Interview With Actor Giles Panton, “Three Bedrooms, One Corpse: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery”

By Ruth on June 10, 2016 in Interview, movie, mystery, television
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Roughly a year ago, I discovered, almost by accident, that a character in my then-favorite show–Cedar Cove–was going to be replaced and played by a different actor. I adored the John Bowman storyline, and I made up my mind that whomever was going to take over, I WAS NOT going to like. The only problem is that I was a reviewer of these shows, and I knew I had to go in with an open mind. And I made the “mistake” of responding to some tweet where this new actor (to me), Giles Panton, was mentioned. And he had the “audacity” to respond and follow me after I followed him–well, what’s a girl to do, after all? The next thing I knew, I was chatting with him, supporting him, reading interviews, watching a movie on Lifetime I NEVER would have watched–and much to my “chagrin,” he was being nice to me! And then he just had to go and mention that he had talked with my dear friend, Sebastian Spence, about me! Yes, my goose was metaphorically cooked. Because on top of all that, he was incredibly nice to me, and no matter how much I protest, everything I write here is a bit tongue-in-cheek. As his star is officially on the ascent, I recently had the honor of interviewing him. And it truly was an honor because no matter what, I couldn’t help but support this tremendous thespian. In our conversation, we chatted about Hallmark, his upcoming works, and his career in general.

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

RH: What inspired you to become an actor?

GP: Well, I was at the university, and I was in my second year, really not liking what I was doing. And I took an acting elective, and something kind of clicked for me. I didn’t know yet that I wanted to be an actor, but there was something about that acting elective that really interested me. My parents are incredibly supportive, and I must have said something because they recommended that I check out this acting school in downtown Vancouver. So I took an Intro to Acting class, and it was a three-month class. And over the course of that three-month class, something clicked, and I knew that this was it. This was what I wanted to do.  I spoke to my acting teacher at the end of that three months, and I laid my heart out there. I said, “Look, I really enjoyed this class. I’m having a very tumultuous time in my life where I don’t know what to do. What would you recommend?” My teacher said, “Audition for the full-time program, and go from there.” And so I did. I got in, and I never really looked back.  That was the William Davis Centre for Actor’s Study, and it was run by “The Smoking Man” from X-Files.  He’s a pretty amazing guy.  He taught our improv class, which wasn’t really anything to do with comedic improv. It was really serious, in-the-moment life stuff. That was the short answer. The long answer has a lot more chaos in it.

I understand. I was expecting a much longer answer. (laughs)

Oh, really? Well, I’ll say this. I was always getting myself out there in one way, shape, or another. I played drums for a very long time. I played a lot of music. I was student council president. And I won leadership awards for my city where I grew up. So I was always just out there and getting myself on stage. So people who know me now will say, “Yeah, it makes sense that you got into acting.”  It kind of fit my personality in that way. I would say that there were a lot of signs that this was where I was going to end up.

I really tried to do both professional drumming and acting at the same time.  But there was a turning point.  I booked my first paid acting job on the same night that my band was playing a live show on the radio. And I took the paid acting job.  And ironically, the acting job was a drummer in a commercial. It was a really weird passing off the baton from one career to the other. And needless to say, my band was not impressed. That was basically the end–I had about one more month with them before they replaced me. With that turning point, I could have gone either way, but inside, I knew acting was more important to me.

I was unaware of your drumming background.

Oh my gosh, yes, I did it for a long time! That band–I don’t think they’re around any more. They were called Elias. We had a dedicated practice space we just rented for music, and so I would play drums with them twenty to thirty hours every week. After the regular workday, we’d go and jam. I loved it–I loved writing music. I loved literally feeling the music. I’m not meaning metaphorically. I had to buy professional earplugs because the bass cab was as tall as the bass player. You would feel it in your body. There were times when we were writing songs in the throes of things, and all of a sudden, I realized I was roaring or something like that. We didn’t play heavy metal. We played like really cool Brit rock meets North American pop. I loved it so much. It was a tough decision. I really straddled the fence on that one.

The biggest day of crossover between the two was–I shot a TV show called Intelligence, and then I went straight from the set to the airport. And then I flew to catch up with my band that was on tour. This was a different band. They were a trucker band called Run GMC. They’re still going. They changed their name to the Washboard Union now, and they’re on country music channels. I played piano a little bit when I was younger, but I defiantly quit at some point.

