Tag Archives: Canadian Actors

Canada’s Helena-Alexis Seymour plays her dream role in Amazon’s hit series

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Helena-Alexis Seymour

Helena-Alexis Seymour grew up on stage, never having an issue with being in the spotlight, literally. Growing up in the small town of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, Seymour danced, did beauty pageants, and modeled. She loved the way she could express her creativity through such methods of performing. As she grew and started a successful modeling career, she realized another passion: acting. After booking her first commercial at only nine years old, she knew what her calling was.

“The more I acted, the more I realized that the artform was about more than me being creative, it was about how I was able to make the audience feel. Having someone watch your performance and be moved by it because they can relate, it reassures them that they are not alone. We all want to feel like we aren’t alone in this world so to be able to do that for someone makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

Now, millions around the world have seen Seymour in some of their favorite films and television shows. She is known for films like the blockbuster xXx: Return of Xander Cage starring Vin Diesel, as well as the multiple Academy Award winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The highlight of her esteemed career however, began last year when she was cast in the title role in Amazon’s award-winning original series Chronicles of Jessica Wu.

“Helena is a woman that exudes positive energy, so naturally she brightens up any room she steps in. She’s hardworking, humble, kind and so down to earth, which allowed for us to not only create great moments on camera, but many memorable moments off camera. It was a very rewarding experience and I hope it’s the first project of many that we get to work on together,” said Jasmine Hester, Seymour’s co-star on the show.

Chronicles of Jessica Wu is a story about a young girl on the Autism spectrum who has mastered martial arts. She becomes a Hero in her city and takes down some of the most ruthless villains in Los Angeles. Jessica’s genius ability and martial arts helps her become the most unique and fascinating Superhero of our time. Chronicles of Jessica Wu is a fun, action-packed, and exciting series for the entire family.

“I love how the story showed a strong, bi-racial, woman on the autistic spectrum living a very normal life. She is highly functional and lives quite like everyone else. Bringing awareness to the autism spectrum is something that we all need to experience. Being more inclusive of each other and more loving to each other. Everyone in this world is different and going through something so the more we can open our minds to it, the more compassionate as a whole we become,” said Seymour.

The character of Jessica Wu is driven, focused, ambitious, strong yet quite shy, and vulnerable all at the same time. She is loyal and expects the same loyalty in return. She believes her autism is a strength and uses it to her advantage. She is an intellectual genius and is always two steps ahead in her mind. She uses her amazing mathematical abilities to solve certain issues in her life as well as in her fighting when acting as the superhero named Equation.

“Helena-Alexis is a complete joy to work with. From her dedication, preparation, and delivery performances on and off set, she is the total package. Helena captures the true essence of an individual not defined by any disabilities or anything else. You will surely see how she brings the character Jessica Wu to a full circle of life. Her preparation and dedication to make our show the very best and to reach its maximum potential is truly appreciated. We couldn’t be more pleased and prouder of her work. Seriously, her performance on this show is must see TV,” said Brandon Larkins, Executive Producer.

Stepping into the show during its second season and taking over for the actress that played Jessica Wu in the show’s first season, Seymour had her work cut out for her; she had to honor a character that had already been established in fans’ minds while still making it her own. To do so, she extensively researched autism and what that would mean for her character. She had a great time recreating the character and experiencing life through her eyes. Seymour discovered what Jessica’s values were, what her strengths and weaknesses were, the type of music she listens to, the type of guy she crushes on and even what zodiac sign she was. With all that knowledge, she used it to mold Jessica Wu’s personality, and essentially, her soul.  Luckily, Seymour has a kickboxing/martial arts background, and was able to use those skills when playing Jessica.

I loved everything about working on this. I loved playing a double life as Jessica Wu and Equation,” said Seymour. “I loved working on set with such inspiring and grounded cast and crew members. When you are surrounded by love, light and greatness you naturally will vibrate to that frequency, so I am so grateful that every day was positive and that we were free to create great art together.”

The Chronicles of Jessica Wu is truly fun for the entire family. Seymour is excited by the show’s success already, and for the future seasons to come. She knows the importance of shows like this and is happy to be portraying a such a unique character that the world needs to see.

“This is only the beginning of major change in the television and film industry. We need more ethnic superheroes on the big and small screen. The world is full of different people with different backgrounds. We must continue to open our eyes to them and the gifts that they have to offer not only to this generation but the younger generations to come. It is up to us to show the youth that they matter and that there is someone just like them on the screen who is strong, capable and worthy. Being able to do that for a young child whether with autism or not means that I have done my job,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out the second season of Chronicles of Jessica Wu on Amazon when it is released on April 2nd.

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Tony Nash brings on the laughs and the screams in ‘Secret Santa’

When Tony Nash speaks of his craft, he talks with the passion of someone who truly loves what he does. When he steps onto a set, it doesn’t feel like work for him, but rather it feels like a privilege to have the opportunity to do what he believes he is meant to be doing every day. This young man of Greek-Spanish descent has been acting since his childhood and has taken the Canadian film industry by storm.

