up at a time when guitarists were – to quote the video game – guitar heroes. I was lucky enough to study with Joe Satriani, who’s regarded as one of the great guitarists of our time. We were just a couple of knuckleheaded kids back then. I’ve always been a guitarist, and always will be, and that’s just who I am.

TVG: Which do you prefer – acting or playing guitar?
EQ: With any art, you’re always finding new levels and ways to express yourself. But there’s a freedom when I play guitar – I’m always playing exactly what I want to play. In acting, I have to find that freedom within the confines of the script. I hope to one day be as good as an actor as I am a guitarist, because for me playing guitar is organic. It’s so easy.

Catch Eureka every Sunday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Space: The Imagination Station.
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2007


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