What’s this? The crusty, inventive guy who fixes planes is flying with a search and rescue mission on Arctic Air?
If you are fans of the CBC TV show that began its new season on Jan. 7, you will know that the character of northern flight mechanic Cece Cooper is played by Roberts Creek professional actor Timothy Webber.
But how much of Webber is Cece Cooper, or vice versa? Reached in his funky Creek home, Webber said that there’s a good bit of him in Cooper.
“It’s a moderate meld,” he says. “Writers and actors tend to riff off each other and they used my own background and some characteristics in developing Cooper.”
These days Webber tends to be cast as a “grizzly old grump,” he says. It comes along with the age.
His acting career spans 35 years and he’s performed on stage, on TV and in movies. He’s in 10 episodes of this year’s Arctic Air series, but audiences in the U.S. can also see him on the Hallmark Channel in the show Cedar Cove, where he plays the part of a Deadhead hippy who runs a coffee bar. It’s a more relaxed role and he performs with the show’s lead, Andie MacDowell.
“She’s lovely and she’s a good actor,” he says. “Cedar Cove celebrates small town America. It’s a kind show.”
This season Arctic Air has changed gears somewhat, Webber reports. It has more depth and the story lines veer off into the lives of the characters, including the stars Adam Beach and Pascale Hutton.
“The cast is a fine bunch of people — there’s no big ego BS going on,” Webber tells Coast Reporter.
And the show still gives viewers a good hit of arctic landscape. Although for the most part it is filmed in Aldergrove, the cast also does location scenes up north in Yellowknife, part of the show that Webber loves. He’s an outdoors guy, loves to fly fish, and supports local salmon enhancement.
Webber has Atlantic maritime roots and first became interested in theatre while studying as an English major who had a fondness for poetry. When he moved to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia he joined the theatre department.
“I had no aspirations,” he recalls.
At first he did tech work on the stage and hung out with the performers, until a girlfriend decided to audition for theatre school in Montreal during a time of a mini film-making boom in that city. He auditioned too and, to his surprise, he was accepted.
His first big role was in Terror Train with Jamie Lee Curtis, in which he played the guy who gets killed — but not until the end of the film. His favourite was The Grey Fox, a Canadian-made film about robber Bill Miner that earned movie kudos in the 1980s.
“The thought of moving to L.A. to continue my career appalled me,” Webber says.
He chose to stay in Canada and has been seen in such TV shows as Men in Trees and North of 60, where he stayed for all six seasons. He’s earned three Gemini Awards, one Genie nomination, two Leo Award nominations and one win for his work on Cold Squad. During the 1990s he also took on characters in many other TV series, some forgotten, such as Black Harbour and Street Justice, and some memorable, such as X Files and The Outer Limits.
Although he is often recognized by strangers who feel they know him “from somewhere,” the role of a character actor does not draw as many fan letters as the stars of a show.
“I don’t have my own postal code,” he laughs.
Find Webber enjoying life at the Roberts Creek Legion, where he has served on the executive for the past 10 years. And find
Cece Cooper on Arctic Air, CBC TV, on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.