We had an opportunity to speak with him. Check out the interview below.
Hi, Matt! Thank you for speaking with us about your career. You entered the industry after several years of playing sports. What inspired you to become an actor?
Thanks for having me!! The story of how I got started is pretty funny. I didn’t have any real intention of getting into acting. At the time I had a bit of a fear of public speaking. So I thought a good way to get over that would be to go to some auditions. I never for a second thought that I would get a part but rather it would force me to speak in front of total strangers, as well as force me way out of my comfort zone in trying to become whatever the role called for. So the first audition I went to was for a very small role in a Festival Short. When I got there the director asked me to read for the lead instead, I reluctantly did and I got the part! Well, right away I was hooked, “Caught the acting bug” as they say. I really have to thank Clint D’Souza. He was the director of the film. He really instilled confidence in me and pushed me to go for it. He has since become a really good friend and someone I ask often for advice. Then the same week I went to my second audition, for a supporting role in a TV show and got that. So in the span of one week, I went from trying to cure a fear of public speaking to filming a film and a Network TV show. I was terrified!!
Admittedly, you entered the industry at a wonderful age, where actors in their mid-thirties get the juiciest role. This is definitely true by looking at your portfolio. You recently starred in a mini-series called The Wronged One (2016). You played FBI Director Matt Staffier. Tell us about the series.
The Wronged One was a web series that had been in production for 5 or 6 years. The idea for the show was about two cops that we’re taking the law into their own hands, dealing out justice as they saw fit. For 2016 they were rebranding and making the transition from a web series to Netflix which is when I joined the show. We filmed the complete season with a wonderfully talented cast. I was so fortunate to be a part of the show. When I applied to the casting call I didn’t notice the part where it said “New York talent only” and, it was only after I got the role that the director realized I was in Canada. I’ll never be able to thank Bruce Wabbit, the director, enough. He moved mountains to keep me in the show. Bruce set up production teams in New York as well as Toronto to make it work. Unfortunately, the show was canceled before it got to air. But on the day I found out about the cancellation I also was told that Bruce, and his team behind the show, were bringing me with them to their new production “John The Thief” I couldn’t believe it.
Let’s talk John the Thief. You play Stanley Rouse. According to IMDB, “a professional contract thief and his partner are hired by the president and CEO of a fortune 500 company for an unusual heist.” Tell us about the series.
Yea, we are just in the middle of shooting that now. John the Thief is a professional thief and his partner. You know the saying “I know a guy” well they are the guys lol. Only this time they get in over their heads in something way bigger than any job they have done in the past. Obviously, I can’t give too much away, but my character Stanley is the one who gets something very important taken from him. He’s put in this horrendous situation spanning every emotion you can think of. Rage, desperation, heartbreak, and revenge are all within the realm of emotions that he goes through during his struggle to find answers. As an actor, this is a role you dream of, but it has also been very demanding. To constantly have to flip flop through these intense emotions can be very taxing. It’s definitely the hardest role I’ve had so far.
Let’s talk Black Donnelly’s (2017). According to IMDB, You Play James Ryder. What can you share about the film?
Well, Black Donnelly’s is one of those movies that really checks all the boxes. This is a historical telling of a dark story in Canadian history. What started as a land dispute between the Donnelly’s and the town quickly escalated into a bloody feud. I was cast to take on the role of James Ryder. James was for sure somebody you wouldn’t want to mess with, but he kind of stayed out of the feud at first. I don’t think he cared all that much for the Donnelly’s but in the beginning, he is reluctant to get involved. He would really rather have nothing to do with it, but as the film progresses so does his involvement in the vigilante committee formed by the town. The 1800’s were a very different time, life was hard enough as it was and I think he had enough. Finally, he’s pushed to a boiling point and ends up becoming among the worst of them.
I really had a lot of fun shooting this. Everyone on set, both cast, and crew, really jelled quickly. It’s like we had all been friends for years. I can’t say enough good things about Aaron Huggett and his team.
When you’re acting, tell us what experiences you draw on to play the role.
Well, it’s funny you ask that because I think about that all the time. For me it kind of goes one of two ways; when I’m sent a script I know instantly if I like it or not. I’ll identify with a character right away. From that moment until we shoot my mind is constantly racing. I almost get consumed thinking about it. I’ll be at home doing something else like taking out the garbage, and I’ll try and figure out how that character would have taken out the garbage. I get kind of nutty about it. On the other hand, if I don’t like the script or character that’s where I struggle a little. I do my best to think of past experiences to pull on, but it’s definitely something I need to work on.
What has been your favorite performance to date?
To be honest, I really don’t like seeing myself on screen. It’s still something I’m having a hard time getting used to. But if I had to pick something it would be a pilot I shot last year called “Breaking the Bank”. I still don’t know what will come of the show, but so far it’s the only time I’ve been cast in a comedic role. There were countless times we had to stop filming because we were all laughing so hard. To see such a positive reaction to choices you made in bringing a character to life, that will always make it one of my favorites.
What types of roles do you hope to be cast in the future?
Good question! I’m just happy being cast! If I could pick anything I would love to do another period piece. I’m a bit of a history buff so having everything and everyone around you on set being authentic to a time period; you almost get to travel back in time yourself. It really is a cool experience.
Thus far, what has been the best experience working in the industry?
I would say it’s been the people I’ve met. Acting has opened me up to a whole new world of people I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. I’ve learned so much about the business from just being around such talented cast and crews. Clint and Bruce who I mentioned earlier, they really are responsible for getting my career started. There is also an agent in Toronto, D’Anise Marie. In the beginning, when I was getting cast in all these projects and I really had no idea what I was doing, D’Anise was always there to answer any question I had.
What do you like to do between productions?
Well at the moment I still have a full-time career separate from the acting business. So between that, acting and family life with my lovely wife and two boys I don’t have much spare time at the moment. (lol) If I find a few days with nothing planned, chances are you’ll find me at the cottage.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?
Yea there are a couple things coming up that I’m really excited about. I can’t really say too much at the moment but I’m really looking forward to it. Right now I’m focused on finishing what’s shooting, then maybe take a little break with the family before starting the next project.
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything I want, I would do ___________.
Well, I guess the stock answer would be to star in a major Hollywood movie!! But the truth is, I’d really just like to keep working and developing my skill set. I don’t know; maybe make my own movie at some point? Throw my hat in the directing ring?
John the Thief