Many people still remember you from Cedar Cove, where you played John Bowman (replacing Charlie Carrick) for the third season of the series. 

That was a really cool opportunity. It opened a lot of doors.

Elyse Levesque, Giles Panton

Elyse Levesque, Giles Panton

How hard was it to replace an actor on the show who was well-liked–in fact, when I found out that John Bowman was being replaced, I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to like whomever it was who replaced him–

Oh wow–an uphill battle. I’m glad I ran up that hill. (pause) I think I was a lot more excited about the opportunity. I didn’t think too much about that there might be any push-back. And I actually don’t think there was much, which was great. For me, it was more about coming into something that had been going on for so long. Sometimes you’ll relate it to–you show up late to a party, and everyone’s already hanging out, or you come to school halfway through the year and all the cliques have formed and you’re like, “Wait a minute.”  I wasn’t sure what I was going to be walking into, but everyone was so friendly right off the top. My fears melted away in that respect. I just focused on doing the best job I could. I didn’t look back to watch Charlie’s stuff. I didn’t want to try to mirror him or reprise his performance. I thought that would have been weird if I just tried to mimic him in that way. So instead I worked the best I could to step in and tell the story they wanted me to tell.  It was funny–later on, I was on Reign, and he’s got a big role on that TV show, and we ran into each other in the lunch line. And he asked me, “How’s it going with John Bowman?”  It was a very funny moment. And I said, “I guess I’m just kind of chasing you around.”

That’s good because I always think it must be difficult to replace a character in a series. Sometimes it doesn’t work. 

I think what was lucky that went on for me was this. John Bowman was an important character, but he was not a main character. It was easier for me to step into that role than if I’d been replacing Cliff Harting or someone like that.

Watching all the main cast–Andie (MacDowell), Barbara (Niven), Brennan (Elliott), etc. solidified for me what it means to be a professional on all fronts. They’re so great to be with on set.

It was good that you had such a positive experience. Then, of course, the whole cast was blind-sighted when it got cancelled. I think people are still recovering from that. 

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Abby Flink, Fan

“I have a roundabout story about how I became a fan of Mr. Giles Panton, or who I like to refer to as ‘G.’ I first came across Giles in the Hallmark TV show Cedar Cove. I’m an avid viewer of the network, and at the time, this was one of my favorite shows to watch. And surprise! He ended up filling in for a character who I had become slightly attached to, as far as the storyline, and so I almost slightly *hated* him for becoming the new John. His acting was fine, but he wasn’t THE John. Sorry ‘G.’ But I never wrote him off. I knew he had talent, and I just didn’t like him in this specific role. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on him.

Weeks ago, he played in the movie Tulips in Spring, which for me truly showed another side of him. And this movie was one of my favorites, along with others, of the year so far. He played the typical boyfriend, but he showed the Hallmark audience a twist when he ended the relationship in a mature way. It was this comedic role that made me think he had more to him as an actor. Others have mentioned non-Hallmark projects that he is in that I am looking forward to watching, but I also think he has a home here. If you forget his acting (which you won’t), he has also gotten better on his social media accounts. At this time, I think he waters his plants.”

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Someone asked about Bad Date Chronicles and if you had any updates on when it might air or what network it might be on.

I do not. What I do know is that I had a ton of fun on it. There’s really only six actors in that movie. It’s an awesome ensemble cast story. There’s two main leads and then four supporting leads, but it was like having six leads because all of us were handily telling the story. It was so much fun. I don’t honestly know where it’s going to be or when it’s coming out. It will be released in the States for sure.  My apologies that I don’t know more, but my best guess is sometime this year. But it is hilarious. The crew had a hard time not laughing. My character is a huge joker. He’s basically like a college guy that just didn’t grow up. And now he’s out of college, but still behaving like a college guy.

I know some of those films take a year or more.

Some of them do, but Hallmark’s been pretty good. Hallmark’s got an amazing machine. We shot Tulips in Spring not even two months before it came out. We shot Aurora Teagarden before Tulips in Spring. Either way, they have a pretty fast turnaround.

