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Aleks Paunovic on Acting, Directing, and Creating the Life You Want
WD: How did you get your start?
AP: I had been in the music scene since I was fifteen years old, playing bass and singing in a band in the clubs of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I spent years during the summers of high school touring Canada and then out of high school we just kept touring, recording, and playing clubs.
It was one of those interesting moments. Because most of us were under age, management allowed to play our set then sent us back to our hotel rooms.
But then one night I played a club in Winnipeg, and a casting director approached me and asked if I wanted to audition for a movie. At that time I was willing to try anything.
I went in and auditioned and I got the part. It was in an HBO dark comedy called Heads with John Cryer, Jennifer Tilly, Ed Asner, and Roddy McDowall, a huge cast. At the time I didn't realize it, but when I look back it was my first step into acting.
From there I became friends with the stunt co-ordinator, Rick Skene, in Winnipeg. He asked me if I'd like to try stunts. In Winnipeg the stunt community is so small you're basically on any movie that comes in.
I started to fall in love with it and started to really admire Rick, so sometimes after I'd played in the clubs I would bolt over to where he was shooting a movie and help him move mats and get coffee, and just kind of get into the environment.
Then I started taking acting classes and then with other opportunities in the film industry, I started writing a Sci-Fi series with a friend of mine. We were doing it via the internet and email, and then I decided to make the switch over here.
I also created, hosted, and directed a show called Destinations Manitoba, which was about tourism within Canada, and we would do the show for the neighbouring States. In Washington, the show would air on ABC affiliates promoting Vancouver, and in Grande Forks promoting Winnipeg.
I decided to leave that to come here, strictly to pursue acting, and not get into the stunt aspect of it, and try to get my legs under me.
WD: What happened to the Sci-Fi series you mentioned you wrote with your friend?
AP: It never went anywhere. A lot of people really dug it and it got some attention in LA which was great, but it ended up fizzling away. It's still there but we're trying to fix it now for an animation series. It didn't actually go to a live action series.
WD: I'm glad it's still on the burner.
AP: Yah, it's great because I think it's a remarkable thing.
WD: You've done a lot of film. Have you done any theatre?
AP: Actually I haven't. That's one of my big goals. I'm probably going to be doing Danny and the Deep Blue Sea with director Jason Goode. He also directed a couple of shorts I was in The Hitchhiker and Ducks. We're going to tackle Danny and the Deep Blue Sea this year. That'll be my first play.
I've done a lot of intensives and workshops, and I love studying with Larry Moss. One of the times Larry Moss was in town you had to put up a scene in front of about 300 people and that was the closest I've come to performing theatre live.
WD: What are you working on now?
AP: Right now Tahmoh Penikett and I just finished shooting a short film that he and I executive produced. We're starring in it as well. We're working closely with director Brent Cote.