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From Hellion to Hot Property (article)



Callum Keith Rennie makes up for lost time
Maclean's Magazine, October 13, 1997

Outside the industrial ruins that house the Due South studios in mid-town Toronto, Callum Keith Rennie can be found in his trailer, assiduously stuffing carrots into an electronic juicer. He used to prefer a stronger kind of juice, and spent so much time under its influence that there are several years of his life that he cannot quite account for. But Rennie has not had a drink since catching a shard of glass in his eye during a barroom fight four years ago back home in Vancouver. The eye survived, and the story has become a signature scar in the career of an actor who likes to deal in sharp edges.

On CTV's Due South , Rennie is the new guy. Replacing David Marciano as the sidekick, he plays Chicago detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski, the street-smart foil to Paul Gross' Mountie-with-a-heart-of-gold. "The basic dynamic remains intact," says Gross. "I'm naive and from the wilderness, and he's cynical and from the street. But I think our relationship is more combustible. David had an easier charm. Callum is spikier."

As he sips his carrot juice, a picture of studied casualness in a V-neck pullover, navy sweat pants and tan biker boots, the 37-year-old Rennie does have a rugged intensity about him. And he seems as cagey as Gross is forthright. Bit by bit, he offers up threads of his past. Born in England, raised in Alberta. Did not start acting until he was 25. His parents are middle-class, separated. Wanted to be a mountaineer and supported his climbing habit with "crummy jobs--cooking, laying railroad track, digging ditches"--before discovering theatre in Edmonton.

Relocating to Vancouver, Rennie burned through a variety of TV roles, criminals mostly, in The X-Files, The Commish, Highlander: The Series , and Lonesome Dove . But he began to attract serious notice with a volley of small Canadian features--as a nerdy boyfriend in Double Happiness (1994), as a recovering junkie in Curtis's Charm (1995) and, most notably, as a charismatic punk guitarist in Bruce McDonald's mock rockumentary, Hard Core Logo (1996). He also starts in McDonald's offbeat CBC series Twitch City , set to debut next January. And as a cocaine-addled nut in Kari Skogland's recent Men With Guns , he steals the movie. "Everything has happened pretty quickly," says the soft-spoken actor. "I've had a great run in the last little while."

With his film career heating up, Rennie had qualms about locking into the weekly grind of Due South . "I'm by nature better suited to flashing quickly on roles and getting out of them without having to expose myself too much," he says. Gross, meanwhile, had reservations about hiring him. "Paul was worried I wouldn't have the endurance or the ability to take direction," says Rennie. "He thought I was really raw and didn't have any technique--it actually just looked like I had none, which is maybe a good thing." Finally, the two actors went to a bar (beer for Gross, soda water for Rennie) and ended up flipping a coin. When it turned up tails, they made it the best out of three.

"It was the most potentially disastrous decision I had to make," says Gross, who doubles as the show's executive producer. "It's like a marriage. I spend more time with Callum than I do with my wife." But the partnership has clicked. "It has, on balance, been a riot," says Gross. "Callum's also very daring physically, and that really benefits the style of the show. David didn't like to do stunts, which becomes very limiting. Whereas if you chucked Callum out of a plane, it would be fine."

Replacing a character on "an established show that has a huge fan base," says Rennie, "means you're gonna be judged as, 'Well-you're-not-the-other-guy.' " And it took him a few episodes to feel secure in the role. But there was instant chemistry with Gross. "I understand him as a good ol' Alberta boy," Rennie explains. "I know how whacked he is. People go, 'Jeez, you guys are so different.' But we're so much the same. We both have that outside-looking-in-at-the-ridiculousness-of-things. We keep a cool exterior, and underneath it's sort of a lot of other stuff."

Still, Rennie does not expect to stick around. he insisted on a rare one-year contract--and it is doubtful Gross would risk type-casting myself as a Mountie for another season. When this one ends, Rennie plans to head straight for Los Angeles. "I just want to up the ante," he says. "In this country, I seem to work with a lot of first-time directors. And at this point, I can't risk being fucked with by people who are too neurotic with their material to allow me to do what I want." And, like Gross, Rennie is unhappy with the kinds of roles available in Canada. "Things have to change in the way we make movies," he says. "We don't write for heroic characters." Rennie seems to have his mind set on leaving Canadian the archetype in the dust. In Vancouver, he owns what he calls "a racing truck--a 1964 Mercury shortbox with a 390 El Camino engine." And he is looking forward to a long drive--due south.


Found here.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
malnpudl
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
I love that article.