What is it you like about working for Hallmark?

Everyone I’ve met has been just so down-to-earth, and they so want to make a good product. And I really like that. Every director I’ve met, every producer I’ve met. It seems like they put just as much care into finding incredible talent as they do in finding incredible people. I like that a lot. And I have to say that I love how they are willing to give relatively unknown people a shot. Obviously, in their movies, the leads will be names, but they will cast people they may never have met before that particular audition in larger supporting roles. And it gives people a great chance to get out there and get known. I’m just so impressed by the machine that they are. I can’t even imagine the process. I picture like a Willy Wonka type factory–they’re amazing.  Honestly, the people are what makes Hallmark so wonderful. I have continually met these really gracious, generous, kind people.

I like what you said about giving unknowns a chance. I think over the past year, I have paid attention to the supporting roles a lot more.

I find Hallmark to be really loyal as well.  I don’t know what the mission statement is of the company, but I do feel like they make making meaningful relationships an important part of the process as well. So it’s not just like, “We’re going to make a film. We’re going to chew you up for two weeks and then spit it out.” In the past, I have done some other TV movies like that, and it’s a different feel. It feels like we’re here to shoot this thing and then get rid of it.  But I’ve never felt that with Hallmark.

What you say is consistent with everyone else I’ve interviewed that has worked with Hallmark. Even if they’re not currently working with Hallmark, they say they’d love to go back and work for them. 

So, if you could guest star on any of Hallmark’s current shows, which one would you choose?

Of all the shows they have, I would love to sneak my way into When Calls the Heart ’cause I love period pieces. That’s my favorite stuff.

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I think many Hallmark actors share that sentiment, and the fans are so loyal. 

The Hearties are impressive.  The show was great, but they worked to get season four. The Hearties also have one of the best names–it’s got a great ring to it.  I see how they try to do it with every show, and it’s cute.  But when they came up with the Hearties, they hit the nail on the head.  The others are cute, but they just don’t roll off the tongue the same way.

TulipsForSpring-Set1Tulips in Spring was a fan favorite. 

Yeah, that was a big hit.

I really liked the fact that your character was really adult about ending the relationship in the film. Nice for a change.

What I liked about what they did with that is that they made the choice so hard for Rose. And I think that makes the struggle harder for the audience, too. Which makes a good movie. Because I don’t think anyone wants to watch a movie where you could sit on the couch or be in the kitchen and it just happens. Like if you get up and leave and come back, you really won’t miss anything. I like when a movie makes it difficult for the audience in a good way.

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Director David Winning  www.DavidWinning.com
Groundstar Entertainment Presents David Winning – Filmmaker – Director

“Giles played the guy that DIDN’T get the girl in TULIPS IN SPRING, a Hallmark movie that aired to 2 Million + viewers in May. And he did it with charm and grace,… he rocks all these parts. Not an easy task to play the dumped boyfriend AND have audiences still rooting for you but Giles did it! He’s a class act and a really good actor….” 
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That was really a nice film. Nice story, beautiful scenery. Loved the tulip farms. My mom actually commented several times wondering where the tulip farm in the film was located.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, they have these amazing tulip farms. There’s a bunch of farm country out there. That’s why they shoot so much in Vancouver.  Within about a couple hours of the city, you can hit seven out of the nine different climates of the world.  The only thing we’re missing is sub-Saharan desert and tropical rainforest. We pretty much get everything else.

Was there anything that stood out in the filming of Tulips in Spring or possibly any behind-the-scenes stories?

Firstly, I was going to say that Fiona [Gubelmann] and David [Winning] were so much fun. We had a blast. David’s a really quirky guy. I like him a lot. Fiona wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s awesome. I’m so excited that she’s got that big Netflix show coming out soon.  We fell into stride pretty quick. So there was a lot of busting each other’s chops. There was some good teasing that went on. I never did work with Lucas [Bryant]. All my scenes were set in LA, not the farm.

I remember now–there was a cute thing that happened behind the scenes. It wasn’t on set.  The different vans started competing with each other as to who would have the best snacks. They were vying to get us to come in their van. One had the whole center console–’cause they use these Dodge caravans. It’s funny ’cause it’s a blast–like a flashback to elementary school for me, climbing in and carpooling with the whole neighborhood. But the whole center console was like a convenience store of chocolates and gummies and gum and everything you could imagine. It was a totally friendly competition, but it was funny. I remember being tempted by snacks from both vans all the way through the filming of that movie.

