Most young actors end up in showbiz because either they’re attracted to the spotlight or their parents are. But Vancouver’s Reece Thompson says his career kicked off because his mom and dad thought he and his siblings should learn the value of a dollar. “My parents are both teachers, and in the summers they started doing extra work to make a little extra money. Then they thought it would be a good idea to get my brother and sister and I involved just to learn the value of the dollar, and it would be fun: we’d all get to hang out on-set.”
Watch the trailer for Daydream Nation.
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he’s now living part-time, the star of the dark comedy Daydream Nation (which opens Friday [April 15] ) told the Georgia Straight it wasn’t long before he was doing more than just extra work in the summer, and he started alienating his teachers because he was missing so many classes. “They just hated on me because I was never in school,” Thompson says with a laugh. After Grade 6, Thompson asked his parents if he could get serious about acting and if they could home-school him. “My parents were like, ”˜Well, if you want to start acting, now’s the time to do it.’ ”
Once Thompson decided to treat acting as a career, his parents made sure he understood how an acting career really works. “I used all the money that I made from doing extra work to pay for my head shots and acting classes and everything like that. Every time my mom had to drive me downtown, I paid for the gas.”
Thompson says the break that rocked his world was a role as a kidnap victim in Living With the Dead, a made-for-TV movie starring Ted Danson, Diane Ladd, and Mary Steenburgen. “That was my first job, and it was great. Everyone was so nice; it was like the perfect first experience. Then the first time I had a moment that rivalled that was doing Rocket Science.” In Rocket Science, Thompson played the lead, a high-school stutterer who changes his life by joining the debate team. “I was finally doing a movie that I was really passionate about and I was like, ”˜Okay, this is what I want to be doing with my life.’ ”
He describes his latest movie, Daydream Nation, as “kind of like a coming-of-age tale for this girl who thinks she’s very mature, then she realizes that she’s still a girl.” Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) plays the city girl stuck in a small town who finds herself torn between Thompson, who plays “a weepy, heartbroken stoner”, and the teacher who shouldn’t stand so close to her, played by Josh Lucas (The Lincoln Lawyer). The “dark” in Canadian writer-director Michael Goldbach’s debut dark comedy (which also stars Andie MacDowell) comes from the subplot about a serial killer knocking off the locals.
Since the 22-day shoot took place in Vancouver, Thompson says he had a few chances to play tour guide. “The first night, Kat wanted to check out Yaletown, but it was pouring rain. I bought her an umbrella. I was like, ”˜Welcome to Vancouver; here’s your first umbrella.’ ”
Thompson says he first met Goldbach about three years ago when the cowriter (with Don McKellar) of Childstar was looking to make a movie on his own. “We would talk every once in a while about the script, and it went through a lot of different versions. And then the project came up and we had a meeting over Skype—I was shooting something in Oyster Bay—and I got the role. And it’s awesome. Michael did this great thing with Jon Joffin, the cinematographer. They brought this great look to the movie. It really feels like you’re flowing through a daydream. It’s very dreamlike.”