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Former Red Deer film instructor steps in front of camera

Larry Reese appears in first film in many years
Larry Reese, former film instructor at Red Deer College, in his role of Mr. Millington in ‘Team Bride’ movie. (Contributed photo)

He once appeared as the smiling minister in the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain.

Now Larry Reese will appear as a millionaire businessman in the upcoming movie Team Bride.

Reese jokingly admitted he actually could have been a billionaire, but missed the chance.

Dylan and Ashlee Pearce, his former students in Red Deer College’s now defunct Motion Picture Arts acting program, had asked Reese to portray a billionaire in another movie project — but he turned it down because he was heading to Oregon.

Although Reese has worked sparingly in films since his highly visible small role in Brokeback Mountain in 2005, the husband and wife team soon contacted Reese again, about another movie being made by their production company, Northern Gateway Films.

This time, the Pearces wanted him to try out for the role of Mr. Millington, the millionaire owner of a bridal wear conglomerate in the romantic-comedy Team Bridal.

“Dylan said to me, ‘Sorry… This time it’s for the part of a millionaire, not a billionaire,” Reese recalled, with a chuckle.

Either way, he wasn’t sure he wanted to step in front of the cameras again.

Reese worked on about 30 films and TV projects over the years, including small parts on Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), as well as Jake and the Kid, In Cold Blood, North of 60 and Lonesome Dove. But it had been seven years since his last project.

Since retiring from Red Deer College (now Red Deer Polytechnic) in 2018, Reese has been working full-time as a visual artist — and finding painting to be very creatively fulfilling.

“I wondered, do I still have it in me” to be a film actor, he admitted.

Reese’s daughter Rivera — a professional actor in New York — pushed him into filming a short audition for Northern Gateway Films while she was back visiting her parents near Sylvan Lake last summer.

“We did it in one take” on an iPhone, recalled Reese — who was shocked when the Edmonton-based film company said “We’ll take you.”

Ashlee Pearce considers Reese “a huge influence and mentor.” She said she and Dylan were so very grateful he agreed to be a part of this project. “It was a great honour to work with him.”

Shooting started last September in Edmonton, substituting for Chicago.

Reese said he had a wonderful time, despite an early attack of nerves.

Because he feared flubbing his lines — he did. “I had a mental block,” he recalled. It took Dylan telling him, “Just have fun and relax,” to stop Reese from psyching himself out. And the rest of the shoot went smoothly.

A trailer for Team Bridal can now be seen on YouTube.

The romantic comedy is about a bridal chain owner (Reese) who expects his son to learn the ropes by working his way up from a store manager. The son (Marcus Rosner) falls for a new designer (Rhiannon Fish) — although she harbours dreams of starting up her own bridal wear business.

Reese admitted the movie follows the standard rom-com formula, which viewers expect — but there are some unexpected twists and turns.

Team Bridal was sold to One Reel Films, but no broadcast date has yet been announced. Ashlee thinks the movie will probably be aired this summer, likely on City TV in Canada and UpTV in the U.S.

Reese said he was happy to work with the Pearces and several other RDC grads who had behind-the-scenes jobs on the production. He feels gratified whenever he sees former students finding work in an industry they trained for.

Having taught for many years in Red Deer College’s theatre and film programs, Reese feels it’s a shame most of these programs were since cancelled in 2020 — except for the movie production stream.

“I feel it was not very far-sighted,” he said, as Alberta is now experiencing a big boom in the film industry, with serials like The Last Of Us bringing hundreds of millions of investment dollars to the province.

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Former RDC film instructor Larry Reese (right) on set of ‘Team Bride’ movie, with Ashlee and Dylan Pearce of Northern Gateway Films. (Contributed photo).