FYIG recently had the opportunity to talk to actor, Tod Fennell, about working on The Division as well as some of his recent projects in film and animation. Read on to find out more about Tod’s journey in acting and what the future holds for him!
1) Tell the readers a little bit about yourself for those that may not have heard of you.
Hey y’all! I’m an actor from Montreal, Canada who’s been working in TV, film, video games, commercials and radio since I was a kid. I’m a huge sci-fi fan, I grew up on Star Trek TNG, Ghostbusters and Star Wars and I love to keep up to date with what’s going on at NASA and Space X. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity of working on some really cool video game titles like the Assassin’s Creed series, Tom Clancy’s “The Division” and “Deus Ex, Mankind Divided”.
2) What was it like working on well-known TV series like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps at such a young age?
It was really cool. I got to learn the ropes of the industry and how to feel comfortable on a film set early on. It’s a really stimulating environment and as a kid, you soak it all in and learn really quickly. I also made some long lasting friendships on those with other actors like Laura Vandervoort on “Goosebumps” and Corey Sevier from “Lassie”. It’s amazing that we’re still really close after all those years.
3) Did you ever feel burnt out on acting as you grew up? I mean, you filmed your first feature film at age 7.
Absolutely, at one point I went from shooting a TV show, “Lassie”, full time, to starring in a dog sled movie, “Kayla”, to shooting a boxing film with Rod Steiger, “The Kid”, with fight scenes in the ring. I was around 12 and while the experience was awesome, I remember sleeping in between scenes on set and being really, really tired. That being said, my parents would always make sure to schedule vacations down south right after we wrapped up an exhausting project. I still try to do that now.
4) Tell us a little bit about April and the Extraordinary World.
April and the Extraordinary World is an incredible story set in a dystopian future where scientists start disappearing and technology is at a stand still. It’s a mesmerizing world that’s fun for kids with fascinating philosophical commentary that will keep adults intrigued as well. It really makes the case for science and showcases what happens when a select few hide science from the masses. My character (Julius) is a police informant, hired to find April but ends up falling for her. He was really fun to play! And I got to work with one of my favorite directors and good friend Richard Dumont.
5) What are some of the challenges in doing an animated feature vs. actually having to act out the character? Do you have a preference between the two?
Sometimes in animation, we have to sync the voices to the image on the screen. That can be a challenge, because while you can have creative control over your delivery, your timing for each line in restricted to what’s on the screen. The advantage of working in animation is that you can play characters you would never be able to play on screen. I can voice literally any type of character, from a seven-foot warrior orc to an animated bunny rabbit. On screen, I’m a little more limited to my physical appearance, but I get to do my own stunts and there’s more interaction with the other actors and my environment. There’s definitely advantages to both.
6) You have been on some interesting shows recently. Tell us a little bit about Natural Born Outlaws and your character Melvin Purvis.
Melvin Purvis was a badass. Here’s this short guy they used to call “Little Mel” who went to law school and gave up pushing papers in order to chase bad guys with the FBI. He wasn’t physically assuming in any way, but he was a crack shot and had a razor sharp mind and he ends up catching not one, but three of the most notorious criminals of all time. He was such a badass that J. Edgar Hoover was upset about him hogging the spotlight and taking all the credit. There’s something rewarding about playing the hardened detective with laser focus on catching criminals. It’s extremely admirable.
7) You also starred alongside Dennis Quaid in The Art of More. What was it like working with Dennis?
Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to work with Dennis Quaid, but I did have a few scenes with Kate Bosworth. What struck me most was her level of professionalism. She was extremely kind to everyone and serious about her work at the same time. Very well balanced and it was inspiring to work with her and made me want to work harder at my career and take it to the next level.
8) Tell us a little bit about your character, Cliff Kerbis.
I’ve wanted to play a character like Cliff for a long time. He’s a young Silicon Valley tech startup billionaire. A little arrogant and oblivious to what’s going on around him. I think we all repress a little arrogance from time to time, so it’s therapeutic to let it out with a character like Cliff. “The Art of More” is such a high drama action packed show that it was cool to play the comic relief, he doesn’t really fit with the other characters of the show and that’s what makes him so funny.
9) You did motion capture work on The Division as a Riker and as a Lab Tech for Dr. Kendall. What are the differences in capturing a character for a video game and playing one in a movie?
While the fundamentals are the same, it’s a different beast completely. As an actor, I have to imagine my wardrobe, the wardrobe of everyone else, the location and the environment itself. Also, you’ve got to get used to wearing all that tech and making it seem natural. Walking around like you’re not wearing black spandex covered in sensors, connected to a microphone with a helmet camera strapped to your body takes some getting used to. But once you get over all that, you get to pretend to that you’re being shot at, jumping out of a moving vehicle or being thrown out of a helicopter. I can’t think of many other jobs where you get to do that.
10) How was this experience different from some of the other games you’ve worked on like Deus Ex and Assassin’s Creed?
The Rikers were unique because they’re hardened criminals that revel in the chaos of the post-apocalyptic world of “The Division”. They were all extreme alpha characters who don’t care about anyone or anything but themselves. They roam the streets like they own the city, and in some parts, they do. The swag on them was ridiculous and we had to work on everything from the way they walk, to the way they hold their guns to shoot, to the way the die. These guys even die with attitude.
11) Do you play any video games?
YES! I used to play Diablo series and League of Legends quite a bit. I’m also into first person shooters like Halo and Call Of Duty, but I get super frustrated when I play online and get slaughtered. I’m really into new tech, and I just tried the HTC VIVE at a friends house. I was blown away! VR is going to totally change everything and I don’t think people realize just how much it will until they actually try it.
12) Do you have a dream role? If so, what would it be?
For a long time, it was a martial arts movie, but I got to do that with “Wushu Warrior” back in 2008. Now, I’d really like to do something medieval. Now, it would either be a villain in Game of Thrones or an astronaut in a sci-fi film.
13) What projects do you have coming up?
I’m writing a pilot script for a sci-fi comedy as we speak called “Frontier Zero”. It’s a workplace comedy loosely based on Elon Musk and Space X. I don’t want to give any more away until I start pitching it to networks.
14) Where can the readers find you online?