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KWIK KWOTE

Lini Evans, Co-star

 

“Giles and I met on the set of one of my very favorite Hallmark films Love, Again, (filming on location in tranquil Sooke, BC, and it was like the best working vacation with my stunning ocean room, fireplace and private hot tub that deer walked past – ahhhh). He was soft-spoken and lovely – with fun lines about the word “Namaste”. So we’ve worked on the same projects several times, but we’re still due to have scenes together!”

 

 

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The new Aurora Teagarden film will air on Sunday. That’s been a long time coming.

Yeah, I think it’s because of Candace’s [Cameron Bure] crazy schedule. She’s on The View, Fuller House. I don’t even know when she has time to sleep. She amazed me. I know that they shot three and four at the same time. They’re coming back to shoot five–maybe five and six at the same time? So they’re definitely doing more. They’re filming them in chunks. Four is in the can–they finished shooting that.

So how did you get involved with Aurora Teagarden?

I auditioned for a movie right before that with Hallmark. I auditioned for one of the larger supporting leads. It went pretty far down the line in respect to getting that part. I met all the producers. So for Aurora Teagarden, it was the same production team. I also shot a movie in December with Giancarlo Esposito –amazing guy, and I had a good-sized part in that movie. One of the producers of that movie was also part of the Hallmark production team. So I had started to get on their radar, and I know that I was on their radar from Cedar Cove as well. It was just a series of me coming to the plate, and they were like, “Okay, this guy can bring something.” I had a series of really good auditions with them. That combined with the privilege of working on these other projects brought me to their attention. So when it came time for Aurora Teagarden, I didn’t know it was going to be the same team, and when I was in the waiting room, I saw them and I was so excited. It was just so great to see them. So I think it was a process of me just working as hard as I could to impress them in auditions–to do the best job I could. And just over time with them getting to know me, I think it was based on the level of my skill, but also on the level of my personality and character.

I would tend to agree with you. My understanding in acting is that you pay your dues, so to speak. It’s not like you went in there and expected the job. You’ve done the smaller roles, and now slowly, you’re moving up the ladder. 

That is essentially true. I think Ring by Spring may have been my first Hallmark project.  And that was just one big scene type thing. And now I am just slowly climbing the ladder. I am so excited to keep working and auditioning with them. They’re a lot of fun.

Now is this the first time you’ve done a murder mystery?

I’ve done mysteries. But this is definitely my first murder mystery.

Well, hopefully it won’t be your last.

I’m sure in the span of my career there will be more mysteries.

Undoubtedly. What was it like working with Candace Cameron Bure, Yannick Bisson, and your other co-stars?

That’s a big ensemble cast. Marilu [Henner], Lexa [Doig], Candace–the whole gang. Alexa was a troublemaker. I like her a lot. She would ruthlessly not let me get away with anything.  Yannick was just as funny. I’ll tell you this. Whatever room he was in, was charmed. I don’t even think he was trying. He just had everyone charmed. He just has this way about him. He just feels like a Hollywood leading man in that way. He would be sitting in his chair, and the whole room would be hanging off his every word. I almost had like a man crush on him.

The entire group has such an interesting dynamic. I was on that movie for a couple of weeks. Candace is great, too. She’s so sweet. Candace is amazing to watch. She is always on the go and never really takes breaks. In between takes, she is always sitting in her chair, checking up on things and doing some other business, such as firing off emails and more. She was always composed. I would be watching her, and I’m like, “You are a machine.” Then there was this plank competition that got started–I don’t know who started it, I don’t know how it got started. But Candace was kicking everyone’s butt. She’s tough. She’s in shape. She was nonstop. I would just sit back sometimes and just watch the cast because they were just as entertaining as anything else that was going on.

