Also check back later today (tonight) for yet another new update. I still have to make screencaps from Tyler on “Wrath of Grapes The Don Cherry Story Part 2″.
Tyler Johnston says he doesn’t mind being compared to a young Tom Cruise. The B.C.-bred actor stars in the gambling thriller “The Odds.”
Check out the video below:
There are worse things for an up-and-coming actor to hear than he looks like a young Tom Cruise onscreen.
“No! It would be silly of me to say that,” Tyler Johnston responded when asked if he was tired of hearing it so often at the Toronto International Film Festival where teen gambling murder mystery The Odds premiered last September. “He’s a great actor; he’s had a great career.”
Johnston, a 24-year-old B.C. native, plays Desson Orr in The Odds, a confident teen who gets in too deep once he starts playing poker in a pal’s illegal rec room gambling den. When his best friend and fellow poker player Barry (Calum Worthy) ends up dead, Desson is convinced he was murdered and tries to track down his killer.
Writer-director Simon Davidson, who came up with the idea for the film based on his own brush with the law when he was young, coupled with a newspaper story about a Singapore teen running a gambling ring, added if buzz about Johnston’s Hollywood “twin” is what draws people to see a Canadian film, he’s all for it.
“I want Tyler’s face associated with this movie,” he said. “I want normal Canadian people who might go to a movie to see Tyler’s face. Not mine, or seeing me, or who cares where I got the idea. Maybe some people do, but I want people to see Tyler and say, ‘That kid seems interesting. Oh, he’s the new Tom Cruise. Maybe I’ll go see his movie.’ That’s how it happens, I think.”
The actor and director sat down with the Star the day after the movie\s TIFF premiere and admitted they were feeling slightly overwhelmed by the sheer size of the festival. It’s not easy get attention for a low-budget Canadian indie when Brad and Angie, George Clooney and U2 are walking red carpets. But The Odds was generating enough buzz to send reporters to them.
“We’re living in our own little microcosm,” Davidson joked, adding they had a full slate of interviews the day before. “So we weren’t thinking about it.”
Davidson was first at TIFF in 2002 with his short, Moon in the Afternoon and was thrilled with the way he was treated by festival programmers and staff. “I got invited to the filmmaker dinner and they introduced me as a writer and director. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m a Canadian filmmaker! I felt huge at that moment. It spurred me to go and make my shorts. And now to come back with my feature, I just feel so blessed to have this relationship with the Toronto Film Festival.”
He was initially going to make a film about a teen at a crossroads in his life. These are circumstances familiar to Davidson, who was caught breaking into a car when he was 15.
“I’m from Alberta and there’s nothing to do in a small town,” he began. “I’m one of those guys who has a lot of testosterone. We wanted to get chased; we were young and wanted to get chased. We would smash a window and try to get chased. That just led to us smashing the window, going into the car, and stealing whatever was in there. I didn’t even know what to do with it, we just wanted the action.”
Then Davidson read about the kid in Singapore who fancied himself an entrepreneur and he started researching teens and underground poker games.
“One of the best youth gambling experts is in Montreal. I interviewed him,” said Davidson. “He wouldn’t tell me individual stories, but he said this is happening all over the place.”
He also talked to a Toronto waitress who works at underground casinos and she gave Davidson the inspiration for Wang’s, the Chinese eatery that fronts for a gambling den.
As for Johnston, who will be familiar to TV viewers from TV series Less Than Kind and for playing the young Don Cherry in Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II, he was all thumbs with the cards initially.
“When I got the role I wanted to make sure that I looked like I knew what I was doing,” he said with a grin. He tried his luck at a casino and lost $20 in less than five minutes. “I was like, ‘I don’t really find this fun.’ ”
As for “the bridge,” a trick done while shuffling cards, Johnston learned that from his co-star Julia Maxwell, who plays his love interest Colleen in The Odds. She saved him from the humiliation of playing 52 pick-up every time he shuffled a deck.
“Yeah, I was pretty bad,” Johnston laughed. “I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.”
And I also added a new photoshoot picture to the gallery: