"Warehouse 13" role no stretch for Saul Rubinek

Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:41pm EDT
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By Simi Horwitz

LOS ANGELES (Back Stage) - Canadian actor Saul Rubinek may have theater in his blood, but he is no stranger to the demands of sci-fi TV shows.

He can currently be seen on the Syfy cable channel in "Warehouse 13," where he plays Dr. Arthur "Artie" Nelson, the mysterious yet methodical Secret Service agent. The show, now in its second season, evokes "The X-Files" with a touch of humor.

Rubinek, 62, says much of the acting is "shmacting. Acting-shmacting ... There should be a class called Schmacting 101."

But don't be deceived by his seemingly dismissive tone. Like so many of the show's fans, he marvels at its many elements -- from fantasy adventure to comedy with no shortage of wonderful villains. Rubinek talks about how it appeals to women and families without losing its male base. He comments on how rare it is in an actor's career to be in a program that is well-written, well-acted, and wildly popular -- not only in the States but globally. It is now being telecast in 50 countries, he says.

The actors' challenge is to maintain a light touch and at the same time be truthful. "It's walking a tightrope," he remarks. "If we fall off the tightrope, it would no longer be interesting. The stakes have to be high. We can't take ourselves too seriously, but we have to take seriously the characters' situations."

Rubinek's sci-fi credits also include "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Stargate SG-1," and "The Outer Limits," among others. Paradoxically, he has little interest in special effects: "I think there is magic onscreen when two people have great dialogue in a great story with humor and depth."

Which possibly explains why he was suited to guest-starring roles on shows like "Frasier" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

For the first 20 years of his career, theater was his home base. He was 27 years old before he performed in front of a camera. To this day he believes any good stage actor can do film, though the reverse is not necessarily true.   Continued...