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Vanessa Morgan & Giacomo Gianniotti: Wild Cards

What is it exactly that makes con woman extraordinaire Max Mitchell and Detective Cole Ellis a compelling duo?

VANESSA MORGAN: I think it’s their outlook on life; it’s the contrast of the light and the dark. Max is the bubbly one. Ellis is taking things more seriously. And we are dealing with some serious crimes — but Max is constantly trying to pull that “fun” out of Ellis. You see it in the pilot — the moments where he’s like, “No, let’s stay serious. This is professional.” But even he wants to laugh at some of the things Max is saying, or just how ridiculous she is sometimes.

GIACOMO GIANNIOTTI: Ultimately, we want people to fall in love with these characters. Yes, it’s fun to solve the mysteries with them, but whenever these kinds of shows have had success, it’s because audiences connected with the leads, right? They care about the relationship that they have with each other — and they’re rooting for them. They want them to get together, they want them to fall in love, they want them to have their happily-ever-after. That’s why we come back to those shows. That’s what we hope the audience will find in Max and Ellis — a couple to root for. You want them to fall for each other just as much as you want them to solve the crimes each week.

As light and fun as the series is, both of your characters are dealing with tragic circumstances Ñ Max with her troubled upbringing and Cole with the loss of his brother and his career . . .

GIACOMO GIANNIOTTI: In a really weird way, I think what’s cool for the audience is that you can see both directions that you can go in when you have trauma. You can either let it consume you and lean into that darkness . . . that’s where we find Cole; and on the surface, you could judge Vanessa’s character Max and you could say, “Oh, nothing bad’s ever happened to her. She’s just bubbly and amazing.” But [rather] she has chosen to deal with her demons in a different way — to say, “I’m still going to look for the good in the world.” And I think Max probably made the better choice — to see how you can use these difficulties as an opportunity to achieve great things. Cole learns a lot, over the season, from her perspective. Seeing the world through Max’s lens gives a lot to Cole that I think he was missing in his life.

Vanessa, it must have been a fun acting exercise to play a character who’s so often playing other characters.

VANESSA MORGAN: It’s so fun, actually. I didn’t realize the extent to which I would like it. Towards the end of the season, there were certain “characters” that I kind of wished we would bring back. I hope we will next season [laughs]. Like Marcie — I do this Southern character — and I really hope she comes back. It’s an actor’s dream to just not be stuck in one character when you’re on a show.


In addition to both being Canadian, TV’s latest pair of flirtatious gumshoes got their start on two of the most iconic series of the past 20 years. You know Ottawa’s Vanessa Morgan from B.C.-shot Archie Comics sensation Riverdale, where she played the gang leader with a heart of gemstone, Toni Topaz. Meanwhile, Rome-born, Toronto-raised Giacomo Gianniotti scrubbed in to Grey’s Anatomy circa 2015, remaining on-call for 110 episodes as heartthrob surgeon Dr. Andrew DeLuca.


In CBC’s new dramedy, a recently arrested con artist (Morgan) and a Vancouver cop (Gianniotti) who’s been demoted to manning a boat for the maritime unit become unlikely partners in crime-solving — forced to put aside their many differences for a shot at redemption.

We’ve talked about the series’ mix of fun and tragic. What sort of balance can viewers expect, episode to episode?

GIACOMO GIANNIOTTI: We’re going to be more focused on our week-to-week crimes and mysteries that they’re solving. But every couple episodes, we are going to reopen that [character-based] story, and the audience will start to learn more things about Max’s past, about Ellis’s past, and we’ll get to see their relationship form. I think because our show lives so much in levity and lightness and comedy, when our characters really sit in a moment of vulnerability or darkness, it’s very satisfying — because it’s definitely not where most of our show lives. So, I think it’s much more impactful.

Wild Cards airs Wednesday, January 17, on CBC

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