Patrick J. Adams wasn’t exactly comfortable showing up on set to play — in his words — a liar and a manipulator every day.
But the former Suits star steps into such a role in CBC’s Plan B, a high-concept psychological drama about a man who travels back in time to save his crumbling relationship at the expense of, well, almost everything else.
Adapted from a 2017 Radio-Canada show of the same name, the series follows Philip and Evelyn, a Montreal couple worn down by the disappointing trajectory of their lives. When Evelyn breaks up with him, a despondent Philip calls a mysterious company that promises to help him fix his mistakes.
But changing just a single aspect of his fate results in disastrous consequences for him and his loved ones, forcing him to walk a moral line.
“There’s a lot of lying that has to happen for a guy to do what he’s doing here…. There’s a lot of obfuscations. There’s a lot of manipulating,” the Toronto actor told CBC News in an interview.
“And as much as I hate to admit it, and I don’t like to think of myself in those terms, there have been times in my life where I can relate to that. And one of the gifts of getting to do what I do for a living is exploring that.”
Karine Vanasse, a Quebecois actor who starred in the CTV series Cardinal and Denis Villeneuve’s film Polytechnique, had watched the original series six years ago, long before she was tapped to play Evelyn.
“My memory of just watching it and the fun I had as a viewer and everything it triggered, like, ‘oh ok, what do I think of that? How would I react to that situation if I had the power to go back in time?'”
Having watched the French-Canadian series as a viewer, and now experiencing the English-language version as a member of its principal cast, Vanasse said that adapting the series for the country’s anglophone audience is a good sign for the Canadian entertainment industry.
“Many of our creators have been lucky enough and have had the chance to then work internationally. But it’s great to see the actual Quebec content have the opportunity to travel,” she said.
Series to be adapted in three other countries
Plan B is a “difficult chemistry,” said Louis Morissette, the Montreal actor and showrunner who starred as Phillippe in the original French-language series, playing the same character as Adams.
The show takes place across multiple timelines, as Philip tries to juggle his and others’ destinies without revealing his time-travelling abilities. When something goes right in his relationship with Evelyn, something goes awfully wrong with his brother, who struggles with alcoholism, or at his law firm, where success and financial stability are fragile.
“We want to adapt it in an English version, a Canadian version and a 2023 version, but stay pretty close from what it was,” Morrisette said, later adding, “if [you] play with one part, there’s a domino effect where you play with everything and it won’t add up at the end.”
“That’s this sweet spot that has been difficult to find over the past two or three years, but once we had it, I’m really really happy with the final result,” he said.
WATCH | Suits star Patrick J. Adams time travels in CBC series Plan B:
Jean-Francois Asselin, who wrote and directed the original series and its adaptation, is planning additional versions of the show to air in Germany, Belgium and France.
“When we had the opportunity to redo it, we wanted to improve it and we thought that the first two [seasons] were a bit slow in the rhythm. We want to try to [heighten] the stakes,” Asselin said.
Bringing the same Montreal-set show to two different audiences in Canada was a golden opportunity by Morrisette’s standards. “There’s so few moments that you have that chance to take a French project and make it in English knowing that there you have all of a sudden this opportunity to go worldwide,” he said.
Adams didn’t make a conscious effort to distinguish his own performance from Morrissette’s, but “I certainly had the things about the story that appealed to me that made me interested in going on this trip,” he said.
“I think that focus and interest for me probably resulted in something different happening.”
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