Throughout his career, Nash has worked on a series of successful film and television ventures. Movies such as Saving Dreams and Meet the Parents, and shows like Petrol and Condor, the highly anticipated Audience network thriller. With every new project he takes on, it becomes clear that he is doing what he loves.

“What I like about acting is that when it is approached with the sacredness that it deserves, it first and foremost holds a mirror up to me, revealing all my hidden desires, coping mechanisms, repressions, reservations, grudges, vulnerabilities, beauties, gifts, talents and strengths. In so doing, it enables me to understand the souls of others and thereby be qualified and capable of holding a mirror up to the entirety of human nature, as Hamlet advised in Act 3, Scene 2,” said Nash.

Nash’s first true taste of international success came with the 2015 flick Secret Santa. Secret Santa is a feature length film that tells the story of a group of eccentric college kids, struggling to get through the hectic exam period. This horror/comedy is a tribute to B-Movie Slashers but also takes the conventions and turns them upside down. A liquor filled party is planned, adding a Secret Santa exchange for fun. Little do our characters know, a killer is in town and has a special present for all the good (and bad) girls and boys. Dare to open your present? It might be your last. Nash was really drawn to this project because he really wanted a comedic role to add to his repertoire, and his character also had a sweet, love element to his story. More than anything however, he loved that it was an ode to 90’s slasher films.

In Secret Santa, Nash plays Professor Preston Ramsey. The role was a lead and critical to the project as he was the red-herring in the horror plot. Throughout the film, audiences are led to believe he is the secret killer. The role was crucial as he furthers a love story between himself and the other lead, his student, and distracts the viewer from the killer, making the ending more of a surprise, staying true to the horror genre. The character was a sweet, somewhat naive college professor. He also was in a rut romantically and when one of his students started to fall for him, he began to feel alive again. He is an academic and spent his whole life indoors studying while his friends were all outside playing football. He is also a hopeless romantic and had only been in one relationship, which lasted seven years. The character had to be lovable, charming, slightly off beat, and at the same time mysterious. Nash was able to bring all that to the character as well as some humor of his own, which made the set a fun environment to work in and everyone enjoyed themselves. He was able to bring the character to life and give him that nerdy quality he needed to have plus a mature professor vibe amongst a bunch of college kids in an unexpected bloody night. Nash was perfect for the role.

“When I got the role, the first thing I did was went out and bought a pair of glasses and a tweed jacket that I thought would suit the character well. I spent time in university halls watching professors teach their classes to bright students. Also, because my character was being seduced by one of his students I watched The Graduate. I watched Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, more times than I can count” said Nash.

Secret Santa premiered in November 2015 at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival. The film was then shown at the Toronto International Spring Horror and Fantasy Festival, and the Buffalo Dreams Film Festival. It was distributed by Wild Eye Releasing and is available at several stores on DVD including Walmart and Best Buy. Nash’s take on the vital role of Professor Preston Ramsey was instrumental to the film’s success.

“Tony was pitch-perfect in this slasher-comedy. He was hilarious, charming and ever-so-subtly mysterious to lead us towards the edge of suspicion. It was a brilliant and nuanced performance by a highly sensitive and skilled actor. Bravo Tony,” said Mike McMurran, Writer and Director of the film.

After a friend reached out to Nash telling him about the role, Nash sent in an audition tape that instantly impressed McMurran, saying there would be no one better to play the role. They instantly connected, sharing the same vision for the character and the film as a whole. As it was Nash’s first time in a comedic role, he was eager to try out something different. His versatility shone, and he perfectly encapsulated the mysterious professor. Not only did he have fun, but he says the entire cast and crew became close friends during filming. Overall, it was an incredibly enjoyable experience for the actor.

“I think it’s important to have fun sometimes and do things I am not used to. I think that life is hard enough and sometimes a little horror and comedy never hurt anyone. It’s important to just take a film and just create something entertaining for people who want to see something different. And I think Mike and his crew were able to do that very well. It was exciting to film and definitely will be exciting to watch as well,” he concluded.

Be sure to check out Secret Santa and let Tony Nash make you laugh and scream at the same time.

Canada’s Victor Gilbert enchants audiences in new film ‘The Walking Man’

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Victor Gilbert

With his mom being a cinematographer and sister being an actress, Victor Gilbert’s impressions of movies are quite different than most children his age. He doesn’t just see something to entertain him, he understands the whole filmmaking process, and has for most of his life. At only ten years old, he can navigate a film set and understand the intricacies of what is required to make a film like many much older. That is perhaps why he already knows he wants to spend the rest of his life acting, and he is in demand not just in his home country of Canada, but internationally as well.

Gilbert’s career is already very formidable. Just this year he worked on a powerful commercial for Alberta’s public service union AUPE, and his film The Kiss has made its way to several prestigious film festivals. He has starred in five seasons of Netflix’s hit series Hell on Wheels, and even with this, he feels like he is just getting started.

“I would really like to be an actor full-time when I grow up and don’t have to be in school,” said Gilbert.

