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Interview: Drew Nelson talks about his upcoming sci-fi series The Strain

Scene Creek recently had the opportunity to sit down with Toronto actor Drew Nelson, who will next be seen in a supporting role on FX’s The Strain. The Strain is a television show adapted from the Guillermo Del Toro novel trilogy of the same name. The television show is created by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and premieres on FX and FX Canada July 13th. Drew Nelson talks with us about his experience on the show, his career as a Toronto based actor, and his involvement in helping youth with similar creative passions.

Scene Creek: What was your experience like working with Guillermo Del Toro?

Drew Nelson: Working with Guillermo is like an actors dream come true really. He is so incredibly technically sound and such a perfectionist when it comes to that stuff. The world that he constructs, he just knows inside and out. As an actor you put all of your trust into a director like that because he’s a master of his own world. You’re bound to get really good work on both ends. So, it was amazing. Aside from that, he is really open to collaborating with me and I know other actors too, so he has an open mind, which is really great.

He’s also such a hilarious person. He’s absolutely hysterical. So that really alleviates any kind of tension on set, the way he deals with the crew and actors. The guy is just having the time of his life. He’s so funny, always cracking jokes, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s just a delight to be around and there’s a reason why he is so successful. People don’t quite know who he is but if you look at him in interviews, the guy is hysterical. He’s amazing, such a cool person, and so down to earth. It was a dream to work with him.

Scene Creek: How do you like working in the horror genre?

Drew Nelson: It was great. I’ve been lucky to do quite a few things in the sci-fi horror realm and he’s just the master of it. You’re in such good hands. He [Guillermo Del Toro] knows horror inside and out and this TV series will be no different. Just about The Strain we are looking to turn the vampire genre on its head, or at least offer a completely a different alternative to the sparkly faced, sexy vampires you see on TV. That’s so saturated right now. We are bringing it back to what vampires should be, which are primal, feral, creatures that just are out to kill, and that’s what the show is.

Scene Creek: Do you have any crazy stories from on set?

Drew Nelson: There are, but if I say anything then some of it will be given away.

You’re just going to have to wait. But this job has been a huge break for me, being able to work with Guillermo and Carlton Cuse, who is this you know, incredible executive producer show runner of Lost fame and Bates Motel, so the creative team is so incredibly stacked. But I will say this, the first night of filming the show I was scheduled to film a major opening scene with Corey Stoll. We shut down Adelaide St. from Yonge to Jarvis – a big stretch of downtown block. It was just Corey and myself filming all night, we were doing a scene outside where they had to reconstruct New York and they had to put a bunch of New York City busses and cars and people and bums on the street, and the scale was so epic, in the first night of filming. It was a real moment I had where I felt like this is what all these years I’ve put in to up until this point, this is what it’s all about, is having experiences like this. I was really grateful that they scheduled one of my scenes to kick off the entire series. So Corey and I had a blast that night. That story alone was a real beautiful moment.

Scene Creek: You work with organizations such as The Story Planet and Remix Project, both having to do with youth getting involved with creative endeavours. Tell us about that.

Drew Nelson: As far as working with the youth organizations, a good friend of mine is one of the teachers at Story Planet. He mentioned they were putting together a program that involved kids who were taking the creative writing program and who were interested in film, and had them churn out these scripts, and then we would find a way to shoot it, and shoot it and have a screening. I was called upon to be present in the workshops, so that if the kids had any questions it could come from an industry insider’s point of view. I had a blast with these kids. They are so smart and so willing to soak everything up. I was glad to be able to be there for their assistance.

The Remix Project, I haven’t actually first hand been involved in their workshops. It’s an organization that I really support. Gavin Sheppard, the co-founder, is a good friend of mine and that man is single handedly taking over Canada if not the world eventually. He basically keeps me in the loop, and I have collaborated with a lot of people who have come out of the remix. I support that cause fully.

Scene Creek: Tell us about your experience as an actor in Toronto and getting to where you are now?

Drew Nelson: The industry has been really good to me. I’m about 14 years professionally in, and I am not at that jaded point yet which I’m lucky for. There have been ups and downs but you just have to muscle through those. I’ve managed to perform in all different mediums, theatre, film, TV, animation, voiceover work for commercials and TV too. I’ve managed to dip my foot in all these different mediums and they’ve all been very good to me. I’m just plugging on through and continuing to carve my own path. I’m doing a lot of writing these days, creating my own projects.

Scene Creek: Yes, I read about your project The Lost Ones. How is that experience compared to acting?

Drew Nelson: I love it. It’s getting to the place where that’s really—you know, acting is always my first love and passion—but delving into writing and soon directing, I love having control over your own work. You’re forging your own path, you’re not waiting for someone else’s opinion. The kind of work you’re churning out is really near and dear to your heart. I’ve been developing Lost Ones since 2007-2008 and I’ve been writing it with a partner ever since, we are at the place where we are looking to make a short film, get the concept up on screen, and then make it a feature. We have some good momentum with it now; we have some cool people attached. People are really excited because we are doing something unique that hasn’t been done before, it’s an urban fantasy film and there’s something about it that hasn’t been done before. We are looking to be the first to do it.

You can see Drew Nelson on The Strain premiering July 13th on FX Canada.

Adriana Floridia

Adriana Floridia is a singer, writer, and film critic from Toronto. She loves watching movies, but even more than that, she loves discussing them with film lovers alike.