Action, Behind The Camera: Canadian Actors Turned Directors

March 9, 2017

Away from Her film still

When it comes to acting, it takes a lot to get in front of a camera and pour your heart out. Directors, meanwhile, are showing us how things look inside their heads.

And for those who can do both? While we’ve only just figured out chewing our food and swallowing, these folks are burning the candle at both ends on the film set! Let’s look at some of Canada’s most interesting actors that are now making us all look bad with their double duties as they pick up the megaphone and assume the director’s chair:

1. Paul Gross

In terms of his filmography, this former man-with-a-broom is sweeping up nominations for his award-winning catalogue. He’s broken our hearts with PASSCHENDAELE, taken us down the thundering HYENA ROAD, and when he’s not writing / directing epic Canadian movies, he still has time to make memorable cameos like his stint in Deepa Mehta’s BEEBA BOYS. We love ya, Paul—so thank you kindly for all your work!

2. Nadia Litz

With her feature film debut in 2014 with HOTEL CONGRESS, Litz showed Canada she wasn’t just an illuminating screen presence—but we knew that from her stellar short film WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Her most recent film, 2016’s THE PEOPLE GARDEN starring Pamela Anderson, debuted this spring at the Vancouver International Film Festival to awesome acclaim.


3. Sarah Polley

With her recent tender dramas Take This Waltz and AWAY FROM HER, the Dawn of the Dead star and former child actor has become one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed filmmakers. STORIES WE TELL, her staggeringly beautiful biographical documentary that Polley made with archival footage and re-enactments, made its way onto the Top 10 lists of many film critics across North America in 2012. We can’t wait to see her mini-series adaptation of Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood’s historical fiction novel, recently announced by the CBC!

Stories We Tell film still   Last Night film still

4. Jay Baruchel

When he’s not goofin’ around and repping his Montréal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, this former Popular Mechanics for Kids star finds himself kickin’ it with fellow members of the Judd Apatow comedy troupe. Michael Dowse has passed on the director’s hockey stick to Baruchel for GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS, the much-awaited sequel for the gloves-down send-up of our country’s favourite winter sport.

5. Don McKellar

No list of Canada’s actor-directors is complete without Don McKellar, who has shown us his comedic chops on stage, behind the screen, and with memorable film roles like Pokey Jones in Bruce McDonald’s HIGHWAY 61 (or acting as a director in Scott Pilgrim!). With LAST NIGHT, McKellar blew minds and busted guts with his apocalyptic black comedy, one of the most iconic films set in Toronto. What’s more: McKellar’s adaptation of THE GRAND SEDUCTION is already a beloved Canadian comedy — and if you’re looking for more yuks, his unique eye for laughs is at the helm of CBC’s Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Hey, don’t be so quiet on set! Let us know on Twitter @CanFilmDay who your favourite actor/directors are — or tweet an honourable mention to Xavier Dolan!

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