Nova Scotia

Rob Lowe and Jimmy Kimmel enjoy a laugh about the Halifax Explosion

Actor Rob Lowe has declared himself "obsessed" with the Halifax Explosion, telling late-night host Jimmy Kimmel he successfully had his character in a new movie named for the deadly blast.

Lowe says he nicknamed his Super Troopers 2 character after disaster that killed 2,000 people

Rob Lowe attends the premiere of Super Troopers 2 in Hollywood. Lowe nicknamed his character 'the Halifax Explosion.' (Richard Shotwell/Associated Press)

Actor Rob Lowe has declared himself "obsessed" with the Halifax Explosion, telling late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel he successfully had his character in a new movie nicknamed for the deadly blast.

Lowe appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night to promote his new movie, Super Troopers 2, in which he plays Guy Le Franc, hockey-star-turned-mayor of a Quebec town at the centre of a U.S.-Canadian border dispute.

Kimmel and Lowe — who has filmed several projects in the Halifax area — discussed the explosion with a mix of awe at its impact and irreverent humour of a sort rarely heard in the city where about 2,000 people died.

Lowe played a clip from the movie in which Le Franc explains his nickname comes from the 1917 blast in wartime Halifax. He gets some of the facts correct, but says people were blinded "by the light," rather than by shards of glass in the largest mass-blinding in Canadian history. Lowe has his character lament that "a First Nations tribe was lost," and while the Mi'kmaq community at Turtle Grove was destroyed, the community survived. 

Kimmel professed to have never heard of the blast, in which a munitions ship caught fire after colliding with another vessel and exploded.

"It's true — and I'm obsessed with it," he told Kimmel, adding the nickname was not in the original script for the movie, which opens Friday in Canada.

"My name was 'the Explosion.' I went to them and said I want to play 'the Halifax Explosion.' They didn't know what it was," Lowe tells Kimmel.

The Halifax Explosion destroyed much of the city, including these homes on Campbell's Road. (Nova Scotia Archives & Record Management/Canadian Press)

Lowe told Kimmel the death toll is "not good for the comedy."

"It was 100 years ago so we can laugh about it," Kimmel joked.

"Yeah," said Lowe. "They're forgot."

'I think politeness caused a terrible loss of life'

Lowe joked the explosion could only have happened in Canada, where people are the "nicest," and described an imagined scene in which two deckhands saw a ship filled with dynamite headed toward their vessel.

"You just know it was two guys on deck, going 'Hey, I see a light over there, do you think that's the dynamite ship eh?'

"And then they go, 'Oh, I don't know. Looks like it's coming towards us. Maybe we kinda gotta veer in front of it, just to get out of its way.'

"'Oh, that might inconvenience it."'

Said Lowe: "I think politeness caused a terrible loss of life."

Last Dec. 6, hundreds of people gathered in Halifax's north end to mark the 100th anniversary of the massive explosion that killed almost 2,000 people, wounded 9,000 and left 25,000 homeless.

Lowe, 54, started his career as a teen heartthrob in such movies as St. Elmo's Fire before moving to TV with prominent roles in The West Wing and Parks and Recreation.

with files from Jon Tattrie