After playing werewolves on TV and the big screen, Canadian actor Kris Holden-Ried is ready to swash his buckle in an historical epic
Canadian actor Kris Holden-Ried is the alpha-werewolf on screen at the moment. Having won a legion of fans as the growly-voiced lycan cop Dyson in the Canadian hit Lost Girl (which returns for season two on Syfy in the UK this Thursday 12 January ), he’ll soon be on the big screen as Quint in Underworld Awakening (released in the UK on 20 January). But all he really wants to do get on a horse and win a war in big sweeping historical epic.
And there are more quotes from this interview in the new issue of SFX , out on Wednesday.
When you were a teenager you represented Canada in the pentathlon. How did you make the leap from that into acting?
“The decision came very naturally. I actually did want to be an actor when I was younger, but my father didn’t want to hear anything about it. And you know what? I went with his decision. I said, ‘Yeah, maybe you’re right. I don’t know anything about acting.’ It’s one of those dream things. Like wanting to be president of the United States. And I’m not even American.
“So I was on the national Pentathlon team for a few years, but there was no funding for athletes in Canada. I was in a massive amount of personal debt at the age of 21, so I joined a little modelling and talent agency to get a some work, to do anything so that I didn’t have to drop out of school. And an audition came up for a role in this film called Young Ivanhoe , and they asked me if I could act. And I wasn’t sure but I said I would give it a try. I went into the audition and I just had a natural ability, and I had the right look – I looked European, with long, blond hair back then – and I had the abilities they needed: sword fighting, horse riding.
“So to this day I’m thankful to that producer, and especially that director, who took a huge risk going with a completely inexperienced actor and gave him a lead role in this movie. They flew me over to France for two months and we were shooting six days a week about 17 hours a day. So that was my first experience of acting – a trial by fire – and I came out of it absolutely loving it. Dropped out of school, and been an actor ever since.”
And never looked back?
“Sure, I’ve looked back a couple of times. There were some pretty dark years there.”
“The fencing, sure. Sort of. I mean, fencing is a funny sport. Competitive fencing in not really very applicable to the stage world unless you’re fighting with a rapier during the Renaissance, you know? And we felt more like we were doing Braveheart , out in the woods, running around, horses and damsels and so on. It was a real treat and a real fun episode for us all to do. I hope we can do more of that kind of thing. I think it made the character richer.”
Do you spend as much time shirtless in season two as in season one?
“Ha ha. It’s something we have to do, you know? Women show their cleavage and men have to show their bodies once in a while.
“Yeah, you get used to it. The biggest problem for me was actually in that flashback episode. I injured my back and I couldn’t really do any physical stuff or work out, so I was a little bit limited in what I could show on the show. But now, on the next episode coming up that we’re filming I’m shirtless a lot again, so I’m hitting in the gym.
“Last year it worked out actually worked out really well, because I had to prepare for Clint in Underworld in January, February, so when I started Lost Girl season two in May, I was actually in great shape from Underworld .”
What can you tell us about your role in Underworld Awakening ?
“Quint is a sort of new breed werewolf. When Selene wakes up, she’s been in cryo for however many years, and the world has changed around her. I’m part of the new breed of her old foe. I’m guess I’m the bad guy in the movie. But what I like about the Underworld movies that the werewolves aren’t really the bad guys. They’re just one of two different species struggling to survive.”
Do you have to wear a lot of prosthetics?
“Not so much. My character, when he transforms, is more of a CGI element. I have contacts in, but beyond that I just had to run around naked waiting for the computer to start generating its stuff.
“What’s really cool about Awakening is that it’s incorporating some very new CGI technology, mainly a face mapping technique where they put me in this big ball of lights and captured my face. And they can now put my facial performance and my performance into this CGI character. It’s not so much motion capture, that’s more for the body. This was more like extremely high resolution mapping technique.”
After playing werewolves on Lost Girl and Awakening , are you worried that that’s the only kind of role you’re going to get from now on?
“No, I’m not really worried about that. You know, more than anything I hope it opens me up to the more action/adventure film world. I’d love to do some more big budget films, like Pirates Of The Caribbean . Or something by Ridley Scott. That’s what I’m hoping it will lead to.
“I love those big, sweeping epic movies. I love Ridley Scott. I love his historical stuff. I’d love to play something like that in the 15 th century, or the fourth century or 900 BC, I don’t care. I love those big sweeping epics. Put me on a horse, give me a sword and I’ll win this movie for you kind of thing.”
You did get to be in the first season of The Tudors , as Will Compton.
“Oh yeah. When they found out I could ride a horse really well, they were like, ‘Get Kris in every scene where there’s a horse.’ It’s like a running joke with me. I tell a director I can ride a horse, and they go, ‘Yeah right.’ ‘No, really! I can ride!’ I did three day eventing so I can handle a horse.”
“I had a great idea that I was working towards but the series idea just become too big. And kinda out of my league. And I got busy with Lost Girl and I think someone else is doing a series pretty similar to it now.
“Definitely I’m still thinking about writing and directing. I’m going to try a film first now. A low budget film that I hope will shoot in 2013.
“I was going to start focusing on writing more this year, but a lot of my friends said, ‘You know what, acting is going really well for you right now, so focus on acting. Make sure you move when you need to move in that world. Leave writing and directing till later.’ And that made sense to me.
“In the next couple of years I want to see where things go. Especially with Lost Girl airing in the States now. Let’s see where that leads. Who knows what’ll happen?”
If you had the chance to meet Dyson in a bar, what do you think you would talk to him about?
“The advice I’d give him is… um, something about, don’t be afraid to let your love show. Don’t be afraid to be gentle. Because there’s that side of Dyson that he really suppresses. He doesn’t get a chance to show it very often. ‘You don’t have to be such a tough guy.’
“What I would ask him is, ‘How the hell do I get to live 1,000 years?’”
Who would you put your money on in a fight between Bo from Lost Girl and Selene from Underworld ?
That’s a tough question. I would kinda hope it would end up in a tie and some sort of sexy PVC clad love scene would ensue. Make them lovers not fighters.”
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