Adrian Holmes is ready for his next case

With the final season of police drama 19-2, the acclaimed actor looks to the future


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Adrian Holmes is a fan of Toronto’s Kensington Market

Throughout its four seasons, 19-2 has been well received among both critics and audience members. In 2016, the show was nominated for an International Emmy Award. This year, Adrian Holmes won a Canadian Screen Award for best performance in a continuing leading dramatic role.

The show also stars Toronto actor Jared Keeso. 

Holmes says he sees similarities between himself and his character, Nick Barron — a cop with a tough-guy exterior as well as a softer side.

“Nick Barron is a multi-layered character with a lot of depth and vulnerability, and it was such a treat and a joy to be able to play him,” he says. “He’s all about helping others, and he’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, but at the same time, there is a tougher side to him, and he doesn’t want to come across soft.”

Although the fourth season will feature eight episodes instead of the usual 10, the show will retain its realistic plot lines and in-depth character development. 

In fact, 19-2 is so true to the reality of working as an officer that Holmes says a police department has shown episodes to its trainee officers for educational purposes.

“They showed their trainees the school shooting episode because that episode was really intense and it put the officers in a situation where they had to be really focused and calm in order to respond,” he says. “The fact that they took what we did as a model for real life was a huge honour.”

Holmes is now based out of Vancouver, but he says he still gets to Toronto often. The actor cites areas like Kensington Market, Ossington Street and St. Lawrence Market as some of his most frequented haunts, as well as Belfast Love Public House on King Street.

Holmes has also been busy with other roles, including his recurring gig on Arrow, opposite Toronto native Stephen Amell, and an appearance on Letterkenny created by his 19-2 co-star Keeso. 

Last year, the actor played Errol Burrow, the first prime minister of Barbados, in Burrow: Freedom Fighter, an independent film, and he says he’ll be working on another independent film in Barbados in the near future.

“That was a huge career highlight for me. I got to go back to my homeland of Barbados and work on that project,” he says.

Holmes was born in Wales and had already lived in three countries by the age of four. His family moved back to his home country, Barbados, before starting a life in British Columbia. 

“My mom was a nurse, and she had a job opportunity over here. She jumped on it, and I had no say in the matter,” he says and laughs.

While growing up, Holmes found his calling early on. He acted in school plays and musicals throughout his childhood, and he still remembers his first role as the lion in the Wizard of Oz.

“I’ll never forget this little girl came up to me and asked for my autograph and I was like, ‘Mom, why does she want my autograph? I’m not famous.’ She said, ‘Oh but you were the lion, and you were so good!’ That was my first autograph I ever signed. I wonder if that little girl still has it,” he says.

His passion for acting never left him, even during a brief stint in the nursing industry. Holmes still dabbled in the acting world while he completed his nursing diploma, and after a couple of brief stints working in hospitals, he decided to make acting his focus.

“I said, ‘You know what, the years are going to go by anyway, regardless of what you do, so it doesn’t hurt to do something you love.’ Life is short, you only have one life to live, give it your all. If you gave it your all and you don’t succeed, at least you’ll be able to say you tried,” he says.

Although Holmes has acted in several film and television productions throughout his career, he says his favourite platform is the theatre, for its authenticity and the creative licence it allows him as an actor. He says one of his career bucket list items is to star in a Broadway show or at least one play a year.

“The thing about theatre is that it’s acting in its purest and rawest form. You’re completely vulnerable because it’s just you and the audience, and you get to experience their energy and their responses in the moment,” he says. “You get to perform from the beginning to the end and experience the full arc of the character.”

Despite his love for theatre, he says the experience of starring in 19-2 has been a major career highlight for him. The fourth and final season is set to premiere on July 31. Holmes says he’s glad that the show is ending on a high note.

“I would have loved to have kept it going a little longer, but a lot of shows will go nine or 10 seasons and in doing so sacrifice quality. We wanted to end the show without losing that quality and without losing the respect that the audience already has for the show,” he says.

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