Growing up together in Flin Flon was the start of a strong friendship for Jared Abrahamson and Shane Leydon.
Now having left their hometown behind, their paths have crossed again – this time in front of the camera.
Abrahamson and Leydon are working together as part of the independent film Hello Destroyer, directed by Toronto International Film Festival standout Kevan Funk.
The hockey drama is being filmed in BC, in Prince George and Vancouver, and marks Leydon’s feature film debut.
After several years in the industry and a number of films to his credit, Abrahamson credits Leydon with his own start in the movie business.
“I left Flin Flon after high school and was trying to make a go of it in the oilfield in Alberta when Shane gave me the idea of getting into the film business,” said Abrahamson during a day off from shooting.
Leydon was attending Vancouver Film School at the time, and the idea sparked an interest in Abrahamson, who soon followed his friend into the industry.
With a number of independent films, some TV episodes and time spent producing short films, Abrahamson’s calendar has been full. He is working on his second feature film this year and will head into some TV work when that project wraps up.
“Each one’s a new experience,” said the 20-something actor, who lives in Vancouver.
Abrahamson’s work has ranged from roles he describes as a crazy redneck from Mississippi in Texas Heart, to a comic relief character in South Africa in Detour, to name a few.
Finding a unique character to play is a fun challenge for Abrahamson, who is always trying to grow as an actor.
“I try to pick things that are different. When I read a script, I look for a character that is different from one I’ve played before,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t want to be confined to one type of role.
Examining his own experiences helps Abrahamson connect to the characters and bring them to life.
“I find things in myself that help me relate to the character, whether it’s good, bad or ugly, and I try to look at things from their perspective. What got them to where they are?”
Contemplating these character traits and experiences is helping Abrahamson on and off the screen.
“It helps me grow as an actor and as a man,” he said. “I’m more empathetic to people in general when I think about what makes people the way they are.”
While the big screen may seem worlds away from his hometown, Abrahamson says he is able to draw on his past experiences in his work today.
“There are a lot of similarities to working in the mine and acting,” he said. “The mine is filled with characters and everyone is always telling stories.”
Hard work and determination have kept him going throughout his career, and acting has given Abrahamson the opportunity to travel and meet some great people along the way. Shooting on location is one of the highlights for him. In addition to the chance to explore new areas of the world, being on location gives the crew a unique experience.
“We live in our own little bubble,” Abrahamson said. “We escape the day to day.”
Many actors find the business end of their careers draining and shy away from negotiations, but not Abrahamson.
With a background in mixed martial arts, he has spent time negotiating deals for many years and enjoys the challenge it presents.
“I consider myself a businessman and an actor,” Abrahamson said.
Whether on the set or in the gym, Abrahamson has had the opportunity to meet and work with a number of people he admires.
He was starstruck when he met boxing coach Freddie Roach and said a number of old-school actors from New York, such as Armand Assante and Paul Ben-Victor, have left an impression on him.
While both his acting and fighting career have their ups and downs, Abrahamson keeps busy doing labour jobs to keep the money coming in.
“I’ve found that one way to take off the pressures is to find work in between, then you do a show and work leads into more work and it goes from there,” he said.
He considers his time on Hello Destroyer with Leydon the pinnacle of his career so far and looks forward to the movie’s release later this year.
Being part of the film is also a great opportunity for Leydon, and sharing the experience with a long-time friend makes it even more enjoyable.
After going to acting school, Leydon took some time away from the industry to pursue other interests but has recently made his way back to acting.
“I was looking for a really good job and the more I looked, the more I realized that acting really appealed to me,” he said of his decision to return to the film industry.
“I realized you have to do what you love, even if it’s not the safe bet.”
During his teenage years, Leydon said, he started getting the itch to pursue acting but never dreamt it would lead to anything.
“I thought, ‘I’m just a kid from Flin Flon, I’ll never make it,’ but I applied to school and got in,” he recalled.
Leydon, who also lives in Vancouver, has participated in a number of different projects, playing a range of characters. Like Abrahamson, he strives to increase his scope as an actor.
“I’m always looking for something to test myself as an actor,” he said.
Drawing from personal experience also helps Leydon bring his characters to life. Being part of Hello Destroyer, a film about a hockey player, isn’t hard for Leydon, who played minor hockey growing up in Flin Flon.
“I can relate to it,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s not too much of a stretch.”