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Hugh Dillon – Mayor of Kingstown

You all had a big scare when Jeremy Renner suffered a nearly fatal accident between seasons. How did that affect your approach to this third season?

It is an exceptional season for many reasons — the most obvious being that Jeremy has come back. Both artistically and just as a friend, watching that guy transcend his injuries and land in a creative space is exceptional. [Before the season] Taylor called me and had ideas, and it was all about, “We are going to support Jeremy.” You know, as this guy’s recovering, he’s going to read the scripts, and you want it to be exceptional so he is inspired. There was an audience of one and it was Jeremy. I didn’t want him to waste his time or his life energy on something frivolous, and he didn’t either . . . It transcends just making a show, because there was something else driving us.

Mayor of Kingstown on Paramount+. Pictured: Hugh Dillon as Ian.
Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+

This is a show with a fair amount of stunts. Did you have to hold back at all to accommodate Jeremy’s recovery?

Oh, he did his own f***in’ stunts! That’s what was crazy about it. At first, it’s like, “Yeah, I’m just getting back” . . . and then once he caught the bug, he thought he could do everything. If he did a bunch of stunts, he needed to rest for a day, but it was pretty exciting to watch. He’s a committed actor. He would become unstoppable. So, we had to be careful not to burn him out.

He’s a guy who says now, “There are no more bad days.” He has entered this state of grace that everyone else absorbs. You come away more positive — and that’s not always the case in this industry.

As much as this series is about the prison system and crime and corruption, it’s always struck me as a show about community . . .

One hundred per cent. It came from where I grew up in Kingston, with nine penitentiaries, in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and all that entailed. The populations of those penitentiaries were not reflected in the population of the city. That always interested me. As a kid, I’m reading about these horrific murders by Clifford Olson. The whole country’s on high alert at the time. And after they arrest him — this bizarre human being — where does he live? Oh, he’s now a mile from your house! And what if somebody escapes from prison? As a kid, it was all-encompassing. So, [community] is a big, huge part of it. That’s what I brought, and then Taylor brought his ideas on crime and punishment and corruption from Texas, and we kind of bled them together to create Mayor . . . This is the first thing Taylor wrote — this is before Sicario. He was just my acting coach then. He coached me on 75 episodes of Flashpoint, but what we’re doing after each session is talking about our dreams — what we really want to do. I would talk about Kingston, and he was fascinated with the whole crime and punishment, and the redemption in this city.

This season opened with the loss of one of the show’s heavy hitters, as Mariam was laid to rest. How did the character’s death and star Dianne Wiest’s exit come about?

That is organic. As Taylor often says, we offed Kyle Chandler in the first episode [laughs]. That’s how I feel about the show: no one is safe and nothing is sacred. That’s why it has an authenticity and that’s why it works, because you will never see it coming — and that is kind of the way of the world.

Mayor of Kingstown, airing Sunday, July 7 on Paramount+


First making pop-cultural waves in the 1990s as lead singer of platinum-selling Canadian band the Headstones, this Kingston, Ontario native has since transitioned to a prolific acting career. On film, you’ve seen him in cult rock mockumentary Hard Core Logo, while on TV he’s starred in cop drama Flashpoint, period spy thriller X Company and smash-hit western Yellowstone.


Starting in 2021, Mr. Dillon teamed with Yellowstone mastermind Taylor Sheridan (who happens to be his old acting coach!) for a crime drama loosely inspired by Dillon’s own experiences living in a “prison town.” In addition to co-creating the series, he co-stars as Det. Ian Ferguson, an uneasy ally of town power broker Mike McLusky (Jeremy Renner).

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