Transcript: Interview: Gordon Pinsent | Mar 31, 1977

Mike McManus appears in a dark television studio with a lit-up sign that reads his name. He’s in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted gray hair. He’s wearing a sand-coloured suit, white shirt, and checked brown tie.

He says ONCE, MANY YEARS AGO, GORDON
PINSENT WAS PART OF THE MOB
IN A STRATFORD PRODUCTION
OF
MACBETH.
BUT THAT WAS ONLY ONCE.
FOR THE REST, THE ROWDYMAN'S
SEARCH TO CREATE SOMETHING
NEW, AMBITIOUS, AND LASTING,
HAS BEEN VERY INDIVIDUAL.
MY GUEST, Mr. GORDON PINSENT.
AND OUR SUBJECT: NEWFOUNDLAND,
CANADA, TORONTO, HOLLYWOOD.

(music plays)

In animation, the phrase “The education of Mike McManus” flies by, as Mike walks across the studio and joins Gordon Pinsent at a small round table.

The opening sequence rolls.
Soft flute music plays.

Portraits of Mike made of dots in different colours flash by as the title flies by: The Education of Mike McManus.

Then, Mike and Gordon appear on screen again.
Gordon is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with side-parted dark brown hair. He’s wearing a fuzzy white sweater over a black shirt.

Mike says GORDON PINSENT,
NEWFOUNDLAND...
DO YOU STILL GO BACK?

Gordon says OH, YES.
I TRY TO GO BACK ONCE A YEAR.
I'VE MISSED THIS
YEAR, ODDLY ENOUGH.

Mike says YOU HAVE BROTHERS AND SISTERS
AND NEPHEWS AND NIECES?

Gordon says YES, JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY
IS THERE FROM THE FAMILY.
TWO BROTHERS, THREE SISTERS,
AND ALL OF THEIR CHILDREN.
AND A LOT OF MEMORIES.

Mike says A LOT OF MEMORIES.
YOU'VE SAID, AT SOME POINT,
THAT THESE VISITS SORT OF
REFURNISH, OR GIVE YOU A
SENSE, DO SOMETHING TO THE
CORE OF YOUR LIFE.

Gordon says YES, THEY DO.
I THINK I WAS KIND OF, OH,
I DON'T KNOW, OF THE WORLD
FOR A WHILE THERE.
I WAS KIND OF OUT THERE
FLOATING FANCY FREE KIND OF
THING, WITHOUT A
PARTICULAR ROOT.
AND I THOUGHT I WOULDN'T
NECESSARILY NEED IT.
NEED TO RETURN.
AND I DON'T MEAN NEED TO
RETURN TO NEWFOUNDLAND,
I'VE ALWAYS LOVED THE
PLACE AND SO ON.
BUT I THOUGHT I WAS SORT OF ON
GOING, AND RIDDING MYSELF OF
CERTAIN ASPECTS OF MY LIFE,
CERTAIN PHASES THAT I WOULD
NOT NEED TO RETURN TO, TO
SORT OF DRAW FROM, LET'S SAY.
BUT SINCE I'VE BECOME A
WRITER, I FOUND THAT
I'M GOING BACK A GREAT DEAL.
AT LEAST IN MY HEAD.
AND DRAWING FROM IT ALL THE
NECESSARY CREATIVE JUICES THAT
I NEED TO KEEP THINGS GOING,
AND ALIVE, AND GIVE THEM A BASE,
A FOUNDATION TO THE WRITING
IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR ME.
IT'S ONE ASPECT THAT
I CAN BE SURE OF.

Mike says IN YOUR SECOND NOVEL, GORDON,
JOHN AND THE MISSUS, YOU SHOW
THAT CONTRAST IN NEWFOUNDLAND,
ABOUT OLD VALUES THAT ARE
BEING PHASED OUT, OR AT
LEAST ATTACKED BY THE NEW
WORLD THAT IS MOVING IN THERE.
AND YOU GIVE A CERTAIN DIGNITY
TO BOTH THE OLD AND THE NEW.
THIS TENSION STILL VERY MUCH
PART OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND
LIFE DOWN THERE?

