Jennifer Pitt

Borealis – A Chat with TY Olsson

Currently showing off his acting chops in Supernatural as Benny, the vampire co-passenger on Dean’s trip out of Purgatory, Ty Olsson is easily recognizable as an actor with a lot of experience behind him (and in front of him!). Appearing in plenty of television and film credits – Eureka, Twilight’s Breaking Dawn 1 & 2, X-Men 2, Flashpoint, Smallville, to literally name just a few (click here for his IMDb page to see more) – Ty packs in a stellar performance in every one.

Starring in a new project called Borealis (Slanted Wheel Entertainment), Ty continues his winning streak with this awesome new show.

“Melting polar ice caps have opened a gateway for the war over natural resources buried deep within the once-frozen Canadian Arctic.

China, Russia, the United States – all have moved in to stake a claim on the rich lands, all in an effort to rob the others of the wealth that can be gained for their respective countries.

Set 30 years into the future, and filmed in winter in Alberta, it wasn’t a stretch to depict the (half)frozen Arctic tundra that the town of Borealis is set in. Declared to be an ‘international free zone’, Borealis the town is full of people sent in to spy on one another and keep each one from staking any claim on the lands.

Politically charged and seriously intriguing, Borealis is on target to be SPACE’s next hit.” – DNM Magazine

Ty recently took the time to chat with DNM about Borealis.

DNM: You have been a very busy guy in your career, any projects stand out for you as favourites?

Projects that stand out for me over the course of my career have always been those that really allowed me to go outside the box a little, and have some fun – Eureka‘s Deputy Andy, Mitchell Laurio in X-Men 2; Benny, in Supernatural; Griggs, in Hell on Wheels; Eugene in Tom Stone; Dennis in High Noon. I’ve been fortunate to play a wide range of characters, from sweet lovable special-needs Eugene, to vengeful, brokenhearted Dennis in High Noon, to desperate and dangerous Hawkins in Fallen

DNM: In addition to the many television series’ you have been in, you also have quite an impressive movie resume: Twilight: Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men 2: X-Men United, to name a few among many. For you, what are the main differences between the two experiences, television and movies? Do you have a preference for one over the other?

Both TV and film have pluses and minuses – I think it’s really on a case-by-case basis. While a long running TV series allows a character and story to develop over months and multiple episodes, the budget and freedom of a film had its perks as well.

DNM: We follow and cover quite a few of your projects, like the CW’s Supernatural, Arrow, and AMC’s Hell on Wheels (one of my personal favourites!). You originally entered the Supernatural realm as the vampire on Eli on Season 2, Episode 3 – Bloodlust. Were you excited to be asked back, with a more recurring role as Benny?

I was excited to look have an opportunity to work with the SPN gang again, and the material for Benny was very good right from the get go, so I was absolutely excited – as an actor anytime we get to make a living doing what we love is a good thing. Some gigs are naturally better then others, and others still are super-naturally better. Like how I played with that there? 😉 Hahahaha, ok sorry – I’ll stop.

DNM: As Benny on Supernatural, how do you feel about the way that fanbase has embraced you? There are also some impassioned fans who saw the addition of Benny as a detriment to the show, what would you say to them to counteract that?

The SPN fandom has been unbelievable in their overwhelming warmth and welcoming to the fold that is the SPN family. Any show would be SO damn lucky to have this kind of following! As for people who feel Benny detracts from the show – that’s actually a good thing. Good drama, good story is centered around conflict; Benny brings conflict and stakes to the relationship between him and Dean. I think it can only help a show.

DNM: I have seen Borealis advertised as both a TV movie (IMDb) and a series (Slanted Wheel Entertainment) with a two-hour pilot – is it intended as a movie or will it be extended into a weekly series?

Borealis was always created with the idea that it would continue into a series. Sadly, someone on the upper end of the decision making decided that fans wouldn’t watch it (I disagree, obviously, and hope the viewers do too!), so they have essentially dumped it as a TV movie on a Friday night. No advertising; no commercials, with a Shaw channel guide even incorrectly describing it as a NATO documentary. Apparently SPACE channel is offering a stream of it on their site, but presently it’s the wrong movie when you open it. Clearly someone hates us…

DNM: How did you first hear about Borealis, and what attracted you to it?

I heard about Borealis the old fashioned way, via my agent. The interesting thing about it though, is that I taped my audition, sent it off and booked it from audition tape alone. But, I was recently on a few shows with Slanted Wheel and Seven24 films, so…

DNM: Borealis is about the ‘fight’ for oil deposits, diamonds, and natural gas in the Arctic. Can you tell us more about the storyline and how the characters will navigate the possible war between Canada and the other countries trying to stake their claim?

