IN CONVERSATION WITH TROY MUNDLE
interview by JANA LETONJA
Troy Mundle can be seen in 20th Century Studios Predator Origin story ‘Prey’. He’s not slowing down anytime soon on the acting front and has a plethora of projects to follow including the film ‘An Amish Sin’, which premieres today (29 October) on Lifetime, as well as psychological drama ‘Bones of Crows’, that is set to release in 2023.
Troy, we’ve been able to see you this summer in the science fiction action horror film ‘Prey’ from the ‘Predator’ franchise. Which of the mentioned genres best describes the film in your opinion?
In my opinion, it’s more in line with the science fiction action film. That’s kind of how it was conceived in my mind when it first started back in 1987 with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I would think that it fits into that genre as far as I’m concerned.
Many critics praised the film as the best ‘Predator’ installment since the first film. Why do you believe ‘Prey’ gained such success?
I think that ‘Prey’ was so successful because it was such a new, fresh take that I think Hollywood hasn’t seen in a very long time. So it’s a brand new story that takes the predator back into being a period piece, which is all of a sudden very exciting cause it hasn’t been done before. And then you have an exciting new casting choice with all First Nations, primary cast like Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush and the list goes on. And I feel also because it has a strong female lead, all of these components together into one film like I said, it’s just a fresh, brand new direction and I think it’s very timely because we are now living in an age where we want to hear and see different stories, authentic stories. And this being packaged into a storied franchise like the ‘Predator’ movie, I think was very appealing to a wide audience.
And how would you say that this success impacted you as an actor?
Well I mean, it was fantastic to be part of the storytelling mechanism to help tell this story. It was exciting, it was great and very surreal because when it first came out, we had no idea how well it was gonna be received. You know, number 1 streaming on Hulu, number 1 on IMDB for several weeks, critically acclaimed. So I just feel very fortunate to have been part of the team, to be part of that. The exposure has been great. And Amber Midthunder, who has now skyrocketed, is a very talented and lovely young lady. I just heard the great news that she got signed by CAA last week, so congratulations to her. It has been a super positive impact for everybody involved.
What’s it like for you to be a part of the ‘Predator’ franchise? What would you describe as the best thing about it?
Working on such a big budget film, we were all on location for three months in Calgary and it was such a huge undertaking and it was very exciting to be part of that whole machine and to be there living that life for three months out in the wilderness with the cast members. It was just such a fantastic experience.
This October, ‘An Amish Sin’ premieres on Lifetime. Tell us more about this film.
‘An Amish Sin’ is basically a story that follows Dylan Ratzlaff. She is the protagonist for the film. And if you’re not aware of how the Amish live, basically they live in 18th century conditions and they shun modern technology. And there’s also a bit of a dynamic between men and women there. So this story was written by Michael Nankin, but based on Barbara Nance and it’s based on true stories. It’s about Dylan Ratzlaff, who is playing Rachel. She is my daughter, Kellie Martin is my wife. And we want her to marry someone who had abused her in the past. We don’t know this actually when we’re trying to pitch the marriage to her. She does not wanna get married, so she ends up fleeing the Amish community to a safe haven in a neighboring town. And while she’s in this neighboring town, she starts to have some revelations about her life, her upbringing that make her challenge her community.
The whole movie is about that and it’s meant to inspire people who may be in those situations, to hopefully give them enough inspiration or strength to try to reach out to someone and get them out of that situation. It’s very inspiring. And we just had the premiere screening in Vancouver last week, so we all got a chance to see it up on the big screen. And Thomas, the director of photography, did a beautiful job. Everybody did a fantastic job. I think people are gonna be quite happy with it.
As an entertainer, you are passionate about your craft. Can you share with us more about the process you go through when breathing life into your art.
The process that I use is a whole bunch of different things that I’ve used over several years, kind of combined together. But for myself, the base is the lines. I’ve kind of adopted the Anthony Hopkins train of thought. I’m not sure if you knew this, but Anthony Hopkins doesn’t put anything on camera until he’s actually rehearsed it about 200 times. I mean, that’s why he’s Anthony Hawkins, that’s why he is as good as he is.
So I started adopting that kind of technique with my lines. Once you rehearse the lines that many times, you may think “I’ve done the lines so many times, they’re gonna be stale”. But contrary to what you may think, when you do the lines that many times it actually gives you so much freedom to do whatever you want without even having to think about anything anymore. And then of course, you start to put your character development in, your text analysis, your background research and your stories and it all comes together in time for the production, in time for filming. And you hopefully bring enough truth to the character that rings and the audience can relate to.
Before acting, you’ve been a competitive hockey player. What life lessons did beeing a professional athlete taught you?
It really instilled in me how much work needs to be done in order to achieve your goals and what you kind of have to sacrifice if you want to get what you’re looking for. Playing competitive hockey, you realize that you just have to put the reps in and it’s the work that you do behind the scenes, when no one’s there to see what’s going on, that makes what you do hopefully look a little bit easier when you’re on set. So it’s the work ethic that I’d learn while playing competitive sports.
How did you go from being a competitive athlete to being an actor? Was acting something you’ve always been interested in?
It has always been, but I didn’t know it, if that makes any sense. So growing up in a small village, basically in Quebec playing hockey and being so far away from Hollywood, we watched movies and we did skits, but no one ever said “Hey, maybe I’ll be an actor”. That just wasn’t something that guidance counselors were pushing on anybody or suggesting to anybody. And it wasn’t until my hockey career kind of fizzled out, when I just kind of went in a different direction. I found myself home one night doing what I usually do, I imitate the actors on screen, that’s something I’ve always done as a child. And it kind of dawned on me, well maybe I should give this a whirl and see what happens.