Despite not being a full-time actor, Gilbert is still quite the professional. Just last year he starred in the film The Walking Man. The film tells the story of a man who is compelled to leave his job and become a homeless wanderer. His friends and acquaintances share their opinions, and audiences are left to ponder his purpose. In the film, Gilbert plays Eric, one of the principal children who talked to the camera about “The Walking Man”. Eric was once a player for the soccer team that The Walking Man coached prior to quitting and abandoning his life. Having a child’s perspective about why the man began wandering was essential to the story’s development and how audiences felt about the entire concept.  Eric is a young boy who loves to play video games and doesn’t really take his attention away from his game when he talks. He is a ‘rough’ boy who is not very interested by what is going on with his old coach. He is asked to speak about what he saw, but doesn’t really want to since he’s so busy with his games. The disinterest in such a unique showcases a child’s innocense, and required a talented young actor to embody such a character. This is where Gilbert shined.

“My mom says many adults, like the main character of the movie, question themselves and their lives at some point, so the topic is very accurate and recurrent and impactful. It’s not always easy to deal with all the bills, and many people probably feel like they want to quit. It’s good because it teaches everybody that they are not alone and there are options and people out there to help. Maybe it’s important to take pauses in life to stop and relax and just walk, and it’s ok. Basically, don’t stress about things, and ask questions in life,” said Gilbert.

The Walking Man had its premiere screening at Orange Lofts Condos in March of last year, and now is making its way to film festivals. It was previously selected for the Winnipeg Real to Reel Festival, and the Central Alberta Film Festival. It is expected to have screenings at even more festivals soon. Such success may not have been possible without Gilbert’s portrayal of Eric. He had many lines throughout the film, and he had to stay very serious. He was only 8-years-old when the filming took place, and this is no easy task for someone of that age. However, Gilbert understood the importance of his character, and even learned the whole script by heart to comprehend the story’s importance. He then did his entire scene in just one take.

“The fact that he was able to pull through his character so well makes his presence on screen quite remarkable as you can tell he masters his lines even if he is so young. In this scene, he has to look straight at the camera and deliver his lines. He did not budge, he delivered the full script and added very brilliant luminosity to the film, as his bright eyes and his lovely and joyful character pierce the screen for those scenes,” said Derek Selinger, the Writer and Director of The Walking Man. “I worked with Victor many times before. I keep hiring Victor because of all the various faces he can pull, his lovely personality, the fact that he can remember lines so well and because he is so professional. When I called him up on filming day to come sit on the couch to deliver his lines, he came right away.”

Selinger, a well-known magician, knew Gilbert was the right person for the role in his film. Gilbert had to sit on the couch and play on a Nintendo GameBoy, and then talk to the camera. While saying his many lines, he always stayed in character and very serious. He describes The Walking Man and what his character saw, and does so in a confessional sort of way. Such a style requires extreme focus, as the camera sees every aspect of your face. It also requires a rawness, as the scene had to present in the style of a documentary interview. With the distraction of the video game console, this could have been difficult for many child actors, but Gilbert embodied it perfectly. Besides, for the young actor, this was a dream come true, as he still got to play video games, something he already enjoys. 

Derek is just really nice. He is not stressful, he helps his actors and makes the set very comfortable. He takes his time to explain the set, he is all prepared already when we show up on set, so things go super fast. Like, the fastest I have seen,” Gilbert described.

However, even though he got to play video games and work with people he liked, the best part of Gilbert’s experience shooting The Walking Man came from an unexpected source.

“Derek is a magician. A real magician! He does shows on big stages. So, he is a very interesting person. He does magic tricks sometimes on set,” said Gilbert.

Check out the tralier for The Walking Man here.

Wait ‘till you see Anna Pniowsky in “Wait ‘Till Helen Comes”

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Photo by Kevin McIntyre

When most parents ask their child what they would like to be when they grow up, they often expect to hear answers like “actress” or “singer,” and simply hope that the novelty will wear off with age. For Anna Pniowsky’s parents, however, this is not the case. Not only does Pniowsky have a burning passion to be an actress, she is not ready to wait until she’s an adult. At the young age of 12, Pniowsky is proving to be a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry, and she is certain that this is what she wants to be doing for the rest of her life. For Pniowsky, acting provides her with a platform to unleash her creativity, and it is an outlet to transform herself into each new role that she takes on. She loves all aspects of her job, and she soaks up any opportunity to learn from other professionals every time she steps on set. From camera operators, to hair and makeup, she will stop at nothing and at no one to expand her knowledge and skills in the acting world. Knowing that she has an opportunity to evoke unfamiliar emotions from her audience is what motivates her to keep her head down and focus on her craft, something which she aims to continue doing as she builds her career.

When asked about what initially lead her to the idea of becoming an actress, Pniowsky cannot pinpoint an exact moment. For as long as she can remember, acting has been a world that she was drawn to and that passion has only ever grown with time. Despite her age, Pniowsky has already won herself lead roles in films working with well-known cast members and directors, such as her lead role in Light of My Life, for which Pniowsky was directed by and co-starred with Oscar-winner Casey Affleck. When she sets her sights on a role, there are few limits to what she can achieve and she immerses herself into roles in ways that some established actors and actresses could only admire. Pniowsky is wise beyond her years and she has pieced together a remarkable career path very early on in her life.