I think over the course of the series we’d see how the international politics and subterfuge get played out on a very real ‘ground level’ – it’s all the ugly that goes on, and how it affects the common people, the general population of a planet that’s dying. In addition, we see the shady underworld trying to gain hold and fight for its share, as the Russian and Chinese mafia seem to work hand in hand with their respective governments to ‘get a piece of the action’. 

DNM: There appear to be quite a few fight scenes in Borealis, and as your character, Vic Carboneau, is a former MMA fighter, did you have to undergo any special training to prepare for those scenes?

Borealis is the wild wild west of the future, and being clever alone doesn’t cut it . To survive sometimes you need to throw down and no one does it better then Vic. As an ex-ultimate fighter, when words aren’t getting through Vic talks with his fists. There are some pretty epic fight scenes in Borealis. Luckily, I have been a mixed martial arts fan for many, many years and trained in it for the last several years, so bringing that aspect of Vic to life was a real pleasure – making the fights gritty and real, just like the town itself.

DNM: In the ‘International Free Zone’, what is the purpose of your team/group; who do you/they represent?

The premise of the International Free Zone is that a portion of Canada’s far north is being contested internationally as NOT being part of Canada, mostly because of the resources discovered there. We’re not privy to how or why, but Vic has somehow formed some kind of alliance with the Canadian government – taking the role of customs officer and protectorate of this disputed territory. We get a taste of a very tangled web of intrigue in the 2 hour pilot. The world of Borealis is detailed, multi layered and complex – not everything or everyone is as it seems.

DNM: What is the main drive of your character, the protagonist Vic Carboneau?

While Vic is steadfast in his position that he just wants to make some money and go back south, it’s hard to deny there’s something else holding him here. There are a lot of  unanswered questions – what exactly is his connection with the Canadian government? How does a former MMA fighter become a customs officer in Canada’s far north? And The League of Nations?? A organization that disbanded years ago now and replaced with NATO – who are they and what has fueled their resurgence?  These are all part of the puzzle that Borealis offers to its audience. An intense look into a possible near future, an international high-stakes game played on the barren landscape left behind after the melting of the ice caps. Will Canada’s sovereignty rights be dependent on how long Vic Carboneau can maintain his choke hold on the town of Borealis? Or have we already past the tipping point…?

DNM: Borealis poses some very interesting questions and makes some very plausible assumptions. How far off the in the future you think some of the ideas behind this show are, i.e. global warming to the point of completely melted polar ice caps, international fighting over rights to resources, etc.?

Hopefully, the reality of Borealis is a future we never see …  unfortunately it seems like it’s a future we all know is coming – food and energy shortages, weather changes, drought, flooding.  We already see all of this. Gasoline has tripled in price in the last 20 years; how much will it be in 2045? How much will food be? As farm land becomes more and more scarce, so will food; as resources dwindle, we’ll all feel the effects. Timeline? Hard to say, but – 2045 doesn’t seem that unrealistic, does it? 

DNM: Filmed in Alberta, I am sure there has been no trouble likening the landscape to the Arctic. In addition to the obvious challenges (weather conditions, weather conditions, and weather conditions), were there any other obstacles you, the cast, or crew faced while filming?

This show was one of the rare shows that seemed to go without a hitch, really. Some of the locations on top of the mountain required a reduced crew and taking ATV’s to the top; some of those amazing scenes between Michelle Harrison’s character (Alison Freemont) and Greyston Holts’ character (Dan) were filmed waaaay above the tree line.

It seems that this show’s biggest challenge is to get broadcasters to understand what a great show they have on their hands. 

DNM: What are your hopes for your character, what do you see for him in the future?

I think the engaging thing about Vic is that he’s a man with many demons, and as he comes to grips with those and struggles to find peace, we’ll see him challenged to finally accept that he does have an vested interest in the world around him; that even out on the edge of the world isn’t far enough to hide from those demons. He’s a survivor and he’ll come through anything – but at what cost?


We loved the show, and are stoked to have gotten to know Ty a little better. We definitely look forward to more Borealis in the future!!

For reasons unknown, there was not much advertising for Borealis. Ty has personally started a grass-roots campaign to get this show seen, and we’re on board.

This show has got to be one of the most intriguing new pilots to hit the airwaves in a while. Help Ty let SPACE know how much you enjoyed it, and how much you would love to see it on a regular basis!

Tweet the powers that be: @BellMediaPR, @SPACEChannel, with the Borealis hashtag, and what you thought of it!!

Watch the episode online :

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