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6 Canadian Movie and Television Stars You Need to Know Right Now

The 13th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto got us thinking that we really need to get to know our own homegrown talent. While all eyes were on Hollywood for the Academy Awards, we got to know some of our own movie stars

While all eyes were on Hollywood Sunday for the Academy Awards, some of the Canadian TV and film industry’s finest were still hungover from their own weekend awards show.

Hosted by Big Brother Canada’s Arisa Cox, the 13 Annual ACTRA Awards went down last Friday night in Toronto – and we bet you had no clue they were even happening. 

That’s because the Canadian entertainment industry, sadly, seems to only matter to those who are actually in it.

But how are we ever supposed to change that if we don’t start paying attention to it ourselves – especially when it’s better than ever?

So to get you started, here are six Canadian names you definitely need to know right now.  

Tatiana Maslany 
Not surprisingly, 29-year-old Maslany won the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance – Female, for her various roles in the popular sci-fi series Orphan Black (for which she also received a Golden Globe nomination last year).

Though the actress was too busy filming to pick up her hardware, her talented peers sung their praise for the star, in a unanimous consensus that she is pretty much the next big thing to come out of Canada.

Fellow nominee, Colin Mochrie, told us he was still hoping that Maslany would show up so that he could meet her in person. “She is just amazing. What she does in that show to make each character so real, complex, and unique is just incredible…I also loved her in Parks and Recreation before I even saw Orphan Black…She’s one of those people you’re just drawn to,” he said. 

Orphan Black returns for its third season on April 18, on the Space network.

Ennis Esmer
Fresh from five seasons on the popular (now cancelled) series The Listener, 36-year-old Esmer was nominated for Outstanding Performance – Male for his role as Sean in Dirty Singles at the ACTRA Awards. Not only should you watch out for the smooth talking and easy-on-the-eyes Esmer, you should probably check out the film too – it’ll resonate with pretty much any young professional: 

“The movie is about a group of friends in their late twenties and early thirties and what happens when that ‘glue couple’ breaks up,” he told us pre-Awards. “Things get pretty intense. I get cheated on. With my character, they’ve been together since high school and were each other’s first and only, so it’s fun to pretend in that situation…There’s a lot of bedroom hopping and whatnot.”

You can also check out Esmer in his latest feature, Big News From Grand Rock, in theatres this Friday (February 27). Featuring fellow Canadian talent like Aaron Ashmore, Kristen Booth, and Gordon Pinsent, it’s about a failing small town newspaper that tries to pass off 80s movie scripts to try to save money.

Christine Horne
Horne was nominated for Outstanding Performance – Female for her role as Erin in the sci-fi short film Entangled, which premiered at TIFF. The 33-year-old actress also co-starred alongside Academy Award-winner Ellen Burstyn in The Stone Angel, and worked with famed director Atom Egoyan in The Captive

Horne counts Canadian actress Kate Trotter – a fellow nominee and co-star in Tru Life – as among the industry’s finest, and told us pre-show that she was “Looking forward to losing to her.” As for the Canadian TV and film industry, she says it’s an exciting time.

 “There is a broadening of mediums and a lot of artists driving the new projects these days,” said Horne. “People are taking more chances, and we’ve moved away from things having to be so safe. We are finding our own voice, rather than trying to create the ‘Canadian version’ of someone else’s.”

Jordan Gavaris
Garvaris was nominated for Outstanding Performance – Male for his role as Felix in Orphan Black. Previously, the 25-year-old Caledon native was named as one of 2010’s “Top Ten to Watch” by Playback Magazine, Panavision Canada, and The Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame, and won a Canadian Screen Award last year for Best Supporting Actor. Last fall, it was announced that he would star alongside Matthew McCaughey and Naomi Watts (no big deal, right?), in the upcoming drama mystery The Sea of Trees.

As for Orphan Black, it could very well become your next favourite show once it returns in April. 

“It’s intelligent and it doesn’t pander to the audience, which I think young professionals would appreciate given that they’re critical thinkers. There is a very strong plot, on top of this brilliant mystery that gets more complex and interesting each season,” Gavaris tells us. “It’s just cool, cohesive content, and amazing artists coming together doing what they do best. It’s great to be part of something with such strong artistic integrity as a consumer product. Things can be commercial and artistic too.”

Gavin Crawford
The flamboyant comedian and actor Gavin Crawford took home the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance – Male, for his portrayal of Adam in the comedy-drama Two 4 One, a film about a transgendered person who unexpectedly gets pregnant.

The 43-year-old actor already has a Gemini under his belt, having won in 2004 for his performance in The Gavin Crawford Show. He is also well known for his comedic abilities, which includes his work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Sarah Gadon
Though she wasn’t nominated for an award, we can’t not mention Sarah Gadon. If you haven’t heard of her yet, we suggest you get acquainted with the Arts and Culture section of your daily news source immediately. Perhaps one of the most sought-after young Canadian actresses at the moment, the 27-year-old Toronto native became widely known for her roles in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, Maps to the Stars, and Cosmopolis (alongside Robert Pattinson). 

Clearly no stranger to some very famous coworkers, she has also starred in Dracula Untold with Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper, Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal, and the upcoming A Royal Night Out, with Rupert Everett. Oh, and she’s also the fresh new face of Armani Makeup.

Bottom line: you still don’t know who she is, you really should – and will very soon.


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Gavin Crawford image by: Liam Sharp

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