Colm Feore: The RD Interview
Film and theatre actor Colm Feore on bilingualism, blockbusters, Justin Bieber and why he’s forever at home on the stage.
Illustration: Aimée Van Drimmelen
15 Minutes with Colm Feore
Reader’s Digest Canada: You’re currently starring in Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2. When the original film came out 11 years ago, it connected with both francophone and anglophone audiences and became the top-grossing Canadian film of all time. Why did it have such crossover appeal?
Colm Feore: Patrick Huard, the screenwriter and my co-star, was honest with his script, which is to say he made fun of both sides equally and explored our mutual prejudices for mutual laughs. For anyone in Canada who’s held a job that requires any level of bilingualism—even if it’s just saying “bonjour”—navigating those tensions is part of our experience.
Huard says reuniting with you was like slipping into an old pair of shoes. Is that how you would describe it?
I thought it was like putting on an old jacket, so at least then we’re partly dressed. When we showed up and started working, we laughed because it felt exactly like where we left off 10 years ago—our rhythms were the same, our sense of what was funny was the same.
In that intervening decade, you’ve appeared in big-budget movies such as Thor and The Amazing Spiderman, and on TV shows like House of Cards. Were you a diva on set this time around?
May I remind you, it’s a Canadian movie? The only way it could have a diva would be if Céline Dion did a cameo—and I’m sure she’d be gracious and charming. There’s just no time for that on this type of project; we don’t have the money to delay production because somebody’s latte is cold. You’d be laughed out of a job.
Many Canadians think of you as a national treasure. They might be quite shocked to learn you were born in Boston.
It was an accident of shipping. My parents got off the boat from Ireland in New York because my father was studying in Boston. But we had landed in Ottawa by the time I was four or five. My sensibilities, my education and everything else—those are Canadian.
You’ve also stayed rooted in Stratford, Ont., home of a renowned Shakespearean theatre festival—even while building a career in Hollywood. Why?
Stratford is my artistic home. It’s an extraordinary place that allows actors to develop outside the public eye in a laboratory environment. It allows you to take full advantage of mentors. We live there. We raised our children there. It’s where I met my wife, Donna. I spotted her as the featured dancer in a production of Guys and Dolls and thought, Wow—she’s fabulous. Now, this year, she’s directing and choreographing Guys and Dolls at the festival.
I dare say you were the most notable celebrity to come out of Stratford until a certain Mr. Bieber came along.
Justin was at the same school as my kids. He was very impressive back then, in the mid-2000s—he once tried to do a backflip in the gym to get the attention of some girls at a dance my wife was chaperoning, and he got a big bloody nose. But he’s done very well. We’re very proud of him.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2 is in theatres now.