What not to say

I did some acting in high school. I was pretty good. In fact, I’m certain to this day they’re still talking about my Berowne in Love’s Labours Lost. Yes, I’m quite certain of it.

In my final year, a casting call went out for a film being produced locally about growing up in Cape Breton, and the director, Daniel Petrie, wanted an authentic Nova Scotian for the lead. I took a shot.

The audition went well. I felt I captured the pathos, emotional range and exaggerated accent of growing up poor in a coal-mining town.

“Great job. We’re really interested. We’ll be in touch,” said the casting director. “Just one more thing; we need to take a photo of you, just a head shot for our files.”

“Oh,” I said, as his assistant pointed the lens at me,”I’m really not very comfortable in front of a camera…”

Kids, if you’re planning a career in film, there are many things you shouldn’t say, and that’s pretty close to the top. That and, “Is there gratuitous nudity? Because I’ll only do it if there’s gratuitous nudity.”

In the end, the lead in The Bay Boy went to a young non-Nova Scotian named… Kiefer Sutherland.

From time to time I think of this road-not-taken-because-I-effed-up, and I imagine that, just maybe, in some kind of alternate universe… I am Jack Bauer. And I totally would have made things work with Julia Roberts!


Imagine this with glasses and a beard.

I mention this because this past weekend I participated in a book reading in Georgeville, Quebec, where Kiefer’s dad Donald Sutherland has a home. One of my readings even referred to noted Canadian socialist and founder of the New Democratic Party Tommy Douglas, who was Kiefer’s grandfather. No one noticed the reference. And Donald wasn’t there (although I did sit behind him once at a town council meeting where they were discussing the chronic problem of municipal sewage leaking onto his property; oddly this fact does not appear on his Wikipedia page).

Want more obscure Canadian political references? (Seriously, does anyone even remember John Turner…?) Here’s my latest radio piece from CBC “Breakaway,” in which I discuss what you might want to consider in applying to become Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate — a real job, by the way. Oh, and I sing in this one. Talk about roads not taken and effing up…

Just a few more days to enter my book giveaway contest. Also: what rhymes with “contest”?

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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35 Responses to What not to say

  1. LindaGHill says:

    Oh it should so be you! That new anthem’s a keeper. Hahahaha!

  2. What a great story! And I second the motion nominating you as the Poet Laureate. Very funny!

  3. I always thought you reminded me of Jack Bauer! Now I know why!

  4. Laura Lynn says:

    I was in 21 Jump Street, my big chance to shine. Me and Johnny Depp? No. I picked Richard Grieco.

  5. Lily says:

    You’re basically famous. I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection that you were the Ross Murray from your high school production of Love’s Labours Lost. I am in awe.
    I also can’t believe you were almost Kiefer Sutherland.

  6. Ned's Blog says:

    I swear I’m not making this up, but I actually tried out for the part of “Ace” in Stand By Me. Sat in a room and read for the part in front of Rob Reiner. Keifer Sutherlin got the part, obviously, but only because he was more talented. And willing to say things I felt uncomfortable with as a kid. I’ve made up for it since then.

  7. How soon after did you realize your mistake…was it soon enough to say, “Just kidding!” and play it off like an ironic joke? ‘Just Kidding’ can get you out of a lot of trouble…

Go ahead, don't be shy.

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