Hailing from Fredericton, New Brunswick, actor Denis Theriault will be making his way to hogtown to promote the film All the Wrong Reasons at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film follows four people: a store manager, security guard, fire fighter and a clerk who struggle in the aftermath of trauma. Theriault plays a neurotic, ambitious, eager assistant manager of the big box store next to store manager played by the late Cory Monteith in one of his last onscreen performances. Following TIFF Theriault takes off for the Atlantic Film Festival where the short he wrote and directed, Sibling Rivalry, will have its world premiere. Addicted got to ask a few questions before he entered the hurricane that is TIFF.
What were all the right reasons the script for All the Wrong Reasons appealed to you?
Haha! I like what you did there. Gia Milani (writer/director) actually sent me the script and told me she had written the role of Radley Weil specifically for me after she saw me in a film a few years back. I was flabbergasted! As an actor, that’s a dream. You never expect to hear something like that. All that aside though, the script was exceptionally well-written. Just from a storytelling standpoint, it’s a home run. The characters were so well-developed and rounded, it made our jobs as actors so much easier. Gia spent nearly five years crafting that script and it shows. We were lucky that she was both the writer and director, she knew these characters inside out and could answer all our questions on set.
The film is packed with rising Canadian stars, how was it to be on set among this ensemble?
Can I just say that this cast is ridiculous? Seriously. I’m a huge film buff and I can honestly say that I’ve admired these people at one point or another in their careers. All of a sudden, there I am running lines with them, working with them. I had to pinch myself every single day. (I still do!) At the end of the day, they’re just people like you and I. We were all on a level playing field, creating this story together. I also learned TONS on set, just by observing them. Most of my scenes were with Cory Monteith and he was so freaking good that he just brought the best in me. It felt pretty amazing.
What are you looking forward to most at this year’s TIFF?
It’s my first time attending as part of the promotion of a film. In previous years, I’ve gone to screenings as a fan, but to now be promoting this film that I love and be a part of the post-screening Q & A is a veritable dream come true. I’m sure it’ll all be so surreal, but I’ll try to keep my head above water! I’m just excited to present the film along with our amazing cast, producers and Gia. It’ll definitely be bittersweet though. With Cory’s unfortunate passing, the onus is on us to spread the film as far and wide as possible so his fans can see what a talented, kind and generous individual he was. We’re lucky to have been given a coveted spot at TIFF to help us accomplish just that. His performance in this is stellar, people will be blown away.
How was it to be on the other side of the lens with Sibling Rivalry?
NERVE-RACKING. You build yourself up and prepare as much as you can. But the first day of the shoot, after I called my first shot, my producer came up to me and said “you realize your voice cracked when you were giving your directions just now.” He could tell I was nervous, but he gave me a little pep talk and the rest of the shoot went exceptionally well from there. It was just so overwhelming to see a cast and crew of nearly 30 people, up at the crack of dawn, to help me tell a story I wrote by myself at my little computer desk. It was a humbling experience to say the least.
Having now acted on stage and screen, penned a scripted, and sat in the director’s chair, is there one hat that appeals more to you?
I’m still (and always will be) a sucker for acting. I’ve got the bug, what can I say? That being said, I’m love with filmmaking and am already working on my third film. And it’s been said before, but being an actor definitely helped me in my directing duties. You can approach your actors with the confidence that you know exactly what they’re going through, because you’ve been in their shoes. It’s also helped me understand directors more and how much pressure they’re under.
What’s coming up next for you?
This fall, I’ll be appearing on an episode of HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz. Not only did I get to work opposite Jason Priestly, he was also my episode’s director. He’s such an awesome guy and made me feel so welcome. No ego there. He even spilled some insider Hollywood dirt, which I LOVED, of course.
Catch Theriault in All the Wrong Reasons when it screens at TIFF on Sunday, September 8 at Scotiabank 1 at 6:45 PM and Monday, September 9 at Scotiabank 10 at 10:00 PM.
Photography credit: Sarah Bell