How often does a coming-of-age story happen in a retirement home? It’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind for a character to find themselves, but that’s exactly what happens to Stock (Noah Reid) in the film Old Stock . Although Stock lives in a retirement home, he’s barely out of high school. After a terrible accident, Stock moves in with his grandfather to escape the outside world and indulge in an early retirement. This is where he meets Patti (Melanie Leishman), a girl doing community service at the retirement home who starts to fall for Stock, and help him face his past, and the world outside. I had a chance to talk with co-stars Noah Reid and Melanie Leishman about this unique take on the romantic comedy genre, and their feelings about Canadian film in general.
While the story does manage to hit many of the main ideas behind a romantic comedy, there’s a very fresh feeling to the film. Noah explained a little bit of what drew him to the role of Stock. “It’s a great story, and a great character to have a go at. Sometimes you get a feeling when you read a script, and you feel like ‘yeah, I think I can do this’, and then to meet Mel and to read with her, it just felt right. I’m glad that we got to do this.” “Yeah, I loved the script too, and I was immediately excited about it.” added Melanie, who also spoke about director James Genn. “I had been working with James the summer before on Todd and the Book of Pure Evil . That’s when we started talking about it, and I was just so thrilled that it worked out the way that it did.”
Even though both characters are out of high school, there’s a very innocent feeling to their romance, as if this is their first love, or first kiss, and I wondered what Noah and Melanie thought of this, and how it related to their characters. “I think both of them have only just graduated high school. Patti is still living at home, Stock’s living in his grandpa’s home, and so even though high school is done, it’s hard to break out of feeling young, and hard to make the transition.” Melanie said of their situation.
Noah offered his take on the way their characters seem so young. “It’s still very present, the high school thing. When you get out of there and you’re not moving on to another educational facility, you kinda feel suspended. Not quite knowing what the next stage is, these characters are very much trying to figure that out.”
Both actors look like they’re having a lot of fun with their roles, and with each other, so they shared a little bit about their favourite scenes and how they worked together. “We’re totally not friends now,” Melanie added “I hate him.” before they both burst into laughter. “I felt an instant connection to Noah as a person, but then also I just loved the way he approaches the work. It’s very generous and he loves to play around and so those things made working together really fun. Dane [Clark] just wrote such lovely scenes that we got to play around with. The things that come to mind are dancing for the first time, laughing in the beds, things like that.”
“I think that we were immediately able to pick up on each other’s energy and that fit with the energy of the script that Dane had written and the ideas that James had about it.” Both actors spoke about a scene in a tree house that provided some challenges and some great laughs. “That tree house scene was hilarious. It was freezing rain.” Noah added “These little obstacles become blessings in disguise and find their way into the scene.” Melanie remembered how, “the sparklers kept going out from the ice that was falling. When you’re thrown into these situations, it’s easy to have a good time and play around.”
There’s always a unique challenge in Canadian film to build an audience in your home country. With Canadian content rules for television and radio, I asked Noah and Melanie what they thought about the Canadian film industry, and what they thought could be done build our industry further. Noah spoke about his hopes for the industry and the challenges of competing with the American offerings out there. “Personally I’d love to see more Canadian films in theatres for a longer period of time. It’s a tough thing to compete with the budget of massive Hollywood films, but hopefully we’re putting together something nice for an audience to watch, and the story connects with people so we can get the word out and people will come and see the film. The difficulty is the risk and in such a small market, it’s tough to take a risk because often the payoff is not there. You don’t end up with as many risky films and I think that’s kind of how you break in. I think we’re cultivating something good and there’s a large youth contigent of just trying to make good things, funny things, scary things, dramatic things. There’s a movement, you can feel it, so hopefully it’ll pay off.”
Melanie talked a little about what there is already available for Canadian actors and filmmakers. “I think that there’s a strong initiative made by the CFC [Canadian Film Centre], there’s our programs at TIFF that if you’re a Canadian actor you can be a part of, Rising Stars, things like this. I think we’re slowly trying to make a name for ourselves and there are tons of terrific films made in Canada.”
Old Stock won’t be the last time we see Noah Reid or Melanie Leishman. Noah talked about where fans will be able to see him next. “I’ve got a couple of plays in Toronto in the next coming year, one at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto, and I just shot a webseries that I’m not allowed to talk about, so you’ll have to stay tuned for that one.” Melanie added where we’ll be able to see her next. “I worked on Stage Fright , which is a horror comedy with Minnie Driver and Meatloaf. I’m not sure when it’s going to be released, but hopefully there will be news on that soon, and we’re making an animated feature in place of a third season for Todd and the Book of Pure Evil , and that just got greeenlit so that’s pretty exciting.”
For now, you can see Noah and Melanie in Old Stock , opening Friday, May 31, 2013 at the Carlton Cinema. Check their website for screening information.
MORE FROM TORONTO FILM SCENE
- Devil Women and Ice Pick Queens: the angry lesbian as box office darling
- Two: The Story of Roman and Nyro : an interview with Heather Winters, Curtis Shaw and Desmond Child
- TFS Essential Canadian Cinema: Better Than Chocolate