Gordon says IT'S VERY MUCH A PART OF IT,
ALTHOUGH THERE'S A BETTER
BLENDING NOW OF THE OLD AND
THE NEW, THAN PERHAPS THERE
MIGHT HAVE BEEN.
THERE WAS A TIME I WAS GROWING
UP THAT I FELT AS THOUGH
WE WERE ALL PART OF, A
BIT PART OF THE PAST.
AND I DON'T MEAN BY THAT TO
SPEAK OF A BACKWARDNESS OR
ANYTHING OF THAT NATURE.
THE REMOTENESS, THE
ISOLATION, OF COURSE,
MADE US ALL VERY
CLOSE TOGETHER.
TODAY, IT'S DIFFERENT, AND HAS
BEEN DIFFERENT FOR SOME TIME.
THE BLENDING OF THE OLD AND
THE NEW NOW IS VERY, VERY
INTERESTING TO WATCH.
I LIKE TO DWELL ON IT A BIT
IN PLAYS AND IN THE NOVELS
AND SO ON.
I THINK I MUST BE VERY OLD,
MIKE, BECAUSE THERE'S
AN AWFUL LOT OF
THE OLD IN ME.
AGAIN, I REMEMBER, QUITE
VIVIDLY, MOMENTS, FRAGMENTS
OF THE PAST, COLOUR AND
EXPRESSION OF THAT PART OF THE
WORLD THAT, AGAIN, I CALL
UPON WHEN I'M WRITING.
I RECOGNIZE THE NEW, AS WELL,
I MEAN, AS BEING PART OF IT
ALL NOW.
BUT I STILL, IN A FUNNY WAY,
SELFISHLY, DO NOT WANT TO SEE
CERTAIN CHANGES TAKE PLACE.

Mike says RIGHT.

Gordon says AND, AGAIN, I USE NEWFOUNDLAND
AS SORT OF PLASMA TO KIND OF
DRAW FROM.

Mike says IT'S FUNNY, PERHAPS IT'S AGE
AND TIME, MARGARET LAURENCE
TALKS ABOUT GOING HOME IN HER
HEAD AND TRYING TO WORK IT
OUT ALL OVER AGAIN, AND
INSISTS THAT YOU HAVE TO GO HOME
AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE
AND BRING OUT, WHAT YOU WERE
SAYING, THE BEST OF THE PAST,
AND INTEGRATE IT WITH WHAT
YOU ARE AT NOW.
YOUR FATHER DIED WHEN
YOU WERE TEN, GORDON.

Gordon says YES.

Mike says AND
THE ROWDYMAN
WAS
QUITE A BIT BIOGRAPHICAL,
IS THAT TRUE?

Gordon says SOMEWHAT.

Mike says SOMEWHAT BIOGRAPHICAL.
YOU SAY “IT WAS A GOOD FILM,
IT SHOULD HAVE
BEEN A GREAT FILM.”

Gordon says YES.
I THINK IT WAS STILL EARLY
ENOUGH IN THE FILM HISTORY
HERE WHERE IT OPENED A FEW
DOORS, AND IT HAS A KIND OF
LASTING REPUTATION.
IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT
BECAUSE I THINK, POSSIBLY,
IT WAS FILMED AT
THE WRONG TIME.
I THINK WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT
OF MONEY, UNDER THE RIGHT SORT
OF AUSPICES, SITUATION,
DISTRIBUTION, ALL OF THOSE
THINGS TAKEN INTO
CONSIDERATION, I THINK IT
PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SAID A
LOT MORE TO A WIDER AUDIENCE.
IT WOULD HAVE REACHED A
WIDER AUDIENCE HAD IT BEEN,
LET'S SAY, A
BIGGER MOVIE.
IT WAS PRIVATE, IT WAS KIND OF
INSULAR, AND IT WAS VERY MUCH
MY OWN AND SOMETHING I
WANTED TO TALK ABOUT.

