Are you familiar with the old adage, “No good deed goes unpunished?” Secret Service Agent Pete Lattimer certainly is. In the two-hour pilot for the new Syfy Channel series Warehouse 13, he and fellow agent Myka Bering thwart an attack on the Mexican ambassador’s daughter by a man possessed by a carved stone head known as the “Aztec Bloodstone.” When Pete fails to stop a thief, who takes the artifact and then disappears in front of the agent’s eyes in a flash of light, he is temporarily suspended pending an investigation.
The “thief” is, in fact Artie Nielsen, also a Secret Service agent and in charge of Warehouse 13, a top-secret government facility in South Dakota and home to objects, like the bloodstone, considered dangerous to the public. Much to Pete’s and Myka’s surprise, they are reassigned to help Artie track down and retrieve other artifacts. Their first assignment takes them to Iowa where a 15th century comb is wrecking havoc. Like his alter ego, Warehouse 13‘s Eddie McClintock, who plays Pete, will not soon forget his first day on the job.
“It was so freaking cold,” says McClintock laughing. “On the first day of filming it was around zero degrees and the entire crew was wearing Arctic gear, I’m not kidding you, and Joanne Kelly [Myka Bering] and I had to be dressed as though we were in Denver, Colorado on a balmy evening. I’m from Ohio, so I’m OK with the cold, but, man, this was so bad that every time they said, ‘Cut!’ Joanne and I would sprint inside just to get warm because our teeth were chattering. And as soon as they called, ‘Action,’ we’d have to stop our teeth from chattering.
“That’s the first thing that comes to mind about working on the pilot. The second thing that sticks out for me is thinking how incredibly fortunate I am to have such an amazing job. And then scene-wise, there was the ferret scene in the Warehouse where I’m standing there with Joanne, who is just fantastic, along with Saul Rubenik [Artie], whose body of work I have great respect for. The ridiculousness of me holding this ferret, which was basically up my nose for most of that scene, was just so surreal, and to be acting with Saul and Joanne was the icing on the cake. It’s one of those moments that remind me again how lucky I am to be able to do what I love, make money at it, and feed my family.”
Growing up in Ohio, McClintock was a keen wrestler, including in college where he studied design. “I thought for sure I’d end up being a graphic illustrator or designer,” notes the actor. “I always loved movies, though, and one of the major bonds I had with my dad was through films. He and I would go to the movies and then come home and recite all the lines. I was also a fan of the original Saturday Night Live cast – the Not Ready For Primetime Players – and imitating all those characters and skits, but I was never pushed in that direction as far as pursuing a career.
“After college I wanted to move to California, in particular, Los Angeles. My uncle owns an insurance company out there, so he asked me to come be a part of his company. However, he fired me after seven months, because I was useless as an insurance salesman. My heart wasn’t in it and he could tell. From there, I began working as a production assistant, and after three years I met some people from a small agency called LA Talent. They did a lot of commercial work, and with their help I wound up booking a series of Coors Light beer commercials. After that I decided, ‘I’m going to start taking [acting] classes.’ I did that for almost three years before ever going on my first audition because I knew that compared to other people I was incredibly green and didn’t want to blow any opportunities. My first national job was two lines on The Young and the Restless, and now here I am today.”
When it comes to McClintock’s role on Warehouse 13, the uninitiated might automatically assume that Pete Lattimer is just another in a long line of cookie-cutter government types. However, that was the further thing from the actor’s mind when it came time to audition.
“David Simkins[writer/executive producer] did a great job with the pilot script and I wanted to approach it a little differently,” he recalls. “With Pete being Secret Service, I figured everyone would come to the audition wearing black suits and ties, so I came in jeans and an old t-shirt and unshaven because I saw Pete as kind of down on his luck. He ends up basically getting fired from his job in the pilot because they think he stole an artifact, and I always try to find the comedy in something, even when it’s not necessarily written.
“So I read for David, and he told me later that I pretty much wasn’t even going to make it through to the next round of auditions. While my audition was entertaining, he hadn’t really seen my character that way. However, as the day went on, he thought, ‘That might be one way to do it.’ So he had me back for the network test and on that day I really tried to put a comedic bend on the material. Joanne [Kelly] and I read together, and she blew a line, so I made fun of her, and she [jokingly] punched me. Joanne was supposed to call me a ‘showboat,’ but it came out ‘showbot.’ Then I began doing the robot dance with a Michael Jackson flourish – this was before his passing, obviously.