At the mere age of eight, Pniowsky landed herself her first ever role in the film Wait ‘Till Helen Comes. The film, which can also be known as A Little Girl’s Secret, is about a reconstructed family who moves to a converted church in the country. When a 14-year old Molly realizes she has a gift that she must use, she has to face her deepest fears and save her troubled step-sister from a dangerous relationship with the ghost of a lonely little girl. In this role, Pniowsky played the powerful role of a young girl that goes missing, walks into a river and drowns. Her character was instrumental to the horror film’s plot line and needed to be played by a highly attuned actress who would know how to keep with the atmosphere and the mood of the storyline. By walking into the river and drowning, Pniowsky’s character helps the audience to draw the chilling conclusion that the story’s antagonist, Helen, targets young girls and leads them into the river to drown. Pniowsky set the scene for the entire film, and without her talents, the film would not have earned the reputation that it did.

As a learning experience, Pniowsky could not have asked for more. Not only did she gain exposure to working with other actors on set, as well as taking direction from a vetted production crew, Pniowsky also gained experience shooting a physically and psychologically demanding scene. She was tasked with shooting the film’s opening scene in close to freezing water. The water was so cold, in fact, that she was immediately pulled from the water and placed in a hot tub when the scene wrapped in order to ensure that there was no damage done to her body from the cold. Pniowsky handled the tasking scene with a high degree of professionalism and ease. Even when there was a flaw with the camera, and she was asked to shoot the scene again, Pniowsky got back into the character and executed the scene flawlessly for a second consecutive time.

Victoria Sanchez-Mandryk, who produced Wait ‘Till Helen Comes, was shocked to experience the caliber of acting that she received from Pniowsky at such a young age. She learned very quickly that Pniowsky’s acting skills rival that of highly experienced actors and actresses who have dedicated a lifetime to their craft. According to Sanchez-Mandryk, “Anna is like an old soul, who quietly watches and listens with wisdom beyond her years, taking everything in. When action is called, she delivers in full force.” To receive such high praise from a professional like Sanchez-Mandryk is not a small feat. For Pniowsky, however, it simply motivates her to continue mastering her artistry and showing the world what she is capable of.

As Pniowsky patiently awaits the release of Light of My Life, she continues to search for new ways to challenge herself and push her acting abilities to the limit. She considers herself extremely fortunate to have earned the experience that she has earned thus far in her career, but aims to build on those successes for many years to come. Keep an eye out for Pniowsky as she continues to rise to the top.

Featured Actor: Canada’s Nathan Mitchell!

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Canadian Actor Nathan Mitchell shot by Rebecca Eady

 

For Canadian born actor Nathan Mitchell, who is known for his roles in an impressive list of hit films such as “Twist of Fate,” “Newlywed and Dead” and Lifetime’s “The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story,” as well as the multi-award winning series “Arrow” and “Motive,” the acting bug bit at a young age, and he hasn’t turned back since.

Mitchell says, “What’s appealing about acting for me is that it’s an art form that requires genuine connection with other people. You really have to listen; you really have to let yourself be affected by the other person to create something dynamic. When you’re that tuned into someone else you have this fun, meaningful experience.”

Starting out in the industry nearly a decade ago, Mitchell skyrocketed to the top of the Canadian TV scene almost immediately when he took on the recurring lead role of Jeffrey on The CW’s comedy “Aliens in America.” Mitchell’s character Jeffrey is the on-and-off boyfriend of lead character Claire Tolchuck, played by Lindsay Shaw from the multi-award winning series “Pretty Little Liars.”

A coming of age comedy about a Pakistani exchange student who moves to America to live with the Tolchuck family and attend high school in a foreign country, “Aliens in America” was an immediate fan favorite thanks to the way it wove together relatable storylines about the dramatic experiences of being a teenager in a way that left viewers feeling good.

One of Mitchell’s funniest and most unforgettable moments in the series was in the second episode when Claire tries to break up with him. Instead of fading out, he stands on her front lawn with a boombox on his shoulder blasting ‘In Your Eyes,’ an icon and effective move on his part.

While “Aliens in America” was the perfect venue for Mitchell to show off his comedy side, but what audiences have come to know the actor best for is his unparalleled skill in drama.

Over the years he’s given numerous memorable performances on hit TV series such as the Golden Globe nominated crime series “Covert Affairs,” the two-time Primetime Emmy nominated sci-fi series “Falling Skies,” the Gemini and Canadian Screen Award winning series “How to Be Indie,” the Joey Award winning series “The Tomorrow People” and more.

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Nathan Mitchell in a dramatic moment as Russell Bowman in “Motive”

In season 4 of the dramatic crime series “Motive” Mitchell took on a starring role as famed BC Furies quarterback Russell Bowman, a distraught husband mourning the loss of his murdered wife.

“There was a weight to this character because he is dealing with the most monumental loss of his life. We get to see some of the happy times they had as a couple. But then you’re dealing with the heaviness of going through such a deep loss,” recalls Mitchell about playing Russell Bowman on the series.

