Will Sasso is back in Canada with Year of the Carnivore

At the Vancouver premier of Year of the Carnivore, I had the great pleasure of talking to actor/comedian and MADtv alum, Will Sasso.

Sasso's right on the money in his role as Dirk, the deadpan store clerk, in director Sook-Yin Lee's outrageous romantic comedy.

Wendy Dallian: Can you tell us what brought you to this film?

Will Sasso: Trish (Dolman) and Sook-Yin found me. Their script came across my manager's desk. It was like, “hey, do you want to go home and work on a film for four or five days?” The timing was good. It was during American Thanksgiving, so I had a minute. Nothing going on down there, so I came home to do it.

WD: Did something jump out at you in the script that...?

WS: Absolutely. I thought the script was extremely brave.

Dirk is a facilitative fun role. Here's a guy that for some reason is a hard ass and regardless of where that will play in the film and how that would play with whomever would be playing Sam... I hadn't met Cristin (Milloti) yet... for me, as an actor, I wanted to take that jump, because this was a really cool thing.

Part of the fun is figuring out where it fits and where it goes and trusting someone like Sook-Yin, but absolutely, the script.

I remember finishing the script and calling my manager and just saying, “Wow, this is really fucked up. We should do it.”

WD: You had some awesome scenes in this film. Which was your favourite?

WS: Dirk just kind of does the same thing over and over. He comes in, he's a dick, then he leaves. I think that's why they call him Dirk: it's like Dick but with an “r”.

Punching out the old man was interesting. How joyless Dirk is when talking. The tone that Sook-Yin set was fun. He's miserable and something's going on. Something's going on at home.

Every scene was fun.

WD: How did you develop this character?

WS: It all comes from the script. When it's someone like Dirk, there's not a whole lot of character development.

If there's more work to do for an actor, then you might want to figure out what his attitude is towards every person that he encounters. But Dirk doesn't encounter too many people and he doesn't like too many people. He doesn't even really soften towards Sam (Cristin Milloti), so it was quite easy.

As far as whether there is such a thing as “work” in being an actor, and there certainly can be, there wasn't much with this character. He's a jerk. There's something likeable about him, but he's bent. He's a sad, sad man.

WD: Were there any surprises on set? Any extraordinary things that happened?

WS: I love it, in particular when you're working on a film, when the film's been going on for however long and you're coming in to do your thing, and they've been at it for a month or two or a week or a day, and it's hour ten, fourteen, fifteen, and you look over and you see that the director is still having a good time.

This is, of course, especially important in a comedy, a romantic dram-edy like this one. When you look over and you see that the director is not miserable. I don't want to say that most people are miserable, but Sook-Yin in particular is just constantly fuelled by her creativity and how much she's enjoying it. There were always new things coming out of her based on what she was seeing, and that's always a pleasant surprise.

You're standing around. It's late. You're wondering, “are we done with this? Let's get it tomorrow” and you look over and see the boss, the person from whom all the ideas come from, the epicentre of the entire creative experience really happy and enjoying herself, almost child-like and yet at the same time extremely professional, that's always a really great surprise.

WD: Can you tell us a little about the Vancouver industry: what it was like filming here?

WS: It's cool. It's great any time I get to come back, because I don't get to come back very often. Any time I do, it's a treat to be able to come home.

I started working here when I was fifteen years old. I owe everything to the industry here , providing a place for a kid to work with some of the amazing people I worked with. I was too young to even understand how great they were and what amazing writers I was working with.

I was on a show called Madison, which was a teen drama. Peter Mitchell and Susan Neilson and Gary Harvey: they're just incredible, creative people. That experience, even though it's twenty years ago now, is still very fresh.

The industry is very different in L.A. than it is here. Coming home is cool. You just get to kind of drop everything. None of the things that may concern you there really concern you here. For me, in a selfish way, it's very special.

It even smells the same here. Everything about it is kind of like going back and it's really relaxing and really special.

It's cool that I can come back and do... that anyone would even think of me for a Canadian Independent film is really cool. I like doing stuff that I like. That's really the only rule I have.

I get asked so often, “Why don't you do more stuff in Canada?” And I'm like, nobody asks me to do anything in Canada. I never get asked, ever. I honestly don't. So it's cool to come home.

WD: Can you tell us what you have coming down the pipe?

WS: This fall, on CBS, I have a sit-com with William Shatner and Nicole Sullivan we're titling, $#*! My Dad Says. It'll be on at 8:30 Thursday nights.

An animated series for TBS called Neighbours From Hell It's about a family from hell and I play the father Balthazor.

I have another animation show coming out for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim calledMongo Wrestling Alliance. It's from my good friend, Tommy Blacha, who didMetalocalypse. It's about wrestling and it's kind of crazy.

I'm in Life As We Know It, which is a Warner Bros. romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. That comes out in October.

Those are the ones that are set to come out.

Year of the Carnivore is playing at Cinemark Tinsletown theatres. Check your local listings.

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