“Joanne and I kind of forgot that we were singing for our supper and just had fun up there for a minute, which, I think, is pretty much what got us the job. Mark Stern [Executive Vice President of Original Programming at Syfy] remarked, ‘That’s the show right there. Those two doing what they were doing.’ I’ve said this before, but most actors, including me, are terrified to make a mistake when auditioning because you almost never get a second chance. So to actually be hired because of a mistake is ironic and interesting. It goes to show you that you’re allowed to make a mistake in the audition room. It’s how you then deal with it that could make all the difference.”
There was a bit of a gap between filming the Warehouse 13 pilot and the start of work on the show’s first season. As with all new roles, it took McClintock a little time to settle back into the groove of playing Agent Lattimer. “The greatest initial challenge for me with Pete was really not trying to figure out who he was, but, instead, just think, ‘I am Pete, Pete is me,’ and allow who I am to come out in my performance,” explains the actor.
“I’ve tried to make Pete who I am because it’s my desire to let everyone who’s watching know that a leading man can be funny and still be strong, loyal and heroic. Most TV programs don’t really let the hero show a silly side, and I guess it’s important to me to let people know that you can still have a good time and be competent at what you do. I appreciate, too, that our writers have made Pete a recovering alcoholic because it gives him more depth. It makes you go, ‘Wait a minute, this guy has issues.’ Guess what, people have issues, and some funny people tend to have the most issues because they use their comedy to deal with things. That’s there defense mechanism.”
Right from the start, the relationship between Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering is not unlike that of oil and water. He addresses a problem in a more off-the-cuff manner and using his gut instinct, while she prefers to employ a more serious, by-the-book approach. Like all good partnerships, they eventually come to realize that neither way is right or wrong, but that a balance of both is the best possible way to get the job done right.
“Certainly one of the biggest ways my character continues to grow is in his relationship with Myka,” says McClintock. “In the beginning, he didn’t understand Myka and really didn’t much care to. However, having now spent all this time with her, Pete has come to respect as well as care for her. He understands why she is the way she is, and he’s constantly trying to get her to be more like him. But I think Pete has learned not to push too hard and she, in turn, has warmed up and come around and kind of loosened up a bit. So that’s been a major change in my character – his willingness to accept Myka for who she is.”
One of Pete’s attributes that Myka has not quite come to share is his, and Artie’s, passion for cookies, preferably homemade. In the Warehouse 13 pilot, Artie entices Pete into the Warehouse with an offer of freshly baked cookies. “I think the whole cookie thing is great,” says McClintock with a laugh. “It’s kind of a happy mistake. I don’t know if we even planned on hitting on it that hard, but when, in the pilot, we got such a good reaction from Artie’s line, ‘I made cookies,’ and Pete’s, ‘Oooo…,’ that we decided to make my character a cookie lover. It just so happens that my wife and I are crazy about chocolate chip cookies, and every day when we get on the treadmill we ask each other, ‘Why do we like them so much?’”
In the season one Warehouse 13 episode Claudia, Artie is kidnapped by a young girl from his past, Claudia Donovan, who needs his help to re-create an experiment that she believes will bring her dead brother back to life. Their efforts are rewarded, and despite Claudia’s unconventional approach to procuring his assistance, Artie befriends her and invited Claudia to join his team. McClintock was happy to help his fellow cast and crew welcome actress Allison Scagliotti (Claudia) to the Warehouse family.
“Allison is great,” he says. “She’s sharp, sassy and young, so she brings new blood to the show, not to mention the whole geek-tech thing. And for totally selfish reasons, aside from the fact that Allison is terrific, she opens up a whole new demographic for the series, which brings in that many more viewers. I read on-line where people were talking about the fact that there’s going to be all these new Claudia icons after she did the Mr. Spock ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Vulcan salute [in the episode Burnout], and I’m thrilled about that. It means people are really buying into the show as well as the Claudia character and I couldn’t be happier.
“When you hear that they [the producers] are bringing someone new onto a show, you sometimes think, ‘Will it work? Will they fit in? We’ve got a good thing here; what if this person doesn’t make the cut?’ Frankly, not only has Allison made the cut, but she also adds to much so the series, especially in her relationship with Artie, which is fun to watch because they’re both amazingly good at what they do – the characters and the actors playing them.”
In their short time working with Artie, Pete and Myka have collected several artifacts including a Euphoria record (Resonance), capable of producing a song that immobilizes its listeners; James Braid’s chair (Magnetism), which causes those who sit in it to act out their subconscious desires; and a Native American buckskin coat (Elements) that allows its wearer to walk through solid objects. In the aforementioned Burnout, the agents race against the clock to find the Spine of the Saracen, which can turn its wearer into a killing machine capable of discharging massive amounts of electricity. When the Spine attaches itself to Pete, he must make the ultimate sacrifice in order to destroy it.
