28-year-old Canadian actor Kristopher Turner was born in Winnipeg and during his short career he has accomplished much including starring for four years in the CTV series "Instant Star", acting in films and doing Shakespeare on stage. On the eve of the release of the DVD "WIthout a Paddle: Nature's Calling" Kristopher took time out of his busy schedule (he was leaving shortly to work on another film) to answer some questions.
Orcasound: Matthew Good, Neil Young and Blue Rodeo? A Canadian boy through and through or so it seems by your musical choices. What about Canadian musicians/music appeals to you? What other musical artists do you listen to?
Kristopher: I just love those bands cause they play great music. I like that they are Canadian, but it wouldn't matter where they came from, I'd love them anyway. I love blues rock like: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Beck, Tom Petty and the ultimate rock band Led Zeppelin. But I also love Damien Rice, James Brown, Meat Loaf, Springsteen so many…
Orcasound: You are a Winnipeg native. I read an interview with another Winnipeg native, Chantal Kreviazuk, and she said that Winnipeg produces a lot of musicians because of the long, harsh winters, which are conducive to writing music. Do you think that growing up in Winnipeg had something to do with you turning towards acting as a career?
Kristopher: I grew up being fascinated by live theatre. I loved it. Still do. And Winnipeg has a great arts community. And I think it's mostly due to the fact that it has such great audiences. It can be -28 C, a blizzard of snow, and still no one will stay home, everyone will trudge through it all to see that play, movie, or concert. Something really bonding about that experience. Makes you as an audience member really want to enjoy the show, and makes you as an artist really want to make it worth their while for the crowd who made it. So maybe being a part of those audiences for so many years, and seeing all the love and admiration that poured onto those stages influenced me to want to be a part of that.
Orcasound: You started acting in high school. Was it then that you decided that you were going to make a career out of it? Or was it only later while studying at the University of Winnipeg?
Kristopher: I think I thought of acting more as a fantasy job in high school. I was pretty shy, and didn't really think it could be an option for me then. I picked theatre as a major in University cause that's what I loved the most, and after gaining some training I figured what the heck, I'm scared of it, but I'm going to give this a try anyway and see what happens. Now it's six years later, and I've worked on multiple TV series, live theatres, film and TV movies, with Oscar winning actors, and I'm still scared of it, but I still love it, and we'll see what happens…
Orcasound: In "Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling" you play Zach, a guy with no filter from his brain to his mouth. Everything he thinks, he says. Now this seems to be any actor's dream to play this type of outlandish character. How was it for you?
Kristopher: Great. I had been playing a lot of characters to the opposite of that, and I loved that the casting people took a chance and gave me the opportunity to play this guy. It's the direction I've been taking my acting in a lot recently. I'm going to take the experience I had playing Zach, and go even farther with it on the next project I get to play this type of character.
Orcasound: The premise of the film is that Zach is bringing his friend Ben on a trip into the wilderness to find his long, lost crush. What is the craziest thing you've done for a girl? Do you have any long, lost crushes?
Kristopher: I flew to England once to meet up with a girl I had known for only 1 day. That was pretty crazy.
I don't have any major long, lost crushes though. I did date an Italian exchange student once which ended far too quickly. I wouldn't mind getting in touch with her again.
Orcasound: A good part of the film is you and Oliver James going through the forest and on the river and battling crazed squirrels, drunk townsfolk, hillbillies, crazy rapids, etc. Were the outdoor scenes tough or fun to film?
Kristopher: We only had 1 really bad day of filming on the river. There was a major malfunction of the camera boat, which got punctured 10minutes out into the rapids, and we were sidelined on the riverbank for a while in the middle of the forest while they re-rigged the new camera boat to our character boat.
We were really behind schedule, and we were soaked with rain, and the splashes of glacial cold water. When we hit the rapids again, the rapids were so rough, the camera guy could barely hold on to the camera. We'd such brief windows of calm water, they'd race to get the camera ready as we barreled down the river and we'd maybe have enough time to get in one take, or half a take of a scene before the rapids would get wild again. They'd have to strap down the camera and we'd have to steer our boats through this stretch of rapids until the waters calmed enough to try for the next scene.
Most of the river footage you see of us was the one take that we got in before the rapids got too crazy to film. Of course, after we wrapped the movie, a small group of us all went back to the river and did it again for fun, without the cameras. Oregon is pretty awesome.
Orcasound: What was Jerry Rice like to work with?
Kristopher: I didn't have any scenes with Jerry Rice, so I didn't work with him personally. But Rik and I did come to set that day to say hello. He was very respectful, and hardworking. Here's a guy who was one of the best in the world at what he did, Super Bowl ring on his finger, and he's venturing out to try something completely new. He knew he wasn't an actor, and he very quickly got a crash course in what it's about. We asked him how it's going, and I love his response: " I walk out into a stadium, there's 80,000 screaming fans watching me, they throw me the football and I catch it, I never forget how to catch it. Here, I step in front of the camera, I know all my lines, and as soon as they clap that little board in front my face, and that guy yells 'action', I forget everything, all my lines are gone…. I don't know how you guys do it, you're like scientists." He had such a big day of filming, which would be hard for any actor, let alone someone who has never done it before. I respect that. Took a lot of guts on his part, and I think he did alright. I hope the experience didn't scare him away.
