Your interest in acting came later on when you were cast in a McDonald’s commercial after you entered a contest for employees to appear on-camera. The commercial aired during the Olympics in 2012. What was it about that experience that made you want to become an actor?
It was just so eye-opening for me. Not once before had I considered acting or filmmaking as a career path. My intention going into it was to just have fun soaking up an experience I’d probably never get to do again. But afterward, thinking back to the experience, a lightbulb went off in my head; I could actually do this for a living! I guess it was just being involved in the making of a commercial, and seeing the kind of work that goes into a 30-second clip. I remember being so in awe of the intricate camera setup, watching the precision and skill it takes to handle a steady-cam. Being in front of the camera was so much fun, but I also noticed that I could see myself doing a lot of the jobs behind the scenes as well. So that experience really just got me hooked onto the idea of filmmaking as a whole. I remember thinking “man, if there’s something I could do for 13-and-a-half hours every day as a living, this is it.”
You went on to attend Toronto Film School. How did your time there help prepare you for your career?
It was Toronto Film School that allowed me to really find my passion for acting. And remember, I had absolutely NO acting experience before attending, so my film school audition was the first scene I’d ever performed. Consequently, TFS gave me the foundation I needed to build my career. It gave me a LOT of respect for the craft and made me realize how impactful it can be. The school is so immersive and hands-on that it feels almost like a walkthrough of the industry, you leave knowing how to handle yourself and what to expect when you get to working on professional sets. Their staff all have to actually be workers in the industry, so not only do you know you’re being taught by people who are successful in their careers but you’ve also got incredible networking opportunities right in your classroom! I can also say, I credit finding my representation to TFS. My agent came to the school for a small lecture discussing his side of the industry, how to go about getting representation, all that stuff. I went up to speak with him afterward and ended up getting his email. So when I did finish at TFS, I had everything I needed to get started.
You had a lead role in ReBoot: The Guardian Code. What was it like to be a part of such an iconic Canadian franchise?
It was incredible! Reboot was my first lead role, which on its own felt like an amazing accomplishment. But I remember just getting the audition for the role and realizing, “Holy crap, Reboot? Didn’t I watch this as a kid on YTV??” It was just really cool to think that I could be a part of something that I once enjoyed growing up, you know? When I got the scripts and fully realized the new concept they were going for, I got so excited. It was such a great idea, and an excellent way to re-introduce that world to a new audience, a generation that grew up surrounded by insane technological advancement. And the idea of honouring the legacy of a show that quite literally pioneered CGI by being (I believe) the first to use a game engine to animate a television show, which made it even cooler. I loved every minute on that set and I honestly wish we had the chance to film more.
What can you tell us about your role as Geoff Allen in the Netflix series “October Faction”?
Geoff is such a fun character. Very charismatic, witty, highly intelligent, and sometimes a little too blunt. I think that partly stems from living a life of honesty. He doesn’t appreciate liars, having been raised to be open, honest and accepting of who he truly is. He often relishes in calling people out on their fallacies, and learning that someone close to him was at some point not being honest with him hurts him more than it would others. It’s also interesting that despite him being such a confident character and very comfortable with himself, he has this deep-seated need to be accepted and appreciated. His family has always been his bedrock in this regard, but we do get to see these moments where this part of him creeps to the surface, and it’s just really cool to watch someone who doesn’t often get rattled end up in very vulnerable situations.
What’s next for your career?
My next goal is to do a film. It’s about time for me to think about spending more time down in LA, try to get my name going around that city like it is here in Toronto. I would LOVE to do heavy drama, art house-type films. Obviously I would be all for landing a role in the MCU, but my passion for the craft lies in much deeper material. I would hope to one day hone my skills enough to do justice to a solid character study script like Phoenix just did with JOKER.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
NEVER STOP. In all sense of the phrase. It’s easily the number one thing you have to remember; you will ALWAYS get more rejections than approvals, and that can very easily break down a person’s spirit. But you have to trust in yourself and in the passion you have to find success. And you should also never stop learning! Just because I graduated from film school doesn’t mean I’m not taking classes. Since graduating I’ve taken studio classes, hired coaches to help with auditions or bookings; two years ago I found an acting coach that was truly able to raise my game to new levels, and since then I’ve been taking her classes non-stop. There’s also work to be done! Even if you aren’t booking, you can make quality content with the cameras on your smartphone. Literally! High profile film festivals have featured content like that, so as long as you surround yourself with other like-minded artists, you always have the opportunity to create.
What’s your life like off-set?
I’d say it’s pretty average! I spend a lot of time playing video games; my PS4 is one of my best friends. Although I’ve been struggling to keep it up recently, I have a pretty big passion for fitness. I used to work out every day! I hope to get back to a regular routine soon. I have a VERY small, close-knit circle of friends that I regularly hang-out with, pretty much all of whom I met throughout my time in film school. And we don’t go out too much anymore, we enjoyed staying in and hosting game nights! I’m very big on board games. Challenge me to a game of Catan. I dare you.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
You can follow me on Instagram @GabrielDarku, I’ll keep you up to date on all my projects, and whatever else I got going on in my life!