Kristian Bruun

Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun Reveals His Acting Secrets

It’s a cloudy Monday morning in Toronto and Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun walks into Ezra’s Pound, a cozy little café joint, right on time for our interview.

He gives me a wave and orders a coffee and croissant before sitting down with me at a tiny weathered wooden table. Kristian, who you otherwise might know as Donnie Hendrix on Space TV’s popular sci-fi drama Orphan Black or Constable Jackson on Murdoch Mysteries, has just come from an audition. I thank him for meeting me and congratulate him on the many awards and nominations Orphan Black won at last night’s Canadian Screen Awards. We briefly discuss last night’s after party before he asks me about my summer trip to Bali and tells me about his experiences growing up in Toronto, Berlin and Sri Lanka. Kristian is easily one of the most down to earth person i’ve met and makes you feel right at ease. I ask if it’s okay to start recording our conversation and we go ahead with the interview.

Kristian Bruun Orphan Black

You just came from an audition. What sort of new projects are you next pursuing? 
Well as was announced last night at the Candy’s [Canadian Screen Awards 2016], Murdoch Mysteries Season 10 is a go so…Yannick [Bisson] won a fan choice award and announced that on stage last night which is hilarious cause we didn’t know that. The rest of us were sitting together…I asked Yannick, cause he’s an executive producer on the show…before we went on the red carpet I was like “so have you heard anything? Like are we getting a season 10 or anything?” He didn’t have an answer, he said “oh I don’t know” but then he announced it on stage last night. Which is great! So I have a job this summer. I’m working on another film called The Go-Getters which films at the beginning of April–beginning of May, that was written by Brendan Gall (NBC’s Blind Spot and The LA Complex) and Aaron Abrams (Hannibal, Blind Spot and The LA Complex). They wrote this really vulgar comedy so ridiculous and so out there, that no one would produce it, but they found someone to direct it and they’re buddies of mine so I’m gonna help out with that. We’re doing an Indiegogo campaign for that. Then other than that, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens with this audition and then I’ve had a couple of things come really close to going my way but at the last minute they went else where. That’s just kinda the way the business goes.


How do you balance it all?
I’m a big fan of positivity, kindness, and good work ethic. I try and balance all that into the scales of the negativity of the business. It can be really stressful; it can get you down. I’ve had those auditions where you’re close to getting something pretty awesome and then it doesn’t go your way. It can be pretty heart breaking if it’s a big enough project but you get pretty used to not getting things. The majority of things you face in this business is rejection, so you gotta get used to it pretty quickly otherwise you never survive. So i just try to stay positive and I love every opportunity that I get to work whether it’s on a big budget TV show or an indie movie with no budget or a free short film with my buddies. It’s all work to me. You also have to be the kind of person people want to work with again and again. And that comes with being gracious, thankful, and kind.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I think I always wanted to be an actor when I was a kid. A big thing for me was movies. My best friend and I, we met in grade 3 and we would always go to movies. We both just loved film and we both ended up in the business. He’s a visual effects supervisor. I was a music kid also, so I just really connected to the arts. But I didn’t think I’d actually end up as an actor. I did a few school plays and I was terrible. I actually ended up in military school for high school for 4 years and when I came back to Canada, I went to Queens University. I was just going to get a degree in anything so I could become an infantry officer in the Canadian army. I was going to join the army, I didn’t have acting in mind. But then in University, everything kind of changed. On a dare, somebody dared me to get on a comedy show and I took the dare. That changed everything, being on stage, entertaining people, making people laugh really took centre stage for me–no pun intended. I really fell in love with that. So I switched my major to theatre in University, which I didn’t know you could even study that. But from there, I never looked back. I finished with a drama degree, then went to classical theatre school in Toronto.

Kristian Bruun Academy Social
Meeting Kristian Bruun at Academy Social 2016
What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the business?

Work your ass off. Get into a really good class. If you wanna do improv, study improv. If you wanna do standup, study standup. If you wanna do film, same thing. You gotta find a good class with a good teacher and a good reputation. You might have to audit a few classes till you find one that works for you but once you find a good teacher, stick with them for at least 2 years of studying. You’ve got to invest in your career in both your own time and your work ethic; also in the money you have to pay to do those classes. So whatever it takes, just pay for those classes and commit to them. Overtime you’ll grow really fast if you’re putting the time in. Also try and do as much free stuff as possible like student films which tend to have good budgets and big crews because the schools are behind it. It’s a great place to start and cut your teeth on acting and film. Do an improv class–improv is one of the best skills for becoming an actor because so much of the job involves more than just doing scene work. Like when you actually get on set and a ton of money is riding on every minute of production and on your performance, there’s a lot of stress and pressure. There’s a ton of other things you have to worry about like all of sudden you have 25-50 people watching silently as you do your work and you have to not let that phase you. Doing live improv comedy is a very good exercise for that because you are really thinking on your feet and you have to sort of compartmentalize parts of your brain towards what you’re doing as an actor but also like “am I hitting my mark on the floor by this line? And have I moved over here at this line?” All of that self-awareness you get from doing theatre and improv. It’s scary as shit, but so is this business. Improv is the best training for that. So work your butt off and don’t stop. I’m still in class, I still do improv comedy, I still study. There’s always something that you can do to be better. There’s never a time where you’ll be like “oh, this acting thing? I get it. I don’t ever have to go to class again.” It’s not like that. We constantly have to push ourselves and a lot of people don’t. They usually slip between the cracks because they’re not staying relevant, they’re not staying sharp.

What is your dream role and who would you want to work with?
That’s a good question. I would love to work with Tom Hanks or John C. Reilly. I would have loved to work with Phillip Seymour Hoffman. These guys are my favourite. These types of every-men character actors. Tom Hanks can play a character or he can play a leading man, but he’s always genuine and approachable. That’s what I would like to be. I would love to work with them and just kind of follow in their footsteps. As for the dream role? I’m very lucky in that I’m not typecast necessarily. I do a lot of comedic work but I get to do dramatic work as well, which is awesome. I’ve played such a lucky variance of roles that as a character actor, I’m not….I’m not a leading man, but one day I would love to be given the chance to play a lead but honestly, every character I get to play is fun. I don’t have a dream role because I keep getting them kind of thing.


Fast Fave Fives:  

Favourite Show other than Orphan Black: Vikings, 19-2 and Penny Dreadful
Go-To Spot in Toronto: The Common. It’s a great café on Bloor. There’s a few locations but that’s my ‘office’ outside of my apartment.
If you turned on your iPod right now, what would be the last song playing? Alabama Shakes – Sound and Colour
It’s your day off. What are you doing? Hanging out with my Mom
Dream Travel Destination: I really wanna go back to Scandinavia. My family’s there and it’s been a while since I’ve been back.

 

To listen to the audio version of this interview, listen here:

 

 

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