Mike says DO YOU THINK IT BEING SUCH A
HUGE CHUNK OF YOUR OWN LIFE
IT COULD HAVE EVER BEEN AS
GOOD AS YOU WANTED IT TO BE?

Gordon says I DON'T KNOW.
AGAIN, IF I HAD APPLIED
TO IT CERTAIN COMMERCIAL
INGREDIENTS, IF STEVE McQUEEN
HAD PLAYED THE PART OR
SOMETHING, IT MIGHT
HAVE BEEN PLAYING YET.
AND ONE MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO BENEFIT FROM IT FINANCIALLY
AND SO ON AND SO FORTH.
BUT IT WAS JUST SOMETHING
I HAD TO GET OFF MY CHEST.
PLUS THE FACT IT WAS THE FIRST
THING I HAD COMPLETED, THAT
I'D STARTED OUT TO WORK ON,
AND I FELT A BIT STRANGE.
I'VE ALWAYS -- I DON'T KNOW,
I'VE HAD TRAVELLING WITH ME A
KIND OF CERTAIN KINDS OF GUILT
FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER,
AND I CAN'T SHED
MYSELF OF THEM.
THEY HAVE TO DO WITH A LOT OF,
WITH PEOPLE, WITH THE PAST,
WITH MY FEELINGS
ABOUT NEWFOUNDLAND.
THE FRUSTRATION OF NOT BEING
ABLE TO DO CERTAIN THINGS TO
COMPLETE CERTAIN KINDS OF
WRITINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE
TO COMPLETE.
AND TO ILLUSTRATE THAT POINT,
I SUPPOSE I'D LIKE TO THINK
THAT I WANTED
ROWDYMAN
TO
BE DONE ON A SMALLER LEVEL.
I DIDN'T WANT TO, KIND OF,
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.
AND I SHOULD HAVE.
I SHOULD HAVE.
I THINK IT WAS SAMUEL GOLDWYN,
OR DAVID SELZNICK WHO SAID,
IF YOU MAKE A
MISTAKE, MAKE IT BIG.
I SHOULD HAVE GONE OUT,
CONTINUED TO GET IT TOGETHER
THE WAY THAT MIGHT HAVE
MADE IT A BIGGER ITEM.
BUT, ANYWAY, IT WAS FUN.
IT WAS WELL DONE.

Mike says IS THAT STILL PART OF YOU?
ARE YOU STILL RESTRAINED,
SOMEHOW BY GUILT,
TO THINK AS BIG AND
SPLASHY AS YOU SHOULD?

