I had a bit of a Munro Chambers marathon last week; I watched Harpoon one night, Riot Girls for lunch the next day, then went to a park for a free screening of Turbo Kid. But the real special event was being able to speak with Chambers on the phone and gush about all the fantastic films he’s starred in for the past couple years.
Many might know Chambers for playing Eli Goldsworthy in Degrassi: The Next Generation, but the moment I started paying attention to his career was watching him as the lead in Turbo Kid. This past year, he’s been quite busy, acting in two films that screened at the Fantasia Film Festival (Harpoon and Riot Girls), with more coming soon.
“[Rob Grant and Mike Kovac] really wanted to play with different genres, different tones, so it’s more than just a dark comedy or horror or thriller or drama…”
Chris Aitkens for Nightmare On Film Street: You were in Montreal last weekend. How was your time there?
Munro Chambers: Phenomenal. I was there for Fantasia. It was fantastic. The Fantasia experience did not disappoint and met every expectation, that’s for sure. It was my third time at Fantasia. Was there first for Turbo Kid, last year for Knuckleball, and then this year.
NOFS: It seems you’re becoming more and more of a familiar face in indie genre cinema.
MC: I wouldn’t say that, but I heard that once or twice this past weekend. It’s really cool to be part of that community.
NOFS: I’m curious, do you have an age range on your resume?
MC: No, not on my resume. But the casting director or producers who are inquiring, they know that when I shave, I shed a few years off.
NOFS: It took me a while to recognize you with a beard in Harpoon or even Knuckleball because I’m so used to your face in Turbo Kid. Did you imagine that you were going to get roles like this when you first got into acting?
MC: I always wanted to play roles like this. Then as the years went on, you understand the industry a little more, you find out what roles you’re being favored for in audition rooms. I was incredibly lucky. I think Turbo Kid really opened a lot of doors, knowing [Michael] Ironside and the RKSS. It opened the door to Mike Peterson for Knuckleball. I’ve always wanted to play roles like that. Willem Dafoe, Dustin Hoffman, and many others inspired me to go after those roles. But being such a youthful person—even my father is 65 years old, but looks like he’s 51—I didn’t know if I would ever play roles like that, or that anyone would believe it, even if I did work towards that ability of having as wide of a range as I could. And the fact that I get the opportunity every so often is a real joy for me.
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NOFS: Yeah, I talked to Mike about Knuckleball a while back, and he said that Ironside suggested you for casting. How would you characterize your relationship with Michael Ironside?
MC: Over the years, he’s become like family. We connected right away at the first table read for Turbo Kid, and he brought me to Schwartz’s in Montreal [a famous smoked-meat restaurant]. From there, it’s been an amazing friendship or a mentorship. I look up to him as an actor and a person. He’s a very special person, and he’s incredibly gifted and giving actor, and that translates off-screen as well. I’ve been able to turn to him in my personal life and in the industry.
NOFS: Were you watching many of his films when you were growing up?
MC: That’s the funny thing- no, not really. I knew a few. He’s a familiar actor, and he’s done some of the greatest cult films of all time, and being a villain especially in the ‘80s. But I don’t think I followed too much of his stuff just because I didn’t grow up on those films, to be honest. But I think that’s also what made us such great friends now, because I didn’t idolize him like some other people in the industry, but I respect the hell out of him. I always knew how phenomenal of an actor he was, but I didn’t anticipate what kind of person he was going to be.
NOFS: Let’s shift to Harpoon. What was it like working with your cast mates Emily Tyra and Chris Gray?
MC: It was great. It was really special just because it was the three of us alone. We were really lucky to have Michael Peterson, Kurtis David Harder and Chris Ball, the producers, they granted us the three-day rehearsal with [director] Rob Grant. It was such a great experience and journey to do this three-act play in a film, and create 25 years of emotional history and baggage between these three characters and try to translate that to the screen. It was such a joy to work on the film because when I talked to Rob and Mike Kovac about the script and the tone of the film, there wasn’t a specific tone. They really wanted to play with different genres, different tones, so it’s more than just a dark comedy or horror or thriller or drama, they wanted to encompass everything. For me, or any actor, you want to challenge yourself as much as you can, and see how many muscles you can flex.
“I like being a villain […] They have some depth to them, they have something that makes them tick…”
NOFS: For the locations, was it just shot half on a boat and half on a set?
