NOT long into Global TV's new show, Bomb Girls, Marco Moretti gets into a fistfight, threatens a supervisor and causes an accident that maims a co-worker.
Actor Antonio Cupo, who plays Marco on the six-part mini-series, admits audiences can't tell who Marco is in just two episodes, but says that will change as the season goes on.
"Slowly we begin to realize who Marco is, and he's a really likeable character," says Cupo.
As an Italian, Marco's presence is a point of tension in the Second World War-era munitions factory that serves as the setting for the show.
Cupo says it has been interesting to explore some of the discrimination Italian-Canadians faced during the war due to Italy's alliance with Nazi Germany.
But while his character may not be enjoying his time at Victory Munitions, Cupo says shooting the series in Toronto for two months this past fall was an "amazing" experience.
"I'm a lucky guy, I've got to say, because you don't often get to work with people like Meg Tilly, production companies like Muse (Entertainment). It's the crème de la crème. It's the absolute best situation to be in for an actor," says Cupo. "Everyone comes from success so that only means one thing: everyone's adding their professionalism to this great little film. And here we are with 1.4 million viewers on the first episode."
Bomb Girls tells the story of female factory workers, who, having previously been excluded from the workforce, were needed to fill in during the war as men left to fight overseas.
Early on, Cupo did have questions about his place as a male character in a story predominantly about women, but found Marco's story arc compelling.
"He doesn't really rely on anybody else, although he does have this interesting touch-and-go story with Meg (Tilly, who plays Lorna Corbett). Meg is definitely concerned about the safety of the factory having an Italian around."
Italy has been a recurring thread in Cupo's career patchwork.
Originally from Burnaby, Cupo says he did a lot of growing up on the North Shore.
He was a ski instructor at both Grouse and Cypress mountains, and attended Capilano University. Involved in school plays from an early age, Cupo went on to regional theatre, but decided to become a lawyer.
He studied English at UBC, while continuing with theatre, and took acting-for-television classes for fun. Eventually setting his scholastic plans aside, Cupo landed bit parts and recurring roles in various productions, including The L Word, Taken and Dark Angel.
"I had some neat roles but nothing I could really sink my teeth into," he says.
A move to Los Angeles brought more study and his first big film.
Shot in Canada, Hollywood Flies caught the attention of an Italian director who cast him as a lead in the Italian TV series Elisa Di Rivombrosa. Cupo describes the popular primetime drama as all swashbuckling, swords and horseback.
"It was very romantic," he says of the show. "I played the prince, it was all in costume. I come in and I save the princess from a potential disaster."
While in Europe for the next seven years, Cupo starred in numerous films and other projects.
"It's been a wild ride," he says of the experience, which included a stint on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars. ("I didn't win," he reports with a laugh.)
This summer, Cupo decided to return to Vancouver to re-focus his career.
"I knew this is where I needed to be over the next 10, 15 years of my life."
The day after he arrived back in Vancouver, Cupo auditioned for Bomb Girls.
"She put me through the ringer," he says of his audition with director Adrienne Mitchell, which lasted for almost two hours. A couple of days later, Cupo found out he had the role.
"It's a real Canadian topic this whole thing with Bomb Girls," he says. "It's important. It's important to be a part of it, I think."
Bomb Girls airs on Global TV Wednesdays at 8 p.m.