Orcasound: What was your experience working on the television show "Instant Star" like?
Kristopher: Instant Star was great. It was my first job as a series regular, and was really the show that I learned the ropes on. It gave me the experience I needed to get more comfortable on set, learn what is required of me, how to hit my marks, get in my light, continuity etc. Acting is a muscle that you need to constantly use to get better at. Instant Star allowed me 4 seasons of an acting workout. It was a bittersweet ending. I loved that story, those characters, and I loved working with that cast. It's great to watch literally everyone from that cast continue on to bigger and better things since it's finished. I got great life experience working on that show, and made some life long friends in the process.
Orcasound: You've done theatre, film and television. What do you like or dislike about each? Do you have a favourite?
Kristopher: The basics of acting are the same in all these mediums. It's just how you get to present it to the audience that changes. I started in theatre, and that will always be my first love, even though I don't get to do it as much as I want to. It's the immediacy of it, the connection with the audience in the room, testing a performance on a new crowd every night. I love getting the immediate response from your crowd of whether your succeeding tonight, or not.
Film is great cause you can bring the audience in and show them things you can't on a stage, and you can experience things you never otherwise would in theatre. White water rafting, for example – not the same on stage. But the sacrifice is the immediacy. What sucks is by the time the audience sees what you did, it's like 10 months later, and I've moved on to other projects, and they'll say: "Hey, I saw your show on TV last night, I really liked what you did, and I'm like 'Remind me again. What did I do?… Oh, yeah! Ah, nevermind that, you should see what I'm doing now!'"
Orcasound: You have just completed filming on a new movie "The Triumph of Dingus McGraw: Village Idiot" in which you play the lead Dingus McGraw. Can you tell us about the film?
Kristopher: I actually filmed 'Dingus' about a year and a half ago now. It was this great little indie project by this new young writer/director Corey Surge, and I had a blast filming it. It's a story about a small farm town that bands together to convince it's village idiot, Dingus, that he will be competing in the Olympic Games, which, they tell him, are being hosted in their very own town of Anvil County.
I loved playing this character. He's so playful and innocent, with a giant heart. Just a little simple in the brain. There are such great characters in this film, and some really hilarious performances, it's a real shame that no one will ever see it. It's been entered into dozens of film festivals for over a year now, and rejected from every one. I wrestle a pig, get attacked by a rooster, chase a man with a wooden leg, enter fake Olympics and wrestle the town mayor in his underwear! What more does a film need to get picked up?! I really hope one day people will get to see this little film. Sure it has it's flaws, but if you give it a chance, it's well worth it.
Orcasound: Do you have any other upcoming projects in the works?
Kristopher: I'm just about to start filming a new indie feature called "A Wake". It's a story about a theatre troupe who reunite for the wake of their infamous director. Then the truths and dirt of what really happened during the company's rehearsals of it's scandalous final production of Hamlet start coming out.
I play the son of the director who returns home from traveling Europe to be surprised by the fact his father is now dead. It's a really ambitious project, because the script treatment is written, but the dialogue is all going to be improvised by the actors. We've had a very brief 2 days of rehearsal and now we are about to jump in front of the camera and make this story happen… What was it that I was just saying about immediacy again??
Orcasound: What actor/actress or director would you like to work with?
Kristopher: Some actors I love watching right now are: Tom Hanks, Vince Vaughn, Ricky Gervais… I'd love to be able to work with and learn from those guys. Directors I'd love to work with would be: Michel Gondry, Clint Eastwood, Atom Egoyan, Coen Brothers… These lists could go on a long time.
Orcasound: What are your favourite films or television shows?
Kristopher: RIght now in TV: Mad Men, Californication, Entourage, Dexter. All time favourite films: Back to the Future, The Big Lebowski, Alice in Wonderland.
Orcasound: Back to the Canadian themed questions….Are you a hockey fan? If so, due to the fact that Winnipeg no longer has an NHL team, who do you root for?
Kristopher: Actually, in terms of Canadian sports, I'm really a big CFL fan. (Canadian Football League) And I love rooting for my Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But I am a hockey fan too. But I'm a bandwagon jumper. I watch games here and there during the season, but usually don't really get into hockey until the playoffs. Actually, the Stanley Cup playoffs were on while I was filming WAP:NC in Portland. After hearing me talk about it enough, Rik Young, whose British of course, started joining me to watch the games. He and I would search out a sports pub near our hotel, and watch as many games as we could on our off time. He really got into it by the end. In terms of what team do I root for, I'll root for most Canadian teams, but I love the Edmonton Oilers the best.