By Martin Desouza
It is no secret in the film industry that actors are faced with having to play characters who drastically differ in comparison to who they are in real life. 30-year-old Canadian actor Cody Sparshu knows this all too well.
In order to overcome this challenge, Sparshu likes to find emotional similarities between himself and the character in attempt to make the character’s behaviour as authentic as possible.
Sparshu attributes his success to this strategy, but laughed when admitting it was very difficult to do in preparation for his most recent lead role in, Double Booked. The laughter was in reference to the fact that the film’s award winning director and producer, Neil Webb, cast Sparshu just one week before shooting began in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
“I just locked myself at home for a week and prepared the 60 pages dialogue over and over. It’s just the nature of the business. Sometimes actors need to work with what they’re given and go with the flow,” said Sparshu.
Despite the intense preparation timeline, Sparshu felt he delivered one of the best performances of his career, and Webb agreed.
“Cody showed extraordinary commitment both on and off the set in his leading role. He had a very limited amount of time to prepare for this project, being one of the last members locked in and having one of the largest and most dialogue heavy parts,” said Webb. “Nevertheless, Cody showed up on set for his leading role prepared to the utmost extent, ready to deliver an amazing performance. Rarely did Cody require more than two takes to achieve the performance which brought not only a unique and extremely thought-out perspective, but an immediacy that resonated with viewers.”
Sparshu was very humbled to receive high praise from Webb, and on top of his ability to make emotional connections with the characters he plays; he acknowledges another untraditional and personal approach.
“As weird as it may sound, when I’m acting I’m able to be more true to myself,” he said. “When playing a character, you have the freedom to embrace the real emotions and actions within you, that you feel you might normally not have permission to. You’re living under imaginary circumstances so there’s no repercussions to being real.”
Double Booked premiered in Los Angeles in 2014 and depicts the story of a tight-knit group of friends who have been taken captive while on vacation at a cabin in the mountains. Months after a scarring event, the group find themselves being subjected to sleep deprivation and mental torture as they desperately try to discover the motivation of their captors, a seemingly normal couple.
Sparshu played the role of Jeff, an easy-going hipster who was very passive and timid in nature. Throughout the course of the film, Jeff undergoes a dramatic self-realization experience as he eventually finds the strength, motivation and courage to stand up for himself.
The Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association nominated the film for Best Feature Drama and Best Original Score, two achievements that Sparshu is very proud of.
Undoubtedly, Sparshu’s passion for the arts runs deeply, as he references being on the family video camera with his sisters at age six. As he studied drama in elementary and high school, he acted in several theatrical plays, commercials, and films. It is on this foundation that he has been able to build a successful career.
“In studying various forms of theoretical acting techniques, I’ve been able to develop a strong sense of self-awareness which has allowed me to execute the techniques that best suit my style and strengths,” he said.
On top of his acting roles, Sparshu is building his portfolio as a writer and producer. In the process of writing his first feature film, Sparshu revealed that he has been able to leverage his experiences from acting, and apply them to the realm of writing and producing. Ironically, by improving his writing and producing skills, he is able to further evolve as an actor. It is a reciprocal process that Sparshu feels any aspiring actor should consider. He added that he is excited to show his dynamic ability to the world in the near future.
“As I mature in this business, I want to model myself off the Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson’s of the world,” he concluded. “Those guys produce more work than they act in. They are just as concerned with delivering a captivating movie as they are about their own individual acting performance.”
It is this deeper understanding of the fundamental elements that go into the production of a movie that Sparshu feels will allow him to continue to grow in the film industry as an actor, as a producer, and as an artist.