“He has to deal with losing the most important person in his life. Seeing how he handles that is just as interesting as solving the murder itself. Those two parts of the narrative keep you on your toes.”

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Kristin Lehman (left), Nathan Mitchell (center) & Brendan Penny (right) in “Motive”

Mitchell’s riveting performance as Bowman is emotional, honest and impossible to peel our eyes away from, the actor definitely has a gift for bringing challenging and multi-layered characters to life on screen.

With the craze of comic book inspired blockbuster films and hit television series that have swept the entertainment industry over the last few years, it’s not at all surprising that Mitchell is a part of that world too, the DC Universe to be specific.

In season 3 of The CW’s “Arrow,” Mitchell guest starred as Isaac Stanzler, a key character in the developing plot between Oliver aka Arrow, played by Stephen Amell (“The Flash,” “Legends of Tomorrow”), and Roy aka Arsenal, played by Colton Hayes (“San Andreas,” “Teen Wolf”).

The abandoned protege of Wildcat (J.R. Ramirez), Isaac appears on the scene embittered from the betrayal and ready to make Wildcat pay by framing him for a string of mysterious murders.

Mitchell explains, “I came out of the shadows to frame Wild Cat for giving up on me and leaving me in the hands of criminals. It was exhilarating getting to be a part of the DC Comics Universe and bring comic book lore to life.”

A critical subplot in “Arrow’s” overall story arc, the relationship between Isaac and Wildcat reveal what could happen to Arrow if he were to be abandoned by Arsenal in the future; but only time will tell how that plays out.

Nailing the mark with his performance in “Arrow,” Mitchell brings his character to life seamlessly by tapping into the hurt and resentment Isaac has towards Wildcat. In the heart pumping fight scene where Isaac takes on Arsenal, Mitchell makes it’s clear that what’s driving his character is the need for vengeance, which makes him a relatable villain that we hate and feel sorry for at the same time.

As an actor, Nathan Mitchell brings a rare level of diversity to the table thanks to his ability to find the root of what drives each of his characters, an asset that has allowed him to play a wide range roles across practically every genre.

He explains, “The more I truly explore my roles the more I become aware of different facets of myself. There’s a huge psychological component to it. You’re taking the script and deducing how one would act based on the circumstances. You’re always learning about human nature. It’s very fulfilling.”

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Rose McIver (left), Nathan Mitchell (center) & Malcolm Goodwin (right) in the season 2 finale of “iZombie”

Up next for Nathan Mitchell is season 3 of the TV series “iZombie,” which airs in 2017, as well as the upcoming sci-fi film “Scorched Earth,” where he takes on the critical role of Zee. Audiences will also be able to catch him in the upcoming film “The Marine 5: Battleground,” where he takes on the key role of Cole.

 

Actor Cory Dagg is a Creative Powerhouse on Screen!

Some actors seem to be in absolutely everything, and for almost 30 years Cory Dagg has been just such an actor. He’s worked with many of the biggest names in the industry, played virtually every kind of character imaginable, and has left a trail of phenomenal productions in his wake. His raw talent and vast experience are complemented by an emotive and dynamic physical appearance that allows him to blend into any role. Dagg has a rare and priceless gift — the ability to flawlessly play any role in any genre without ever appearing out of place.

 

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Sean Penn (left), Robert De Niro (center) and Cory Dagg (right) in “We’re No Angels”

 

Dagg’s career began – and nearly ended – when he was cast in the 1989 comedy “We’re No Angels,” starring Academy Award winners Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “The Godfather Part II”) and Sean Penn (“Milk,” “Mystic River”). De Niro and Penn play two escaped convicts who impersonate a pair of priests in a bid to cross the border into Canada. With the law hot on their tails, the two are almost in the clear when they encounter a rather ineffective border guard (played by Dagg) whose dream is to become a famous writer.

Few if any actors can say their first big screen role involved a hilarious exchange between themselves and two already-legendary actors like Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. Though Dagg’s scene had audiences in stitches, it was in serious danger of being cut altogether. After 15 hours on set an exhausted Penn and De Niro approached the director, Academy Award winner Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”), and Dagg feared the worst. He found himself faced with a critical decision: say nothing and risk allowing his career-making scene to be cut, or speak up and risk angering De Niro, an acting legend whose intimidating persona is iconic.

“Imagine, if you will, telling Robert De Niro and Sean Penn that they’re making a mistake. But I knew remaining quiet could cost me a huge break. Gathering up my courage, I poked my nose where De Niro made it clear it didn’t belong,” Dagg said, recalling the fear he felt when he took that make-or-break gamble. “Finally, I walked off, certain I would be fired.”

The next morning, he received a foreboding phone call telling him that De Niro wanted to speak with him on set immediately. With a sinking pit in his stomach, Dagg reported in to learn the fate of his career and braced for the worst.

“…But when DeNiro put his arm around my shoulder and told me to get ready for shooting, I knew I’d made the right decision,” he said with an obvious sense of relief. “Two days later, De Niro and Penn approached me on set to say they had seen my scene in dailies the night before, and wanted to say what a great job I had done and that they really liked my work!”

