Heart of a Mountie With Ryan-James Hatanaka | Super Channel

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Heart of a Mountie With Ryan-James Hatanaka

Heart of a Mountie With Ryan-James Hatanaka

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Desiree D

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Gabriel Kinslow was the first person to appear in When Hope Calls, as he loped along the luscious green landscape aboard his beautiful black horse, Apollo. This moment not only introduced the character of Constable Kinslow, but also provided an opportunity to view the entire town of Brookfield from afar. His first action after riding into town was offering to help Lillian carry the heavy feed bag. The red serge itself captured attention, but this initial act of service also proved that Gabriel truly has the heart of a Mountie.

Ryan-James Hatanaka is not only respected as a talented actor and athlete, he is also admired for his dedication to this role, on screen and off. RJ regularly charms the Hearties with insight on his character and gratitude for the fans while live tweeting. He also left a lasting impression when he flew overnight from Hungary to Canada, to ensure he attended the Hearties Family Reunion in October. RJ is a wonderful asset to the cast of When Hope Calls and he kindly shared more about his role as a Mountie, his interests off screen and the heart behind it all.

SC: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

RJH: I think there was the dream of being an actor; then there was a point in time where I made a choice to pursue acting as a career. I loved performing from a young age, but it wasn’t until I went deeper into actor training, and started arming myself with a broader skillset, that it became a more realistic career path. It’s interesting how many different routes there are into this industry. Some grow up in it, some get lucky, I went the educational route - first getting a degree from the University of Toronto, then attending the National Theatre School of Canada before graduating with a Masters in Fine Arts from New York University.

SC: Having filmed all over the world, do you have a favourite location? If you could choose the next location to film, where would that be?

RJH: While I love traveling and relish the opportunity to familiarize myself with different cultures, I would say that the location is always secondary to the people I’m working with. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with and learn from artists all over the world. Each one of them brings their own unique perspectives and ways of doing things. Filming When Hope Calls in Northern Ontario Canada is especially fun on a personal level - my Grandfather was a Station Master for Canadian Pacific Railway not too far from where we shoot. Filming a great show while diving into some family history is a pretty ideal summer for me.

SC: Can you share more for our Canadian fans about your connection to the Toronto Blue Jays?

RJH: I was the Batboy/Ballboy for the Toronto Blue Jays throughout high school and university. Being in the club house, wearing the uniform, playing catch and fielding grounders with the big leaguers, being exposed to that high pressure, electrifying atmosphere - much of what I learned there has carried through to my career as an actor.

SC: When you’re not on set, what are some of your favourite activities to do with your own family?

RJH: My family and I are very close, and even though my siblings and I are all busy we make a point of getting together as much as possible. Everyone in my family is athletic, so when we come together it often centers around some kind of sport or outdoor activity.

SC: What drew you to audition for Constable Gabriel Kinslow?

RJH: I was shooting a television series in Toronto when my agent told me they were looking for someone to play Mountie Gabriel in When Hope Calls. Of course, I knew about our sister show, When Calls the Heart, so I jumped at the opportunity. I mean who doesn’t want to be the Mountie?

SC: It has been noted that the red serge gets quite warm in Hope Valley and the boots take a bit of time to do up. Being from Brookfield, what are the words you would use to describe your wardrobe?

RJH: I love it. Suiting up in the red serge, the jodhpurs, the wide brimmed hat, high brown boots and Sam Browne belt adds so much for the character and immediately allows me to dive in to being Gabriel. The boots are leather so after you break them in, they literally fit like a glove. The serge is wool so it is not as hot as you might think. They really knew what they were doing back in the day.

SC: As a Canadian, what does wearing that uniform mean to you?

RJH: It is classic, it is iconic, and it’s an honor to represent an organization (The RCMP) that has so much integrity.

SC: Which scene in season one was your favourite to film?

RJH: The scene where Mountie Gabriel and Lillian (the very talented Morgan Kohan) first meet. That was the scene Morgan and I did for our chemistry read, so it holds a special place in my heart.

SC: What is one fun fact about the Brookfield set that the Hearties would not know?

RJH: They have done a remarkable job building the set. It’s on a huge plot of land with a lot of room to expand. Who knows, maybe other buildings will spring up!

SC: Where is your favourite place to hang out when you are on set?

RJH: Jefferson Brown (Joe Moody) and I get out our baseball gloves and play catch whenever we can. It’s very ‘Field of Dreams’-esque.

SC: If you could have any actor join the set of When Hope Calls, who would you choose and what would their role be in town?

RJH: I’m a big Hugh Jackman fan - I’d love to see him come to Brookfield as an entertainer and do his one man show. Maybe Mountie Gabe could join him on stage?

SC: Hearties have noticed your presence on social media, especially during live tweeting. What has it been like to start a new show that already has an established fanbase? Is there a message you would you like to share with the Hearties?

RJH: Yes. ‘Thank you’. The Hearties are one of the most supportive fan bases for any television show. I feel very fortunate to interact with them through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. I continue to be grateful for their support for my work on When Hope Calls and for my career in general.

SC: How would you describe your experience of attending the Hearties Family Reunion?

RJH: What a special opportunity to meet some of the Hearties in person. Many of them tweet along with the show or comment on photos I post on Instagram – so being able to put a face to a name was fantastic.

SC: You have noted your involvement in various sports, including a black belt in karate. What is your favourite sport to watch versus favourite sport to play? Can you also share more about teaching and utilizing your karate background for stage?

RJH: I grew up in Canada so watching playoff hockey is part of my DNA. I enjoy watching baseball, basketball and football too. As far as playing sports, I love to get outside and play pick-up hockey, baseball, basketball…whatever is going. Karate is a discipline that lends itself very well to my career in the arts. When I’m not doing television, film or theatre, I really enjoy teaching stage combat at New York University’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program, and choreographing fights for professional theatre.

SC: Riding horses is part of the job for Mountie Gabriel. Had you worked with horses prior to this role?

RJH: I had minimal riding experience prior to When Hope Calls, and Apollo (my horse) knew that. Once he saw I was committed to learning and working together – we became good friends.

SC: If your character crossed over to When Calls the Heart, what would you hope that story would entail?

RJH: I think the natural crossover would entail me helping Mountie Nathan track down a bad guy or solve a mystery in Hope Valley. Mountie Nate helped me solve a mystery in Brookfield, I would like the opportunity to return the favor.

SC: From the tiny town of Brookfield to the worldwide community of Hearties, Ryan-James Hatanaka has brought an abundance of joy, optimism and gratitude. While he takes the role of Constable Kinslow seriously, RJ’s humour and passion for his character become abundantly clear during live tweeting. To keep updated on his latest projects, or to bring an even bigger smile to RJ and declare that you are #TeamGillian, connect with him on social media.

Social Media:
IG: @rjhatanaka
Twitter: @RJHatanaka
Facebook: therealrjhatanaka