Photo: Keesic Douglas
There is a certain kind of natural method acting that happens, just because of the nature of the character, and my own personal life, so it kind of stirred up the mud.
Mi’kmaq actor Glen Gould has been getting some well-deserved and hard earned attention lately. In early November 2014, he took home the award for Best Actor at the American Indian Motion Picture Awards in San Francisco, and was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role at the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles just a few days later. Both nominations were for the role of Joseph in Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls, however Glen has been extremely busy with several other roles, including flying out to Ireland to film the mini-series Klondike, his recurring role of Smokey Stoney in APTN’s Blackstone, as well as a recurring role on APTN’s latest series Mohawk Girls.
With his dimpled smile and gravelly voice, Glen has salt-of-the-earth charm and a tough but lovable demeanor. When you first meet him, Glen gives the impression of a carefree, fun-loving storyteller with a heck of a lot going for him. Indeed, Glen does have a lot going for him, however, there is more to the impish smile and East coast charm than meets the eye. I had the opportunity to get to know Glen over the course of a two-part interview process, where he shared his incredible life story with me. Below is part one from those interviews.
MUSKRAT Magazine (MM): What does it mean to an actor’s career to be nominated, and then to take home a win?
Glen Gould (GG): The nomination is acknowledgement for your work. To acknowledge the quality of your work, and that it’s being recognized. The win is really the icing on the cake to let you know that you are really good at what you do. It doesn’t matter if I win or not, the nomination alone is a win.
MM: Let’s talk about the character of Joseph from Rhymes for Young Ghouls. We see him going through a lot and have some very nuanced moments on screen; how did you prepare yourself for that role?
GG: It was pretty heavy. I don’t know if I sat down and said, ok I have to prepare and research this character, I didn’t do that, it just happened naturally from reading the script and getting to know the character and what he’s going through emotionally. As actors we personalize everything that our characters are going through, how can we relate with that character in our personal lives. The top of the film, Joseph’s wife hangs herself. And right off the top, that hit me, it stirred up a lot of emotions for me from anger to pain, and sadness because my oldest son’s mother committed suicide when he was seven. So when I read that scene I had to stop, because I cried. And then I probably went out and got drunk afterwards. It was so close to home for me.
When you get to the graveyard scene in the film – those emotions in that scene were real. I only went to my ex’s grave once, and when I was there I was angry at her for doing this to our son, and not to mention her ten other kids. Right now one of them is missing, Chrisma [Joy] Denny, she’s a missing person, they haven’t seen her in two and a half months, so tomorrow I’ll be spending the day putting up missing posters.
Jeff [Barnaby] wanted to rehearse that scene, and I said I don’t want to. He said why not, and I told him, because man, my son’s mother committed suicide when he was seven – and he said, ok we don’t have to touch it then, we’ll do it on the day.
I ended up drinking all night, didn’t sleep – and I knew Joseph has to be going through the same kind of thing, where he’s not sleeping, he’s been drinking for days, he’s on a bender, he’s sad, he’s angry, and hurting, he probably had a lot of guilt come up, just like me in real life. So I showed up that morning, I had a couple of bottles of wine in my backpack, and was replacing my coffee with wine. When you see the emotions in that scene, they’re real. It’s a lot of that, going back into memory about things in my own life.
And in regards to Joseph getting out of prison, I related that to my Uncle Donald, and what he was like when he got out of prison. There was a certain protective shell, he was hardened. I thought about all the times I saw my Uncle in big brawls just like Joseph, you know, I’ve seen that in real life. And then of course, when it comes to how Joseph feels for his daughter – I have two daughters, so it wasn’t hard to pull up that emotion, that fatherly love and caring. You care for all your children, sons or daughters, but there is something different when it comes to daughters, there is more of a tender caring there. When you have boys it’s a little more of a harder kind of love, and for girls it’s more tender when it comes to being a father.
So that was my prep basically. At the end of the film when he gets arrested and pulled away from his family again for the second time, it made me think about when I got arrested – about eight months after my parents died. I was in jail for four months – it took me back to that. You feel deflated and powerless, unloved, unwanted, you know, all these things go through your mind when you’re getting pulled away in the back of a police car, and you’re getting beat up physically and emotionally. So it was a lot of digging into my closet.
MM: What is the emotional toll after the role? How do you care yourself after you’ve put it all out there on screen?
GG: This is something that is totally new to me, learning how to do that self care, because I’ve been clean and sober now for twenty one months. We wrapped [Rhymes for Young Ghouls] right around Halloween 2012, and then I went right into production for Thunderstick. So I had no time to do self care, so I just kept drinking. Which is what I knew, how to cope. I wasn’t dealing, I was just coping – er, or not coping by drinking and getting high. I continued to drink and my drinking got worse after that. It’s almost a repeat back to how I coped with my parents’ death. They died in April of 1992, and I drank right up until July, three months of heavy drinking. I drank so much I [started suffering from] DTs [Delirium Tremens]. And here I was again, doing the same thing, twenty-some years later, but grieving, and there was a grief I was going through after doing that film. There is a certain kind of natural method acting that happens, just because of the nature of the character, and my own personal life, so it kind of stirred up the mud. I didn’t do any self care until I sobered up in February, and my self care was getting treatment.