With the recognition of two universally well-known Academy Award-winning actors, Dagg’s career blossomed. Following the success of “We’re No Angels,” he was soon cast in an episode of the iconic sci-fi series “The X-Files.” Starring David Duchovny (“Californication”) and Gillian Anderson (“The Fall”) as the inimitable Agents Mulder and Scully, “The X-Files” was considered a rite of passage for up-and-coming actors in ‘90s; Seth Green (“Austin Powers,” “Robot Chicken”), Lucy Liu (“Kill Bill,” “Charlie’s Angels”) and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool,” “Van Wilder”) all had guest roles on the series before becoming household names.

Dagg’s role in the series was that of a mysterious bartender with an even more mysterious past in the episode “Travelers.” The episode is critical to the backstory of Agent Fox Mulder and reveals a dark secret involving his father’s work with the State Department.

“Since the episode is partially set in the 1950’s I had the chance to do a bit of period acting, which is really enjoyable for me. I like the challenge that comes with researching a role to make it more accurate, and I can actually get a little obsessive about it,” Dagg said about the role, which soon led to a flurry of interest from casting agents. “At this time I was booking a lot of white collar roles, so it was fun playing the shady guy who takes deals under the table.”

 

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Cory Dagg as General Michaelson in “The Andromeda Strain”

 

In 2008, Dagg was cast as General Michaelson in the epic four-part miniseries “The Andromeda Strain,” based on the novel by illustrious sci-fi pioneer Michael Crichton. Produced by four-time Academy Award-nominated director Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator”), the intense doomsday thriller was lauded with praise and nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Miniseries.

The series follows the efforts of scientists and by the military to stop the spread of a deadly and contagious microbe with extraterrestrial origins. Dagg’s character, General Michaelson, is the key military figure tasked with quarantining the infected town and ensuring the containment of the aggressive microorganism.

“I originally auditioned on tape for a smaller role, and sent the tape to the producers in Los Angeles,” said Dagg, recounting how he landed a lead role in a Ridley Scott production. “I got a call from my agent over three weeks later saying the producers and director loved my audition so much they were giving me the much bigger role of General Michaelson, and I ended up being in three of the four episodes! The director said later he was surprised I didn’t have military experience — that’s how convincing he thought I was.”

Cory Dagg, an industry veteran, has proven himself to be a phenomenally talented and multifaceted actor. Where others have fallen into the trap of playing “the bad guy,” “the good guy” or “the funny guy,” Dagg has expertly avoided the pitfall of typecasting. By proving his ability to play a limitless range of characters across every genre, he’s rightfully earned a reputation as an actor who can do it all. Such talent is rare in the industry today, so when an actor like Cory Dagg presents himself, casting agents are quick to take notice.

Actress Sidney Leeder Draws Us In

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Actress Sidney Leeder shot by Taylor McKay

 

For an actor, much of the work that goes into physically becoming a certain character comes down to identifying and creating their mannerisms, idiosyncrasies and the way they carry themselves. Movement in itself is a form of communication, something Canadian actress Sidney Leeder knows all about.

Audiences across continents will recognize Leeder from her roles in the films Debug, The Hazing Secret, Salem Falls, and Goon, as well as the hit television shows Beauty and the Beast, Reign, Lost Girl, Debra, Alphas and more; but prior to becoming the sought after actress she is today, Leeder was a professional dancer.

The grace and flawless movement that she brings her characters to life with on screen makes it easy to see that her extensive training as a dancer has made her a more intuitive and dynamic performer than most of her contemporaries.

In the 2011 Lifetime film Salem Falls, an adaption of Jodi Picoult’s 2001 novel of the same name, audiences had the opportunity to see Leeder in the pivotal role of Catherine, a young teen who falls in love with her teacher and subsequently turns his life upside down when she claims rape. Directed by Bradley Walsh (The Listener, Turn the Beat Around), the film follows Jack McBradden played by James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), a high school teacher who tries to make a new life for himself in Salem Falls after Leeder’s character tarnishes his reputation.

Unfortunately for Jack, his past comes out and turns the whole town of Salem Falls against him except for the one woman, Addie Peabody played by Sarah Carter (Falling Skies, Rogue), who goes to great lengths to track down Catherine and prove Jack’s innocence.

Although Salem Falls was one of the earlier films in Leeder’s career her performance comes across as that of a seasoned veteran.

“In one of the most pivotal scenes of the film I confess to lying about my alleged affair with professor… The scene takes place while walking down a long passageway. It was lengthy and revealing dialogue that required serious mental concentration. This character was also a challenge to play, as she needed to have just the right balance of maturity and naivety,” recalled Leeder.

“Prior to shooting I talked a lot with director Bradley Walsh about the characters motivation and significance. Having the opportunity to delve into such a complex character so early on in my career was an amazing challenge.”

Leeder’s career continued to skyrocket after the release of Salem Falls with the actress going on to land multiple guest star roles on television shows such as Life with Boys, The L.A. Complex, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Satisfaction. In 2014 she was cast to star in another Lifetime movie, The Hazing Secret, where she took on the riveting role of Melissa.