So I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing cause I would’ve got laughed out of the village. I packed a backpack, bought a train ticket and I moved to Toronto. And long story short, I did get a day on set and my first day on set I was picked out of a group of people to be in the scene and the scene ended up being with Sandra Oh. It was one of those moments like this was meant to be. I absolutely loved it. It was a feeling of exhilaration that I’ve never felt before and for the first time in my life I was like this is exactly what I wanna do. And I’ve never looked back since.
You’ve also co-produced and played the lead in Mike Bartlett’s award winning play ‘Cock’, which was the world’s first ever post-Covid live-streamed and live-performed theatre production. What was the experience of having a play being live streamed like?
It was born out of necessity. In those days I studied at Haven Studio and another student, Lee Thomas Chesky, had asked me if I wanted to do a play. This was late 2019, early 2020 and we were kind of mulling around which play we wanted to do. And then all of a sudden covid hit, so everything closed down, nobody knew what was going on. And then by mid summer, the actor’s union started to loosen up the restrictions, so we were able to do something, but only in a small room with no audience. So it was like, how do you manage to put on a play for people when you can’t bring people in? And we’re like, let’s bring the play to the people. So I contacted Marco Bossow, who was a DP for single and dating in Vancouver, and I said “Marco, listen. What do you think of doing a performance with three cameras, but it’s live. We live edit it and we live stream it”. And he was like “I’ve never done it before, but let’s see if we can do this”. We ended up doing it in this warehouse and it was very cool because our director, Carmel Amit, wanted to try something different. She didn’t wanna have static cameras, she wanted to get right in there with the actors. And we wanted to kind of take it a step further, so we actually had the camera be the POV of the audience member. So camera starts off outside of the door and you walk into the door and you’re walking through the hallways, you hear the music, you walk into the room, which is empty, you see the violinists and then it turns in the play. It went over actually without a hitch, which was surprising.
We later found out that the building that we were in was closing at the end of the week and that they hadn’t paid their power bill and that the power could have gone off at any second during production, but no one told us this during the production cause it just would’ve sent us into complete panic mode. The play was very well received and we had a few directors contact our production team who said “How did you guys do this? We wanna find out how you guys put this together”. So it was a fantastic experience born out of necessity.
Christmas Day is a special day in your calendar. Each year you distribute hats, scarves and mittens to the homeless. Why is this special tradition of your so dear to you?
That is correct. My mom is a sweetheart. She’s a retired kindergarten teacher and she has always loved to knit and she just constantly knits and she likes to watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Back in 2017 I started a short film about homeless people and she’d seen some of the footage of it and she’s like “Troy, you know what? I’d really like to do something to help the homeless. What can I do?” And I’m like “Well, they need socks”. She goes “Well, I knit socks”. And I said “Okay, well do you wanna knit some for the homeless? ” She said yeah and I said I’ll give them out on Christmas Day.
So I never heard anything of it and then in late November I get two boxes of socks and mittens and she had made about 80 or 90 pairs. Myself and another person, we wrapped them up in Christmas paper and we put a tag on it that said ‘Merry Christmas from Doreen’. That year I was actually in Vancouver, so I went down to east side of downtown on Christmas morning and gave them out the people. And it really nice because you’re actually seeing the effect that you’re having on someone right there in real time. And making them feel special in that moment because they’re actually getting a gift that was really made for them by someone’s mother. And the first year I went down, I put some gifts into a tent and I gave some gifts and one young gentleman asked “Who’s Doreen? ” And I said “That’s my mom. She knit the mittens and sent them this way for you guys”. And he goes “Well, you tell Doreen she’s priceless”. And when I told my mom that, she was so touched by it that that’s why she wanted to do it every year now. So we’ve been doing it since the Christmas of 2018.
I think for me, the watershed moment was when I used to be a barista at Starbucks, a shift supervisor. There was this gentleman who would always come in and no one went anywhere near him. He was homeless, he would kind of talk to himself and he was great. He’d come in, he’d grab his large venti dark coffee and he’d go sit down and he’d just talk to himself and everybody would kind of clear away. And every once in a while when I would be putting the new straws back in and then the napkins, he would kind of walk over and he started talking to me. And he was talking about the music industry, but he was talking about the music industry back in the late seventies and eighties and he was talking about these bands and I’m thinking to myself “This guy knows too much specific information to just be pulling this out of thin air”. And it started to make me think this guy was actually someone who may have worked in the music industry before who knows what unfortunate events may have put him on the street. So then it kind of changed my perspective. And now when I walk down the street, I don’t see a homeless person. I see someone who had a life before they were on the streets and that now for some reason they’re there. They’re human beings after all and it’s just my way of trying to be a bit of a positive light or a positive influence in lives.
2023 looks like it’s gonna be a busy year in your acting career. What can you share with us about your upcoming projects that we’ll be able to see you in?
Obviously, ‘An Amish Sin’ premieres today. And after that there’s a great new series called ‘Washington Black’ that is coming out on Hulu. It should be out either late fall of this year or early 2023. There is another really special piece called ‘Bones of Crows’. It was written and directed by Marie Clements. It premiered at Tiff, which is the Toronto International Film Festival. And it also started at Viff, which is Vancouver International Film Festival. Marie put it into two different formats. One was the film, which went into the film festival circuit, and the other is a five part extended miniseries. The story is based on her grandmother’s journey going through the residential school system in Canada. So the miniseries spans a hundred years, it goes back to how that system was devised and who are the players involved, and then the effects it’s had on the First Nation’s community and the continuing effects that it has on the First Nation’s community. So it’s a good one.
And then lastly is a short film that we had wrote. So the film that we started in 2017, we actually just finished. And that’s going into the film festival circuit as well.
photography BEN COPE
styling ANNA SCHILLING