“There was a ton of exposition that I had to get out in the scene where Pete decides to commit suicide, or take a bullet as they say for the sake of the Warehouse, his country, his friends, the world,” says McClintock. “When I first read that scene it was pretty terrifying. I could just picture a giant ham sandwich,” chuckles the actor. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this could be so hammy if it’s not done correctly.’ So on the day of filming I said to our director, who is this amazing, guy, Constantine Makris, ‘Look, I have an idea of how this should be done.’ So he gave me free reign, and I was pleased with how it turned out. It’s probably the trickiest thing I’ve done so far acting-wise on the series.
“Not to sound artsy-fartsy or anything like that, but it was really freeing to be able to show that much emotion and be that connected to a scene. It’s kind of like running on a treadmill for six miles. When you’re done, you’re exhausted, but you feel exhilarated, and that’s why I do this [acting].”
Artie’s response to Pete’s predicament in Burnout gave viewers further insight into the relationship that is developing between both characters. “Pete’s father died when was very young, so I think he considers Artie to be his surrogate father, and Artie sees Pete as one of his kids,” says McClintock. “In Burnout, when Myka tells Artie and Claudia that the Spine was on Pete, you could tell it really hit them hard, and I like at the end of the episode where Pete is joking about how this mission really ‘killed him,’ and how Artie is truly concerned.
“There’s a wonderful family dynamic that our writers have set up and I’m so thrilled about that because it gives the show heart and makes it about a lot of different things. It’s not just about the silliness, or the artifacts, or Pete and Myka going off on a treasure hunt. In the end, it’s about a family trying in their own way to get by, and I’m so glad that the writers have given us that to play.”
Prior to Warehouse 13, McClintock was a regular in four other series, Holding the Baby, A.U.S.A., Stark Raving Mad and Crumbs. The actor has appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies and guest-starred on such shows as Friends, Felicity, House, Sex and the City, Spin City and Shark. Audience have also seen his work in recurring roles on Desperate Housewives and Bones.
“On Desperate Housewives I got to work with Eva Longoria [Gabrielle Solis] and Ricardo Chavira, who plays her husband [Carlos], and I have to tell you, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” says McClintock. “He was so nice to me that I was looking around thinking, ‘Am I being punked?’ Ricardo was just a really cool dude and Eva was terrific, too. So it was a positive experience and I had a ball. To be embraced by everyone who worked there meant a lot to me as well as my confidence as an actor.
“With Bones I finally got to meet David Boreanaz [Special Agent Seeley Booth], which was interesting because for the past few years I’d been saying that I was going to write a book called Living in the Shadow of Boreanaz,” jokes the actor. “At least twice a week someone would come up to me thinking I was David and ask for my autograph or want to talk about Buffy or Angel. I’ve always found it funny, and when I was on Bones, David said to me, ‘You do know who you look like, right? Craig Sheffer.’ That’s someone else who everyone used to think I looked like, and when I actually met Craig, he said, ‘Hey, dude, you look just like me.’ I said, ‘I know, and we both look like David Boreanaz.’ And Craig said, ‘Yes, and Josh Brolin, too.’
“It was cool getting to work on Bones and I think it was also good preparation for Warehouse 13, although my character of Sully [Special Agent Tim Sullivan] wasn’t quite as loose as Pete is.”
Although McClintock might work in an industry that is devoted to make-believe, the things that make his career rewarding for him as very much real. “I could lie and tell you that it’s not fun when I’m on a plane and the stewardess says, ‘Oh, my God, you’re the guy from Warehouse 13,’ and starts jumping up and down like a teenager. After 12 years, to have somebody recognize me for who I am and for my work, and not as David Boreanaz or Craig Sheffer, that’s rewarding, not to mention fun and exciting,” says the actor.
“Another rewarding thing is being able to give my wife and children the kind of life that I think a good husband and father should provide. Then there’s being able to work with people whose careers speak for themselves. I think, ‘Hey, I must be doing something right.’ I stood nose-to-nose in a scene with James Woods when I did an episode of Shark, and that was such a rush because he’s a brilliant actor as well as an icon. It’s also rewarding to have my manager, Ric Beddingfield – who took me on when I had nothing and had done nothing – stick with me. After all this time I’m able to show him that all his hard work has been for a good cause.
“This is an incredibly difficult business, and every once in a while it will let you take a small drink of success. At least that’s been my path. I’ve continued to work, but have never had a hit series. I’ve done five shows and ten pilots, so for the Syfy Channel to fly me to New York to help ring the closing bell at NASDAQ, that was surreal. And on Saturday [August 15th, 2009] I’m throwing out the pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays game in front of something like 40,000 people. I’m terrified,” he laughs, “but it’s going to be awesome. There are so many rewards to what I’m doing, and hopefully I’ve kept in perspective the ones that truly matter, and then the ones that are just fun life experiences.”
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