In my relentless pursuit to highlight actors that are often overshadowed by the major characters in film and television, I have yet again unearthed a categorical gem in the sea of featured actors. However, if you are a regular Hallmark viewer, there is a good chance you may have seen Tristan Shire without even realizing it. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Tristan, and we discussed everything from his nontraditional advent in the entertainment industry to his enchanting experiences and outlook within this vocation.
RH: What was it that inspired you to become an actor?
TS: For me, it was just something I couldn’t get away from. You know, it was always kind of there, I guess, even at a young age, but I never did acting in high school. I wasn’t in the drama program. I didn’t even take acting classes in the university. Actually, I studied engineering–petroleum engineering, as a matter of fact. I even have my degree in that. But around my third year in engineering, I think, I was definitely kind of bored with classes, and I saw that there was open auditions for some of the theater plays, and I just wanted to do it. I was terrified ’cause I had never had any training, but I did it, and I really enjoyed it. And I did it again in my final year with a bigger project as the lead for one of the main stages. And I had a great time. But I found out after I did that–I guess that some of the people who were in the theater program weren’t really too happy with me because they were studying in theater, and they didn’t like the lead role going to some engineering student. (laughs) So after I did that, I think they actually made a rule that to be a lead in a play in the university, you had to be in the theater program. So they made a rule because of me, I guess. (laughs)
So that’s how it started–my first thing on stage in front of anyone. But I didn’t get into it right away. I still was kind of not sure like–well, I need a job. I didn’t really have a plan. I was originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, and I had been studying at the University of Regina. I thought maybe I’d move somewhere else, but I really didn’t have much a plan at that time. So I got a job doing wellsite geology and drilling in the oil field.
But I just couldn’t shake it. I mean it was a great job. I learned a lot, but I just kept coming back and coming back to acting. And I kept visiting Vancouver. And the more I learned about acting–I was auditing classes and seeing what it was all about. And then I realized, all right, yeah, I’m gonna have to move here and enroll myself in a program, and let’s get it started. So that’s how I ended up here. And that was four years ago. And fast forward to now, things are going really great. I got an agent a little while ago, and I found a really great scene study class with a dedicated teacher and group of students–Austin-Tuck Studios, and Deb Podowski is the teacher. So I’ve been really lucky and really happy with how things are going.
Well, for you to have been in that many things within four years–I looked at your credits–that’s really not too bad.
Well, thank you.
I noticed you had a role on Once Upon A Time.
Yes, it was a small role, but hey, I was in it. And I was also in The Flash. I’m very happy to get on any of those shows. Especially ones that have a lot of viewers. You know, some of the shows have very dedicated viewers–really dedicated viewers. Especially Once Upon A Time. Some other friends who have been on that show, too–and they had slightly larger roles–they’re saying they’ve gotten fan mail–even for their one-line role! They have people from Europe sending them something for them to autograph! So it’s great. I think these small roles are where you pay your dues in the beginning, and then hopefully, you move on.
Then I noticed Cedar Cove. You were on one episode of that show–still a very much remembered show. I was a huge fan. I believe you played a lawyer in the episode, and it was season three.
Yes, I played a lawyer, and it’s an actual trial scene. We’re in the courtroom, and I get to do a battle with the district attorney and the defendant. It was great. The cool thing about that part was I had auditioned several times for different parts on Cedar Cove. And they kept bringing me back. And with that one, they just offered me that role. I didn’t need to audition for it. It was really cool. They’re like, “Hey, you booked this role.” And I’m like, “I didn’t auditon for it. Are you sure? I don’t want to jinx myself or talk myself out of a job, but I don’t remember auditioning for that. Please double check.” And they were like, “No, it’s great. Like they know you. You’ve auditioned before. So here’s this one. Go at it.” It was great. It was a lot of fun.
Now that you’ve described the scene, I think I remember it. Colin Ferguson was the district attorney, right?
Yes, that’s right, Colin Ferguson. Great guy. It was just awesome to hang out with him and work with him. Very professional, but such a funny guy, and really makes everyone so calm and at ease. It was great working opposite of him.
And then I noticed you were in Love By Chance. With that one, it must have been a very small role. I don’t specifically remember your character.
It’s one scene–only one scene–and it’s at a bar. And it’s when the mother, Brenda Strong, she is trying to find dates for the daughter. And she finds this guy–she’s like catfishing him. It’s right before she starts talking to Benjamin Ayres. And she’s so embarrassed. She kinda screwed it up.
Ok, I remember now. So you got to work with Brenda Strong!