Then when Marilu showed up, Holy Moley. She’s a legend from Taxi and everything else. Did you know she has an insane memory? You can give her any date on the calendar, and she can go back through the history of her life and tell you everything that was happening on that day. On that day in every year. It’s crazy. I had so much fun on that set. There was nonstop entertainment. It’s cool how Hallmark has these movies that are a series. It gives them a bit of flexibility even with the shoot schedule. If you had a TV series, you couldn’t pull off what they did with Aurora Teagarden. Two movies released, and then you’ve got to wait awhile. They’ve created a good system where they can have awesome series running and then interesting movies that are ongoing. I loved going to work every single day. I had a blast. I really enjoyed discovering Franklin {my character} as we went along too.

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Starry Mag Journalist

It would seem–Moo-ha-ha–(“mock” evil laugh)

(laughs) –from everything we know–you’ve played characters that are not nice.

Oh yeah.

How do you get into character when you play a more dark and twisted character that is so different from who you are?

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You know what? I don’t know when it clicked for me. I think it was pretty early on, almost from the very beginning. I never liked two-dimensional anything. I didn’t like a two-dimensional good guy. I didn’t like a two-dimensional bad guy. I think it was a couple of years into my acting training that something clicked for me where…I approach characters from the angle–If I had been raised under different circumstances, this is the person I could have become. If I had been born in this environment–if I had been raised by parents who ignored me or if I had been raised in a certain kind of atmosphere or if I had been raised in Nazi Germany or if I had been raised here, then this is the person I could have become. I always wanted my portrayals to be from me in that respect. So I worked to find “A,” the parts of me that could have gone there or “B,” the parts of me that might even kind of be there because all of us have those moments, like when we’re in traffic and we say something in our head and we’re like, “Wow, if I said that out loud, it would sound pretty bad.” I just really worked to find those parts of me, and I would say to take them out of the cage ’cause what I’ve started to find is the more I do of these kinds of roles, the more compassionate and the more empathetic I am towards everybody. So that’s been the angle I’ve worked to do for a long time. It can be uncomfortable because I don’t want it to come from a place of me just acting. I want it to come from a place of me working to really get it. And sometimes I hit the mark, and sometimes I don’t really hit the mark in the process of figuring it out. I think the hardest part of that is looking to see, “Where has that really happened?” I would say it’s a very human process. It’s a very soul-searching process.  And it’s a very emotional process, too, because honestly, sometimes I’ll just start weeping when I find the humanity in a character that otherwise I may have already judged in my life. Like I may have heard in the news or something about a similar person to my character and just two-dimensionally called them “evil,” and I might even say, “That was an evil person.” But you know, that’s still a human being who made some really bad choices. Why did they do that? That’s what we need to figure out. And to play that sort of role, I need to figure it out, rather than just judging them and writing them off as evil.

Outside of acting, do you have any other things that you are really passionate about or interested in?

Music, for a long time.  But you know, I really, really, really want to understand how the human mind works. How emotions work. I’m always studying that stuff. I’d  say I’m really passionate about helping people to make the world a better place in that respect. I know that sounds kind of cliche in a lot of ways, but I put a lot of time and effort into working to better understand people and how they work and why they do what they do. And to help people in that way, too and work to help them achieve their dreams. To help them work through their issues. I pursue a lot of community building in that way.

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Susie Fuccillo, fan

I noticed Giles in A Movie last Summer– Sugar Babies. I was immediately smitten with his good looks and fresh Face. I enjoyed his style of acting, his swag and wondered why he was not up there with other prominent newcomers. He has extreme potential, and I made it a point to mention him to friends and family. They agreed with me and would like to see him in more roles in the future.

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From where I stand, you seem like one who really has a desire to help others. 

That’s a big one for me. And I’d say another big one–and this is kind of the embarrassed side of me–I absolutely love cartoons. I love watching really well-made cartoons. And sometimes that means they have more mature storylines. Like a kid probably shouldn’t watch it because they can be scary. Sometimes they’re really fun like Disney things. I have a membership to a service called Crunchyroll, which is like the cartoon version of Netflix. Only it has a lot of Japanese cartoons that have amazing storylines. I love cartoons. And I love Disney. And I love all that stuff. I secretly want to be in a Disney musical. [laughs] I’ve never practiced hard enough to get my voice anywhere near where it would even be acceptable for that level, but if I had a bucket list kind of thing, and I just put the work in, I would love, love, love to be in a Disney musical. When I was a kid, my parents had a membership to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, and we would go watch musicals, and like the Nutcracker Suite, and all sorts of things like that. My dad’s favorite musical is Cats.  He loves the song Memory. There was something with theater and singing that I loved. I know I swerved back into acting, but I do really love the visual arts. I do really love musicals, even though I have never really been involved with them.

