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.
You just came from an audition. What sort of new projects are you next pursuing?
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.
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.
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.
Fast Fave Fives:
What’s your response to this interview? Tweet me or comment below!