Being a Canadian and proud of it, it’s always important to support some Canadian filmmaking whenever possible. So it was a real treat when I got the chance to sit down with the stars “Old Stock”, Noah Reid and Melanie Leishman about their film that opens today at the Carlton Cinema here in downtown Toronto. We got to talk about working with the Canadian Film Centre, building characters, being some of the lone twenty some things in a veteran cast, still learning while on set and the small circle of Canadian actors that they exist in.
I’ll try not to bore you guys too much?
Noah Reid: HA!…no worries man do your thing.
Ultimately how did you both become involved with the project and specifically with the Canadian Film Centre who produced the film?
NR: I really love the CFC and I used to a lot of readings for them with new scripts and stuff but this one was just your average, well above average audition call and they told me the time and place and as always you hope for the best, but this is a script that I immediately connected to and a character that I saw little pieces of myself in, thinking I could be that guy. Then to read with Melanie in the later stages, it was fun and felt like we were clicking and we made a movie.
Melanie Leishman: Yeah, I felt like an immediate connection to the script and I had worked with director James Genn before on “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil” so he told me about it and it was just so exciting to see a character that I wanted to play so much, and we read together and that was that.
It’s such a fun film that breaks so many of the romantic comedy type molds, was it truly the script and the words on the page that attracted you to this project?
NR: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean Stock is kind of this great character, the idea of a young guy whose hit a few speed bumps and decides to retire and start living like an old guy is so brilliant. There are so many young people who just get stuck and are unable to move on after something happens and the way this character just dealt with everything was so unique and hilarious and sad all at the same time.
ML: That’s just it, moving on and letting go are such universal themes but our writer Dane Clark presented them in such a funny, absurd and dark way. That is what was just so cool about the whole experience.
Now the film obviously has it’s sweet moments, but it also has some genuinely laugh out loud to keep a straight face?
NR: (Laughs) Oh there were a couple, particularly anytime Danny Wells and Gene Mack were in the scene, together those guys were just hilarious and ridiculous. Just a fun great style of old comedy.
ML: It’s so true, I mean they are funny on their own, but when they get together it was just a next level type of comedy and was great to watch.
NR: And even with Anand Rajaram who plays the doctor in the film, it was just such a straight character yet the guy is absolutely hilarious. It’s a very funny script, but even the funny stuff has a hint of something else underneath and I think that was one of the most fun things for me to play as my character with his need to keep it all as unproblematic as possible and of course when you try too hard to do that things invariably go wrong.
Now it wasn’t a long shoot and while you’ve both been around a little while you are both still relative fresh to the acting game. Were there any sort of learning moments for you both while you were on set?
NR: Oh god yeah, I mean just talking with someone like Danny Wells who has just been everywhere and even hung out with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Talking to these guys was just so fantastic, Danny had some great words of wisdom which he was always willing to impart and just stressing the willingness of always wanting to work because you never know where things will go so just say yes. I really love that as a philosophy to just be able to keep enjoying what you do. I mean on this particular set, I felt like that there were challenges at times, like time restraints that are common on a small budget Canadian film and for me simply growing as an actor, showing up with an idea of what you want to do and just talking it out with the other actors and director. It just so much fun because you get to see it all everyday from beginning to end with everyone and you can’t help but to learn.
ML: And I mean there were really only 2 or 3 twenty somethings on this movie and everyone else was an older actor, which is something that I want and aspire to be. So just seeing them work and how they approach their career, they real have such wisdom…that I have yet to receive (smiles, laughs) but soon! Plus I had just come off of a series that was just monsters and blood and fun with a bigger budget as well, a different world really and it was just so nice to be able to tell a small lovely story with a lot of heart
I imagine there has to be somewhat of a cathartic element to it as well playing these guarded characters who are forced to open up about themselves, especially since both of you as actors who obviously have a great rapport with one another also have to keep a certain amount of distance as well since you never know when you might be work together again. Was it fun for you both to explore these types of characters?
NR: It’s a lot of fun, because it comes from the struggle and trying to stay on top of it all. I mean the world Mel and I live in is pretty small, we met on set and have maintained a friendship and hung out in LA and her, it’s a small circuit and you just find people you enjoy hanging out with. But I’ve worked with Megan Heffern since this film and people just come back around and that is just what is great about our country, as these friendships, professional or otherwise just stay with you.
ML: Exactly, I mean we were talking about the community of the film since we were just all together working towards make this special nonstop for three weeks it’s just a different feeling then if we were working in cubicles, because we had been through so much in such a small amount of time you come away from it all as much closer friends with the people you were working with.
“Old Stock” opens today at the Carlton here in downtown Toronto, check with listings for show times.
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