MC: Yeah, we were in the studio in Calgary, where they built this amazing underfloor of the yacht. So all the interior stuff—short of the house of course—was done in Calgary, and everything else was done in Belize.
NOFS: What would you say is the wildest location you’ve gone to for a shoot?
MC: I think it was definitely Belize, just because we had to take a small charter plane for 20 minutes to the location for a few days. That was a really cool experience, and again, it was intimate. When you’re working in Canada and the United States, it’s very familiar, even though it’s a little different. But working in Belize, we have each other and that’s basically it, unless we go out on our days off, but we didn’t have any. But it was a fun experience. You build lasting friendships being immersed in something like that.
NOFS: Let’s talk about Riot Girls. What apocalyptic scenario would you prefer? The one in Riot Girls or the one in Turbo Kid?
MC: Riot Girls, for me. With Turbo Kid, it would get a little squirrelly without any water. You can try to scavenge as much as you can, but it would be too hard. Turbo Kid is very Mad Max, in the sense that a lot of people die, just murdered for survival, whereas Riot Girls built this structure—over Jeremy’s rule—but there’s enough structure than you can help each other. But with Turbo Kid, how the hell did the Kid survive the wasteland. But now that I think about it, in terms of character, obviously Turbo Kid, I would like to have superpowers and fend off bad guys.
NOFS: So what do you prefer playing? A protagonist or a villain?
MC: I think I like being a villain. I’ve been lucky to be cast in villainous roles, that have more to them than just being evil. They have some depth to them, they have something that makes them tick, there’s something that has led them to being this malicious person, or this psychologically unstable person. I love playing and portraying those types of people. I’ve been lucky in my career to have played characters who have Tourette’s, who are manic depressive, bi-polar, severe OCD, and I really get a satisfaction from playing characters like that because they’re not specific, and there’s a lot of stigmas and stereotypes about people who live with that, and I like to throw that other curve on. It’s really personal and very intimate. I feel someone can relate to it, that comes back from Degrassi, having that experience of people watching the show and coming up to us and telling us how it affected them. I love playing those roles, so someone can connect to it and that character’s struggle.
NOFS: What’s next for you? When can we expect to see your face next?
MC: There’s Entangled. It’s something we’re excited about. That’s with Poloma Kwiatkowski, who’s also in Riot Girls, Rob Naylor from Montreal, and Sandra Frank, who’s on Broadway and she’s an incredible actress, and of course, Marlee Matlin. It’s about quantum entanglement and quantum physics, and it’s about four brilliant scientists who have figured it out, and have broken the wall and entered a whole different realm where duplicates of themselves have come into their universe, and they have to battle to survive, because only one can live in one universe. It’s a great script, and the actors were great to work with.
And then I also did a feature in Los Angeles with director Josh Marble. I think the name is changing a bit, but the way I read the script, it was like a millennial Big Chill. It’s about a young man who gets out of jail and has a release day party. And all the people from his past happen to be there. It’s a very interesting drama I think.
“As for Turbo Kid 2, whatever RKSS has told you, that’s what’s happening […] They’re too good at what they do, they don’t rush anything…”
As for Turbo Kid 2, whatever RKSS has told you, that’s what’s happening. It’s been fun seeing how many people watched it, how much they followed it, and how they keep asking for a second one and who’s going to be in it. All I know is that RKSS is not going to take any shortcuts on the script. Making a sequel of anything is usually the hardest one. You have to live up to it, but you also have to elevate it. They’re not going to welch anything. They’re too good at what they do, they don’t rush anything, and they’re very proud people, but also very humble. And when it does happen, it will be great.
NOFS: Any last thoughts for our readers?
MC: Riot Girls will be coming out in theatres soon, go see it. It’s a great love story, it’s a badass film about survival written by women, directed by women, all the keys of the department heads, and it’s led by women. It’s a very important film, about the LGBT community, it’s not a coming-out story, just being themselves and being badass. It’s a great ode to ‘80s films. And also Harpoon, please go watch it and support it. We’re really proud of it, and we hope people like it as well.
Harpoon celebrated its Quebec premiere at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival on Saturday, July 27th. Click HERE to check out all of our continued coverage of the festival, and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see silly photos, immediate film reactions, and the occasional photo of lunch.