Oakville-raised actor keen on Keanu Reeves
by Tina Depko
Many Canadian actors struggle to find enough work, but not David Richmond-Peck.
The Oakville native, who now calls Vancouver home, has been on a roll the past few years.
One of his recent accomplishments is a small role in the Keanu Reeves blockbuster, The Day the Earth Stood Still, which is currently playing in theatres.
Richmond-Peck said working with Reeves, one of his idols, was a dream come true.
“I’ve had some fantastic roles in the last two years and have been given the opportunity to work opposite many award-winning actors, but this was different — I mean, this was Neo from The Matrix,” said 34-year-old Richmond-Peck in a phone interview from the West Coast. “It took me a good five minutes to adjust. Five minutes that felt like an eternity before I could get back on my game.”
Filming took place over five days in December 2007 and January 2008 in Vancouver. Richmond-Peck was cast as a polygraph operator opposite Reeves in the sci-fithriller.
It took several tries to capture the mood of the five-minute scene, with Reeves using a unique technique to get Richmond-Peck revved up.
“Hours of work went by and then out of nowhere Keanu looked over at me between takes and started to scream,” he recalled.
“Not quite understanding, but picking up on his vibe, I started yelling back to him. We were screaming at each other and the crew was looking at us, and then Keanu leaned in and whispered, ‘This is gonna be a great scene.’ I have to admit, this was a mind-blowing moment that I will always remember.”
Although the polygraph scene only runs for a few minutes, a clip of it was used in an international marketing campaign.
This prompted e-mails from past acquaintances of Richmond-Peck’s, including school friends.
“When I started to get text messages from friends in England and Australia, from elementary school buddies and girlfriends from high school who I’d not seen in almost 20 years, that’s when I began to realize just how big this movie is,” he said. “ It is very exciting to be a part of it, to say the least.”
Richmond-Peck has appeared in several television series. His major breakthrough on the small screen could be attributed to the Canadian program, Robson Arms. He had regular appearances as cancer-stricken tenant Geoff McAllister from 2005 to 2008.
He’s also played small roles in bigger projects, such as the superhero film Fantastic Four, Steven Spielberg’s epic miniseries Into the West, the sci-fiseries Stargate Atlantis and the popular series about Superman’s younger days, Smallville.
It’s a difficult list to choose from, but of all his roles, he cites his career highlight to date as being his appearance in the 2007 flick Married Life. The film featured some heavy hitters in the acting world, like Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson and up-and-comer Rachel McAdams.
“I really, really enjoyed working on Married Life,” he said. “It was one of my first projects where I started to work with some really quality actors. I got to work with Chris Cooper, who was one of my favourite actors. It was the first time I realized this was what I was meant to do.”
As for what lies ahead, it is only bigger and better. Richmond-Peck recently wrapped up a small part on the movie 2012, as well as work on a Canadian indie flick called Kick Me Down. He is also in negotiations for a number of projects this year.
Although he doesn’t envision himself landing major leading roles in big-budget films any time soon, he does have his sights on challenging, supporting roles in television and film. He said he wouldn’t turn away a role in a major motion picture, but that he would like to do more independent films.
“Any project, whether it is Oscar calibre or not, you can learn from,” he said. “In that way, every project is fascinating. You’ll always be better the next time you go out.”
But he does want what any film actor wants — an Oscar.
“Oscar, absolutely,” he said. “But I don’t need to play the lead actor, I’m a character actor, so I look up to guys like Chris Cooper, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Greg Kinnear. They don’t just play the character, they create the human being that’s behind the work. For me, it’s less about my character rank than it is about telling great stories.”
Richmond-Peck grew up in Oakville. He lived here until his last year of high school, which he completed in Toronto. Then, he embarked on a journey to find himself.
Various adventures followed, such as a stint at the University of Western Ontario, a year spent snowboarding at Whistler, working in restaurants and living with his family in the Caribbean, but eventually Richmond-Peck realized his calling was to be an actor.
“I finally broke down and said this is what I wanted to do and I remember having a conversation with my dad that if I was going to do this, I had to get the right training, so I came up to Vancouver and went to Studio 58 (the Theatre Arts Program of Langara College) here, which is a three-year Conservatory program,” he said. “I’ve been here working here ever since.”
Richmond-Peck is engaged to longtime girlfriend and director Kelly-Ruth Mercier. The couple plans to temporarily relocate to Los Angeles early this year for work. They plan to keep Vancouver as their home-base and return eventually to start a family.
“We plan to travel and work as it comes,” he said. “We’re currently in talks with a film in the States and getting work visas, so I think this year, there’s going to be a lot of travel. I’m at a point now where I’ll move for the project.”