Callum Keith Rennie knows how to be bad, from 'Californication' to 'Oz' to '24'

Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie has built a career out of playing very bad men.

TORONTO - Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie has built a career out of playing very bad men.

With roles including a manipulative cylon on "Battlestar Galactica," a bad-boy rocker on "Californication," a serial killer on "Harper's Island," and this fall, a Russian mobster on "24," the rugged performer says it's good to be bad these days.

"I've played it quite a few times," Rennie admits in a recent interview from Los Angeles, where he was shooting three episodes of "24."

"(The bad guy) always has lots of twists and turns, right? You don't get caught into certain styles of having to play it, so I like doing it."

This weekend, Rennie goes bad in a TV remake of one of the most iconic of childhood tales: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

In the three-part miniseries "Tin Man" on Space, the L. Frank Baum novel is reimagined with a modernized, sinister style.

The story's winged monkeys are replaced by a band of thugs led by Rennie's character Zero, who's dispatched to capture Dorothy.

"He's sort of a henchman who enjoys acting out ... on underlings and trying to make his way up the ladder. And wearing an outfit that's very Nazi-esque and very stylized and Storm Trooperish," says Rennie, drawing comparisons between the leather-clad bruiser's military-goth wardrobe and "Star Wars" armour.

Rennie raves about the blown-out archetypes that populate the series' fantastical realm known as the O.Z. - for Outer Zone - instead of Oz.

Indie favourite Zooey Deschanel portrays the determined heroine, DG - harkening the original's Dorothy Gale - while Neal McDonough is Wyatt Cain, also known as the "Tin Man" for being locked in an iron suit for rebelling against the evil scorceress Azkadellia, herself an incarnation of the Wicked Witch of the West.

In lieu of the Cowardly Lion, Raoul Trujillo plays the fearful but telepathic creature Raw, while Alan Cumming reinterprets the dim-witted Scarecrow as the tortured Glitch, a genius who was robbed of half his brain.

Rennie says he was offered the role by British director Nick Willing, with whom he had been in talks for an unrelated film project in Halifax. He credits Willing's wild vision with crafting a fanciful, even operatic, world tinged with madness.

"I just jumped at it. I had no idea what it would become or be," Rennie says of the miniseries, shot in Vancouver and originally broadcast on the U.S. Sci Fi channel in 2007.

"Some things appear so big that you go, 'Well, how is this going to be accomplished?' And this was one of those. Nick had this sort of energy and enthusiasm and broad-stroke view of it, it was like, 'Oh yeah, OK, this should work, this should be fun. And it was all of the above."

"Tin Man" makes its Canadian premiere Saturday on Space and runs through Monday.

 
 
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