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Bruce Greenwood on ‘The River’

One of the stars of ABC's new thriller tells us about his role in the show and returning for the "Star Trek" sequel.

Bruce Greenwood stars as the subject of the new show "The River" on ABC. He plays Emmet Cole, a nature documentarian who disappeared six months ago. As his wife and son assemble a crew to find him in the Amazon, they find videos he left behind. At the Television Critics Association panel for "The River," I asked Greenwood some questions about the found footage show and confirmed at least his participation in the "Star Trek" sequel.


Crave Online: J. J. Abrams said he starts shooting the "Star Trek" sequel on Thursday. Are you back on the set?

Bruce Greenwood: Yeah, I was in rehearsal yesterday.

Crave Online: How is it going?

Bruce Greenwood: It’s great. It’s great to be back with the gang again. It’s really very fun, it’s a good script. I can’t say anything about it.

Crave Online: Are you happy with the way Captain Pike is being handled?

Bruce Greenwood: Of course, yeah. I’m really content with it so it’s a great script.

Crave Online: Is the cast more of a whole now that they’ve done the first movie together?

Bruce Greenwood: Yeah, it’s a family.

Crave Online: Is this a small part on "The River," just a few videos they find every week?

Bruce Greenwood: Yeah, just two or three minutes a show and I just pop my head up out of the water. No, they’re searching for me so as they go along, they find more and more evidence so you see me sequentially more and more. Until it comes to the moment, if they find me.

Crave Online: I was joking of course. What is the process of shooting these videos they’re going to find along the way?

Bruce Greenwood: Well, a lot of it you have to hold the camera yourself. Virtually everything in the pilot that’s me, I’m holding the camera. All that stuff in the hold of the boat, every time I’m talking to the camera, I’m holding it.

Crave Online: What kind of camera is it?

Bruce Greenwood: We use all kinds from the GoPros to Alexas to little video cams. A lot of cameras are this big [palm sized]. Sometimes you’ll see them strapped to our arms and stuff and all the actors get to shoot. It’s really fun. It’s intense and it’s intense to try to balance what you have to do emotionally with what you have to do practically and logistically with the camera. It’s a little bit more juggling than you’re used to but once you get the rhythm down you can operate and have part of your brain go, “I want to frame this in a wonky way. I want to frame this so it doesn’t feel perfect but I also don’t want to be shooting right up my nose.”

Crave Online: Did you research any of the nature or animals that Emmet is an expert in?

Bruce Greenwood: Well, you never know what you’re going to get handed in any given episode. So it went from the animals, the flora and fauna about which he knows a great deal, to the legends about which he’s heard but knows very little of substance. So he has these legends to go on but the architecture of legends is kind of transparent in that they’re incomplete when you get into the space in which they happened.

Sorry, I’m working with a CAD program at the moment so all my analogies have to be 3D or not 3D or transparent/not transparent. But, having said that, it wasn’t a bad analogy. So the idea of a legend being the studs and foundation of a house that’s not built until you get into the place where that legend occurred, that’s the metaphor. When you get into the jungle and stuff starts to happen, that thin almost two dimensional sense you had of the legend is now given full form and has wrapped its long fingers around your neck and it’s a different experience.