CBC's Unspeakable Is Heart Stopping

Updated: Jan 10, 2019

Unspeakable, Sanders family: Sarah Wayne Callies as Margaret Sanders, Michael Shanks as Will Sanders, Ricardo Ortiz as Ryan Sanders. Photos courtesy of CBC.

Premieres on CBC Television Wednesday, January 9 at 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT)

In the early 1980’s, AIDS emerged and quickly became an epidemic. Those responsible for public safety failed. Thousands died. A second virus, hepatitis C, infected tens of thousands more. People were kept in the dark, afraid to speak out. Ignorance, arrogance, politics and economics all lead to betrayal, to cover-up, to scandal. Unspeakable is told from the perspective of two families caught in a tragedy that gripped a nation, as well as the doctors, nurses, corporations and bureaucracy responsible. The series follows the decades long saga as people struggled to survive, change the system and battle for compensation for those who desperately needed it. 

Unspeakable is based on emotionally charged personal accounts as well as Andre Picard’s Gift of Death: Confronting Canada’s Tainted Blood Tragedy, Vic Parson’s Bad Blood: The Tragedy of the Canadian Tainted Blood Scandal, and The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Canadian Blood Tragedy, led by Justice Horace Krever. 

Unspeakable is a heart stopping miniseries everyone should watch with their families - I'm Here With Mag

Unspeakable, Landry family: Camille Sullivan as Alice Landry, Shawn Doyle as Ben Landry, Jared Ager Foster as Peter Landry.

It began as a disease that was nobody’s fault and became a catastrophe. A federal inquiry led to finger pointing and sweeping changes to the blood system. Billions of dollars in reparations were paid. Criminal charges were laid. The repercussions are still being felt today. The worst part is that it was largely preventable. We cannot forget. 

A CBC and SundanceTV original series, UNSPEAKABLE is created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis) and stars actors Sarah Wayne Callies (Colony, The Walking Dead), Shawn Doyle (Bellevue, Big Love), Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1, Saving Hope) and Camille Sullivan (The Disappearance, The Man in the High Castle). It is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists' Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood. The series is written by Cooper, Carl Binder, Adriana Capozzi and Lynn Coady, with Cooper and Callies both directing episodes. AMC Studios manages worldwide distribution outside of Canada. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Helen Asimakis is Senior Director, Drama, Scripted Content; and Deborah Nathan is Executive in Charge of Production.

Season premeire still of, Camille Sullivan as Alice Landry, Shawn Doyle as Ben Landry. Photo by Michael Courtney

Episode 2 with Ricardo Ortiz as Young Ryan Sanders, Sarah Wayne Callies as Margaret Sanders. Photo by Jeff Weddell

Ep. 6 of Sarah Wayne Callies as Margaret Sanders, Amitai Marmorstein as Paul Kirpatrick. Photo by Jeff Weddell

Ep 8 Top centre: Shawn Doyle as Ben Landry // Photo by Jeff Weddell

Sarah Wayne Callies plays Margaret Sanders

Sarah Wayne Callies has made an indelible impression on audiences worldwide by bringing complex and powerful female characters to life on screen. Callies can currently be seen starring on USA’s critically acclaimed drama series Colony, opposite Josh Holloway. Hailed as “the most relevant show on TV” by VOX, Callies shines as Katie Bowman, a woman navigating dangerous ethical decisions to protect her family in occupied Los Angeles. Colony was created by Carlton Cuse (LOST) and Ryan Condal (Hercules), and is slated to premiere season three this spring (release date TBA).

It was recently announced that Callies will make her directorial debut on the show, taking the reins behind the camera for episode nine. In addition to Colony, Callies recently landed a starring role in the upcoming eight-part miniseries, UNSPEAKABLE, opposite Shawn Doyle, Michael Shanks, and Camille Sullivan for SundanceTV (US) and CBC in Canada. Based on the non-fiction books Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, the series chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s, caused by one of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history. In addition to playing a leading role, Callies will also be directing an episode. 

Michael Shanks plays Will Sanders

After a decade-long stint as fan favorite Dr. Daniel Jackson in the Sci-Fi Channel’s number-one hit show Stargate SG-1, Michael Shanks wasted no time testing the waters on the other side of the acting portal when the series wrapped in 2007. Since wrapping the record-breaking show, Shanks has been in high demand, starring on several hit shows, movies of the week and films. 

Shanks recurred on USA’s Burn Notice as Victor. His critically acclaimed performance in the first half of season two set the stage for more fireworks as the remaining episodes of Burn Notice began airing in early 2009.

He appeared in a three-episode arc on the Emmy®-winning drama 24, and recurred on the CW hit Smallville during its 10-season run as Carter Hall, aka Hawkman. Shanks played a nasty bad guy opposite Anne Archer in the Lifetime movie Judicial Indiscretion and portrayed the hockey legend Gordie Howe in the CBC film Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story, a role which earned him a 2014 Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Television Movie, as well as a Canadian Screen Award nomination. Michael Shanks plays Will Sanders in CBC's UNSPEAKABLE miniseries.

