Interview With Actor Teach Grant

By Ruth on October 19, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Once in a while, a name stands out to me because it is unusual, and in the case of Teach Grant, nothing could be more accurate. I remember seeing his name pop up in the credits of a Hallmark movie, and I had considered contacting him for an interview based on his memorable name alone. When his publicist reached out to me, I jumped at the chance to interview this intriguing performing artist, and I am most grateful and ecstatic to share our recent chat with all of my loyal readers!

Photo by Leigh Righton

RH: So good to talk with you, Teach. 

TG:  Happy to talk with you too, Ruth.

I think I actually saw you in a Hallmark project when I first noticed your name. In fact, I think one of your first Hallmark things, if not the first, is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Yeah, that could have been it. When I look back, I tend to get confused about which films are Lifetime and which ones are Hallmark since they share a very similar tone and agenda.

from Goodnight for Justice: Measure of a Man

Oh, I have the same problem. 

I think my most memorable Hallmark one was Goodnight for Justice: Measure of a Man with Luke Perry. I think that was the one I enjoyed the most. I think it was a part of a trilogy if I remember right.

I have not seen that, so I will have to look that film up. I really enjoy Luke Perry.

Yeah, he’s a good guy.

I watch Riverdale, but originally I was drawn to the show because of Lochlyn Munro and Martin Cummins. But then I got hooked on it, and now I love the entire cast.

Yeah, Lochlyn and I have been playing hockey together for years. And I met Martin on Devour back in 2004. Then we also did Mr. Hockey together in Winnipeg, which might have gotten aired by Hallmark. I’m not sure. I think it originally was a CBC film, but in America, I think it aired directly either before or after the all-star game. It aired around the time that Gordy was taking a turn for the worst. I’m not sure if we got it out prior to his passing of just after. But I think at the time we made the movie, Gordy was past the point of being able to see it and understand it. But his kids would have seen it, and I think some of the family was involved in the production of it. Then Martin did a movie that I directed called Down Here. He is a fantastic actor.

I noticed you also did a movie with one of my really good friends, Sebastian Spence.

Oh, yeah, Sebastian, yeah, he’s one of those guys I always like bumping into. But Paper Moon Affair, wow, that’s been fourteen years ago. Long time ago.

You certainly have worked with some great people in Vancouver. It seems like the community up there in Vancouver is so close-knit.

I think the film community definitely exists within a little bit of a bubble. When you’re around long enough, it’s not too often that you meet an outright stranger. You might meet somebody who you never had the opportunity to meet, but for sure, you’ve come across them or you know who they are.

Well, you and I are also close in age. I was born in ’74.

Oh, I was born in ’73.

Always nice to interview someone from my generation. It doesn’t always happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love chatting with the young people. But it’s nice to interview someone close to my age. So how did you get started in acting?

My brother was five years older than me and we used to do summer camps back in the day, and we’d put on these plays in these community centers. The program was somewhere between an athletic and an artistic daycare that was free. So each region in Toronto would have their own program based out of a hockey arena or community center. There was a theater program where we would put on these terribly-written westerns that would always end with some kind of bar fight. So when the final evening came, all the communities would put their plays on in a park. I remember really enjoying that, and every time I had a chance, I would do something like that.

Then I got into voiceover when I was around eleven or twelve, and that ended on a kind of embarrassing note when a producer walked into the studio and said that I sounded just like a little girl. I ran from that and never went back.

In high school, I had a fantastic drama teacher, and he was something of a mentor for me. At the end of my four years in the drama program…I’d been building all the sets, and I told him that at eighteen, I was gonna get an agent and a headshot and that I wanted to pursue a career in acting. He told me I should be a carpenter, which I did. And I have to thank him for that because if I didn’t pick up that second skill, I don’t think I would have lasted very long taking the risks–especially the financial risks–that being an actor can present.

After high school, I did a little bit of group theater at Carleton University and entered the theater program at Ottawa U. That wasn’t really working for me. They were having me play sixty-year-old men when I was twenty years old in French-Canadian plays. And I couldn’t own those roles. I wanted to come out to Vancouver because I knew X-Files was shooting out there. I sold everything I had and got on a plane with about a hundred and fifty dollars to my name and came out here and started plugging away.

When it comes to acting, I think everybody has their own path. I frankly doubt that anybody’s path is really easy. It might seem easy on the outside, but I’m sure for everybody, they’ve had their own struggles and their own moments. There’s a million ways to get up the mountain, and I’m still trying to climb that thing. As we age and go through different periods…for me, I had a really young face, but I had an adult maturity. At twenty-four and twenty-five, I wasn’t really playing the teenager, but I also wasn’t playing the adult yet because of my face. So I fell into a bit of a hole. As you get older, maybe you have two or three really good years because, at that moment, you’re in a very castable position. Then a couple of years go on, and you feel like you’re struggling. Then you have another two or three good years, and you definitely can’t take these successes for granted when you’re having them and as my buddy says, ” Put your money in a sock and don’t wear socks.”

from Devour with Teach Grant, Dominique Swain, Jensen Ackles

Looking back at your early works, you mentioned Devour. It seems like that is one of the first ones people know you for.

Devour was really great for me. I had one lead before that in an independent film, Limp. But Devour was my first real opportunity to take on a lead in a studio film and take on that much responsibility. It was a great learning experience, and it was a challenge and something that gave me a lot of confidence. Jensen Ackles had his fan base and was on the rise, and I believe by the time it released, Supernatural had just come on board. I think if people are remembering me from that or even just remembering that movie, I imagine that Jensen, Dominique Swain, and Shannyn Sossamon had quite a following, and I at least got to be a part of that and get some exposure there. It was a challenging horror movie so stakes are always high and you’re always trying to make it deeper than maybe the pages look to offer and humanize and personalize it. It’s a great memory and it is the one that gave me a push in the back to get me going.

I think a pinnacle for me was the Canadian show Shattered, and Martin Cummins was also in that as were Callum Keith Rennie and Camille Sullivan. It was one of those episodes where we were doing fifteen pages in an open take, and my character had taken the police station hostage. I was working with so many actors that I respected, and being out front and carrying those huge, open roles and receiving the feedback that I did–that definitely bolstered my confidence, maybe in a way that formed the next seven years and the sort of upward trajectory I’ve been on. I just keep trying to get better at what I do.

I’ve been on Supernatural a couple of times, but coming back on the episode “Baby” was great because it was a bit of a reunion. My wife is actually the prop master on that show now. It was like going home. And with this episode, there was a theme for it where the camera actually had to be in the car or touching the car, and “Baby” is actually what they call the car they drive in the show. I was heavily prosthetic-ed, and I remember Jensen and I were fighting on the tarmac in Langley for the better part of a day, and at one point he looked at me and said, “Dude, we’re getting too old for this.” {laughs} I was thinking the exact same thing.

Supernatural just amazes me–I cannot get over the following that show has as well as the community and its longevity.

And now they’re in double syndicate which is a feat right there. And then if you think of all the things that have to get right in order for a show to go thirteen years–it’s pretty amazing. First of all, it takes your two leads keeping a level head and staying on target because doing something like that for thirteen years while maintaining their humble nature amidst all that success and still being easy to work with…so many shows would have been floated long ago. I look at that and find it to be impressive.

I know you are involved in a lot of works that are coming up. What can you tell us about them? 

Well, there is our movie Once There Was a Winter that premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival earlier this month. It was very successful, and I think we got the luck of draw by having the film premiere when it did. It was the first weekend of the film festival–it just couldn’t have been better. I see this movie as a very unique movie, and it’s not an “out in your face” kind of thriller. I think Ana {Valine} is a very tactile director, and I think she went for something a bit more brooding and deeply psychological, tense, and impatient. In my opinion, after the first ten minutes of the film, I don’t think there’s another comfortable minute left in the movie. I think the precipice is based on that at any moment, something could go horribly wrong.

With Winter, we have a small but solid cast. We have Kate Corbett from Toronto whom a lot of people would recognize from Hallmark productions. Juan Riedinger–he and I were on five episodes of The Romeo Section together. It was good to reunite.  Kris Demeanor from Calgary is also in it. Very solid group, a very immersive project. It was something where we relocated all the way up to Northern BC. Then we were out in a double-wide trailer out in the middle of nowhere. It was a real situation where we were very involved for the month. We were waking up and we were workshopping and we were constantly in discussions and meetings. It was creatively extremely fulfilling, almost like going to a winter theater camp. It was also very difficult because we were all trying to dig into it, and everyone was getting into the uncertain working space if you will. Some people call it a scary space where we were all compromised and putting things out there that were personal. We came out of it, and I think everyone was equally spun and off balance.

