"Noah Reid scores in 'Score: A Hockey Musical.'" – Interview

Canada is known for its hockey and Michael J. Fox. What people aren’t aware of is the country’s striving movie industry. Such is the case of Noah Reid, actor and Canada native, whose credits go all the way back when he was eight years old. And although Reid may not be as well known as Michael J. Fox, he definitely has the talent and dedication. Reid recently stopped by to chat about his life, career and new movie, “Score: A Hockey Musical.”

Q – You’ve been acting for a while, since you were 8-years-old. Did you have family in the business that allowed you to start so young? How did you get involved in acting?

A - My parents are visual artists, stained glass artists to be specific. They were very supportive of me when I made it clear I wanted to act. I had been attending a weeknight drama program at the local library and having such a good time, I wanted to keep doing it. So, I got an agent and started auditioning. My parents didn’t have the typical 9 to 5 schedule, so they were able to help me get places and prepare stuff – they were pretty amazing about it. That commitment takes a lot of time and energy.

Q – Being that you started at an early age, do you ever regret missing out on a regular childhood or were you able to maintain a normal lifestyle?

A - I think I was lucky in a few ways. I never had the level of success that a lot of child actors did. The most I had to put up with was jabs from my friends about being on TV. When you're a kid that stuff does get to you, but I also knew they thought it was kind of cool. My parents were also instrumental in this. They never let me go out for things that they deemed inappropriate, they didn’t screw me out of any money that was earned, and they made sure I was doing other things I enjoyed, like playing sports and music. I never even had any video games, for that matter. I had a dog instead. The hardest part about it for me was sometimes sacrificing things I wanted to do as a "normal kid" for things I wanted to do as an "actor kid." For example, if I had a job during the week my class was going to Montreal in Grade 6, I wasn't going with my friends to Montreal. But I was learning something else, and I can appreciate those sacrifices now.

Q – Your background was heavily based on stage. Now that you’ve done TV and film, what do you enjoy doing more and why?

A - I’ve done a lot more theatre than I have done TV or film, and I still stand to learn a lot from both mediums. I don’t think anything can replace the excitement of an audience and a live performance, where the people are right there and if they don't laugh at a moment, you feel like dying and if they do, you feel like the king of the world. Applause is also hard to beat. But the world of film offers some interesting things where reality and subtlety are concerned. Looks that would never be noticed on stage can communicate so much on film. What’s really interesting to me as an actor is learning how to go between the different mediums, figuring out which muscle to flex when. I feel like that will be a long process.

Q – Your new movie, “Score: A Hockey Musical” comes out October 2010. You play “17-year-old Farley, a quirky home-schooled teenager who shoots from obscurity to a hockey phenom in a matter of weeks, and then struggles with his new-found fame.” The premise sounds hilarious. How did you get involved with this project?

A - I first heard about the project when I was rehearsing a show called Parfumerie at Toronto's SoulPepper Theatre. I then went to do an audition on my lunch break from rehearsals. I had read the script and fallen in love with it already, mainly because it was comprised of the three things I love most in the world: acting, music and hockey. I had never come across a project that was such a naturally perfect fit for my skill set, so I went in with confidence. I met Mike McGowan (director) after my initial audition for a "skating audition," where we played one on one. It was 8 a.m. and within five minutes I thought I was going to die, because I was working so hard. Mike won by a long shot, though he claims I let him beat me so he would give me the job. Whatever he wants to think is fine with me.

Q – Hockey is huge in Canada, which is where you’re from and where the movie was filmed. How did being a hockey fan help you in preparing for this role?

A - I've been a hockey fan and player all my life, so I know the game pretty well. But so did mostly everyone on the set, and the spirit of the game was with us all the way through. The Olympics were on as we were shooting, and the gold medal game was played in our second last week of shooting. Luckily we had the day off, but for some of the earlier games we would be streaming the game live to a computer somewhere on the set and I would run down to watch between takes. The excitement surrounding hockey in this country is huge; we're really proud of our game and I think that excitement is really present in this film.

Q – Did you do your own hockey stunts in the film?

A - I did. There are a couple of things that have some computer help, but only the truly magical moments that Sidney Crosby would have trouble with. Beyond that it was all me, which made me nervous about it. The first scene I ever shot on this movie was me versus 10 guys on a shinny rink, trying to stick handle through them all and put the puck in the net. I was terrified. But the background guys were so cool about it, making me look good, giving me pointers, running plays with me. It was important to me that the hockey didn’t look lame. I guess time will tell.

Q – In the movie, Olivia Newton John plays your mother. How kick ass was that?

A - It was pretty great. She was incredibly easy to get along with. It seemed like she just wanted to have a good time. There was no diva attitude in her. I think we had shot for a week before Olivia and Marc Jordan, who plays my dad, came on set, and when I met the two of them I began to understand Farley’s character more. They were quirky and hilarious. They knew each other already from their forays in the music world, and they were at ease with each other, laughing all the time. We had the greatest time that week, taking turns playing songs, making each other laugh. It was very cool.

Q – “Score: A Hockey Musical” is obviously a musical. Did you have a background in music or did you have to learn how to sing?

A - I started playing piano when I was five and by then I was already singing. My first role in a musical was at the age of six when I played the title role in Oliver in a community theatre production. But I also sang in choirs and Kiwanis festivals. I did a few more musicals here and there, but eventually became a little disinterested. I began pursuing more dramatic roles, keeping my music separate. Until Score came along, I hadn't been in a musical in almost 10 years. A while ago I started writing my own songs, piano and vocal, Tom Waits-y kind of things. That’s where my music lives these days.

Q – You also star in “Jitters,” a stage production that is a play within a play that takes a behind the scenes look at the comedic catastrophes of opening a new show. Do you prepare for a stage role differently than preparing for a film role where there is no audience to thrive off of?

A - Yeah, definitely. For one thing, you just have so much more rehearsal time with theatre. In the film world, you're down to whatever preparation you do at home, on your own, and a couple of camera rehearsals, and then however many takes you require (usually three or four). But usually the dialogue is shorter and more concise, and the physical blocking is less complex. The camera does a lot of the moving for you. In a theatre production, I could show up and kind of discover something in rehearsal and be free to try things out for a week or two before making decisions. With film, I found it was beneficial to know what I was doing and have made some choices before I even got to set. Watching my colleague, Stephen McHattie, was a learning experience. He was prepared, bringing really specific choices to the table right off the bat, but was still flexible and able to make adjustments when needed be.

Q – Anything you wanted to add?

A - Only that this movie was so much fun to make. Not only was it my dream job to play hockey for a living, and the closest I will come to being an NHL player, but the entire cast and crew just had a blast for those five weeks. We played shinny at lunch. We went to the bar after wrap to watch the Olympics. Our blooper reel is evidence of the hilarious performances. Also, everyone on set mentioned how great the energy was in comparison to past projects. I think that had to do with McGowan's project and his attitude towards making it happen. Everyone wanted to have a good time and make a great movie. It's unlike any film that's been made; it's deeply Canadian and incredibly entertaining.

BYLINE:

Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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