I know! I couldn’t believe it! I was like, “Wow!” She’s a legend. She’s been there and done everything. Starship Troopers is a movie I just love, and she was Captain Deladier in that one. And she was such a professional and so kind. She’s just a legend, and working with her, there was no question left as to why she continues to have such a great career. She’s a genuinely great person and a total pro.
I think it’s great that these successful actors like her are such wonderful people to work with and treat even those with minor roles with great respect.
Oh yeah. Brenda Strong and others I’ve gotten to work with like that treat everyone with respect. That’s the kind of person I look up to and I want to be like. Being on set with people like her is just wonderful. No egos–everyone’s in it together. We’re all making a great product. Making a movie or a show is such a total team effort. There’s a whole other team starting long before you end up on set. And another team working well after you leave. It’s the epitome of a team effort.
And I know it was also listed that you had an uncredited role in Dashing Through the Snow.
Yeah, I think I might have just been a state trooper or something. Driving a vehicle or a car or something. That was a quick one day on set, but the actors and crew made it super easy and fun.
You’ve at least had the experience of working with Hallmark. I’m always looking for those Hallmark connections.
Yeah, and there’s so much filmed here in Vancouver. Just last month, one of the auditions I was at–it was a producer/director session, and Ron French was there who’s the producer of so many Hallmark things. And I hadn’t seen his face before. You know, he’s not listed on the internet. And I said, “Hey, I’ve been in three of your projects.” And then he’s like, “What ones?” I said, “Dashing Through the Snow, Cedar Cove, and–” And he finished, “Oh, Love By Chance.” And I was like, “Yeah! So great to put a face with a name.”
Great question. I would say finding out what’s right for you as an individual. I mean, it’s an art form. It’s a business, but it’s still an art form. There’s a lot of subjectivity. And then there’s yourself. And nobody’s you. To sort through everything, you can get a lot of great advice from a lot of people. But then you have to filter out of that what applies to you specifically. I was talking with another actress who read an interview with Clive Owen, for example, and his advice was, “Well, when I stopped trying to be likable and stopped trying to be the good guy,” things kind of took off for him. And she was like, “I don’t know if I agree with him.” And I was like, “Yeah, that works for Clive Owen, but that’s not going to work for a pretty young actress who should be likable.” And that’s not going to work for even Tom Hanks or other actors. That’s the beautiful thing about acting that you have such a range of the human experience–young, old, male, female, everything. So that’s what I think is the most challenging thing as a new young actor, you’re going to be bombarded with so much advice from so many different sources, and some of that can be contradictory. And what works for one person is not necessarily gonna work for you. It’s finding out what’s the best for you. So that’s my long-winded answer.
No, no, that’s good. I really like that perspective because you think of the actors who have been in the business for awhile, and I’m thinking of the actors I know in the business who have been successful, and that’s exactly what they have done. It’s all about what makes you unique and who you are. ‘Cause if you go and try to be like somebody else, it’s not gonna work.
Yeah! If I go through and pick an actor–even a favorite one–and just try to copy everything they do, if I’m not exactly that actor, it’s not gonna be the same. It’s just not gonna be effective.
I agree. In this business, in the arts, it’s flooded with people trying to get in, and you have to figure out what makes you stand out and what your style is.
Absolutely. And as a writer–I know you know this–Raymond Chandler, a favorite of mine, says that it’s finding your writer’s voice because without that, you’re just trying to copy somebody else. And a lot of writers say the same thing. Some people might think they’re gonna write like Stephen King–that’s not what you want. You’re kind of swimming against the current or you’re just making things harder on yourself instead of focusing more and taking time to find out who you are as a writer or a person or an actor or whatever it is you’re doing.
Do you have any upcoming works that you can mention?
I have a couple that I can’t really mention–some projects. I am working on a local theater project that is still a month or so away, and that might be closer to fall/winter. And that would be in Vancouver.
As an actor, it seems that something you probably experience a lot is rejection. How do you go about dealing with that rejection?
Again, I think that’s different for each person. Generally for myself, I am just better-equipped to not take it personal. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe that’s my engineering background or just numbers and science. Well, it’s not personal even though it’s very much a personal thing. It’s a tricky question. I just keep looking forward to the next thing. And I just focus on improving myself. And I’ve heard this from other people too. I’m not so worried about a particular auditon in isolation of “Oh I hope I got that part.” And you hope you get every part. But to be more concerned about just I want to put the work in. I hope I did a good job, and that I’m happy with it. Going forward because that’s what you can control. So I think just focusing on the few things you can control–that’s where you should be directing your attention ’cause otherwise you’re just second guessing. You really have almost no information to go on, and so I guess that’s what works for me. Just focusing on the things you can control.
