Best known for his performance as Joey Jeremiah on the iconic teen melodrama Degrassi Junior High, actor Pat Mastroianni came out of retirement to star in the new movie 40 Is The New 20.
Mastroianni decided to come back to acting when he learned that independent Québécois auteur — and Degrassi fan — Simon Boisvert wrote the lead role of his new movie specifically for him.
“Simon’s greatest fear was that the audience would hate my character,” Mastroianni told Metro. “He needed an actor who could make the audience understand him. The audience always rooted for my character on Degrassi no matter what he did because he had a vulnerability that made you understand where he was coming from and I think that’s what Simon hoped I could bring to this film.”
It’s understandable that Boisvert would be concerned given that Mastroianni’s character is so determined to reconnect with a former high school flame that he starts filtering her emails and phone calls to ensure that no other man can contact her.
It’s not exactly movie hero behavior, but Mastroianni makes you identify with the character because his intentions are pure even when his actions are not. As the actor put it, “We had to walk a fine line between a sleazeball obsessive stalker and a guy who’s just lost in puppy love.”
Of course playing such a morally ambiguous character wasn’t the only challenge for Mastroianni on the 40 Is The New 20 set. He also had to adapt to Boisvert’s low-budget filmmaking style and a miniscule 14-day production schedule.
“I was kind of afraid of showing up because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Mastroianni. “I was wondering if this guy was literally shooting on an HD camcorder that he bought at Futureshop. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that he was able to pull together a professional crew with a shoestring budget. I think we were all impressed.”
The lack of money just led to the small crew forming a strong bond during shooting.
“It reminded me of what it was like in the ‘80s,” said Mastroianni. “It was really personal and there was a nice camaraderie on set. I have a very strong fondness for this film because of the good time we had making it.”
The experience was so pleasant and invigorating that it’s gotten Mastroianni back into the acting game. “I’m going to spend the next few years focusing on my acting career again.
“It’s very difficult to make a living in Canada as an actor and I’m very lucky to have survived in this industry for 25 years.”
Coming to theatres
• 40 Is The New 20 opens in Toronto this Friday.
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