Interview With Actor Tom Belding, “When Calls the Heart”

By Ruth on July 10, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Being a dedicated Hallmark fan and rather devout Heartie, of course, I notice every single actor who makes an appearance in the popular When Calls the Heart show. And if by some chance I do not identify the actors, there is a conglomerate of fans who will indicate those actors I may have missed. In the case of Tom Belding, I must credit the Hearties with my discovery of his character. While I noticed the brother of the villainous Ray Wyatt in town, I didn’t initially think of asking this actor for an interview. However, because of the fan art that crossed my Twitter feed depicting this character (and directing attention to that actor who portrayed the perfect foil of his flamboyant, boisterous brother), I asked Tom for an interview, and he readily agreed. 

RH: Why did you decide to become an actor? What kind of training have you had?

TB: Growing up, I loved movies. It’s all I thought about. I spent some time as a drummer and a percussionist when I was younger and I thought maybe I would try a career in music, but deep down I knew I wanted to be in films. I did some theater and small indie films in my hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick.  After high school, I moved to Vancouver at the age of seventeen to study at the Vancouver Film School. It was there I learned acting for film and TV.

You began in the theater, but made the move to film/TV. What do you appreciate about both mediums and what is challenging about both?

I think most actors learn their craft on stage. In theater, you get to work a character over and over every night and get immediate feedback from an audience. Film is very different; you sometimes don’t see the labour of the efforts until much much later. Film and TV is very much a team collaborative process. I enjoy that aspect of working on a set. Both have many challenges, but I was never able to make a living in theater. I did it because I loved it, but you need to be able to dedicate months to rehearsals and sometimes a straight month every night to a running show. That can be difficult when you’re a “starving” artist. That’s not to say I didn’t put in my time in the film industry as well, but it was a bit more flexible starting out.

What was you first TV/film job? What memories do you have of that job?

The first film I ever did was a movie with the UNB film program titled U. It was a drama about different college students that followed the struggle of these freshmen students. I was in high school at the time and I remember it being a very fun experience. Like any film set, we all came from different levels of experience, so learning from other people was great. I also learned a lot of technical things about acting for camera versus being on the stage. To this day, I have never seen that movie.

You got to be on Untold Stories of the ER twice.  What was it like being in a docudrama like that? Any special behind-the-scenes moments?

It was my first time playing a doctor opposite the real doctor from the story we were portraying. They move fast on the show. A lot of walking and talking and some very technical medical jargon to learn. I feel like most film and TV  actors starting out should do a show like that. It’s a good learning experience. They shoot that show in what feels like an old abandoned hospital. Very spooky. If you were to take a stroll off of set, well, you can imagine what those dark hallways feel like – no thanks!!

I see you also had a small role in Supergirl.  How did that come about and what was the experience like? 

Supergirl was fun, although I didn’t make it into much of the episode.  It was pretty cool to get in a space suit and pretend that your spaceship was crashing to only be saved by Supergirl AND Superman. My audition was an interesting one. I had to sit in a chair and pretend my ship was crashing “MAYDAY!! MAYDAY!!” It was the first episode of the new season and Superman was to make an appearance in that moment. I also learned that the suits we were wearing were from the Interstellar set which was very exciting to my inner film nerd. I quickly learned that those suits are incredibly hot and don’t breathe well, so all the sweat I had pouring down my face was one hundred percent real.

from When Calls the Heart with Erin Krakow

Hallmark viewers will know you from When Calls the Heart. What was it like to be a part of that show? What was the on-set filming like?  Any chance your character will return next season? 

What a great experience. It really feels like they have something special going on that set, like they are a family and know the drill. And Erin {Krakow} is exactly like you would imagine, very generous and down-to-earth. As a guest star on the show, it was awesome to see that from the lead. It was my first time playing a dad and working with Nikolas Dukic  (Earl) and Mason McKenzie (Chad).

with Nikolas Dukic

Both those actors are very talented and are in touch with a lot of emotional depth. It was also fun to play the brother to the despised Ray Wyatt. I think Jeremy Guilbaut did a great job with that character. I think some people were cautious of another Wyatt coming to town, but I believe Russ Wyatt was able to redeem himself in the end. I certainly hope he gets to come back. There were mentions that he may end up taking over the railroad. We will see.

