Cardinal: Billy Campbell on Coming Full Circle to the Perfect Ending

Bell Media
Bell Media

Endings can be hard, but there’s a feeling of satisfaction when a story comes full circle. That’s exactly how the final season of CTV’s Cardinal, premiering Monday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, feels as the drama heads back to winter in North Bay, Ontario. Detectives John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who have grown closer as friends and partners, are once again pushed to their limits by a case.The case in question for Cardinal: Until the Night is a seemingly mundane missings persons case that turns into a spree of nightmarish murders. Just like Season 1, the final season is set in the bitterly cold and sometimes outright hostile environment of Algonquin Bay winter.

Campbell recently spoke with The TV Junkies about how perfect he felt it was to be returning to winter. He previewed what was ahead this season for Cardinal and Delorme, and how their relationship may finally progress beyond just partners. Campbell, known for roles on series like Once and Again, The Killing, The 4400, and Helix, also offers up thoughts on why playing Detective John Cardinal may just be the best role of his career and what he’ll miss most about the series.


The TV Junkies: It feels fitting that this season is set in winter and like we’ve come full circle back to Season 1. What was that like for you?

Billy Campbell: It really felt like coming home. It was the perfect way to end it, having it be full cycle from winter to winter. Maybe it’s just because it was winter when we shot it the first time, but it really feels more like Cardinal to be in the winter. You really feel the cold, and I’ll never forget the first day shooting the first season and it was 40 below. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know if I can do this.’ [laughs]

TTVJ: John went through a lot in Season 3. What’s his mindset at the start of this year? How’s he holding up?

BC: The show really is about Delorme and Cardinal and there was an obstacle that’s no longer there. In a funny way, that gives them both vertigo. I don’t think either one has ever been able to admit, not even to themselves, their attraction to the other. Karine and I had so much fun playing with the notion that these two people, who can’t admit feelings to themselves, are suddenly free in some way. How would they both react to that? We just had a ball playing it.

Bell Media
Bell Media

TTVJ: So what I’m hearing is that we’ll see some movement in their relationship then?

BC: Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. I think I can say that if you love the show, and the flavor and feel of the show itself, and if you’re invested in the relationship between Cardinal and Delorme, then you’ll be extremely gratified in the way the whole thing is resolved. I think it’s perfect.

TTVJ: I was delighted to see that John seems to be on good terms with his daughter (Alanna Bale). Will we continue to see that relationship evolve in Season 4?

BC: At the end of the previous season it felt like there would be a new beginning and a fairy tale ending to the relationship, but Cardinal is not a fairy tale show. I’ll say that there’s more to be explored in the relationship with his daughter and we do explore it.

TTVJ: What can you share about the case that Cardinal and Delorme are investigating this season?

BC: It’s gruesome of course, but it’s fun in that it turns out not to be what we think it is. There are some very, very strong performances in it and I think it’s just terrific. It’s more along the lines of the previous season where we had two plots going on with the bad guys and then also the therapist. That, to me, makes it a little more complex and juicy and the final season has a similar feeling.

Bell Media
Bell Media

TTVJ: As you look back and reflect on the show, what have you enjoyed most about playing this character and being a part of this show?

BC: He doesn’t say much. [laughs] That sounds flip but it’s true. There’s so much that goes on between the lines. I can’t stand the kind of TV writing where all the subtext is in dialogue and they don’t let the audience figure stuff out. Cardinal is not that kind of show and we get to play with the subtext, these silences, and the space in between. It’s a field day for an actor. Then to be together with someone as brilliant as Karine, and the rest of the cast, it’s just heaven on Earth for an actor.

TTVJ: How do you feel then about the show ending after four seasons?

BC: There’s a very large part of me that wants to go back to North Bay next winter and shoot another season. It’ll really feel weird not to do that. Last summer, my folks have a cottage in Muskoka, and I took a side trip with my wife and kids to North Bay just to eat at the North Star Diner. It’s the best vegan diner on the face of the planet. I also wanted her to see where I had been spending all this time. It was so bloody strange to drive into North Bay and not be driving there to do Cardinal. I can’t tell you how weird and sad it was. I have an enormous amount of mixed feelings. I’m super, super sad that it’s over and in many ways, it’s been the best job of my career. On the other hand, I’m super happy I don’t have to go back to North America and leave my family for months at a time. 


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Cardinal: Until the Night premieres Monday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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