Actor, filmmaker and podcaster Billy Bryk chatted to Courageous Nerd about his upcoming projects (including Ghostbusters Afterlife), his short films Night Shifts and L For Loser), as well as the Lackluster Video podcast, co-hosted with Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things).
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Billy Bryk (BB): Thank you for having me.
With the way that 2020 has gone so far, how much have your plans been impacted?
BB: Oh, they were completely side-tracked. The year’s been totally different than what I was planning on doing. It’s been okay. I think I’ve managed to do alright, this year.
You’re the son of an actor, Greg Bryk. How much of an influence was your father in following a similar career path?
BB: He was very supportive but also he also made sure we knew how hard the industry could be. He knew first-hand how difficult it could be; trying to raise a family and make it in the industry. Even though he taught us a lot, he gave a good amount of warning for what we had in store.
Canada has a riching acting history, in both drama and comedy. Aside from your father, which other Canadian actors do you admire?
BB: That’s a great question. I love Ryan Gosling, he’s my favourite actor. I think he does the comedy and the drama. Guys like Seth Rogen and Michael Cera, Will Arnett… there’s so many great comedians and people from Canada. My friend Finn [Wolfhard], he’s a good young Canadian guy.
Some of your projects include L For Loser and Night Shifts. What can you tell us about these short films?
BB: Night Shifts is a movie I made with my friend Finn Wolfhard. He wrote and directed it. It’s about two old friends who catch up with each other in a very awkward circumstance where one of them is working at a convenience store and the other one comes in to rob it. You find out that they know each other.
L For Loser is the first film that my older brother Dempsey wrote and directed. It’s kind of a funny story – he called me and said: “Billy, I wrote this part for you and I think you’re the only one I know that can play it.” I read the first page of the script and I think the first line was like: “We introduce Stewie, the biggest loser in the world.”
I was like: “Oh, man.” The biggest diss ever, from my brother. It was a lot of fun to shoot as well and I think that one will be coming out soon as well.
What do you most appreciate about short films, as a medium?
BB: I think short films are such an interesting medium because you obviously have less time. It’s less focused on story and more focused on, I would say, atmosphere and character. If you can fit a cool, concise story into a short film, it’s really awesome. A lot of my short films are about the worlds that these characters live in and I think that if you can get your character across, it can be a successful short film.
Going forward in your career, to what extent do you see yourself pursuing both acting and filmmaking?
BB: I’d like to do both. I’m a writer, I want to direct as well . I also really enjoy acting. If I could act in my own stuff and also other stuff, that would be the best.
Do you have any recommendations for films or TV to watch during lockdown?
BB: Recently, I just watched this Robert Zemeckis movie called I Want To Hold Your Hand. It’s about this group of teens that go and try to meet The Beatles. It’s great, really fun and an awesome movie that I hadn’t seen before.
Also, I’ve been watching documentaries by Errol Morris – things like The Thin Blue Line and Vernon, Florida. His documentaries are fascinating, because they’re all so different from each other.
Alongside Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, you host the ‘Lackluster Video Podcast’. How did the two of you come together to form this project?
BB: We actually met on the street, in Toronto. I met him just as a fan because I knew that he was a fan of my two favourite comedians – Jake and Amir, who worked for CollegeHumor and then went on to start their own podcast network. We talked for five minutes just about comedy and then he went to go and do a record signing, or something.
About a year later, I got cast in the new Ghostbusters movie. We met again on set and hit it off again. He remembered that I had come up to him. We slowly started talking to Jake and Amir, who were our favourite comedians. During the quarantine, it slowly became this thing where everybody was looking for something to do. They asked him if he wanted to do a podcast, they’d already done a podcast episode. It was a really crazy, full circle experience.
As you mentioned you have a role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife; Finn Wolfhard is a lead cast member. Do you have any plans to develop projects where there’s more screentime together?
BB: Yeah, we have a couple of projects that we’re developing together. We’ve become writing partners and have written a feature film together, that I can’t say too much about. It’s a comedy slasher film, Finn and I would both be in it.
You also have a role in Dreamland – which features Gary Oldman, Evangeline Lilly and Greg Kinnear, among others. Who do you play in this film and how was your experience working on it?
BB: That was my first movie that I ever did. I remember I had read for one part – they didn’t like me for that part but asked me to read for this other part. I went out and shot a few days. I play Evangeline Lilly’s son and I won’t get too much into the details of the film, because I honestly don’t even know that much about it.
I got to spend a couple of days with her and she was super awesome, really supportive and kind. She learned it was the first thing I had done and she was very sweet about it. It was awesome.
If people want to find more information about you or your projects, where can they look?
BB: I guess they could follow me on Instagram, that’s the app I’m most active on, @tryingosling, which is a little joke based on Ryan Gosling, who obviously is my favourite actor and fellow Canadian.
What advice would you offer to fans of your work or you personally, during the pandemic?
BB: It’s such a tough time, but take as much time as you can to think about the type of things that you want to do, when this is over. Really try and think about what steps you can take now – by reading, learning, watching stuff, writing. Try and use this time as productively as possible. Even though it’s hard, I think it would be great if there was good stuff that did come out of this time.
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