Don McKellar may not have as many odd jobs as his alter ego, Jack Ryder from “Odd Job Jack,” but voicing a cartoon character allows him to get involved with other projects as often as he wants.
“For an actor, it’s really the best consistent job,” McKellar says over the phone, on his way to a party to launch the fourth season of the Comedy Network show. “It’s kept me going while I’ve been doing other long-term stuff that’s taken a while to produce and see the light of day.”
He points out that the ability to record his portion of the show can be done from anywhere, and when he is home in Toronto, the studio is a short walk away. He doesn’t have to worry about what he is wearing when he goes into work, a fact that has allowed him to grow a shapely moustache.
“I wouldn’t be able to grow it if I was stuck in a regular series. It’s very liberating,” he says.
When McKellar was first approached by the creators of “Odd Job Jack” to do the show, he was attracted to the project because it started as a sit.com – a sitcom on the Internet – something that is common now (podcasts and webisodes), but unique for its time.
“I was intrigued by the idea of an Internet show. I thought that was really novel and innovative,” McKellar says.
The online content is still a very important part of the show, and the show’s web site has many sit.coms, as well as a blog from Jack, online games and numerous other show-related downloadable content.
“Odd Job Jack” focuses on the main character of Jack, who went to university and got a degree in sociology, which he has no idea what to do with. So to pay his bills, Jack takes on all kinds of jobs. McKellar isn’t the only celebrity who has been taken with the series. The Canadian show also boasts a huge list of guest stars – both Canadian and international. In years past, guest stars have included Tom Green, Samantha Bee and Tom Arnold.
“I’m sort of a amazed at all the guest stars. Sean Cullen was in town, and Molly Parker and Sandra Oh’s doing it too,” McKellar says. Other guest stars this season include Jason Alexander, Christian Slater, Jerry Stiller and John Goodman.
Because of the flexibility of laying down the voice for “Odd Job Jack,” McKellar has been able to work on his Broadway Show, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which won him a Tony Award this year for best book of a musical (the musical won a total of five Tonys). The win caught the Canadian actor off guard.
“(I was) totally surprised (about the Tony award). That’s one of the things I was talking about. While I was working on (the play, ‘Odd Job Jack’) was a regular paycheck,” he says.
McKellar has only seen the first two finished episodes of the new season so far, but has wrapped recording his share of the season. He says from what he recorded there are two episodes that stand out: one where Jack is a substitute teacher at a school for the gifted, and one where he works a perfumer in a department store.
McKellar co-starred in the CBC TV mini-series about Tommy Douglas, “The Prairie Giant,” where he portrayed Clarence Fines. The public broadcaster has since decided not to rebroadcast the mini-series due to controversy that it did not reflect reality or the truth in its representation of Jimmy Gardiner. McKellar is disappointed with the CBC’s decision not to rebroadcast it and the controversy that surrounds it.
“I was really proud of the series. I thought it was good and I loved working with John Smith and of course I thought the Tommy Douglas story was an important story to tell. I know that my character was a real character and it was pretty well researched and the family seemed happy but I don’t think the show should be dependent on making the families happy,” he says, adding that although the film was based on a true story, it is still in a sense a fictionalized interpretation of the Douglas story and that he is disappointed that the CBC is not getting behind a movie created with integrity.
“He’s a politician, Gardiner, and of course the family wants to whitewash his legacy. Or, if it is unfairly represented, it’s a fictional subjective interpretation. Tommy Douglas was voted the greatest Canadian and no one remembered Gardiner until now.”
The fourth season of “Odd Job Jack” premiered Saturday on the Comedy Network and found Jack working as a high-stakes croupier who runs into a dealer (Jason Alexander), who introduces Jack to a world of snuff poker. In the second episode, Jack gets a job as an archaeologist with an ex-girlfriend.
“Odd Job Jack” airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. on the Comedy Network.