I don’t think you need to be embarrassed about that. (We both laughed.)

No, it’s funny. I will literally sometimes binge on a cartoon the way someone might binge on a Netflix show. So it’s like I watched cartoons for two or three hours. Some of the best TV I think has been in the Japanese cartoons and their storylines. Just wild worlds ’cause I think there’s something really cool about an animation series–if you’re going to make a prime time TV series–they’re getting pretty close with CGI these days, but with a cartoon, the director can say, “I literally want all this insane stuff to happen,” and they can just make it happen. They wouldn’t have to worry about special effects or any of that other stuff, so they created some really, really cool worlds in my opinion. That’s the nerd starting to sneak out of me, and I could talk for a long time about this. I’m a secret nerd and dork, and I love all things sci-fi. Honestly, rockets and all that stuff gets me so excited–I love scientific human advancement in the areas of exploration and all that cool stuff where it’s like “Go to Mars” or the ocean, or I saw these artificial limbs that are actually connected to nerve endings. People can move these fake fingers like a real hand, and I saw it the other day, and I got so excited. So this is like a door I could just keep running through if we left it open.

I know you’ve done quite a bit of voice work. So what are the good points, and what are the bad points of voice work? If there are any bad points, that is. 

I’d be pretty hard pressed to find any bad points in voice work ’cause it’s so amazing. It is such a small community, and time is not money in the same way there, I find. I love the film community. They’re amazing. But there’s only a certain amount of time you have in a day, and when you have two hundred people on set, paying all those paychecks, that can get intense, if things are going a little bit later. It can go from relaxed to urgent, and depending on the team, it can be a relaxed urgency or it can be a frantic urgency.

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With animation, right off the top, pacing was so different. My first audition was eight minutes long. I was just in  a booth. I was auditioning for a voice commercial. The community is so small and so easy going, warm, and caring. It’s a pretty tight-knit community to break into. I didn’t know how hard it was ’cause I broke in within three months, which apparently is insane. Some people take years and don’t break in. I’m very fortunate in that way, but I worked really hard. I worked for hours every single day on top of all the other acting work I had done up to that point.

But I wouldn’t say that film is any less loving. They’re incredibly loving. I just think film is faster-paced than voice work in that respect. Also, the thing about film is with CGI now and performance capture, it’s starting to change a bit. But you pretty much have to play what you look like. Maybe back in the day with prosthetics, things were different–but you pretty much played your age and cultural background and everything else. But with voice work, you can do anything. If you can make a voice that matches what they drew, you can get it. I can play all the way up to some thirty-story, giant hulking beast. The inner kid in me freaked out when I started doing that. I remember when I was practicing, getting ready for it. If you were my neighbor, you would have thought I was crazy ’cause I would be in my room, and my goal was to try to get as many voices in a row as possible that didn’t sound like me. So I did–I was all over the place. Crazy things. But it was so much fun ’cause this was all of the craziness that I did when I was a kid and at the university to tease people. I would run around and make voices and just stupid, silly things. I’d pretend to be little monsters–all sorts of stuff. It’s like my antics were finally paying off. I would say that’s probably my favorite part of it. And it’s so big. It’s like theater on a certain level. Like the bigger you are, the better in voice work. Versus film and TV, if you go really, really big, it better be an intense, dramatic scene. Otherwise, you’re going to blow the camera up, and people won’t be able to handle it. In film, the smallest move can tell a million things. But in voice, since you’re taking all of your human expression and pushing it through this one medium of voice, it requires you to be so much more expressive with the story. It’s a ton of fun in that way.

I’ve played a lot of heroes–a lot of the guys I play tend to be the leader of the knights or the leader of the team that’s going to save the universe. And that means there’s a lot of me doing heroic battle cries. Stuff that as a kid, I would have been told , “Quiet in there!” It’s so much fun for me to do that and not get sent to the principal’s office for just turning the class into a frenzy. They’re both very different mediums. I love them both to death. I would never want to trade either of them for the other. I would also say I think some of the best character actors would make great voice actors.

