Men We Admire: Drew Nelson

Actor Drew Nelson is featured in a recurring role in Academy Award Nominee Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated horror series The Strain, premiering July 13th at 10:00 PM ET/PT on FX and FX Canada.

Based on the best-selling novel trilogy co-written by Guillermo del Toro and author Chuck Hogan, the series is Executive Produced and Showrun by Emmy Award-Winner, Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel).

Recently, Drew completed production on the Canadian feature film Man Vs., starring alongside Three Stooges’ Chris Diamantopoulos. Set to be released in 2014, Man Vs. follows a TV crew who is dropped off in the remote wilderness and forced to fight more than the elements.

Other television credits include the series Suits, Supernatural, Smallville, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue, Lost Girl, and Fringe. He has also become a fan favourite on the Cartoon Network’s Total Drama Island as the voice of the likeable bad-boy Duncan.

In addition Drew has a number of his own projects in development as a writer/producer, including the urban fantasy feature Lost Ones, and an untitled feature thriller which is being produced alongside Lab Films, the team behind IFC’s In Their Skin.

Drew IMG_5772 Final SMName: Drew Nelson

Age: 34

Occupation: Actor/Writer/soon-to-be Director

Pets? Not one of my own, but my brother has an awesome bulldog named Quik, so I guess that makes me his uncle!

Car(s)? Not yet. But when I do, it will either be an Audi A4 or R8 or a BMW M series.

Gadgets? Nothing too crazy, just the standard iPhone 4.

Favourite instruments? A Technics 1200 turntable. I’ve always wanted to DJ so it’s on my wishlist.

Sports? All kinds: golf, basketball, pretty much anything involving a ball I can play.

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

I officially got my start in high school, but I’ve been acting a fool since I was a young lad. Even though I was shy throughout my childhood, my parents always knew I had this ability for performing and mimicry and they’d make me do impressions and accents in front of the family at gatherings. After I got a taste of doing plays in high school, I began reading a lot of books on acting, taking classes, then got accepted into theatre school, and pretty much started working professionally after that. I remember recording episodes of The Actor’s Studio (on VHS?!) every Sunday and just being obsessed with the process of certain actors. It just snowballed from there and I haven’t looked back since.

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

I did, my two drama teachers in high school (Monica Gretton and Valary Cook) and I’d say my first acting coach, Lewis Baumander. Aside from teaching me the fundamentals of acting, Lewis taught me the importance of integrity, not only as an actor but generally as a man, and how paying attention to day-to-day life scenarios informs and enriches you as an artist. My parents continue to be huge supporters of my career, and realize how lucky I am for that. I remember them chipping in money for early acting classes back in the day and fondly remember my Dad setting up an amateur photo shoot in our basement using random lamps and construction lights for my first set of head shots. haha. Love to them all for their encouragement and ongoing support!

How has your work contributed to a) your development as a person?

We’re gettin’ DEEP! Great question… I think by simply living and gaining life experiences over the years, it’s automatically affected my work as an actor. By playing specific characters who abide by distinct codes than me, it’s allowed me to get a glimpse of what it would be like to embody someone else with different needs and wants. I also feel like my training has equipped me with the skill to listen intently in order to engage and be a more “open” person in my life, which is paramount when it comes to acting work.

…b) the lives of others?

I’ve been lucky enough to have affected people through my work, namely in some particular theater shows I’ve been in. I also love giving back, and feel fortunate to be in the position where I can offer advice to upcoming actors wanting to pursue a career in this business based on my experiences.

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

Make sure you absolutely love being an actor. Don’t get swept up in the “idea” of it, because believe me, all that glitz and glamor, with premieres, and parties only comes when you’ve put in your time. The road as an actor in this industry can be crushing, but if you absolutely love doing what you’re doing, the struggles will only bring gratitude once you’ve broken through. I truly believe that gratitude is a huge factor to longevity in this business.

Do you have a personal work philosophy?

Always find the fun in anything you do, or else what’s the point of doing it?

Me- bday graf2What do you do for fun?

Lots of things, photography, playing sports, going to live shows, exploring, hanging with friends, dining out, traveling, the list goes on…

What motivates or inspires you?

Films, art, theatre, music, a good book, fashion, photography, engaging conversation, people watching, psychology…

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

Simple. The moment way back in high school when I made the decision to follow my gut and pursue a career as an actor. By following through on a simple instinct it’s lead me to here – speaking with you!

What is the one thing you hope to achieve?

An Independent Spirit Award

Drew IMG_5712What is your super power?

Well…. my friends always tell me it’s my ability to recall names of people in the industry as if I’m the “human IMDB” ha!

Who’s your hero?

It would have to be Michael Jordan. I was obsessed with him. My acting hero is Daniel Day-Lewis.

What are you reading (or watching) these days?

True Detective was absolutely brilliant. Obviously, I read The Strain trilogy, and a book I re-read from time to time is Do The Work by Stephen Pressfield. I highly recommend it for anyone stuck in that inevitable creative rut. Ethan Hawke’s book The Hottest State continues to be one of my favorites, and I recently cracked The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Insert any piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers:

An acting coach once told me that this career is a marathon not a 100 m dash. So true.

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?

It would definitely be the moment when I chose to drop out of theatre school after being accepted into the final year. I had started working professionally with an agent over the course of the summer break and by the time the 3rd year started in September I made the crucial decision to leave. In doing so, I upset a lot of the faculty, which I still feel bad for, but in retrospect it was absolutely the right decision.

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

So far… nope!

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

I just wrapped a guest starring role on CTV’s hit series “The Listener” and have a number of projects in the works as a writer/producer. I’m in development on a couple of features, one being an urban/fantasy in the vein of Attack the Block meets Pan’s Labyrinth called “Lost Ones” and another thriller that I’m helping to develop and will co-produce with my talented friends at LAB Films. Lots of irons in the fire at the moment!

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

Always be a man of your word.

 

Drew Nelson on IMDB: www.imdb.com/name/nm0625334/

Drew Nelson on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialDrewNelson

Drew Nelson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drewnelsonlive