Camille Sullivan plays Alice Landry

Camille Sullivan is an award winning Canadian Actress. In 2018 she won a LEO Award and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Leading Actress for her brilliant work on the CTV mini series The Disappearance

Camille has twice been nominated for Gemini awards, once for her portrayal for the series lead role of Amy Lynch on the Shattered on CTV, and then again for her portrayal of Francine Reardon, the volatile cocaine and alcohol addicted ex-wife of a west coast crime boss, in Chris Haddocks Intelligence for CBC.

She played a lead role in Mistresses, a drama pilot for Lifetime, written by Melissa Carter, and based on the British series of the same name. Other recent television credits include a recurring roles on Man in the High Castle, Rookie Blue, Red Widow and Hellcats and Guest Stars on such shows as Proof, Motive, Falling Skies, Combat Hospital, Alcatraz, Flashpoint and The Killing

Past film projects include the much lauded Ally was Screaming for which she won the UBCP/ACTRA best actress award for her stunning performance. Camille was also luminous opposite Gabrielle Rose in the heartbreaking film Birdwatcher for which she garnered another UBCP/ACTRA best actress award. She won a third UBCP Award for her performance in Sisters and Brothers. Another lead credit includes Carl Bessai’s multiple award winning dramatic feature film, Normal. Camille’s performance in Normal won her a Leo Award for Best Actress in a Feature Length Film. Other starring roles include Mount Pleasant, written and directed by Ross Weber, Mothers and Daughters, an improvised film directed by Carl Bessai for which she earned another LEO nomination. Camille also appeared in Bessai’s Fathers and Sons and now completes the set with Sisters and Brothers.  

Camille was being honored with the Women In Film UBCP/ACTRA Artistic Achievement Award in June 2018. This award celebrates her body of work. Camille stars in the feature Kingsway written and directed by Bruce Sweeny which debuted to critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival this past fall. We are now looking forward to seeing her in CBC’s UNSPEAKABLE miniseries.

Shawn Doyle plays Ben Landry

Shawn Doyle was born and raised in Newfoundland. He has become a familiar face to audiences worldwide, turning out critically-acclaimed performances on both the big and small screen. With his move to Los Angeles in 2004, Shawn quickly amassed an impressive list of credits with recurring roles on Desperate Housewives and 24, and guest-star roles on shows such as Lie To Me, Lost, CSI, and Numbers. In 2010 he said goodbye to his regular role on the hit HBO series Big Love to portray the brilliant, charismatic and eccentric Arkady Balagan in Endgame.

Prior to moving south, Shawn starred in the critically-acclaimed Canadian series Bury the Lead and received the 2002 ACTRA Award and a 2004 Gemini (Canadian Emmy) Nomination, both for Outstanding Male Performance In a Leading Role, and 2005 Gemini Nomination for Outstanding Performance In a Guest-Starring Role.

He starred opposite Mary Louise-Parker in the CBC/BBC movie The Robber Bride, for which he won the 2007 Gemini Award for Outstanding Male Performance. Other Canadian television credits include the CBC Miniseries Guns, The City (Gemini Nom), A Killing Spring (Gemini Nom), and the CBC Miniseries Dieppe. He won the 2013 Canadian Screen Award (new Geminis) for Outstanding Male Performance as the Father of Canadian Confederation John A. Macdonald in John A: Birth Of A Country. His work in the film The Disappearedgarnered him the 2013 ACTRA Award for Outstanding Male Performance. Shawn’s film credits include Away From Everywhere, Grown Up Movie Star, Whiteout, Sabah, Don’t Say A Word, Frequency, The Majestic and Knockaround Guys. More recently, Shawn has appeared in Showtime’s Billions, the hit FX show Fargo, USA’s Covert Affairs, the hit Netflix series House Of Cards and starred in CBC’s Bellevue. Currently he can be seen in season three of the critically-acclaimed Sy-Fy Network series The Expanse and CBC's Bellevue and UNSPEAKABLE miniseries.

Brian Markinson plays Dr. Roger Perrault

Brian Markinson started his career in the New York theater scene, performing on Broadway in Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize and Tony award winning Lost in Yonkers and off-Broadway in Elliot Loves, directed by Mike Nichols. Brian has gone on to work with Nichols in multiple films including, Wolf, Primary Colors, multi Emmy award winning mini-series Angels in America and Charlie Wilson's War. He has worked with Woody Allen extensively, appearing in Sweet and Lowdown, Small Time Crooks and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Other film credits include Godzilla, Shooter and Enemy of the State. Brian has over 100 television credits, which include the critically acclaimed FX series Fargo, and AMC’s Mad Men, as well as Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, Rogue. He also starred in the Chris Haddock series, Romeo Section, which earned him a Canadian Screen Award nomination. Most recently, he recurs in the CBC's mini-series, "UNSPEAKABLE". Brian was nominated for a Gemini Award for his role as James Roszko in the film Mayerthorpe. He lives in Vancouver, Canada with his wife and two sons.

