Actor Chase Lawless (Contributed photo)

Actor Chase Lawless (Contributed photo)

Former RDC acting grad makes some big strides in Toronto film scene

Chase Lawless appears in two films and a series in the New Year

Chase Lawless, who started acting on stage at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, is pushing his passion to greater heights on the Toronto film scene.

The Red Deer College (now Polytechnic) grad will be featured in two movies screening in 2022. He plays the lead in the caper film The Apprentice, and a supporting role in the western Bordello — both produced by Leader Media Productions of Toronto.

But “the one that takes the cake” as far as gaining ground in the industry, said the Cochrane native, is his role in an episode of Mayor of Kingstown series, starring Jeremy Renner.

Lawless admitted he had several surreal moments while filming this Paramount Plus series in Kingston, Ont. last fall.

At times, he had to deliberately over-ride his fan instinct and remember to comport himself as a film professional — nodding to Renner (The Avengers) across the set, and calmly conversing with co-star Aidan Gillen, who played Littlefinger in Game of Thrones, even though “that’s one of my favourite shows…”

Lawless appears in the Jan 2 airing of the ninth episode of Mayor of Kingstown. His role is connected to a plot line “where the National Guard comes into play.” He can’t say much more without revealing spoilers.

Lawless hopes to be in more than one episode — but that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, he plays the lead in The Apprentice, a full-length film directed by Carlo Liconti that’s slated for domestic theatrical release next year. His character, Daniel, is being tutored in crime by an aging professional con artist who wants to pull off one last heist. The movie was shot mostly in Hamilton, Ont. before the pandemic.

Leader Media later cast Lawless in another feature film, Bordello, as one of two villainous henchman. “I thought I would be the dumb brother,” he recalled, with a chuckle. That project, which took him to Cuba for shooting just before the pandemic began, will also be released theatrically in 2022.

Lawless, the son of former Calgary broadcaster Shelley Swirski and musician/radio programmer Vince Cownden, studied acting in motion picture arts and theatre at Red Deer College from 2012 to 2016.

He laments that both programs have since been cut. He likened them to what’s now being offered at George Brown College in Toronto, and believes the central Alberta programs had brought the former RDC (now RDP) high regard in theatre and movie circles.

Certainly, he believes the stage combat he learned under former theatre instructor Thomas Usher helped him get started in Toronto, a tough place to gain a toe-hold initially.

“I’ve held so many job over the years… bar-tending at both fine eating establishments and dive bars. I did some tour guiding and taught martial arts…” said Lawless, who feels this diverse experience helped him learn to relate to many different kinds of people.

“But the best part is, it helps you be less pretentious… You realize acting is a job, like any other kind of job… you don’t have to put it on a pedestal.”

Lawless considers himself lucky. He was quickly signed by Carrier Talent Agency, and sent for quite a few high-profile auditions.

His break was getting cast in a 2018 episode of Letterkenny called We Don’t Fight at Weddings. “I played one of the citidiots,” he explained — basically smarmy, citified bullies that shouted put-downs at the regular cast members.

He believes the laid-back Canadian series was the perfect start to his film career. When the cameras began rolling and he heard his first cue, “I remember feeling like a deer caught in the headlights…”

But just as he started sweating it, Lawless recalled seeing the show’s creator and star, Jared Keeso, standing off-camera, in costume, giving him a big thumbs-up while raising a beer can in his direction.

“It was just like a bunch of friends who were making a movie… it was the best.”

Lawless is next applying for a work visa to try to move to Los Angeles and get more film work lined up.

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Chase Lawless (centre) played one of the citidiots in an episode of the series Letterkenny. (Contributed photo)

Chase Lawless (centre) played one of the citidiots in an episode of the series Letterkenny. (Contributed photo)