In Toronto Harbour last November, Rebecca Romijn could repeatedly be seen paddling an Olympic-style scull, pretending it was summer in Washington, DC.
It was exterior filming for the new Showcase/TNT procedural series King & Maxwell, about a pair of disgraced ex-Secret Service agents (Romijn and The Closer's Jon Tenney), working together fractiously as private detectives.
Hollywood North filming is kind of like that. You couldn't begin to count the number of Christmas movies that have been shot up here in Canada in August heat.
"No one was out there on the beach, even to stand and point, and say 'Who is that crazy person?" Romijn says with a laugh in a jovial joint interview with Tenney.
See Michelle Maxwell (Romijn) is "the brawn" (her description) of the team, a crack shot and a former Olympic rower who uses the waterways within the Beltway as her own personal highway.
"That's how she gets to work in the morning," she says. "Close to the end of the season, you'll see her racing in pursuit of somebody as part of a case we're working on."
Meanwhile, Sean King (Tenney) is "the brains" (his description), a former agent who eschews the use of a gun - for reasons which will gradually unfold after Tuesday's Showcase premiere. He favours faking out the bad guys from a distance with, say, a laser pointer they immediately interpret as a targeting device.
King is also a lawyer, "so we're familiar with the law enough to bend it, if not break it."
"He's the talker, I'm the doer," Romijn adds, playfully putting her spin on the dynamic.
Based on a series of books by David Baldacci, King & Maxwell, "uses the books as a point of departure," Tenney says. There are five books in the series and the sixth is coming in the fall.
"The plot for the pilot episode is actually from the fifth book. And the character of Edgar Roy (Ryan Hurst) is from that book as well."
Roy, an autistic savant who specializes in patterns and high-tech, was written in as a regular character, as Sean and Michelle's assistant.
Tenney is one of those Juilliard grads who opted for TV (and "paying the rent") over Shakespeare in the Park. For seven seasons, he played Fritz Howard, the husband of Kyra Sedgwick's character on The Closer. That character still appears regularly on the Closer spinoff series Major Crimes.
Still best known as Mystique from the X-Men movies, Romijn's TV career has been more scattershot. "I went from Pepper Dennis to Ugly Betty to Eastwick. So it takes a while to find the one that sticks.
But action befits her. "I've done action films, but this is the first time I've had to do weapons training and martial arts training." And yes, rowing.
Both say it was the character-driven aspect that attracted them to King & Maxwell amid a sea of he-and-she crime shows like Castle and Bones.
"It's a mildly fractious relationship," Tenney says, "and we need each other and also drive each other crazy a little bit. Why are we together? This is also one thing that hopefully be unearthed."
"Our weaknesses complement each other," Romijn adds. "You'll find out a lot, but this will be a marathon, not a sprint."