Festival Daily

A Round With… Aaron Poole

By Kate Lawrie

Who: Aaron Poole, star and producer of last year’s This Beautiful City, appearing this year in Atom Egoyan’s Adoration and Jamie Dagg’s Sunday
Where: Marben, 488 Wellington Street West
When: 7pm, August 27
What: A glass of malbec and a local premium pilsner

As the large party two tables over converse energetically about how Baby Duck was the “drunk” of choice for teens in the 1970s, the Daily’s Editor-in-Chief sat down before Festival mania hit for a chat with the charming Canadian multi-hyphenate Aaron Poole.

KL: How did you get into acting?

AP: I moved from a small town to go to Etobicoke School of the Arts when I was 16. I had gone to an arts camp for something to do, because I didn’t play hockey and couldn’t go to hockey camp. After two years of loving my camp experience, I realized I could get that all year round if I went to an arts high school. And I was kind of looking for an excuse to move out.

KL: You have worked predominantly in Canadian productions. Is that a philosophical thing, or is it about rhythms of opportunity?

AP: In the beginning, I was doing anything and everything – you know, like Canadian-produced American Christian television. At one point I realized I wasn’t happy at all, and I wasn’t a millionaire, so I thought I’d focus on Canadian productions, which I love.

KL: Did you expect to be millionaire?

AP: Oh yeah, totally. I had stars in my eyes. All my friends thought they’d be making a lot of money, and then around six years into it I realized I wasn’t happy wasting my life preparing for crappy television auditions. And so I started working with writers on their scripts, and that’s what fed into me producing an independent film. This Beautiful City was the first feature I produced.

KL: What’s the latest on it?

AP: It’s coming out on video in mid-October. It’s still “festival-ing” really well. We’re doing Calgary. We did Karlovy Vary [in the Czech Republic] a couple of months ago. And in Armenia, we did the Yerevan festival.

KL: How did you become involved in Adoration?

AP: Atom [Egoyan] saw This Beautiful City and was really complimentary of my work. He invited me to do something for Adoration. It didn’t work out because I was working on a  series in Bosnia, but when I came back, it worked out that I could do one of these smaller chat-room roles. We’d also just finished doing an experimental short in Armenia together, because Atom was also at the Yerevan festival. 

KL: Can you talk about your Adoration character? He’s a little bit creepy.

AP: Atom works very conceptually; he always has the point that he wants to make or the shot that he wants to use, then very organically builds outward from there. So he had this monologue for my character that was sort of about redemption and justice. And then, little by little, his direction amped up the creepiness. What’s funny is he originally wanted me to be much more of a predator…but as they shot, he realized they needed an academic to round out some of it. I actually showed up on set and he had rewritten the monologue, so wardrobe redressed me and shaved a goatee out of the stubble. It was kind of a 180 from what we had originally conceptualized.

KL: Do you envision doing more work with Egoyan?

AP: I would love to. But the one thing I’ve kind of let go of is a sense of expectation by virtue of being a Canadian film worker. I am just enjoying the fact that there are people who still want to collaborate and that it happens frequently enough that I don’t want to sell insurance.

KL: So what’s up next?

AP: Ed [Gass-Donnelly] and I just optioned a new screenplay. It’s a western set in Grey County, Ontario, about two generations of bad guys. Total cops and robbers.