New sci-fi/horror mashup Project Ithaca is out today nationwide on VOD and in select theaters. I was lucky enough to catch up with one of the film’s stars, James Gallanders, to discuss the film, the biz, and more. Check out our brief chat below…
Hi James, thanks for the quick chat. Let’s start with you. You’ve been doing TV and film since the early 90s, with increasingly larger and more interesting roles since your start. Who is James Gallanders?
My parents emigrated from Dundee, Scotland just a few years before I was born, and I was raised in Oshawa, Ontario. I had a sometimes debilitating stutter as a child, which is something I’ve battled all my life but have learned many coping mechanisms over the years. I was the kid who, when asked to read aloud in class would give it his best shot, but end up running out of the room sobbing. In grade 6 something clicked. I had to give a speech in front of my class. I learned that if I memorized my lines and got emotionally invested into what I was talking about, I was suddenly fluent. I was transformed and had found my voice. Long story short, not only did I win for my class, but I won for my entire school that year and for three years running. I competed across Ontario in public speaking contests and was recruited to do plays at my public school. Then I joined a community theatre group in my early teens, continued acting throughout high school, and ended up going to York University for acting and graduated with a BFA Honours degree. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to have been cast in a vast array of television and film projects that have brought me across Canada, to Africa, to Budapest, Hungary and now finally to outer space. I’m married to actress Stacie Mistysyn (of DeGrassi fame) and we have 2 amazing children.
As a veteran actor, you’ve had the chance to work with tons of other actors big and small. Who are some of the actors you enjoyed working with most?
My first lead in a film was opposite Megan Follows in an indie film called Reluctant Angel, and she was an absolute delight to work with. I hope to work with her again one day in some capacity.
Ed Harris has to be right up there. I played a lead opposite him in the Agnieszka Holland film The Third Miracle. He’s such a generous actor and a great guy. We got to know each other socially quite a bit off set as well. We almost got thrown out of a bar one night for smoking a joint (I can say that now that it’s legal, right?).
Ashley Jones is an actress I’ve gotten to work with a couple times now and she’s such a sweetheart, I love her.
It was also a tremendous pleasure to work with television icons Jane Seymour and Tom Bosley in separate tv movies. As a fan of Happy Days it was such a thrill to work with “Mr. C”, and Jane Seymour is as classy and elegant as she seems.
Were you ever starstruck on set when seeing a bigger star for the first time?
I think the only time I was ever nervous around an actor the first time we met was with Megan Follows. I think that’s in part because it was my first lead in a film, and also because my class had gone to see her in a play when I was younger, and I had also been an extra in Anne of Green Gables, something I didn’t confess to her until after we were done shooting Reluctant Angel and we had become friends.
On the other note, who are some up-and-comers we may not have heard of that we should make a point to check out?
Taylor Thorne from Project Ithaca is a rising star, for sure. Loved working with her. So is Kaitlyn Bernard, who I worked with recently (Homekilling Queen) as well as Mikael Conde, who played my son in Mommy’s Little Girl.
So, onto your latest project, Project Ithaca, tell us how you got involved with this one.
It was simple, I got a self-tape request and was intrigued from what I saw from the sides. Then the night before my callback I got to read the whole script and had one of those, “Man, I have to play this role” moments, and fortunately I got the chance to. Anthony Artibello (writer/producer) and I have become good friends since the shoot, and he confided in me that he knew they had found their “John” the moment I looked him in the eye and shook his hand in the callback.
What’s it about?
Essentially it’s about 6 strangers who wake up aboard an alien ship who have to cope with their current situation, confront their demons and somehow find a way home.
You play John Brighton, one of the film’s lead roles. Tell us about about John and his importance to the story.
Without giving too much away, John is very old school. He’s a man of integrity and principle. He’s also a wounded man, somewhat of a tortured soul. He’s suffered a terrible loss and carries a tremendous amount of guilt for that. He’s developed a special relationship with a young girl that he sees himself as a father to, and will do everything he can to protect her. He works for the government and plays a key role in trying to figure out a way off the ship.
The film releases later this week. How can folks see it?
On June 7th, it’s being released by Saban Films in 10 cities across the US and will also be available on iTunes. There are also screenings throughout June in Canada and it will be available on iTunes in Canada as of July 9th I believe, with pre-sales starting June 21st. Raven Banner is handling the Canadian distribution.
So, what’s next on the horizon for you, James? Any other projects you’re attached or things you’re looking to do.
I’m actually waiting to hear back on a couple of different projects I’m excited about, but in the meantime I’m hoping Project Ithaca finds it’s audience as it’s actually meant to be the first in a trilogy. So fingers crossed we’ll be shooting the sequel before long. I’d love to reprise this role as I feel there’s some unfinished business.
Before we wrap up, tell the readers where they can find you and follow you on social media, etc.
Thanks again for the chat, any final thoughts on Project Ithaca for the readers?
Really excited for folks to see this one. I’ve been given some tidbits of info as to what the sequels would entail and it sounds so exciting, so if you like Project Ithaca please tell your friends and hopefully we’ll get to see more of these characters soon.
And, any final thoughts or advice on getting into film, life, or really anything?
If you want to get into this business, you’ve got to really, really love it. And if you’re sure that’s what you want to do, just do it. Seek out any and every opportunity. Go to school, take a class, put it out there to the universe that this is what you want to do, and if you’re passionate about it, good things will come.