He has been called one of Canada’s most recognizable actors. And he’s not even Canadian.
While most aspiring actors pack their bags and head to L.A to park cars, pump gas and dream big, Jeff Seymour took a different route. He has found success since leaving Hollywood years ago to pursue opportunities in Canada.
“It’s not a lot about showbiz here,” Seymour tells andPOP. “Actors in L.A are paid way too much.”
After moving to L.A from hometown Virginia at age 19, Seymour got tired of the “showbiz” and the “getting-paid-too-much” and decided to try it north of the border. It proved to be a good decision.
Now, he is proving that you don’t have to be a prairie gas operator or a trailer park boy to win over thousands of Canadian viewers. 900,000 people tuned into his show, “Jeff Ltd.,” during its first season, launching it into the rare group of Canadian television shows that actually make it to a season two (the second season airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. on CTV).
CTV’s “Jeff Ltd.” follows title character Jeff Stevens and a quirky supporting cast as they cope with Jeff’s numerous get-rich-quick schemes and unpredictable antics.
So, why do fans love Jeff Stevens?
He’s not a smug, assured pretty boy who delights in crushing the dreams of friends and foes alike. He’s just a guy looking for an easy fix of money, women and happiness – a sentiment Seymour believes many people can relate to.
“He’s the typical person who thinks that when they get a nice car, wife or house, they will be happy, but we all know that never fixes it.”
There’s something about this lying, cheating, reckless goof that comes off as charming, loveable and almost genuine. Seymour thinks there may be something appealing about Jeff’s “unknowingly destructive” behaviour.
“He’s like Wile E. Coyote. It’s hard to hate Wile E. Coyote.” No matter how many anvils seem to fall on Jeff’s head or how many of his harebrained plots blow up in his face, “the person most hurt by Jeff’s schemes is Jeff,” Seymour says.
If the first two episodes are any indication, the second season will find the title character up to his old tricks. Jeff is chasing women and coming up with eccentric money making schemes – two endeavors viewers came to know very well in season one.
Finding the perfect woman for Jeff to save him from his old ways is not in the show’s near future. To see Jeff settle down “will be its death,” says Seymour.
“This season we actually have Jeff kissing women less.” Seymour finds humour in his character facing rejection from women rather than in gratuitous scenes of Jeff as a triumphant womanizer. “It’s not as funny to see a Romeo. It’s too self-gratifying.”
In this season’s second episode, Jeff tries unsuccessfully to hypnotize a lesbian into loving men and instead turns the spell on himself. He then proceeds to smack his head on a desk and pass out, only to wake up as a flamboyant, shoe-loving, surprisingly more sensitive Jeff.
It’s pretty funny stuff.
Seymour has always been into comedy. His first big acting gig was for the hugely popular television series “Hill Street Blues,” where he specifically remembers his role as a member of a gang that looked more like a “gay dance troupe.” He laughs uncontrollably while trying to reenact the first line he ever pulled off on the show.
His mood changes from serious and introspective to silly and humorous within seconds but when he talks about the success of “Jeff Ltd.,” his contentment is persistent. He says he feels like he’s won the lottery. Aside from his acting accolades, Seymour has proven himself as a director, co-writer and co-producer of the show.
So, does Seymour ever feel like he’s taken on too much?
“I love working under pressure,” he says. “I don’t think I bite off more than I can chew. I bite off just enough so I’m not gagging.”