We all had faith in Ana for being a unique kind of artist she is. She’s not like everyone else. She took a different approach in this movie. I don’t think there are too many filmmakers who would make this movie or make this script in the same way she did. I think that’s what’s gonna make it good. There are really four leads in this film, but it is centered around the journey of Kate and this uncomfortable, almost lockdown containment style of film with the three of us. And my brother and I have sort of a secret past that rears its ugly head as soon as you bring an attractive, young woman into the situation. We get into alcohol, and then the guns come out. At any point, it does feel as though something horrible is gonna go wrong.

It’s produced by three women: Ana Valine, Lori Lozinski, and Seanna McPherson. That’s always an important thing to embrace and support: the emergence of women in film because for so long, it was a male-dominated clubhouse. More and more we’re seeing women taking the reins, and I think that’s great. There are so many fantastic female writers, directors, and actors, such as Amanda Tapping, who have crossed over to becoming legitimate filmmakers and directors on their own. I think, especially in a very masculine story like Winter, to have it be told through a woman’s point of view and by a woman, I think is gonna be a very refreshing and interesting angle.

Another show I’ve been working on is Damnation. It will be hitting USA Network November 7th. The next day, after the episode has aired in America, other networks around the world and Netflix will start airing it. That show, for me, as far as TV goes, hand down, it’s the best writing I’ve ever seen. Tony Tost, the creator, has created a world that I think is extremely rich and deep; it’s a very intelligent show. It’s set in 1931 in the heartland of America between big money and the downtrodden. It’s about greed and charlatans and profits, and it’s a bloody conflict. It was definitely a changing point in America when it went from basically being that heartland, farm-based country to an economy that was leaning towards industrialization. Then I think the common person began to pay the price.

Even though this show exists in 1931, you can really see 2017 themes in it everywhere you look. For USA Netflix, this is a brand new kind of television effort. This isn’t like anything we’ve ever seen from USA Network before. This would be something that would typically be seen on HBO. It’s really cinematic, and it’s stepping out in a different style, framework and tone of show then we’ve seen from USA. I think it’s a good move from them. I think they’re gonna be rewarded for it.

While I can’t tell you how many episodes I will appear in, I will be around for season one. I’m definitely there. As of now, IMDB has me in seven episodes, but regardless, my character is heavily recurring throughout this first season.  The writer of the series has really built a world in a way that by the time it came to script, there was no extraneous parts; there was no fat. Every character was there for a reason, and everything that happens in the story is so interwoven and everything serves a purpose. There’s nothing there to just be impressive or cool. It’s there because it’s by design and it’s moving this very complex story forward. That’s a great joy to work with because there’s nothing on the page that you have to make better or get inventive with. It’s so clearly thought out that you read it and immediately it makes sense. The levels and layers of conflict and personal, social, and societal–every moment has all three of those layers for every character. It may seem like it’s easy to understand for us as the actors, but it brings out a true amount of depth in the way that each character is dealing with the conflict. Tony Tost is such a beast; he’s such a good writer.

I’m so glad you told me about this series because I wasn’t aware of it. It sounds like something that I definitely want to check out.

I’m also on Altered Carbon which comes out globally on Netflix in January. It is one hundred percent Netflix original. It’s science fiction, but to me, I think it’s way more than a sci-fi can usually encapsulate. To me, it has more of a standard dramatic narrative in a science fiction world. It is based on the 2002 cyberpunk sci-fi novel of the same name by Richard Morgan. What I can say about it is that I’ve never been a part of anything on television that was so big. The sets were just big. It’s going to feel more like a ten-hour feature film than ten episodes of television. My expectations for this show are–for no other available word–just big. I’ve never seen television sets created like this; they look like forever installations. They were just absolutely mind-blowing.

According to IMDB, your character is in six episodes of Altered Carbon

Well, my character may appear a little more than that; I cannot say right now. For that show, the people in my group–we all had to get in top shape. For me, that was six months of eating clean and increasing my training. It was rewarding but very difficult, and there were a lot of sacrifices made. But it was good at forty-three going into it and forty-four during it to know that I could still get myself there. I’ve kind of kept it up. I’ve turned my entire basement into a gym and started doing yoga in order to deal with some of the aches and pains. In a way, being asked to do this show and the training associated with it was a bit of a gift ’cause I think I’m gonna keep keeping on, and that’s only gonna help me down the road.

Sounds like that was almost a blessing in disguise.

Yeah, for Winter, I did a pretty heavy weight cut, and I got into the “no sugar, no bread, minimal dairy, moderate carbs” agenda. The hard part is balancing Damnation and Altered Carbon because they were kind of on the heels of one another. In Damnation, I play an alcoholic, and in Altered Carbon, I’m playing someone who is extremely fit and capable. That’s what clothes are made for. In Damnation, you put on clothesand in Altered Carbon, you show a little more skin. With movie magic, they make it work.