The storyline of the film revolves around the death of Leeder’s character Melissa, a naïve college freshman who makes out with the boyfriend of one of the sister’s of the sorority she’s pledging. Nancy, the sorority leader, revives the old practice of hazing in order to punish Melissa for her mistake, but when she locks Melissa in a coffin the young pledge suffocates and ultimately pays the price with her life.

Over the course of the film, Megan, one of the sorority sisters who is played by Gemini Award winner Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210, Scream 4), makes it her mission to expose the crime and the truth about Melissa’s tragic death. The film, which was directed by Jonathan Wright (Nostrum, A Very Merry Mix-Up), was nominated for an award from the Directors Guild of Canada earlier this year.

If there was ever any question over Leeder’s emotional capacity as an actress her knockout performance in The Hazing Secret proves that she can bring the waterworks with natural believability and make an audience feel for her character like the best actors in the industry.

 

DEBUG POSTER
Poster for the film “Debug”

 

Last year Leeder also starred as Lara alongside Adrian Holmes (The Cabin in the Woods, Elsium), Kjartan Hewitt (Capote), Jeananne Goossen (The Vow, The Night Shift) and Jason Moma (Game of Thrones) in David Hewlett’s (A Dog’s Breakfast, Rage of the Yeti) sci-fi horror film Debug.

Convicted of eco-terrorism, Leeder’s character Lara, along with five others, are placed into a work program aboard a dilapidated spaceship where they are assigned the task of debugging the ship’s artificial intelligence, but their job aboard the ship proves to be far more dangerous than simple computer hacking.

“Lara is very intuitive right from the get go. She warns the others that something about this mission feels wrong and explains that she is sensitive to the energy of her surroundings but is ignored,” explained Leeder. 

When Iam, the ship’s AI played by Moma, feels the threat of annihilation, he begins fighting back in surprising ways killing most of the hackers aboard the ship including Leeder’s character Lara. Lara’s death is one of the most shocking of all as she is virtually raped to death.

Thinking that she is going to try out a kinky method of virtual fraternization with Mel, her beau on the ship played by Hewitt, Lara follows the ships orders and enters its sensory system not realizing that Iam is luring her into a trap.

“She is asked to remove her clothing and enter a pool of crystal clear liquid. As she does this she is transported virtually to a blood stained prison cell where Iam awaits her. It is there that he, and every other man who has set foot on the ship rape and beat her to death,” said Leeder.

“While mentally she is in this virtual reality, Lara’s physical body is actually drowning in the sensory system pool she entered. By the time Mel finds her it is too late and she is already dead.”

From playing the catty teen girls everyone loves to hate to the sweet and innocent girl next door and everything in between, including a psycho serial killer in the film The Killer, Sidney Leeder has revealed herself as an artist with exponential talent. She also recently finished filming multi-award winning director Rachel Meyer’s film Lunch, which premiered at the Beverly Hills Playhouse Film Festival last month.

“Being on a film set is one of my favorite places. It’s like stepping directly into a storybook. Acting gives me a natural high and allows me to explore myself, connect with others and imagine endless possibilities. I act because not acting simply isn’t an option. The need to perform and create has lived inherently in me for as long as I can remember,” admits Leeder.

 

Actor Ian Fisher Continues his Success after the Series “Covert Affairs”

Ian Fisher
                                           Actor Ian Fisher shot by Denise Grant

High-level CIA officials filled the room, but all he wanted to do was get in, deliver a message and get out without overhearing something above his pay grade.

This was the day-to-day experience of a CIA agent named Patrick, a popular character that Canadian actor Ian Fisher thoughtfully brought to life on the USA Network’s hit spy-action-drama show Covert Affairs.

While Fisher is no newcomer, he was much younger than many of his counterparts on the series, which included accomplished actors such as Piper Perabo (The Prestige, Looper, Coyote Ugly), Christopher Gorham (Justice League: War, Ugly Betty, Felicity) and Peter Gallagher (American Beauty, The O.C., While You Were Sleeping). However, the dynamic approach Fisher brought to his character on the series made his performances flow seamlessly in line with those of the veteran actors as though the cast had been working together for years.

When Fisher first landed his role on Covert Affairs, he decided early on during the process of developing his character that he would approach Patrick with a quote from the film Ocean’s Eleven in mind.

In Ocean’s Eleven, Rusty explained to Linus, “He’s got to like you, then forget you, the moment you’ve left his side”; and, as Fisher’s character in Covet Affairs was continually the show’s bearer of bad news, the quote was the perfect inspiration. Ironically, though Patrick was known over the course of the fifth season for bringing the kind of news that would throw a monkey wrench into the CIA’s plans, this was actually good news for Fisher as his character gained traction with fans and social media.

“My character did this so often that the writers of the show once tweeted ‘Patrick, the harbinger of doom’ during an episode broadcast,” Fisher said.

Fisher’s roles span the gamut. The actor has proven his prowess in practically every genre, but where he truly thrives is in the world of comedy and drama. Last year he guest starred on the series Reign, which received a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama the very same year, as well as Beauty & the Beast, which won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show that year as well.

