IN CONVERSATION WITH DYLAN PLAYFAIR
Interview by Jana Letonja
Dylan Playfair is a Canadian actor, most notably known for his starring role in Hulu comedy series ‘Letterkenny’, which aired its 11th season in December 2022. In addition to ‘Letterkenny’, Dylan is also known for his role in the ‘Descendant’ franchise. Before becoming an actor, Dylan played hockey as a forward for the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL.
Dylan, you’re one of the main stars of Hulu’s comedy series ‘Letterkenny’. The series revolves around the antics of the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada, where many of the town’s residents fall into one of several groups: ‘The Hicks,’ the hockey players, ‘The Skids,’ and the members of the local First Nation. What attracted you to be a part of this series?
Having fun with my friends. It sounds like a non-answer, but that’s the truth. ‘Letterkenny’ was born out of a series of YouTube skits my friend Jared Keeso had been doing based on his experiences living in rural Ontario. Andrew Herr was one of my room mates in Vancouver at the time. We, Jared, Andrew, myself, Nate Dales and Tyler Johnston, all played mens league hockey in Vancouver. Jared asked Andrew, who plays Jonesy, and I to play a pair of hockey brothers for his next ‘Letterkenny’ skit and of course we said yes. Andrew, Jared, Nate and I could be called the ‘Original Letterkenny Cast’, so when the YouTube shorts were developed into the series you see on Hulu, it was a no brainer for us to sign on.
In the series, you play Reilly, a hockey player and one half of the ‘Jonesy’ duo. How similar are you and your character Reilly?
I get bugged by my fellow cast mates all the time for being the most like their character. It could be the striking similarity between Reilly’s clothing and my own, it could be the fact we both love hockey. I like to think it’s because we both laugh easily, love our friends and family, respect our neighbours and possess the spirit animal of a Golden Retriever. Although, Evan Stern once said I’m more of pitbull, which I am quite certain was intended to be a compliment.
The series has been such a succes that the cast has done a national tour of 90-minute shows featuring all new sketches. How did it feel being on stage in front of live audiences and taking in live reactions from the fans?
The opportunity to travel around North America with the cast and crew will forever be one of my most cherished memories. We got to see some of the most incredible destinations and meet the most incredible people on that tour. Seeing fans in person, looking into the crowds of people, seeing their faces and getting to interact with the people who literally make our jobs possible, that was a beautiful experience.
You come from a hockey family. Your dad and uncle are both former NHL players. What excites you the most about hockey and what do you miss the most about it?
Hockey, in my experience, has been one of the single most important things in my life when it comes to preparing for life. The lessons I learned playing hockey have been instrumental to my acting career, from preparing for roles to understanding my place on a team. Hockey gave me the skills to run a company, working with people, take criticism, move forward through adversity and above all, do what you love. My dad and uncle made it to the NHL through hard work and dedication, but they put that work in because they love to play the game. That’s the same philosophy I apply to acting. I love it, so I want to do it all the time and always improve my ‘game’.
How did you go from being a hockey player to an actor? What made you pursue acting?
I always knew I was going to become an actor. From the time I was a little kid, I loved performing, making people laugh, telling stories. I remember watching the way people would listen to my dad as he told stories, the passion my mom has for music and they way singing and dancing could change the energy of a crowd. I used to re-enact scenes from ‘Austin Powers’ at family gatherings and do accents to make people smile.
I thought I would play hockey into my 30s. Then once I had retired from that, I would go to film school, become a director and put myself into the movies. The summer I turned 19, I had a revelation that I didn’t want to wait that long and that hockey, although dear to me, was not my true passion. I knew I could commit myself completely to the pursuit of a film career and so I moved to Vancouver to start my journey. I worked as a production assistant, learning the industry from the inside and took acting classes full time once I had the money saved up. My parents saw my passion and supported my dream completely, which gave me a huge advantage mentally and emotionally.
How do your hockey and ice skating skills help you in your acting career?
Training for hockey requires thousands of hours putting in work on your own, as well as in a team environment. Doing the work when no one is watching, knowing failure is an essential part of success, believing in the process and trusting in yourself are all key aspects to success in acting and pro sports.
In 2015 you co-produced ‘The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote’, a documentary on political apathy, for which he won the best producer award at the 16th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival. What surprised you the most from filming this documentary? Why young people don’t vote?
I have always been fascinated by government and politics, the way humans engage in political power structures and philosophical rhetoric. When I had the opportunity to explore a subject like Voter apathy, I was inspired to explore the question of why so many choose not to participate in democratic elections. The democratic process is a very important thing to me. Having had the opportunity to speak with people where democracy does not exist gave me a newfound reverence for the freedoms we enjoy and the importance of engagement in order for the process to work.
While you’re not on the screen, you are the co-CEO of ‘Media Button’, a Vancouver video production company. Tell us more about it and what are your production plans?
We are immensely proud of our corporate production company ‘Media Button’, as well as our narrative facing company ‘Crystal Mountain Films’. Media Button’s focus is on high concept commercials, music videos, ad campaigns for luxury brands and digital content production. Crystal Mountain Films has a current slate of IP we are in various stages of development for. These projects range from feature films to documentaries and television series. I encourage anyone reading to explore our brand new websites www.mediabutton.com and www.crystalmountainfilms.com
What are your dreams and plans for your career?
I love my job, it’s my passion and something I want to do the rest of my life. Telling stories with people I respect and enjoy spending my time with is the cornerstone of why I do what I do. My goals are to create films and television that impact society in a positive way. I want to be a part of comedies that make people happy and dramas that make people think. I want to win an Oscar and an Emmy, I want to never worry about paying my bills, while staying busy working in the industry I love. I want to do this forever and I want to inspire those who watch the content I am blessed to create.
Next up, you have quite some interesting projects lined up. What can you share with us about them?
I have been very fortunate the past year to have worked on some very exciting projects. There is another season of ‘Letterkenny’ in post-production, which will be released sometime within the next 12 months. I also worked on a comedy ‘Buddy Games 2’, directed by Josh Duhamel, that is coming out later this year.
There’s also our current production slate for ‘Crystal Mountain Films’, which includes the feature ‘Whistle’, that we intend to film next winter. We have very high expectations for our entire ‘Crystal Mountain Films’ slate and wish to become Academy Awards calibre content creators.
photographer KATE WHYTE @katewhytephoto