Beach actor back in town for TIFF

Beach native Katie Boland has a role in The Master, featured at this year’s T.I.F.F. and in theatres soon. PHOTO: Ace Hicks

Actor Katie Boland has been called “Canada’s Sweetheart” and lives part of the year in L.A., but the Beach is still close to her heart. Katie grew up near enough to the GOOF (Garden Gate Restaurant on Queen) to smell the moo goo guy pan. She comes from a creative family: her dad is retired joumalist Kevin Boland and her mom is acclaimed film director Gail Harvey. For a down-to-earth 24-year-old, Katie has an impressive list of acting credits. At the 2004 Young Artists Awards in L.A., she won the Best Leading Actress in a TV show or miniseries for The Salem Witch Trials. At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) she has a role in the highly-anticipated film The Master, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (opening in theatres this month). I talked to Katie at – where else? – the GOOF.

What are some of your memories of growing up in the Beach?

My fondest memories of the Beach are having friends that live in the same neighbourhood and all the teachers I had. I loved Malvern. It was nice to grow up living in the city, but a little bit separate from downtown.

You wanted to be an actor since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. Where does that passion come from?

I don’t know, I was on sets a lot as a child. I was really interested in people and wanting to ask a lot of questions about their life. Being an actor was a way to get away with it.

You’ve played a lot of ‘troubled teen’ characters, from a drug dealer to a murderous nun. The Star once called you “the go-to girl of adolescent angst.” How do you transition into more mature roles?

There was a period in my life when I was playing a lot of characters that were very different from me. I was never very angst-ridden, so now that I’m a little older, I play characters a little more like me, more even-keeled people. You go with the roles that you’re given and I hope to get to continue to play all different types of characters through my twenties. You do tend to fight against what you think is their conception of you. Until you are in a certain position you do the roles you are given and you’re lucky for that.

Acting can be a nomadic life. How crazy is L.A. for a girl from the Beach?

L.A. can be pretty crazy sometimes. Over the years I’ve come to love it. It’s very different from Toronto, but I have a community of great friends there, so that makes it feel more like home.

Show business can be tough. Dorothy Parker famously wrote about a Broadway performance, “She runs the gamut of  emotions from A to B” – yet Katharine Hepburn went on to win four Academy Awards. Do you need a thick skin to be an actor?

My dad said that line all the time and, yes, you do need a thick skin to be an actor, but at the some time be emotional enough to use your own feelings in your work. It is a tricky dance to be sure, but ultimately you need to do it because you love it, not because you want other people to like you.

You’re in a new movie, Ferocious, about the effects of fame on a young actress. Jodie Foster blamed “the gladiator sport of celebrity culture,” saying, “if I were a young actor, I would quit before I started.” Would fame scare you?

I’ve been in the industry long enough, I see the smoke and mirrors for what it is. But if you’re at a level like Kristen Stewart and everything about your career is about one iconic character, I do think that would be scary. You’re then an icon and a role model for people and that’s a scary responsibility. If you’re a paparazzi target, I do believe you solicit that kind of fame, so I think you have a choice in that. At the end of the day that’s a personal business decision that a lot of celebrities choose to make. So, no, the idea of fame doesn’t scare me, but maybe the reality would be different.

What do you like best about being an actor?

I like to get to live a lot of different lives with a lot of experiences as different people. I get to meet really interesting people all the time.

Do you find it difficult to watch yourself on screen?

Yes, it’s always difficult. The only thing I can compare it to is when you hear your voice on a tape recorder. But then having to watch myself is so much a part of work that I’ve had to become somewhat objective.

You were chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ at last year’s TIFF. What are you looking forward to at the festival this year?

I’m looking forward to The Master, getting dressed up, seeing my friends I don’t see the rest of the year, and to how exciting Toronto feels during the festival.

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