Is there anything else upcoming you can mention?

On the back end of the current season of Van Helsing, I’ve joined the ranks. I come in the latter part of this second season. It’s a recurring role. Hopefully, if they get picked up in season three, we’ll be back for another spin on that. There’s nothing set in stone there, but just the design of how I came in, and they’re going to have to deal with me in one way or another. It would be impossible to share any details about Van Helsing without giving too much away.

You are involved in an incredible amount of upcoming shows, Teach!

Yeah, looking back, I thought when I was recurring on Rush at the same time as Strange Empire and I had those two going concurrently, I thought when I was coming out of those that I was going to have a moment and feel some sort of upswing. But I didn’t really get that, and I had to go back and grind a few more out and get back into the guest star circuit. And now with having these two roles recurring and being concurrent, I hope and I’m praying that I get to continue on with Damnation. It’s one of those shows where people are going to drop. There are going to be deaths, and you’re just praying that you’re not next. I hear rumors of Altered Carbon lining up for season two. There could be a different story there. One never knows. You put that feather in your cap and hope it germinates into something.

I have heard actors who have recurring roles are always looking ahead to see if their character is dead, like on The 100 for example.

I’m kind of dead on The 100. I did two episodes, and they kind of left it as a cliffhanger, and I bumped into the showrunner out at a restaurant in Vancouver, and he said there was a potential that I was gonna come back in that third season. So I was hopeful for that. But it’s one of those things that never materialized. I definitely enjoyed being on that show. I was in the studio, so it was nice. I know for the people that were on the ground and they’re shooting in the middle of winter…I think it’s one of those shows that gets pretty wet. It’s one of those shows too that you’re constantly bumping into people, be they Americans or Canadians on this show or that show… it’s one of those shows that so many people share. So many people have done one to three episodes or more.

Since you are married, how do you balance your career with your personal life?

Since my wife is the prop manager on Supernatural, she is also in film. She understands what it is and what it takes, and I also have to be the same way. She’s twelve hours on and then sometimes more Monday to Friday. I think that anybody who is married and is in film can attest to that often you’re ships passing in the night. Often on Saturdays, one or more of you have put in what we call a “Fraterday.” You’re getting off at six o’clock in the morning. I think you have to be understanding. Our careers are important to us; they’re our survival as a couple, as individuals, as homeowners, as dog owners. It all stems from that. We both met in film. We met on the Romeo Section show. It’s always been that way for us. For her, I don’t think it’s easy being married to an actor when they’re going through difficult times and times of frustration. For her, she’s been very steady in her career. She hasn’t been on the pendulum swing that many actors go on. I never really think about what it takes to balance it. It’s just our norm. At the end of the day, if you’re sharing your experiences that you’re having in your workplace, we both understand it and can actually add something to it. If things are going wrong or a political situation arises at work, we’ve both been on either side of it in our own ways. It’s nice to be able to add our own perspective when the other is struggling because we understand it. We’ve been there.

Thank you so much, Teach, for sharing so much of your journey with us. I, for one, am looking forward to all your upcoming projects.

My pleasure, Ruth. Thank you for reaching out, and I sure hope everyone likes Damnation, Altered Carbon, and everything else I’m involved with.

Photo by Leigh Righton

Attempting to describe Teach through mere words is honestly an impossibility. This man is incredibly insightful and amazingly gifted in all he does, and he continually challenges himself with every opportunity he is given. His intuitiveness impresses me, and his warm, gentle, caring, humble way of interacting with people simply astounds me. It may very well be that he is one of the most underrated actors with whom I have ever spoken, but he is also indubitably one of the most talented. He takes none of his successes for granted, and he is always willing to promote and encourage those with whom he is privileged to work. His profound understanding and authentic connection to his characters and projects is something I don’t always encounter in actors who have been in the business awhile. If one is not careful, one can merely go through the motions and not engage as genuinely and intimately with each role one is given. But in the case of Teach, he continues to propel himself to strive towards new heights, and no matter the role he is given, he never disappoints with his characterization and portrayal. 

Please consider checking out all of Teach’s links below, and maybe even follow him where applicable. I would also invite all of my readers to research his past roles and anticipate his future ones. I, for one, am looking forward to experiencing both Damnation and Altered Carbon, and I can hardly wait to see him embody each character fully in his indomitable style as only he can. Teach is living proof that one truly can flourish with age, and I look forward to watching his career persist in its upward spiral for a multitude of years to come!

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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

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