Men We Admire: Craig Arnold

Actor Craig Arnold stars in the Canadian drama feature film Wet Bum, making its world premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 7, 2014 at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street).

Written and directed by Lindsay MacKay, Wet Bum shares the story of an awkward teenage outcast named Sam (2014 TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone) as she develops unlikely friendships with two residents at the retirement home run by her mother. Playing Lukas, Craig?s character is an enticing young man who begins a relationship with Sam that quickly turns dangerous.

In 2012 Craig made his feature film debut during the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Blackbird, the story of an alienated teenager whose online threat ignites a firestorm of fear in a small community.

Widely recognized for his role on Emmy nominated television series Degrassi: The Next Generation as Luke Baker, Craig?s character is athletic, handsome, and above all, a devout Christian whose teenage urges often get the better of him, despite his attempts to remain dedicated to his faith.

Craig?s work can also be seen in CTV?s Spun Out and Played, Global?s Bomb Girls and The Firm, CBC?s Heartland, Showcase?s Lost Girl and King, and Syfy?s Haven.

Name:Craig Arnold

Age: 24

Occupation: Actor

Pets: My girlfriend and I have a chihuahua named Little Omar. Never thought I?d have (and love!) a chihuahua in a million years, but here I am.

Car(s): The old faithful 1999 Lexus RX300. My next car will be electric!

Gadgets: Not much of a gadget person but I have an iphone if that counts!

Favourite instruments: I?ve played guitar since I was 13 years old. My dad bought me a Gibson SG once I got serious, I?m still in love with it.

Sports: In true Canadian fashion, hockey.

How did you get started on your current career/lifestyle path?

I?ve always been passionate about the arts. I started out playing guitar in bands and in high school I did a play and saw the similarities between music and acting. There was an adrenaline rush that drew me in to the performance aspect and I grew to love to research side as well, learning about characters. I became intrigued by acting to the point where I decided to give it a shot as a career.

Did you have any mentors who helped steer you on this path?

My teacher and friend, Salvatore Antonio, has helped me out tremendously. I?ve looked to him for help since I began acting. He?s a successful actor and writer in his own right and practices what he preaches when it comes to acting. He?s helped me with everything from technique to career advice.

How has your work contributed to a) your development as a person and/or b) the lives of others?

I think acting has contributed more to my development as a person than any other activity I?ve done. This is because acting is based on empathy, understanding people, trying to find out why people do what they do. I never want to judge the characters I play but seek to understand them. So in this sense, I have a greater respect for people of all walks of life because of acting.

I hope that if nothing else, people can be entertained by what I do.

However, there was a girl who sent me a message after an episode of Degrassi aired in which my character sexually assaults a girl at a party. She said that she had been through a similar experience and the episode made her feel like she wasn?t alone, that she could deal with the issue. Affecting someone that deeply is rare, but it was incredible to know that the show could touch someone in that way.

If you had one piece of advice for someone just entering your field, what would it be?

You need to make it happen. That may sound general, but it?s the only thing that has worked for me. There are great teachers and great performances to learn from but at the end of the day you need to figure out what works for you and you need to get yourself to where you want to be, nobody else will.

Do you have a personal work philosophy?

I never want to do anything but my best work. Even if the project I?m working on has been going for two months straight and I?m tired/hungry/bored or whatever it might be, I strive to put those things aside and perform the best I possibly can.

What do you do for fun?

I play hockey with a couple of guys from Degrassi and I also play the guitar. If I had endless time and money I would travel the whole world, I?ve been to a few places in Europe, Morocco, and across the United States but I want to see as many places as possible – Japan and India are next! I?ve recently started boxing as well, not sure if I?ll be getting in the ring any time soon but I?m working on those punches!

What motivates or inspires you?

Great art. Whether it be a great film or tv show, a song that captivates me, a book I get lost in. These things inspire me to get off the couch and make something.

What has been your greatest achievement (personally, professionally or both)?

Getting cast as Luke Baker on Degrassi: The Next Generation. It was my first series regular role and opened a lot of doors for me. I learned so much working on the show and I met some really great people. It?s an iconic Canadian show and I?m so proud to have been a part of it.

What is the one thing you hope to achieve?

I feel like as an actor I should say an Oscar or some type of award but those things don?t matter that much to me. I just want to contribute to the arts and be a part of something that can affect people while maintaining my excitement for it all.

What is your super power?

I wish I had one! Flying would be nice, no more plane tickets.

Who’s your hero?

If I had to choose anyone it would be my dad. He?s taught me everything I know.

What are you reading (or watching) these days?

Just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and now I?m on to Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Watching Mad Men.

One of my favourite books, Alan Arkin?s, An Improvised Life, speaks to letting go of the quest for control that many of us subscribe to in our lives. He says, ?That?s what we?re doing, all the time, whether we like it or not. Creating something on the spur of the moment with the materials at hand. We might as well let the rest of it go, join the party, and dance our hearts out.?

Thinking back to a time when you had to make a hard choice, how did you decide, and do you feel, in retrospect, that you made the right move?

When I decided to leave school to pursue acting I was really conflicted. I had never worked on a professional set in my life but I just felt that I had to do it. A lot of people around me thought it was a bad idea but I knew in my gut that if I didn?t give acting a shot I would never forgive myself. I couldn?t be happier with my decision.

If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?

I haven?t been doing this too long so I don?t know if I have enough hindsight yet, but my instincts say no. every experience I?ve had has helped shape me in some way. I?m met great people and learned great lessons along the way.

What’s next for you? What’s your next big idea, project etc.?

I can?t say exactly what I?m working on right now but it?s some exiting television!

What one piece of advice would you give to your own son (hypothetical or otherwise) in the hope of making him a better man?

Respect for all things. The earth, animals, women (and men too), cultures etc… Respect breeds understanding and kindness. I think it?s the most important quality a human can possess.