And wow, he's changed a lot in the last ten years, hasn't he?
c_regalis
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, he has. Reading this, I kind of get that he refers to his late thirties as "very young". Somehow, he was. Apparently.

And yes, I love this one too. ♥
_unhurt_
Apr. 10th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
I kind of get that he refers to his late thirties as "very young".

i LOVE this. because, for normal people, late 30s is like, "i know who i am now" time, right? *pets*

callumvixen
Apr. 17th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
for normal people, late 30s is like, "i know who i am now" time ... oh man, I AM SO NOT NORMAL. !! :)
zabira
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
Whereas if you chucked Callum out of a plane, it would be fine

HEEE!!! "look ray, turtles!"
c_regalis
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
*g* Also, Callum is SPIKIER. *hearts*
meresy
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
But I think our relationship is more combustible.

Heh. That's one word for it.

Aww, Callum.

We keep a cool exterior, and underneath it's sort of a lot of other stuff.

A lot of dorky, dorky stuff. &hearts
c_regalis
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
A lot of dorky, dorky stuff. ♥

Ha! Indeed! (And somewhere, still hidden deep inside? Is GOLF.)
hyzenthlay26
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Well, even if Hollywierd turned out to be a bust, he found his TRU WUB, right?
c_regalis
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
Well, yes. ol\o/
hyzenthlay26
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Aw! Callum is spikier! And Paul is whacked! <3
c_regalis
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Both true! And you KNOW it. :)
hyzenthlay26
Apr. 11th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
Y'know, this is acutally the first mention of him owning something other than a Ford? Except I think Ford and Mercury are like linked or summat?

And then what happened to this truck, anyway? Cos' in the next interview he's got an F-150, silver, lightning package.

Heh. That sounds dirty.
akite
Apr. 10th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
But there was instant chemistry with Gross.

Yeah, we kind of noticed that. *g* I am astounded by the changes that these ten years have brought.
c_regalis
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
I am astounded by the changes that these ten years have brought.

Yeah, it's quite impressive, isn't it? I guess that's what you get for once L.A and back. Especially if you still feel like a kid when you are in your late thirties. *g*
callumvixen
Apr. 10th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Oh Callum. You and your sport-trucks. *g*

I'm glad he's changed... the thought of him living in LA full time... ugh. LA is so fake and cliquey, and it changes people, not always in a good way. I like that he's proud to be Canadian. Really, Vancouver is such a huge HUGE movie/tv town, he never needs to leave. We even have some awesome golf courses. So I hear *g*

[I first wrote 'sport-fucks' by accident. Sigh. Well, those too I guess. *eg*]

Edited at 2008-04-10 10:09 pm (UTC)
c_regalis
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Wellll, I kind of like the sports trucks thing? It WAY batter than, like, a normal sports car, Y/N?

And yeah, me too. I guess you can live in LA just fine. But living in LA and being in the film business? /c\ And, huh, why on earth would he be interested in golf courses? Ahem.

I first wrote 'sport-fucks' by accident. Sigh. Well, those too I guess. *eg*

HEE! *loves* And yes, I guess you are right.
callumvixen
Apr. 17th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
If I saw Callum driving some middle-age-crisis, wannabe-rock-star, shiny shiny sportscar I would piss myself laughing. A sports truck is a little more... dignified. And the Crown Vic he has/used to have... that's an old school wannabe luxury pimp car. [I know because my Callum-lookalike friend has THE SAME CAR as Callum has/had, purr purr purr]

[on a side note, the lead singer of the rock group Nickelback was arrested for drunk driving recently - hes a good ol' boy, from a small country town, he currently lives in white-trash heaven, and he was driving his gabillion-dollar Lamborghini Diablo. AND he refused to leave his car on the side of the road because he knew it would get vandalized. It was SO cliche I just about died laughing. hehehehhe]

I *almost* moved to LA two years ago... SO GLAD that I did not. I can't imagine what a slut Callum could be down there.. *boggles*...
_unhurt_
Apr. 10th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)


HEE.

i love the sports truck part. i just - it's one half macho, one half total dork.
c_regalis
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
one half macho, one half total dork.

*nodsnodsNODS* Exactly.
scriggle
Apr. 11th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
So much to love in this article.
c_regalis
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
Lots and lots of love. I mean, just. Sports truck. Oh Callum.
neu111
Apr. 11th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Love Due South Callum!

"I'm by nature better suited to flashing quickly on roles and getting out of them without having to expose myself too much", way to be a heroic character, hm?
c_regalis
Apr. 16th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
way to be a heroic character, hm?

Hee! *g* Um, yes. ♥
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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