Ricardo Ortiz plays Ryan Sanders

Ricardo Ortiz (or Ricky as he likes to be called) was born in São Paulo, Brazil and moved to Canada at the age of seven.

A few years later he auditioned for a school play and got the part of Sebastian in The Little Mermaid musical. His performance earned him an award for Outstanding Achievement in a School Production and helped him discover his passion for acting. He then began taking acting classes and shortly after booked his first role on the CW show, The 100.

After shooting a few commercials, Ricardo landed his first Series Lead role as Max in the upcoming Family Channel series, Bajillionaires, by writer/creator Derek Harvie (Skins) and executive produced by Charles Bishop (Bowling for Columbine) and DHX Media. The single camera half hour comedy follows 12-year-old Max Graham and his group of friends as they manage their startup company. The series is scheduled to debut on Family Channel (Canada) and Universal Kids (US) in 2019.

Ricardo was then cast in a Recurring Guest Star role on the upcoming mini-series drama Unspeakable, executive produced by Robert C. Cooper (Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate SG-1). The show explores Canada’s tainted blood scandal as his character Ryan Sanders, a hemophiliac, deals with the struggles of balancing a normal life with the challenges of his condition. It premieres on the CBC network on January 9th, 2019.

He recently wrapped a Guest Star role on the upcoming Disney series Gabby Duran and The Unsittables by writer/producer Mike Alber (Kirby Buckets).

Ricardo is a Canadian citizen who still has his Brazilian roots and speaks fluent Portuguese. When Ricardo is not on set or in school he likes to play video games, spend time with his family and create short films with his friends. Audiences are looking forward to seeing him in CBC’s UNSPEAKABLE miniseries.

Jarded Ager Foster plays Peter Landry

From humble beginnings at the age of 14 in high-school improv theater, to a recurring role on the Netflix original "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", a large role in Brian Duffield's upcoming feature "Spontaneous", and a guest star on season 11 of "X-Files", Jared Ager-Foster has made a name for himself in a few short years.

His training in improv and performance (also a professional drummer) helped him book his first roles. Since then much of his training has been rounded by his extensive professional work, learning from and appearing alongside staples of the industry such as Daniel Radcliffe, Jennifer Beals, and James Remar.

Jared has appeared in a multitude of films and television series such as Horns (2013), Proof (2015), Motive (2016) and the independent feature Kayak to Klemtu (2018).

Jared Ager-Foster is a passion-driven artist who spends his time off screen singing, rapping, producing music, playing instruments ranging from the ukulele, to electric guitar, to the drums, and he has no plans of slowing down in the future. Look for him in 2018 in the upcoming feature "Spontaneous" and CBC's miniseries, "UNSPEAKABLE".

Matt Craven plays Jusitce Horace Krever

Canadian-born actor, Matt Craven, is amongst the most sought after character actors of film and television today. He has starred in such blockbuster and critically acclaimed films as the Academy Award nominated CRIMSON TIDE, A FEW GOOD MEN, and SAG Award nominated X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. He has starred opposite great Hollywood actors such as Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Helen Mirren, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, James Gandolfini and Michael Caine, to name a few. Most recently, he starred alongside Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson in the HBO mini-series SHARP OBJECTS.  Recent films include STONEWALL, which chronicles a young man’s political awakening and coming of age leading up to the Stonewall Riots, and UNLESS, based on the novel of the same name, opposite Academy Award nominated Catherine Keener.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Craven did not catch the acting bug until later in his years. Craven’s father died six weeks after his birth, and he ultimately dropped out of high school to help support his mother and family. He found himself working odd jobs such as driving trucks and working maintenance for electrical companies. It wasn’t until Craven was about 20 years old that his love for acting sparked, when he found an ad in the local newspaper announcing auditions for a local production of Dracula. Craven auditioned, landed the role of Jonathan Harker, and from then on, never looked back. He found his true passion.

Craven’s first feature film was opposite Bill Murray in MEATBALLS as Hardware, one of Tripper Harrison’s (Murray) counselors-in-training at Camp North Star, a cut-rate summer camp. This hilarious comedy was the start of Craven’s career, especially in the comedy world. During this time, Murray took Craven under his wing and immediately started teaching him the fundamentals of improve and how to create and mold a character. Craven’s second major project, the live action short, BRAVERY IN THE FIELD, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Look for him in 2018 in the upcoming feature "Spontaneous" and CBC's miniseries, "UNSPEAKABLE".

Premieres on Wednesday, January 9 at 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT)

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Photos courtesy of CBC and CBC PR

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