Gordon says I JUST THINK IT'S
NECESSARY FOR THE INDUSTRY.
IT'S NECESSARY FOR THE
INDUSTRY, AND FOR MY PART IN IT.
I THINK I HAVE A TENDENCY
TO BACKTRACK TOO MUCH.
I'M NOT GOING TO DO
THAT FROM NOW ON.
THIS IS MY YEAR TO BE HONEST
WITH MYSELF, AND TO TRY TO
THINK SENSIBLY ABOUT THE
COMMERCIAL VALUES, AND SO ON
AND SO FORTH, AND GETTING
ON WITH GETTING THINGS DONE.
I'VE OFTEN SAID IT'S NO GOOD
SIMPLY WRITING A SONG AND
SINGING IT FOR YOUR MOTHER.
YOU'VE GOT TO SORT OF GET
OUT THERE AND GET IT DONE.
IN CANADA, THERE IS A PROBLEM
OF -- WELL, FIRST OF ALL,
I THINK IT'S AN ODDITY THAT
ROWDYMAN
HAD SOME SORT OF
LASTING REPUTATION EVEN
THOUGH IT DID NOT MAKE MONEY.
BUT I THINK WE HAVE A PROBLEM
HERE REMINDING OURSELVES OF
THE GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE
HAPPENED AS WE ATTEMPT TO GET
ON WITH OTHERS.
GAPS ARE CREATED BETWEEN
SUCCESSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
THE COUNTRY IS BIG, THE
POPULATION SMALL, AND
THEREFORE, IT IS KIND OF
LIKE TRAINS GOING THROUGH.
YOU HEAR THE TRAIN COMING, YOU
FEEL THE COMMOTION, YOU KNOW
IT, IT ARRIVES, AND IT GOES,
AND YOU WAIT FOR THE NEXT TRAIN.
THE GAP THAT'S CREATED
IS QUITE NOTICEABLE.
AND CREATIVELY, THIS ZAPS LIKE
CRAZY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE
MORE THAN JUST, SHALL WE
SAY, AN ACTOR FOR HIRE
IN THE UNIVERSAL SENSE.
KIND OF CONSCIENCE STEPPED
IN A BIT, AND I STARTED TO
BECOME MUCH MORE INDEPENDENT.
I MAY SUFFER FOR IT LATER
IF I STAY IN THIS COUNTRY.
I HOPE I WON'T.
I WANT TO BE ABLE TO EXPAND.
I WANT TO GROW.
AND I WANT TO USE THIS YEAR TO
KIND OF TRIGGER ME INTO THAT,
OR BACKWARDS AGAIN.
I HAVE NO IDEA, DEPENDING WHERE
THE INDUSTRY WANTS TO MOVE ME.

Mike says DOES THIS MEAN, GORDON, THAT
YOU ARE GOING TO BE LESS
SINCERE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT
TO DO AND MORE COMMERCIAL?

Gordon says NO.

Mike says THAT YOU ARE GOING TO
THINK MORE COMMERCIALLY?
I'M NOT CLEAR.

Gordon says IT'S SIMPLY A QUESTION OF
THE COMPROMISE, WHICH IS,
YOU KNOW, CAN BE KIND OF
HATEFUL AND DESTROYING.
YOU NEED TO HAVE IT.
BECAUSE IN PURE MONETARY
TERMS, IF A FILM IN CANADA
CANNOT MAKE ITS MONEY BACK,
AND YOU NEED TO RECOUP THREE
TIMES YOUR INITIAL INVESTMENT
AND SO ON, IF THIS REMAINS
A TREND, I THINK WE'VE
GOT TO LEARN THE TRICKS.
WE'VE GOT TO LEARN HOW TO GET
OUR STORIES TOLD BECAUSE IF
WE TAKE OURSELVES SERIOUSLY
AS A COUNTRY, I THINK WE
SHOULD BE TELLING
OUR STORIES.

Mike says SO YOU ARE GOING TO
BECOME MORE AGGRESSIVE.

Gordon says MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE.
ABSOLUTELY.

Mike says IN SOME WAYS, YOU SAY I
DIDN'T GROW UP IN GRAND FALLS
IN NEWFOUNDLAND, I
GREW UP IN HOLLYWOOD.

Gordon says YES.
I THINK MY EDUCATION CAME
ABOUT IN THE MOVIE HOUSE,
IN GRAND FALLS, AND THE
POOLROOMS, AND SO ON,
DREAMING OF PLACES ELSEWHERE.

Mike says YOU LEFT NEWFOUNDLAND
WHEN YOU WERE 18.
CAME TO CANADA, WHAT WAS
CANADA THEN, CAME TO TORONTO,
AND THEN ENLISTED IN THE ARMY,
THREE YEARS IN THE ARMY.

