TORONTO When it comes to career milestones, actor Joel Oulette considers his passing appearance during a commercial break on “Hockey Night in Canada” to be one of the coolest to date.
Of course, the 18-year-old wasn’t skating on the ice, but when a promotional spot for his upcoming CBC series “Trickster” aired on the national show, it was like a superstar moment and a distinctively Canadian moment. more.
“What is it like? You never really imagine that,” he explained in a webcam interview from his father’s house.
“It was really amazing to see your face in a hockey game.”
Perhaps Oulette should brace herself for more surprises of this caliber as “Trickster” makes its Toronto International Film Festival debut this week.
The first two episodes premiered on Tuesday at TIFF Bell Lightbox and will be available for rental nationwide on Wednesday through TIFF’s Bell Digital Theater.
The festival preview will almost certainly bring more attention to Oulette as a young Canadian star to watch, and encourage more people to seek out the series when the first season begins airing on CBC on October 7.
Except the actor will have to bask in the glow of his computer screen as he stays put during the pandemic in his hometown of Medicine Hat, Alta.
It did not cool his spirits, however. The actor, who is of the Red River Métis and Marsh Cree, is eager to discuss how “Trickster” is already being considered a game changer for Indigenous storytelling. Not only is the production on par with Netflix and the other major networks, but it has strong support from Canada’s national broadcaster.
“It’s mind-blowing to be a part of just like, a cool show,” Oulette said.
“I’m really optimistic because it’s a big production, like CBC is a big, big outlet.”
That means a lot of eyes will be on Oulette’s performance as Jared, a fresh-faced teenager from Kitimat, British Columbia, facing a unique combination of teenage obstacles.
By day he struggles to keep his high school grades afloat, while at night he supports his family by cooking methamphetamines, which he sells to customers from the drive-thru window of a fast food restaurant. .
Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of direction in Jared’s life, but he is primarily responsible and somehow manages to keep his mom partying as she wrestles with her. own demons.
Then one day, his world suddenly gets a lot stranger after he comes face to face with his lookalike and a talking crow who throws cryptic messages. This sends Jared on a spiraling journey of mystery that takes him right back to his door.
Adapted from Eden Robinson’s novel “Son of a Trickster” by writer-director Michelle Latimer, the show embraces its indigeneity with a vigor rarely seen on popular television. The story called for a lead actor who not only would carry the weight of the show, but did so with compelling intelligence and charm beyond his years.
Oulette’s acting career began around the age of five, under the encouragement of her mother, herself an actress.
His first job was as a substitute on the HBO Calgary-filmed miniseries “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” where he portrayed an Indigenous child who died of smallpox. A few other small roles, most notably as a hunter in the 2018 adventure film “Alpha,” followed years later.
But as Oulette describes it, Jared’s role in “Trickster” came amid a period of relative drought in his career. He was 17 and was spending far too much time playing Xbox at home doing nothing.
While he had auditioned for roles, none of them materialized, so he was dusting off his resume to apply to the local Home Depot. Before he had a chance, the producers of “Trickster” came calling, in awe of his hearing.
“Bing-bada-boom, ‘Trickster’ is right there,” Oulette said. “It was sick.”
Soon the teenager was heading to Kitimat for five days of filming. Then he jumped across the country to North Bay, Ont., For most of the shooting.
The whole process was like basic training for a professional actor, as he moved from his past experience as a small player to the lead role in “Trickster”.
“I wasn’t completely comfortable with my body and my acting,” he said.
“It was a little overwhelming, but I took it in hand.”
Now that “Trickster” is about to be unveiled to the general public, Oulette can’t wait to see what it inspires. He said he hopes the series marks a starting point for telling more Indigenous stories on television.
“Few Aboriginal children are represented,” he says.
“They don’t really see the potential that they could really have. I want to be young and be on a TV show like this, it can really open their minds.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 15, 2020.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press