Any other upcoming/current works you can mention? 

I just finished shooting a part on a cool new series which will be out in the Fall. I don’t think I am able to talk about that yet. I also made a brief appearance in the Lifetime movie Menendez: Blood Brothers which aired in June, as well as an upcoming film I will be directing in July.

I notice you’ve got director, producer and more in your credits. What drew you to do these other jobs in film/TV? Do you think these other jobs helped you to become a better actor? Why?

When I first moved to Vancouver, I spent many years working as a freelance photographer while trying to land acting jobs. I think having that eye for photography naturally paved the way into directing. The Vancouver Film School brought me back to direct some projects for graduating students which was a great experience for me. I have since directed about 40+ short films from all different genres. Working with that many actors, writers and collaborating with other artists has certainly helped me become a better actor and has furthered my understanding of creating stories. Seeing how other people work and learning new ways to tell stories are what creating those short films are for. I’ve also made lasting friendships on many of these projects.

As a working actor in the business who often plays small roles, how do you handle rejection and not getting the roles you may really want?

It’s not the size of the part that matters, but how you use it.. or so I’ve been told.  When I was younger and inexperienced, it was a bit more difficult to handle rejection. I learned not to put it all on the line and get my hopes up about certain roles. You can’t; otherwise, you will get destroyed. It’s really all about the work. Auditioning is part of the job. Being rich and famous is not why I became an actor. I wanted to tell stories and create art and if that means I am a small piece of a bigger puzzle in a cool project, then that is okay too. The industry is very up and down. And I have got to have some great experiences because of it. My acting has taken me to Iceland to film a lead in a fun project and all the way to Austin, Texas for an indie film. One month I may be a lead in a film and another month I may have one line in a commercial. There are no guarantees of the work, but for the moment, I just enjoy working.

Any advice to young actors? 

Like I mentioned before, it’s about the work, nothing else. Get fame and money out of your head and enjoy doing the work. Enjoy breaking down a script, enjoy auditioning and get out there and keep working and have fun while you do it. The industry is nothing but ups and downs, but on a long enough timeline, the slope will point up.  Also, stop looking down at your phone. Get your head up and experience the world around you. Take it all in and connect to people instead of technology. Our job is to connect to one another.

Picture Credit: Carolina Turek

In my opinion, Tom is the absolute epitome of what a humble, pragmatic working actor should be. There is no doubt that he is in this business for the correct reasons, and he values every experience he has, whether large or seemingly insignificant (actually, I seriously doubt that Tom would EVER consider a role insignificant at all, but I speak in terms of the size of the role). My favorite statement of Tom’s within the body of his astute and sincere responses is his admonition to relinquish the eminence of the almighty phone. While all of us understand and appreciate the value and enrichment that social media bestows upon our everyday lives, we also have that tendency to forget what is most essential in this world–genuine connections with others. If an actor, or anyone for that matter, spends the lion’s share of his/her time creating an online persona for the sake of advancement or ego, there is a reasonable chance that this person will not be a well-rounded person who excels at interpersonal interaction. I sincerely hope that all of us can heed Tom’s advice and work on the authentic, daily relationships within our lives and cease worrying about how many likes, comments, followers, etc. that we possess in cyberspace. 

Be sure that you take a look at the links below (check out Tom’s photography–he’s far too modest in his evaluation of his skill in that medium), and if you are so inclined, please follow him via social media. Additionally, if you have not had the opportunity to look up his works–especially on When Calls the Heart season four–please consider checking them out as soon as you possibly can. Fingers crossed we will see him again next season. After all, someone has to take the reins his errant brother was forced to abandon, and why should it not be Russ as played by the talented, charming, and kind Tom Belding?

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. vickie couturier July 12, 2017 Reply

    what a interesting interview,,thoroughly enjoyed it

    • Author
      Ruth July 12, 2017 Reply

      Vickie I’m so glad!

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