Fisher’s impressive career has allowed him the rare opportunity to become a range of different people through his characters, but few have hit home for him like his recent role in Glory River, a film about a small town obsessed with its hockey team.

“It’s kind of along the same lines of what Friday Night Lights did with football,” Fisher said.

Fisher connected with Glory River because he grew up in the small Canadian town of Vernon, British Columbia. Vernon’s local hockey team of 17- to 20-year-olds was so popular that its players were “treated like gods,” he said.

Fisher used his experience of living in such a hockey-crazed town to his advantage for his role as the film’s star, Noah Gallagher, the town’s most-admired player with long shot hopes of someday playing professional hockey.

“I loved playing Noah in Glory River because of the personal connection I felt to him,” Fisher said. “We came from very similar worlds. We both were raised by single mothers, both from small towns, and both have big goals.”

The story of Noah has been the story of countless Canadians, Fisher said. Hockey’s deep and meaningful roots in Canadian culture was a large reason for Fisher wanting to play the part, and play it well.

“I knew I could do him and that story justice,” Fisher said. “It’s a story that is so ingrained in the lives of Canadians. I was really excited to be able to bring it to the screen.”

Glory River, which opened at the 2015 Calgary International Film Festival on September 29 and will screen again on October 4, was directed by Blake McWilliam, whose films have previously been nominated for awards at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival.

With Fisher’s passion for his craft, there’s no doubt that the talented actor will continue to shine for years to come, and his role in Glory River is definitely going to clinch some award nominations on the festival circuit this year.

Spotlight on Child Star, Alexander Davis!

Alexander Davis
                                       Alexander Davis on set of the film “Niko”

While it takes many actors years to develop great range, at eight years old, child actor Alexander Davis has continued to demonstrate his extraordinary talent in a variety of genres through leading roles in theatre and film; and his career has continued to flourish as a result.

Alexander was born in Russia, and placed into the care of an orphanage as an infant. When he was 16 months old, he was adopted and moved to Canada to live with his parents and older brother, Richard.

It was Richard who inspired Alexander to pursue acting. “My brother is a professional actor, and I wanted to be just like him,” Alexander explains. “When I was three years old, I had a chance to be in a film with my brother… My parents could see I had a ‘gift’ for acting as well.”

The film he describes was In Lieu of Flowers. While this was Alexander’s first time appearing on film, it was far from his last. In this film, Alexander’s character was used as a plot device for the pregnant lead actress to ponder the life of her unborn child.

This experience excited Alexander, who began begging his parents to let him try acting, just like Richard. His parents agreed to allow him to start auditioning for roles when he turned five, and Alexander has been working non-stop ever since. He says, “I started working regularly that year… with people calling my mother, asking if they could use me in upcoming films.”

In the last three years, Alexander has excelled as both a dramatic and comedic actor on film through his roles as Thomas in A Long Way Home, Alex in Senior Drivers, Jacob in Volition and many others. He has even proven to have quite the proclivity for horror films, terrifying audiences through his portrayals of the title character in the film Niko and young Charlie in the film Neighbour.

As Niko, Alexander haunts the babysitter who murdered him and his mother, eventually driving her into an insane asylum, where he continues to torment her.

Besides acting in the film, Alexander recalls how he particularly enjoyed the special effects in the making of Niko, “It was so much fun to find out how horror films are made. I think the make-up artists in horror films have an awesome job… if I wasn’t an actor, I think it would be cool to do this.”

Alexander continued to send shivers down audience’s spines as Young Charlie in the film Neighbour. In this classic haunted house story, Charlie interrupts the lives of the new owners of his childhood home, who soon learn about the house’s sordid past.

Volition, which screened at the 2013 Grand River Film Festival, takes audiences to a more dramatic genre where Alexander’s character Jacob encounters a terrorist who plans to attack the train on which they ride. However, after meeting Jacob the man is overwhelmed with uncertainty over whether to continue with his plan. To find out if Jacob’s innocence is enough to detour the man away from committing this act of violence, you’ll just have to watch the film.

A more accurate representation of Alexander’s true personality emerges in Senior Drivers, where he played Alex, the grandson of an elderly couple who are late in taking him to his doctor appointment. Senior Drivers allowed Alexander to express his sense of humor, which was appreciated by critics and audiences alike, evidenced in his 2014 Young Artist Award nomination for his performance in the film.

Alexander learned the meaning of hard work in his role as Randy Parker in A Christmas Story, in which the cast staged 48 shows in six weeks. To commend his work, Alexander received the 2015 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in Live Theatre for his role in A Christmas Story.

Most recently, Alexander landed guest starring roles as the voice of Brownie and Checkers in the PBS television series Super Why!, which is scheduled to be released later this year. Confirming yet again another of his many talents, Alexander will also give audiences a chance to hear his singing voice in the series.

Alexander Davis has already soared to great heights in the entertainment industry; and with the upcoming release of Super Why!, and several more projects on the horizon, this little cutie will undoubtedly be touching the hearts of audiences everywhere for years to come.