When he was 12, Andrew Wreggitt wanted to be a hippie. It was 1968, so the time was right. He may have been too young to be caught up in the politics of the day but he certainly remembers the peace-and-love vibe in Vancouver, where the Calgary native lived at the time.
“It was Fourth Avenue in Vancouver in Kitsilano and that’s where all the hippies were,” says Wreggitt in an interview from the set of the Calgary-shot CBC drama Fortunate Son. “They sat around on the street and played guitar and had long hair. I remember looking at that and thinking it was the most amazing thing ever. I just really wanted to be a hippie. I thought that was so cool.”
Andrew Wreggitt says he never forgot that Vancouver-in-1968 feeling. Now, as showrunner for Fortunate Son, the 55-year-old writer has immersed himself in the tumultuous period. Having penned everything from episodes of the Beachcombers and North of 60 to Corner Gas: The Movie, Wreggitt has been writing for Canadian TV and film for more than 30 years. But this is the first time he has set anything in the 1960s. Last week, Fortunate Son took over a main street in Drumheller during its first days of filming. There were vintage cars and hundreds of extras sporting period-appropriate hairdos and fashions.
“It’s this weird mix of ‘Oh man, this is so awesome’ and ‘Oh, I remember that.’ ‘I used to have a sweater just like that,’ ” Wreggitt says with a laugh.
Which is not to say that Fortunate Son takes a rose-coloured view of the 1960s. A drama with a thriller’s edge, it is set in the fiery antiwar movement and explores the often shady efforts made by the American government to infiltrate it. At the heart of the story is
Ruby Howard (played by Kari Matchett), an American fugitive who escapes to Canada with her family. Once she is in the Great White North, she helps draft dodgers and war deserters cross the Canadian border with the aid of her occasionally reluctant family. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer plays CIA agent Vern Lang. Darren Mann plays Travis Hunter, a troubled Vietnam vet turned deserter who becomes entangled with the Howard family, which includes Ruby’s husband (Rick Roberts), twentysomething daughter (Kacey Rohl) and teenage son (Alex Nachi).
So, yes, the music was cool. The clothes were funky. There were lots of hippies. But it was a complicated time and Fortunate Son explores the period in all its juicy contradictions.
Read this full interview here: beta.canada.com