Jason Priestley, formerly of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame, has been working as a director for quite some time — nearly as long as he's been known for his acting. His latest work behind the camera, "Cas & Dylan," features a pair of mismatched travelers ("Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany and Richard Dreyfuss) out on the road with very different destinations — and a very touchy, hot-button subject at the center of it.
So this is a very Canadian movie, huh?
Well … (laughs) I guess, yeah. Yeah. I guess it is a Canadian film, but it's not a Canadian film in the sense that it's about hockey or it's about the beaver hunt, you know what I mean? I think this is a very universal story about two people that are very different points in their lives and that form a very unlikely friendship. It just happens to take place in Canada. But people aren't running around in toques and saying "eh" all the time. (laughs)
What was it about these characters' relationship that spoke to you?
I mean, I liked that sentiment, and I thought that kind of sentiment had a place in the world today, to kind of remind people of that. Just because two people are different doesn't mean they can't get along, and that doesn't mean those two people don't have things that they can teach each other. And just because two people are different doesn't mean that they can't forge a friendship on some level. That was an important thing to talk about. And also, the other thing that I loved about this movie is that the movie goes where it should go at the end. It didn't shy away from the ending that it needed to have. When I read the script initially, I thought it was going to Hollywood out at the ending and it was going to chicken out of where it should go, and it didn't. I thought that was incredibly brave and something that I wanted to shoot.
"Hollywooding out" is a great expression.
Yeah. "He's got to look at her and realize that he's no longer alone in the world and he's got something to live for." Nope. The movie is unflinching, and it goes where it should go at the end. I loved that commitment and I loved the bravery of the script.
Euthanasia is generally a topic people tend to shy away from, especially in film.
Yeah, I think so too. As the Baby Boomers are approaching that age, it's something that all of us are going to have to deal with — sooner rather than later. And the sooner we can start to have this type of conversation, the better off we're going to be.
But you don't want to come off like you're telling Baby Boomers, "Listen, if you guys want you can peace out anytime you want."
(laughs) No, that's not what I'm saying at all.
What brought you to directing, would you say?
In my life? I mean, I started directing theater when I was in high school, and I think it was just a desire to do more and to understand more than just my own part in the scene. I wanted to dig deeper into people's motivations and what was really happening, and why it was happening. That's what drove me initially, and then as a young man, when I started my career as a professional director on television, it's just a desire to tell stories on a bigger platform, on a bigger scale. And I've been telling stories on television for 20-plus years now, so now to be able to tell stories in feature films is merely just telling stories on an even bigger scale, which to me is the next logical step.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick