The Movie Waffler Interview - Designated Survivor & Crown And Anchor Star Matt Wells | The Movie Waffler

Interview - Designated Survivor & Crown And Anchor Star Matt Wells

crown and anchor
Actor Matt Wells, best known for his work on the small screen in Designated Survivor and Beauty and the Beast, talks about his compelling new crime thriller Crown and Anchor- releasing in July.

matt wells

What inspired you to pursue acting, Matt?

Finding acting wasn’t expected. I always loved movies, obsessively, but being in them or making them was never on my radar. I started with music. I was the singer of a hardcore/punk band out of Canada and we had some success and were played on music TV. That eventually led to me becoming a music/film journalist and interviewer on TV (also wasn’t expected). In that new journey and the more I began researching and chatting with actors, writers, and directors the more I realised that it was something I wanted to do, which led me to giving it a go and now I’m all in.

How did you get your start? At film school?

Same answer as above. It’s just a natural progression of wanting to create, perform, and tell stories, and it started with writing songs and making music. My actual start, the thing that threw me into it, was as a music TV host/interviewer. I was covering the open auditions for the Canadian version of the musical 'Rock of Ages' and as part of that we had me do a gag audition. I brought my guitar into the room and sang an REO Speedwagon song, as a joke. When the cameras turned off, casting asked me if I’d be seriously interested. I was. I eventually did two callbacks, didn’t get the gig but had caught the bug.

What was your first paid gig? Did you frame that check?

My fist paid gig as an actor (I think) was on a web series called Prison Dancer the Musical. I played a fake version of myself as a music journalist. That show actually just had a revival and is being developed for the stage. I’m not involved but I’m excited to see what they do. You can find it on Youtube. My first paid gig as a musician was something like 10 bucks per member and probably involved beer.

Do you feel the films, and your skills, improve with each one?

I had a whole life as a musician and as an interviewer on Music TV. I started acting later in life so I feel like I’m always learning and (hopefully) getting better. Crown and Anchor was the first time I really had the opportunity to dig into a character and be part of the journey of the main story. I think you can’t help but improve surrounded by amazing actors like we have in Crown and Anchor. I leaned a lot from folks like Robert Joy, Stephen McHattie and Natalie Brown. I was better just by getting to work with them and watch. I feel like my life in acting is just beginning so I hope I improve with each one or I’m not gonna last long!

You’re a regular on the small screen - Designated Survivor, Bitten, The Detectives, Dark Matter. I imagine that has more to do with the amount of TV productions that film in Canada more so than personal choice?

Yes. Like I said, I started acting late in life so I had to start hustling and paying my dues in that world. Luckily Toronto is a very happening city for productions so there are a lot of opportunities for me to jump into some big shows as a day player and learn while I continue to work and develop my own projects.

Was this your first time working with Michael Rowe?

Michael and I have known each other a long time and have been to hell and back together. This was not our first time collaborating because of our time in music, and as actors it was actually our second time. We both acted in a short film (written and directed by Crown and Anchor writer/director Andrew Rowe) called The Business of Acting. It’s pretty funny. You can find it on Youtube.

How did Crown and Anchor come to you?

This was a script I originally wrote and a story I wanted to tell. I found an investor early but in wasn’t until we brought Andrew (Rowe) in to re-write and direct, and our co-producer Vince Buda to make the budget work, that it really came together. Myself and my best pal (and co-star) Michael (Rowe) played in the same band for many years and when the band ended, and we both started acting later in life, we knew we had to make up for lost time. We also came from 10 years of hustling in an independent band so we knew we could take the same tools and apply them to making movies and in doing so continue to work together. The movie was almost like us getting the band back together.

What personally appealed to you about it? Was there an element of your character you could really relate to, perhaps?

This story was inspired by some darkness I have seen in my own life. The idea of telling a story about the cycles of abuse and addiction that can run through a family for generations was very real to me. My mother came from a home that saw violence and addiction but she broke that cycle for me and gave myself and my sister a different life. I have seen how her past has affected both her and her brothers in very different ways. Some dealt with it inwardly and broke the cycle, others went the opposite way and lost the battle with addiction. It was very real and personal to me. The character I played was not only familiar in that sense but Andrew wrote it for me, he wrote to my strengths and that is a rare opportunity.

It’s not your average ‘crime drama’, that’s for sure! Has it been difficult to market at all?

Everyone told us we were insane to make this film the way we did. It has very loud and intense punk and hardcore music throughout. It’s emotionally intense with some very unsettling scenes. It’s a two hour character study and there are no 'stars' in it. It’s specifically shot with very little exteriors to make the audience feel the world closing in on them just like our characters. We basically did the opposite of what everyone told us we 'should' do as first time filmmakers but I believe it’s for all those reasons we have had the success we’ve had. An independent theatrical run in North America and now digital, physical, and broadcast/streaming distribution through a company like Uncork’d is unheard of for a film like ours. It hasn’t been easy but so far so good and I can’t wait to do it again.

Crown and Anchor is on DVD/VOD July 2nd.

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