Gordon says YES, AND A NUMBER OF JOBS AND
THINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AT
A TIME WHEN I SUPPOSE ALTHOUGH
THERE WAS A LOT OF MOVEMENT
THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, IT ALL
SEEMED A BIT STRANGE, AND I
SEEMED A BIT INNOVATIVE AT
THAT TIME, KIND OF MOVING
AROUND, TRYING TO FIND WHAT
I WANTED TO DO IN LIFE.
I LANDED IN WINNIPEG, HAD MY
DISCHARGE FROM THE ARMY IN
WINNIPEG, AND PROCEEDED ON
TO SUCH HEIGHTS AS DANCE
INSTRUCTOR AT ARTHUR MURRAY'S.

Mike says YOU'RE THE FIRST DANCE
INSTRUCTOR OF ARTHUR MURRAY'S
I'VE EVER BEEN
ABLE TO TALK TO.
IT SCARED THE LIFE OUT
OF ME WHEN I WAS A KID.

[laughing]

Gordon says SOMEHOW, THAT WAS SLIGHTLY
AKIN TO THE BUSINESS.
I DON'T KNOW WHY
I THOUGHT THAT.
I WAS ALSO A BIT OF
A COMMERCIAL ARTIST.
I WANTED TO GET
INTO THAT FIELD.
BUT I WAS DRAWN TO THE OTHER.
THEATRE IN WINNIPEG HAD SORT
OF TAKEN A BIT OF A SLUMP,
AND I WAS VERY LUCKY TO
CONNECT WITH JOHN HIRSCH,
AND ALL KINDS OF
MARVELLOUS PEOPLE OUT THERE.
THEY ARE A VERY ADVENTUROUS
TYPE, GETTING TOGETHER NEW
THEATRES, AND I BECAME
PART OF IT VERY EASILY
AND KNEW THIS WAS
WHAT I WANTED TO DO.

Mike says NOW, YOU WERE QUITE
SUCCESSFUL IN THE THEATRE
IN WINNIPEG.
THEATRE OF MANITOBA.
WHEN YOU CAME EAST, YOUR
REPUTATION DIDN'T FOLLOW YOU.
IS THIS ONE OF THESE TRAINS
AGAIN THAT THE SOUND FADES OUT?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Gordon Pinsent."

Gordon says VERY MUCH SO.
VERY MUCH SO.
I REMEMBER HEARING OF A COUPLE
OF PROFESSIONAL THEATRES
THROUGHOUT CANADA,
MOSTLY TORONTO.
THE CREST THEATRE WAS ONE,
AND CANADIAN PLAYERS TOUR WAS
FAIRLY WELL KNOWN, AND SO ON.
BUT I FELT IT WAS
ALL VERY SMALL.
ALL VERY SORT OF
CAPSULIZED, YOU KNOW?
I KNEW THAT WAS THE WAY IT
WOULD BE WHEN I GOT TO TORONTO.
TELEVISION WAS ON THE
UPSWING, BUT STILL VERY NEW.
BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR TALENT
TO BREAK IN, AND SO ON.
AND IT'S VERY DIFFICULT NOW.
I NEVER KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO
PEOPLE WHEN THEY ASK ME
HOW DOES IT BEGIN.
I CAME UP WITH ALL THESE, LIKE
THE NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL
IN MONTREAL IS A GOOD WAY TO
START, BUT KNOWING FULL WELL
THERE'S NO ANSWER AFTER
THAT, NECESSARILY.

Mike says SO THERE IS STILL NO PATTERN,
NO CONTINUITY IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF ONE'S CAREER?