I think that’s got to be the hardest thing. I hear this from so many of my actor friends. You audition, and then you don’t hear back.
I’ve talked to my father about this. He asks how it works. He’s so surprised. He’s like, “That’s how it works? You’re going against human behvavioral conditioning. If you get rejection, you stop doing it. You’re going against human nature.” And I’m like, “I guess so.” And he’s like, “That’s tough. And then furthermore without any feedback, it seems like you’re almost flying blind.” Like kind of. But it’s fun. And it’s a crazy, unique business. Yeah, that’s how it is. There’s just not the time for everybody to get that individual, personal feedback. And then even if there was, I would still question how honest they are. Even if they were giving an answer because sometimes they’re just being polite, and they tell you something that is not actually true. It can mess you up even more than having no information.
Well, I think you have a really great attitude. I think the fact that you’re not taking it personally, and you are focusing on what’s next–that’s really good. And that’s the kind of attitude that will keep you in the business.
You can’t control what other people think and what other people are going to do. You can control your own self, your own worth, and your next projects.
So do you have any aspirations to eventually write or direct?
Yeah, you know, I love reading scripts and novels. I definitely love writing. I’ve just kind of dipped my fingers into it, but it is something that does interest me a lot. Directing–I haven’t caught the urge to do it, but I wouldn’t say no, right? And I feel like if it were to happen, since I love acting so much, it would be one of those projects where I’m also in it. Like the Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson or Ben Affleck where you’re basically directing yourself. I think it would be hard for me to just be a director and directing other people. I would like to be there too. Let’s make it a party.
You sound like one who may want to write, direct, and be in it.
That would be fun.
A lot of my actor friends have done just that in independent films, and they have gotten me interested in indie films as a result.
I’ve been really lucky to get to work on some awesome independent film projects. Seeing that collaboration go on and how the decisions get made every second all the time on the fly. And then seeing it turn out with such a great product. It’s just fantastic. Pretty much all the independent short films I’ve done have turned out wicked. And most of them are student ones, and with student ones, you never know. People are learning. But I’ve been lucky ’cause they’ve all been super impressive. They look like they spent way more money than they did. Very fun and fulfilling to be a part of these projects.
I really think you’re pretty grounded, and while you may not have everything figured out, you know where you’re headed.
Well, thank you, thank you very much. I mean I love the business, and acting is at the core part of it. But in the future, writing, directing, these are possibilities.
What do you like to do in your free time?
A lot of different things. I find that it almost changes year to year. But I do have some mainstays. I love riding my motorcycle. I’ve had my motorcycle for ten years now. I’ve been riding for awhile. Back in Saskatchewan, we have a much shorter riding season. Like the summer is four months tops. Down here, I can ride year ’round. You can license your bike, and there’s beautiful highways. All the way up to Whistler, just past Whistler. I mean one of the most beautiful highways in the world. So I love biking when I can. I also love reading when I have time for that. Really big in the last couple years I’ve gotten into Raymond Chandler. I discovered him after I finished reading all the James Bond novels. Ian Fleming is definitely a favorite of mine. I was so sad when I finished the last one of his ’cause there wasn’t any more. And then I noticed there was a quote on the back of “Oh this guy is the greatest.” And that was by Raymond Chandler, and I didn’t know who that was. And so that’s how I stumbled across him. And now I’m almost finished with all his books. I’ve been holding off the last two to kind of savor it. Those are fiction. I love reading nonfiction too, like behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, you know, those type of books. Human nature. I go to the gym when I can, but going out for hikes or on the beach is really great. And it’s so easy to do.
For me, Tristan is one who comprehends and eagerly accepts the fact that he is “paying his dues” in the entertainment industry, and he enthusiastically accepts every one of his experiences with elation, gratitude, and empiricism. While he is still awaiting his “big break,” something tells me that is just around the bend, so to speak. He has a positive though distinct perspective upon the acting industry as a whole, and there is no doubt that he is keen on tackling any role he is given no matter the challenge nor expectation. As he continues to dedicate himself to enhancing and cultivating his skills, I hope to see him featured in supporting roles that are able to exhibit his uncanny knack for making the most of every scene in which he appears. While no one can predict the future, I think his fierce drive and irrefutable skills will ultimately land him the role of his dreams in the months and years to come. Be sure that you watch out for Tristan (shouldn’t be an arduous task for the ladies as there is no refuting the fact that the man is quite handsome) and follow him via the links below so that you can join him in his quest within this profession that he has embraced with every ounce of his being.
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