Another cool thing about voice work is that it provides an opportunity to stretch my instrument in a way I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do with film. In film, you make your name in a certain area, and then you can break out. But I don’t even want to stereotype that because there are so many different ways of doing it. Long-winded answer.

Honestly, it’s been interesting just to listen to you because I could tell what you were really passionate about.  So, in addition to Aurora Teagarden, are there any other upcoming works you can mention?

I have two very exciting things on the horizon, but I can’t really talk about either of them. It’s a frenzy. I had a very busy year so far this year. I do have a lead in a Netflix cartoon, but that is all I can say right now. I absolutely love the Netflix brand in general, so I’m very excited to share when I can! I love that Netflix makes such a wide range of products–it’s just crazy.

I know you taught acting in the past, but have you been able to teach at all this year?

Not this year. This year has been so busy. I was teaching voice acting–that’s what I was teaching. That was really cool because when I was first approached and asked to do that, I was really nervous. But what it did is it put me in a position to think about what I had done to get to where I was voice-wise and to translate that into a process that I could teach to them. And it helped me get better at my job. There are certain things I almost did–I wouldn’t say instinctively because I figured them out–but I wasn’t measuring it as I was figuring it out. It became part of my process. And so when I had to map that out and teach it, it was really cool for me because it helped me become a better voice actor. And it was so rewarding to help them because I really love teaching and helping other people. That was a lot of fun for me to come up with a program and teach that to them. And getting the flexibility of taking them into the studio and messing around. I want to figure out a way to make that work ’cause what I did there was great. I was actually invited back to my old acting school–the first real one I went to–and that was so sweet.  It was a great full circle. And it worked out perfect because the kids I was teaching were in a full-time program. They were very flexible. So on a day I wasn’t shooting, we could slot those classes into different periods depending on what was going on in my schedule. It worked out perfect.

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

If someone were wanting to become an actor, what qualities do you think are essential to be an actor?

Bravery. I mean that in the sense of a willingness to share your deepest most vulnerable places. I think empathy with respect to being willing to try out other characters and people to try to understand them and why they do what they do, so you can create a well-rounded character.

Drive. There are so many people trying to do this job, and there’s so few positions available. And there’s so little external rewards. Actually, let me reframe drive. Let’s say internal motivation. I could give advice on how someone could become successful, but they’re not necessarily going to do it in a healthy way. You could get big and burn out hard, or you could get big and survive. And I think it’s two very different paths. in my opinion, I’m trying to describe a path that I’m working to follow. I can really only give the best advice for me.  But I would say if you are internally motivated and driven from a place that you understand why you want to build this for you and without any thought of any reward that might come from the outside, you’re going to do fine.

Don’t take yourself seriously. The more I’ve taken myself too seriously, the less willing I am to take risks character-wise, and the more two-dimensional my characters have become. The more you’re willing to risk and play and look like a total idiot, and not even be thinking about that, the better. Because in the moment, the director might throw something at you, and in combination with the first one, you’ll be brave enough and silly enough to try something that you never would try before.

The last one would just be play. Be willing to be a kid. Play with whatever you can. Like I should be able to lock you in a room with a pen, and you should be able to keep yourself entertained for a day.  With just a pen. Maybe no ink in there even. Just a piece of plastic.  If you could do that, you’re going to do fine. That will be my intensive acting school…My Mr. Miyagi like, “Do you want to learn to act?” Like no food or anything. You’ll be a professional actor by the end of the day.