Gordon says NO RULES.
ABSOLUTELY NO RULES
IN THIS BUSINESS.
AND I DID FIND OUT THAT AGAIN
YOU HAVE TO SAY, NOW, WAIT A
MINUTE, YOU'RE INVOLVED HERE.
YOUR LIFESTYLE IS INVOLVED,
YOUR VERY SENSITIVE BEING IS
INVOLVED, YOU CAN'T AFFORD
TO LET THEM TEAR YOU TO
PIECES, AND THIS CAN HAPPEN.
THE LOVE THAT I HAD FOR
ACTING, FOR PERFORMING, I NO
LONGER HAVE TO A GREAT DEGREE
BECAUSE IT WAS WELL POINTED
OUT THAT THIS WAS A BUSINESS,
A ROUGH ONE, AND IF MY NATURE
WAS NOT SUCH THAT WOULD STAND UP
TO IT, I WOULD HAVE TO BUCKLE.
IF I COULDN'T HACK THE SYSTEM,
IT WAS UP TO THE SYSTEM TO
HACK ME.
I WAITED FOR THAT TO HAPPEN.
FOUND THAT IT WAS
NOT ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
I WAS NOT NECESSARILY GOING TO
MAKE THE GREATEST MARK EVER,
BY PLAYING THEIR RULES.
I FOUND THAT WOULD BE A BIT
SORT OF DISTASTEFUL TO ME.
IN HOLLYWOOD TERMS AT LEAST,
VAST COMMERCIAL KIND OF THING.
SO I THOUGHT, WELL, I GUESS
IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.
I'M GOING TO HAVE TO
MAKE UP MY OWN RULES.
AND THAT'S WHEN YOU
BECOME TRULY CREATIVE.
AND YOU WIDEN YOUR SCOPE, AND
SAY, FINE, IF I'VE GOT WHAT
YOU WANT, FINE, I'M HERE.
IN THE MEANTIME, I'M
GETTING ON WITH LIFE.

Mike says QUENTIN JERGENS M.P., YOU
SAY WAS THE TURNING POINT
OF YOUR CAREER.

Gordon says JERGENS IS A
HAND LOTION, MIKE.
DURGENS.

Mike says DURGENS, I'M SORRY.
SOME GOOD THINGS, YOU
SAY, COME TOO LATE.

Gordon says DID I SAY THAT?

[laughing]

Mike says SUPPOSEDLY.

Gordon says DID I SAY IT IN NEWFOUNDLAND,
TORONTO, HOLLYWOOD, OR...?

Mike says LET'S GO ON TO -- BUT IT
WAS A
TURNING POINT IN YOUR CAREER.

Gordon says IT WAS A VERY BIG
TURNING POINT.
I THINK, AS A MATTER OF FACT,
MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME WHY
THAT HAS NOT CONTINUED, WHY IT
DID NOT CONTINUE, AND I THINK
I WAS AT FAULT IN MANY WAYS.
I FOUND IT SETTING IN AGAIN.
I FOUND MYSELF CEMENTING INTO
AN IMAGE, A STYLE, THAT COULD
HAVE HURT IN THE LONG RUN.
I WAS GETTING FATTER.
I WAS CARING LESS
FOR THE SHOW.
LESS FOR THE IDEA OF BEING
TRAPPED BY HOLLYWOOD KIND OF
SERIES-TYPE THING.
IT WAS A WORTHWHILE
SERIES AND VERY GOOD.
AND OF COURSE IT
WAS IMPORTANT.
BUT I BEGAN TO BE
INDEPENDENT AT THAT POINT.

Mike says YOU WENT TO HOLLYWOOD.

Gordon says YEAH.

Mike says YOU SAY OF THE HOLLYWOOD
SYSTEM, THERE ARE A LOT OF
THINGS IN IT THAT ARE SILLY.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
OR IF YOU'D RATHER, JUST SOME
IMPRESSIONS OF HOLLYWOOD.

