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Hunky Hard Core Logo star gives himself away (article)




I am not quite sure this is the right magazine cover, since I wasn't able to determine the year. But it is from Now Toronto and mentions Hard Core Logo. The "Harris rigs 1999 election" headline is... confusing though. Please ignore that it's apparently taken from a website called Gay-Male-Celebs.com. *shrugs*
ETA: neu111 confirmed that this is the right cover. Or at least that it's from 1996. Thanks to her I could exchange the scan for a better one. And add a second one that looks like it's from that article too. (right-click->View Image for the bigger versions)


By Cameron Baily, Now Magazine, October 17, 1996

If Canada wants its Brad Pitt, Callum Keith Rennie is here for the taking. Blessed with the same fashionable scruff and bad-boy-on-a-good-day attitude, he's the first local leading man who doesn't seem too slight, too scared or too ugly for the job.

Rennie's co-starring gig in Bruce McDonald's shit-sharp punk elegy Hard Core Logo is only his latest career-making performance. The Edmonton-raised, Vancouver-based actor first bust out as the white boyfriend in Mina Shum's Double Happiness, then took a role as a questing ex-junkie in John L'Ecuyer's Curtis's Charm.

He's also done two award-winning experimental confessionals for Mike Hoolboom, and recently played opposite younger confection Alicia Silverstone in her new, Vanity Fair-hyped movie. It may be a bellwether or a fluke, but Rennie's screen presence has none of the deliberate infirmity favoured for so long by local leads, nor the never-neverman quality of export boy-wonders Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey and Michael J. Fox.

In Logo, Rennie plays Billy Tallent, the one member of the band Hard Core Logo with something approaching a life.

Tallent gets called back from his tryout gig with Los Angeles alterna-gods Jenifur to tour with HCL one last time. On the road between Vancouver and Saskatoon, they tear through the old hits - Rock 'N Roll Is Fat And Ugly, 10 Buck Fuck, Edmonton Block Heater - until their own demons start to gnaw at them again.

Rennie emerges as a credible rock star, with enough angst to temper Tallent's self-absorption and enough scars to complicate his looks.



Unsettling questions

Of course a Canadian Brad Pitt would have to be less slick, and more thoughtful. Talking by phone one morning from Vancouver, Rennie tackles the subject of himself with hesitation. He walks around questions that unsettle him and offers the same map of reflecting surfaces that characterize his on-screen work.

"There was something about Billy that I always understood completely," he asserts. "Like Brando says, there are certain parts you'll work like a Turk on and still be way off. You're doing all the stuff you can do and you still can't get... in. With others, you get it right away.

"With Hard Core it was more me than a lot of other things I've done. Knowing it's in a documentary style meant I couldn't play anything but who I was. There was no affectation to hang onto.

"Blocking didn't have to be as precise. We didn't wear a lot of makeup, so you could be touching your face all over the place. The focus was on being as real as possible, and prepared enough to allow mistakes to happen."

Still, Rennie admits that "You feel safer when you're not giving yourself away. Usually, you've got these layers of performance that protect you."

When it comes to talking about himself, Rennie's got layers like phyllo pastry.

Ask him about his place in the face-first economy that governs leading men and he'll stumble and falter and finally say, "I can look a lot of different ways."

Pressed further, he retreats and gets abstract.

Withholds information

"You take a photograph of five people and there's one you can't not look at," he theorizes. "It's not a technique you can find, it's something about the person. It's a withholding of information."

Yes, and?

More than once during our conversation, Rennie starts out in one direction, only to reconsider and trail off into, "What was the question?" or "I don't want to get into that."

In an almost shocking display of humanity, Rennie actually thinks during interviews. In person and on-screen, the thing he most wants to avoid is being what he calls "talking meat."

But despite his artful dodges, Rennie can be surprisingly direct. He answers my question about his pre-movie star years with a blunt confession.

"I was drinking."

Drinking?

"Yeah, I called it research.

"Honestly," he continues, "at this point, it's a blur. It was setback after setback, stuck in the same routine." He pauses, then offers that "There was probably a certain fear of success."

Everything changed one night, he recalls, when he was in a bar and - he slips into the abstract - "a fight ensued.

"A piece of glass went into my eye. It damaged my retina and, you know, in a millisecond your life changes. There I was, three days later, almost having a heart attack realizing where I'd sunk myself. I haven't had a drink since."

His left eye has mainly healed, though those big black glasses he wore in Double Happiness were his own.

"I've played a lot of bad guys in the past," he continues, "because in my mind there was a history of me being a bad guy. But at some point, all of a sudden that was stripped away, and all the characters I started to get were about redemption. And that coincided with where I was."

He pauses to think about that for a moment, then concludes.

"This is one of the only jobs in the world that tells you who you are."

Originally from Now Magazine, gone after the redesign of their home page. Also still available here.
Tags: .genre: article, .genre: interview, film: hard core logo, year: 1996
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