Interview: Noah Reid and Melanie Leishman discuss 'Old Stock'
For me it’s starting the day with coffee and the newspaper. For actor Noah Reid it’s a dislike of electronic music and being a bit of a sweet curmudgeon. For his character Stock Burton, it’s enjoying predictability, normalcy, and comfortable shoes.
There are different ways to be an old soul, but in James Genn’s charmed Canadian film Old Stock, the titular protagonist takes things to an extreme. Yet in his twenties, the well-mannered and careful Stock has taken to a retirement home, spending two years in seclusion and comfort. He resides with his grandfather, and life carries in its normal way. That is until Stock’s past comes creeping into the present.
“It’s pretty apparent in the script what kind of guy this is. He has a routine and he settles in, things are the simplest, and he eliminates variables,” explains the 25-year-old Reid. “It’s fun to play someone tightly wound, because when you’re tightly wound, you’re sitting on something. You’re keeping something at bay.”
“It’s about moving forward, and the inability to do that at times. You get stuck.”
As Stock’s past slowly reveals itself to the audience, another character enters with a compromising history of her own. The warm and bright-eyed Patti meets Stock while teaching dance at the home, fulfilling community service duties. Their contrasting attitudes, similar setbacks, and of course mutual attraction, forge a bond.
“She sees in Stock a kindred spirit; they have these hard things that happened at a young age, and they can help each other through it,” explains Leishman, whose bright red hair makes her a stunning presence on screen and in person. “It’s a coming-of-age story.”
“No matter what age you are, the way you behave is based on things that have happened in the past and whether those patterns serve you anymore.” Patti addresses her issues, and looks to overcome them, while Stock struggles to change his present and future because of his past.
The couple provides some of the funniest, most endearing (and at times awkward) parts of the film, from their initial dance to an escape in a tree house and a ride on Stock’s, well, mobility scooter. One of the best scenes involves a dinner between the two and Patti’s father, a scene filmed at the end of the shoot. With the tone of the film set firmly in place, the three characters joke and riff, charming all along. Leishman related the scene to her own relationship with her step father, added that if you accept that your character is drinking, you can have some fun with it.
More than just that scene, the exchanges between Patti and Stock are true-to-life, simple, thoughtful, and intimate.
“I loved the tone of the film, and the chance to tell a story about love and romance, even if it’s offbeat, was fun for me,” says Leishman. “I love stories that are a little bit small. They feel more real to me.”
While a similar story runs parallel to theirs, as Stock’s grandfather looks to reconnect with the love he left, Reid and Leishman carry the film that rests squarely on their shoulders. The chemistry between the two on screen is palpable, which they both agreed became readily apparent the moment they met during their final auditions. If it seems they have worked together before, it’s just that they connected right away. As they work well together, their characters too connect, as Patti sees something in Stock she has within her.
A CFC production, and shot in Toronto and Orangeville, Old Stock opens at the Carlton Cinema on May 31.