Gordon says AGAIN, MY EARLY IMPRESSIONS
OF IT, AS A CHILD, WERE OF
COURSE THERE WAS THIS WORLD
SOMEWHERE WITH BLACK AND WHITE
CARDBOARD CUTOUT KIND OF
FIGURES THAT WERE MOVING AROUND
IN A WORLD THAT I MUCH ADMIRED,
AND FOUND IT VERY, VERY
DESIRABLE, AND SEEMED TO
FEEL I COULD BE PART OF IT.
NOT IN A PLASTIC, TINSELLY WAY
AT ALL, BUT FELT I WAS A PART
OF IT, RELATED.
WHEN I GOT THERE, IT DIDN'T
BOTHER ME THAT IT WAS NOT THE
HOLLYWOOD THAT I HAD MISSED
FROM THE GOLDEN AGE.
I STILL LIVED IN IT.
IT STILL DID GREAT THINGS
FOR ME TO WALK THROUGH THE
STUDIOS AND PICK UP WHERE IT
HAD LEFT OFF, IN A FUNNY WAY,
BECAUSE IT WAS NOW
A DIFFERENT WORLD,
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SYSTEM.
I WANTED VERY MUCH STILL TO
BE A PART OF IT, BUT I FELT,
AGAIN, A SAMENESS.
PROFESSIONALISM WAS THERE.
MARVELLOUS, CREATIVE
PEOPLE THERE.
GOOD PEOPLE, NICE PEOPLE, VERY
LONELY, TOUGH WORLD FROM
THE PROFESSIONAL STANDPOINT.
AND I THOUGHT, IT'S
A DIFFERENT WORLD,
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
TIME BECAME VERY
PRECIOUS TO ME.
I USED TO THINK, LOOKING
THROUGH BIOGRAPHIES OF OLD
MOVIE STARS, THAT IF THEY MADE
400 MOVIES, I WOULD HAVE TO
MAKE 401 MOVIES, YOU
KNOW, IN ORDER TO FEEL
THAT I WAS BIGGER AND BETTER.
AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE
THE GREATEST THIS OR THAT?
AND FOR HOW LONG
ARE YOU, AND SO ON?
ALL THESE QUESTIONS CAME IN,
AND I THOUGHT, WELL, BETTER
I SHOULD GO BACK TO MY
BEGINNINGS, FIND OUT WHAT
I HAVE TO GO ON WITH, SEE IF
IT'S GOING TO BE USEFUL TO
MYSELF BEFORE I HAVE TO
WORRY ABOUT THESE PEOPLE.
IT'S MY CAREER, NOT THEIRS.
AND THAT WAS TOUGH.
BECAUSE I KNEW I COULD BURN
MYSELF OUT VERY EASILY
IN HOLLYWOOD.
I WAS THERE SIX YEARS.
THE TIME WENT VERY,
VERY QUICKLY.
SHOW UP AT 8 O'CLOCK, BRING
YOUR OWN SUIT, COME IN,
PLAY A COP, A DOCTOR, A
ROBBER, WHATEVER, A LAWYER.
DID A COUPLE OF PILOTS.
THEY DIDN'T SELL.
DIDN'T WANT TO DO THEM ANYWAY.
DIDN'T WANT THEM TO SELL.
OUT OF PANIC, TOOK THEM, AND
FOUND MYSELF BEING PART,
AGAIN, OF A YELLOWING KIND OF
SYSTEM THAT HAD BEEN GOING ON
FOR A GREAT DEAL OF TIME.
AND WHERE WOULD I
MOST BENEFIT MYSELF?
HOW WOULD I, YOU KNOW?
SHALL I SIT DOWN THEN AND TRY
TO GET THINGS GOING ON MY OWN.
I BUILT A DINING ROOM TABLE
TEN FEET LONG OUT OF DOUGLAS
FIR, AND I COULD SIT THERE AND
THEN START MAKING DECISIONS.
AND OUT OF THAT CAME THE
DECISION TO BE MYSELF.
I PUT ON A WEIGHT BELT.
I STARTED RUNNING
AROUND THE POOL.
AND DIVED IN WITH
IT ON AT ONE POINT.
WENT TO THE BOTTOM, CAME UP
GASPING FOR AIR, AND SAID,
THIS AIN'T FOR ME.
THIS POOL IS NOT MINE.
IT'S TOO DEEP.

Mike says IT'S ALSO DURING THIS TIME
THAT YOU START TO WRITE.

