Bruce Greenwood first met director Atom Egoyan in a singles bar. “Atom was alone in the corner and I felt sorry for him,” says Greenwood. “We were introduced by a mutual friend.”
That was in the early 1990s, when Egoyan was on the brink of international acclaim as a director and Greenwood was a film and television star with a handful of movies and recurring roles on St. Elsewhere and Knots Landing under his belt. That chance meeting led to their first film together, Exotica, a study of loneliness and desire in a lap-dancing club that Roger Ebert called “a deep, painful film” in his four-star review. “We became good friends during that process,” said Greenwood, “and in the ensuing years.”
Three years later the pair collaborated on The Sweet Hereafter, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Russell Banks about the effects of a tragic bus accident on the population of a small town. Greenwood earned a Genie Award nomination playing a grieving father and in 2002 readers of Playback voted it the greatest Canadian film ever made.
Next was a small role in Ararat, Egoyan’s story of a young man whose life is changed during the making of a film about the Armenian genocide, and then, in 2013, a cameo in Devil’s Knot. Greenwood played a judge in Egoyan’s retelling of the events leading up to the West Memphis Three murders and the “Satanic panic” that fuelled the hysteria surrounding the subsequent trial of teenagers Jessie Misskelley Jr., Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.
These days Greenwood is best known for his work as Capt. Christopher Pike in the 2009 Star Trek film and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, but he’s not too busy in Hollywood — the Quebec-born actor has lived in Los Angeles since the late 1980s — to reteam with his Canadian cohort. In Egoyan’s new psychological thriller, The Captive, Greenwood joins stars Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson and Mireille Enos in a story of a child kidnapping. Egoyan says he and Greenwood share a shorthand that makes for easy work on set. As for Greenwood, he says he trusts the director, “more than anyone I’ve ever worked with. He can ask me to do anything and if my initial instinct is ‘Oh no,’ it ends up being the right idea. He’s a tremendous guy.”