(Honestly, we did not get through that without laughing–I promise you. I have no earthly idea where Giles came up with this particular scenario, but maybe if I did–well–)

I’d say off the cuff, those five pillars are pretty good. Oh no, there’s a last, very important one. I would combine two things together. I would call it gratitude and respect. That covers all fronts. On the TV show I just finished, everyone was saying, “Thank you so much.” I’m like, “Dude, you just spent five years developing this. I did the metaphoric grabbing the baton and doing the victory lap. You put in all the work.” When I say gratitude and respect, I mean this kind of gratitude. We live in an amazing part of the world (Canada and the States combined), and we have the luxury to do this stuff. Be grateful that we can study art and not have to be worried about someone coming to kill our family. Or that we don’t have to worry about having food to eat. Be grateful that someone else did all this groundwork and is willing to invite you on this project. And then just be respectful of the fact that it’s not all about you. This is about a whole group of people who are trying to be a team and come together to get something done, and that means respecting everyone from the executive producer all the way down to the kid just wanting to pay his bills and get some experience. He’s doing PA work, and he’s out in the cold wearing a reflector vest for fifteen hours in the rain, and he forgot to bring long johns that day because he didn’t know he was going to be outside.  Everyone is essential on that set.

Gratitude and respect is one of the hardest ones to get, I think. While I think a lot of people have a rule about being grateful and respectful, we don’t really give ourselves a chance to stop and just actually say, “You know what? I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you.” I don’t want to speak in generalities, and I could be greatly overstepping my bounds. But I know that for me, a lot of times outwardly, I was appearing to be respectful–I thought I was being respectful–but I was just following the map of what it looks like. That can breed a certain entitlement. I really do think that gratitude and respect are enormous for surviving and growing in this industry because if you can’t pay that kind of tribute to other people, I don’t think you’re going to take the time to look at what you need to do to grow. You’re just going to think that you’re this all-dancing, all-amazing piece of gold. And that’s too often a trap people fall into, especially in this industry where we really think we are the king of that set or the queen of that set. No, no, no, no don’t do that. I’ve done it. I’ve had my arrogant moments and it is so empty. Everyone is putting everything on the line for you.

I don’t want this to be a lecture. That’s something I strive every day to be more of–be more grateful and respectful. Let’s be honest. I come from a good family, and I don’t take lightly the privileges that my family, background, and ethnicity have given me. It’s pretty easy for me to be arrogant and not even realize it. So it’s been a very humbling process to realize that kind of gratitude and respect are probably the most important things in succeeding in anything. This struck an emotional chord with me, as you probably can tell…But these two are very important for me.

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

Picture Credit: Liz Rosa

In the end, Giles was quite pleased to know that he tied for the record time for my interviews-nearly two hours. (The other guy with whom he shares that honor is nearly thirty years his senior.) And never once was I bored–just for the record. I wish with all my heart that I could capture the passion with which he spoke about his career–my paltry words don’t begin to do justice to a man and an actor of his caliber. He has to be one of the kindest, most humble, and most unswervingly grounded individuals I know in this business–especially since he hasn’t even reached forty yet! (Yes, he’s a spring chicken when compared to me.) As I have watched Giles’ career grow over the past year, I have been so immensely impressed with the quality of his acting. I knew he had monumental talent, and while Cedar Cove opened the doors, Giles is rapidly coming into his own, so to speak. While I doubt he’ll ever “arrive”(and if he did, it would never be good enough anyway–he would keep trying to improve upon perfection–trust me), his giftedness is apparent to all who take the time to examine his performances. His versatility increases with every passing day, every passing job–the man has caught the vision of what he yearns to achieve, and he will not desist in pursuit of his lofty though attainable goals until the day he breathes his last (which no one hopes will be any time soon). However, unlike some “upstarts” in this business, he has kept his wits about him, and he has never forgotten to demonstrate gratitude and respect. I realize he admitted his issues with arrogance, but in truth, haven’t we all had moments where we thought just a little bit too high of ourselves until we got symbolically knocked upside the head with a two by four? The moment he confessed that, my respect grew excessively for him and has only continued to grow as I have pondered the deep things shared here. As the years advance, I expect great things from Giles. As one who has been on the receiving end of his gratitude, benevolence, and aid (that’s a long story…), I can assure you that what he says here is exactly who he is. Giles Panton is one of those rare creatures in this business who has colossal skill, a passion for excellence, and a massive heart that hungers to assist everyone on this planet that he can. As I told him, I consider him a friend–I realize I’ve never met him–but in this digital world, the definition of friendship has changed a bit. No matter what you’re doing Sunday,June 12, drop everything and watch the new Aurora Teagarden film on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. You’ll be elated that you did, and don’t forget to follow this phenomenal actor and person via the links below!

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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