TORONTO – Best known for his scene-stealing comedy chops in “Orphan Black,” actor Jordan Gavaris takes the lead in “The Lake” as a gay man trying to reconnect with the biological daughter he gave up for adoption as a teenager.
Gavaris admits to feeling a little jittery about the leap into a family comedy from Prime Video, but also hopeful about where his career – and film and television stories – are headed.
“I had never seen that type of character — who is usually relegated to the rear-view mirror — at the centre of the universe before, and in a story that is not about his queerness or his journey to self-acceptance,” Gavaris says in a virtual interview from the Banff World Media Festival.
“It’s just a love story between a birth father and a daughter.”
Set in Ontario cottage country, the series stars the Caledon, Ont.-born and raised actor as Justin, who is fresh off a break-up with his long-time ex-boyfriend and back in Canada after years spent living overseas.
Things get predictably messy at Justin’s old family cottage when his stepsister Maisy-May, played by Julia Stiles, arrives and informs him the house belongs to her.
Gavaris says he was keen to follow up his turn in CTV Sci-Fi’s clone drama “Orphan Black” with something funny and meaty.
“(’Orphan Black’) was a tough act to follow,” he says.
“What I needed to do next was different, and I knew that it had to be comedy, which is always just a lot of fun for me.”
The story is rooted in the real-life experience of Ottawa creator and writer Julian Doucet of CTV Sci-Fi’s “Killjoys” and Citytv’s “Hudson & Rex,” who also met his birth daughter later in life after giving her up for adoption when he was a teenager.
Gavaris says that playing a father was actually the easiest part of his performance.
“The benefit I had is that Justin doesn’t know how to be a father, he barely knows how to be an adult; he’s kind of a hot mess,” he says.
“I really didn’t have to work too hard at finding that anxiety around being a parent. But it was important to me to treat the material with sensitivity because that is some people’s story, that is Julian’s story.”
Still, Gavaris was eager to up his game with Stiles, his frequent scene partner with credits including British series “Riviera,” Crave’s “Dexter” and the “Bourne” franchise.
“She’s Julia Stiles!” he exclaims.
“We read with a lot of different actors, all of them wonderful, but with Julia, just because of her pedigree, what it brought out in me was this need to show her that I know what I’m doing and impress her a little bit.
“That’s Justin, too. He’s constantly trying to show Maisy-May that he is capable and can help raise his birth daughter. Just by virtue of our positions in life, the chemistry was natural.”
Launching Friday, the series is billed as Prime Video’s first scripted narrative series in Canada and is among several original Canadian series coming from Amazon’s streamer. That includes the previously released “The Unsolved Murder of Beverly Lynn Smith” and “Kids in the Hall,” and the upcoming “Three Pines.”
“The Lake” is a significant shift from Gavaris’s breakout role as the sarcastic Felix on “Orphan Black,” the overprotective brother of Tatiana Maslany’s lead character Sarah who often sported a variation of mesh, leather, and blanket-sized scarves — all in black and freshly off the runway.
“’Orphan Black’ was so much about putting a costume on for five years, and this was the first time that I was going to be able to pare everything back and put more of me on the screen, this queer man who talks with his hands too much,” says Gavaris.
“The Lake” joins several recent major studio releases centred on the gay rom-com, among them the Disney Plus film “Fire Island” and comedian Billy Eichner’s upcoming film “Bros,” both of which feature largely queer casts and were created by queer filmmakers.
“I do feel like there’s been a change,” says Gavaris. “I think representation is the key, which I know is a drum that a lot of people are probably tired of hearing beaten, but I think it’s one worth beating because representation is not some finish line you cross…. It’s a slow process of handing the microphone off to different people to hear new angles on familiar stories.”
The actor says that’s why these filmmakers have found the space to create“groundbreaking” films and, hopefully, it’ll lead to a domino effect.
“It’s why Billy Eichner is allowed to make a movie that maybe he wouldn’t have been allowed to make 10 years ago, and why I’m sitting here at the Banff World Media Festival promoting Prime Video’s first scripted Canadian series that centres on this gay man whose problem is not his sexuality or his trauma,” he says.
“Am I anxious? Definitely. Do I want people to love it? Of course…. The more that people realize and accept that there’s beautiful, funny, touching cool storytelling coming out of Canada, the more Canadian stories get made.
“The more this happens for queer stories, the more queer stories get made. It’s only a good thing, and I feel quite chuffed that I get to represent in any way, let alone so positively.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2022.
Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com