January 15, 2015 - 8:30 AM
ARMSTRONG - You’ve seen him in the movie 40 Days and 40 Nights alongside Josh Hartnett. He made you laugh with his role on the quirky TV series Eureka, and charmed you as Smee in Once Upon a Time. He’s played a weapons expert, a wizard, and conspiracy theorist. But actor Chris Gauthier started out on the small town stage of Asparagus Theatre in Armstrong.
Gauthier, 38, moved from England to Armstrong with his family at the age of five. He has fond memories of living on Jarvis Street, trawling the IPE every year with friends and watching plays at Asparagus Theatre. The moment Gauthier realized he wanted to be part of the act, not the audience, happened when he saw well known local actor Wayne Ashton in the play Sing a Song of Six Pence.
“That’s when I saw you could just be a ham and fully get away with it, and even receive accolades for it,” Gauthier says.
By grade 8, he was taking classes at the Vernon School of Speech and Drama, a serious commitment, not ‘Mickey Mouse’ training as his teacher said. Gauthier auditioned for whatever plays he could, securing roles in a dozen Asparagus Theatre plays alone.
“Asparagus has always nurtured its young actors and been inclusive. It was absolutely perfect for me,” Gauthier says.
He also went to as many drama festivals as possible, and in his spare time, hung out with Enderby native Rick Dugdale, who now lives in L.A. and works as a movie producer. The two would rent movies from the video store where Dugdale worked, and pass afternoons acting out scenes.
“We ended up meeting through a common interest in acting. We would sit and dream about becoming actors,” Gauthier says. “We’d be like, we can bring movies back here. It sounds silly and corny, but it’s true.”
Dugdale and Gauthier had been trying to work on something together for awhile when Dugdale announced this year he was bringing a movie starring Anthony Hopkins to Enderby. Gauthier auditioned and landed a role, but for confidentiality reasons, can’t divulge the details.
Gauthier made another lifelong relationship through acting in his home town. He met his wife behind the scenes of an Asparagus Theatre production. She had a friend in the play, and got a job as a stage manager.
“I would flirt with her through the headset,” Gauthier says.
She was the one who pushed Gauthier to pursue his talent as an actor, suggesting they move to Vancouver and make a go of it there. Gauthier was in his early twenties when they made the big move. Every day, he would scour the Georgia Straight newspaper for casting calls. He didn’t have an agent yet.
“This was the pre-Craigslist, pre-Internet years,” he says.
His first big break was playing a computer nerd named Mikey in 40 Days and 40 Nights with Josh Hartnett. By then, he’d already been on Da Vinci’s Inquest, Cold Squad, and several commercials. He even had a role in a Mountain Dew Commercial that was filmed at Silver Star Mountain in Vernon. Since then, he’s scored roles in Smallville, Supernatural, and a scene with Hilary Swank in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.
“I’m a character guy. I can play anything from a nerd to a bully,” Gauthier says. “I play all sorts of characters. It’s kind of mad, really.”
The versatility makes it easier to land jobs, but for Gauthier, it also means having more fun.
“ Anybody who knew me in school knew I was kind of a ham. I was always doing different characters,” Gauthier says.
One of his favourite characters to play—and not just because it’s landed him brownie points with his kids—is Smee on Once Upon a Time.
“They (kids) think it’s super duper cool I’m working with all these people. They don’t think I’m cool, they think it’s cool I work with people like Rumpelstiltskin,” Gauthier says.
Armstrong is still a routine stop every Christmas, a place that will always feel like home. He wants the budding actors and actresses uttering their first lines on the Asparagus Theatre stage to follow their dreams.
“Just do it by whatever means. Just pursue it and believe in yourself. It sounds cheesy but it’s really true,” Gauthier says. “So far, it’s worked out for me.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015