Jake Doyle, the streetwise private eye in CBC's Republic of Doyle, will make room Wednesday in his version of St. John's for an Oscar-winning gladiator.
Russell Crowe makes a guest appearance in the third season premiere of Doyle, the comic crime drama that stars co-creator Allan Hawco.
'He obviously came and did us a huge favour, as did the rest of the lads.' —Allan Hawco
"I really feel like this episode is very special," Hawco told CBC News on Wednesday. "It's a jam-packed, fun ride."
Bringing a superstar of Crowe's magnitude to the show is something of a coup for Republic of Doyle. Appearing with Crowe as members of a gang are the actors — Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes and Great Big Sea singer Alan Doyle — who played the Merry Men to Crowe's Robin Hood in the 2010 Ridley Scott film.
Hawco said he is more than aware of the significance of Crowe's appearance.
"He obviously came and did us a huge favour, as did the rest of the lads," said Hawco, who as an executive producer of the show has been able to recruit guest stars from across Canada and particularly in his home province.
"I'm always looking for the best people I possibly can," he said. "I also like the opportunity to give other actors a break … Almost every professional actor in the province has been on the show at one point or another."
Speaking with CBC News last August during a break from the Doyle shoot, Crowe said he was game for a reunion of the Robin Hood gang, and was keen to support Hawco and his show at the same time.
"It's taken some time and a massive amount of organization but here we are, and we're doing it," Crowe said.
Republic of Doyle has had strong ratings across Canada, and has been sold into dozens of international markets. It is shot during the summer and fall months, and uses the colourful houses in downtown St. John's as the backdrop for many of its plotlines.
"It was never my intention to sort of make a tourism ad," said Hawco. "I just wanted to show the city in its most beautiful light, and the way that I've always seen it."
The episode airs on CBC at 9:30 p.m. in the real-life republic of Doyle and at 9 p.m. in the rest of Canada.