Given Colm Feore’s habit of playing historical figures — he’s starred as everyone from Pierre Trudeau and Glenn Gould to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel on screens big and small — you’d imagine in a movie about the reincarnation of a Soviet politician called The Trotsky, he must be playing the legendary Bolshevik.
“I looked at Trotsky and he had hair, so that was out,” Feore laughs.
In fact, in the film the actor plays the authoritarian principal of Montreal’s (fictional) Jacques Parizeau English School who tries to prevent Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) — a student who believes he is the reincarnation of revolutionary Leon Trotsky — from unionizing the school’s students.
“I was between episodes of 24 so I hadn’t shaved,” he says, “and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just keep not shaving? I’ll present myself to (director) Jacob (Tierney) and say, ‘Would this work for you? I think this would this give us a certain Lenin-esque feel.’ I thought, ‘I’ll go Lenin, he’ll go Trotsky and it will be eerie.’”
Feore — who sprinkles his conversation with words like “supercilious” and self depreciating comments — has more than a passing resemblance to the Russian revolutionary.
“We had this huge Lenin poster behind Jay’s head at one point,” he says. “Jacob framed the shot so that when I turn away I’m perfectly framed in the poster.”
The actor, who jumps back and forth between big budget films like the upcoming Thor, TV work and small films to fill in the gaps was taken by the script the moment he read it.
“To me it seemed very springy,” he says. “It has a bouncy intelligence to it. Particularly since it came from young people. Right now I am surrounded by young people. I have my kids and I think, ‘What would flatter them in reflection?’ If they see themselves as smart and able to change their world, this is a message I would like to be able to send. There is something heroically quixotic about the way Jay’s character forces his way down his path.”
The movie has earned comparisons to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and other American teen comedies, but Feore says it “probably couldn’t have been made anywhere else. The Canadian-ness of this film is our genius for subversion while playing it straight. It’s not tongue-in-cheek. … I like that the gags are layered in and it works on a second viewing. There are political statements under the political statements.”