This is Tyler Labine. The 37-year-old Brampton, Ont. native has been acting pretty much his whole life. To you, he may even be a “that guy.” You know, the one you’ve seen in stuff but can’t quite figure out from where?
Most Canadians, however, probably remember him as Ryan Gosling’s better half: Jimmy, on a little old show called Breaker High.
The show, which followed a group of high school kids living on a cruise ship, only lasted one season, but for many Canadians in the late nineties, it was everything. Sean (Gosling) and Jimmy (Labine) were the bumbling goofball best friends that no one really took seriously.
Then, it all ended, and Gosling got a role on Young Hercules, which lasted 49 episodes. Labine was cast in a string of guest-starring roles (including the TV version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Cold Squad) until he landed a role in the 2000 series Action Man. That same year, everything was coming up Gosling when he appeared in Remember the Titans, whereas Action Man was cancelled after one single season.
It was the start of two very different career paths. Labine was in demand for roles; the problem was that most of his shows only lasted one season.
There was Dead Last, which ran in 2001.
Invasion in 2005.
Then in 2007 came a little show called Reaper on The CW. It was a cult-classic in its own right, and was (barely) renewed for a second season. It was the start of a huge resurgence for Labine. And the first show he’d been on that was actually renewed, for a change.
“Someone just said, be the biggest slacker you’ve ever been,” Labine recalls. “I tried all this stuff; things I think I’d been subconsciously been formulating for years. It was like this explosion of creativity for me and I really enjoyed it.”
When Reaper was cancelled in 2009, Labine went on to star in his own Fox series, Sons of Tucson the following year. It lasted — you guessed it! — one season.
Still, Labine continued to nab roles. He attributes his continued success (however “limited” it may be per project) to his attitude.
“You can be a mediocre actor and be a really great person to work with, and you can keep getting employed. I’m not calling myself a mediocre actor! I’ve had to grow on set,” he explains. “I certainly was not a great younger actor, and I’m still learning as I go. I feel so cocky talking about this, but I think I’ve always been good to the people I work with and I’ve always enjoyed what I’m doing. It provided myself the opportunity to learn on set with hands on, experiential growth.”
In 2011 he continued to grow by switching things up with a romantic comedy, Mad Love…
And when that didn’t work he attempted to be the straight man in another short-lived show — Animal Practice.
Then, in 2014 everything changed. Labine landed the role of Kevin on Hulu and CraveTV‘s Deadbeat, and the show snagged a second season. It’s currently available to stream across North America.
In Deadbeat, Labine plays a slacker type who also happens to see ghosts. It’s what he calls a Reaper 2.0 experience.
“It’s like an unofficial sequel to Reaper, there were so many similarities,” he says. “It’s a ghostly world, demon of the week situation. This guy is like a slacker, but there’s so much more going on there. He’s kind of like a dumb, sweet animal.”
But Labine is excited to finally get a second season on something, the real test for him was whether the show could pull off a third season — something he’s never been a part of before.
“If I get a third season, genuinely the curse will be lifted,” he says. “I would have a moment of like ‘YEAH!’ But then immediately would get totally in my head and insecure and paranoid that if we get a third season, somehow I’d f— it up. I’ve obviously been very, very fortunate, but this is like my 11th TV series I think. It might even be my 12th, I’m not sure.”
Good news for Labine then, since a third season of Deadbeat was officially ordered on Tuesday. Curse = lifted.
The first two seasons of Deadbeat are currently available on CraveTV.