Red Deer actor Tyler Duffy could soon get his big break — he’s about to start filming an action thriller starring Eric Roberts in Edmonton.
Red Pine City is a feature film produced by Factory Film Studio and Hot Shot Films. It’s described as being about “a reluctant enforcer” who teams up with a country singer to remove “the scourge of a local mobster.”
Roberts, who’s previously starred in The Dark Knight, Doctor Who, and The Expendables, has been nominated for an Academy Award (for Runaway Train) — so Duffy figures playing his brother in Red Pine City is bound to be a great career move.
“This is going to be a huge feather in my hat… I can use (that clip) on my demo reel,” said the 42-year-old.
Duffy, a native of Lacombe, once worked as a power engineer. When he told his friends he was going back to school at the age of 34 to study film acting at the former Red Deer College (now a Polytechnic),”some people laughed in my face,” he recalled.
“I could see they were thinking, well that’s a dream that’s going to crash and burn…”
So who’s laughing now?
Duffy credits his “passion,” his sheer determination and willingness to learn from others for making him good at what he does. “I dove into this full-bore, where failure was not an option.”
While working as a power engineer for 11 years, he felt a sense of dread about heading to work in the morning. Duffy said that feeling has entirely disappeared since he began taking on various roles in the film industry.
He likes acting best because he loves exploring new characters and plumbing new emotional depths. But he also works as a documentarian (one of his new films, about the future of farming, is being shot for Telus Optik), as well as in lighting and cinematography on various projects.
Not only has he been able to make a decent wage since getting into the business, Duffy feels his various off-camera jobs have helped to inform his acting technique.
His acting chops were honed through projects such as Moments in Spacetime (with Lord of the Rings actor John Rhys-Davies). Duffy plays a Canadian CF-18 pilot in the film that was shot in Cold Lake in 2020.
And he’s won insider praise for playing a complex, troubled man named Earl in the yet-to-be widely released movie Spin the Wheel, which is now being sent out to film festivals.
Not all of his projects have gotten off the ground. The pandemic killed a promising TV project he was cast in called Rutherford Manor, but Duffy remains upbeat about his prospects — especially with Red Pine City on the horizon.
“This is a great opportunity…. they have the budget to bring in someone like Eric Roberts, it’s one of the best opportunities I’ve got.”
Duffy was initially supposed to read for another character, but was asked at the last minute to audition for the role of Roberts’s brother. He’s thrilled to get the part and looks forward to starting work next week with a highly skilled film team.
“I am learning through osmosis,” he added, with a laugh.