Gordon says YES.

Mike says AND WRITING WAS
VERY THERAPEUTIC.
KIND OF A DISCIPLINE FOR YOU?

Gordon says VERY MUCH SO.

Mike says YOU SAID YOUR LIFE, FOR
THE MOST PART, HAS BEEN A
TREMENDOUS PULL BETWEEN
ORDER AND CHAOS.
SO OFTENTIMES AT THE 11th
HOUR YOU'VE BEEN SAVED
BY SOME --

Gordon says I'M TERRIFIED ABOUT THAT,
YES, BECAUSE IN FACT I'M VERY
FRAGMENTED IN MY TALENTS,
LET'S SAY, SUCH AS THEY ARE.
I'M ONE-CHANNELED, JUST
ABOUT ALL OF THE TIME.
I USED TO THINK I COULD DO TEN
THINGS AT ONCE, AND I CAN'T.
I'M GOOD AT ONE
THING AT A TIME.
AND IF I CAN LOCK IN AND DO
ONE THING AT A TIME, THAT ONE
THING WILL END UP BEING
A FAIRLY GOOD PRODUCT.
BUT IT SCARES ME.
THE WORLD SCARES ME.
THE SHOW BUSINESS
WORLD, AS THEY SAY,
THAT'S GOT ME SCARED.
I CAN'T HANDLE IT AS WELL AS
I REALLY SHOULD BE ABLE TO,
AND YET, I KNEW I COULD HAVE.
I KNEW, IN FACT, YOU KNOW,
THAT I WAS OF THE NATURE, OR
AT LEAST THERE WAS SOMETHING
IN ME THAT WOULD ALLOW ME, AND
HELP ME BECOME THIS KIND OF
INDIVIDUAL, AND LIVE IN THE
HOLLYWOOD STYLE, AND IN THE
FAST, FLEETING, KIND OF FAST
MOVING BUSINESS SUCH AS WE'VE
READ ABOUT AND WE KNOW ABOUT.
I'M MUCH MORE
INTROSPECTIVE THAN THAT.
I'M MUCH MORE
PRIVATE THAN THAT.
THE MORE PUBLIC I BECOME,
THE MORE REMOVED I BECOME.
HOPEFULLY, THOUGH, THE MORE
POWERFUL IN MY OWN TERMS.
IN TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION,
THEY SAY THERE'S AN AREA BACK
THERE WHERE NOBODY CAN GET TO.
THAT'S THE AREA I
RETURN TO A LOT.
NOT TO ESCAPE, BUT
TO DRAW FROM AGAIN,
SO THAT I CAN
COME OUT AGAIN.
THIS IS IMPORTANT.
THIS YEAR I'VE DONE IT AT
LEAST THREE TIMES IN SOME
SORT OF GESTALT KIND OF WAY.
AND THIS HAS BEEN
AN INCREDIBLE YEAR.
A YEAR IN WHICH IT'S -- AT
ONE POINT I WAS GOING TO
LEAVE IT ALL.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY
CAREER, I THOUGHT THAT.
I NEVER WOULD HAVE REALLY
BELIEVED THAT OF MYSELF.
BECAUSE I'M NOT CAREER-LIKE
SUICIDAL IN THAT SENSE.
I DON'T DO THAT
SORT OF THING.
I DO WAKE UP IN THE
MORNING WITH GOOD IDEAS.
I WAKE UP FEELING TERRIFIC,
AND FEELING I'M STILL IN THE
BUSINESS I WANT TO BE IN.
BUT IT'S A FRIGHTENING KIND OF
ASPECT WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT
YOU ARE EITHER... YOU EITHER
SHOULD BE IN IT ALL THE WAY,
OR NOT AT ALL.
AND IF YOU FEEL
THAT YOU SHOULDN'T,
YOU FEEL A BIT GUTTED.
NO AMOUNT OF FOOD IS
GOING TO FILL YOU UP.
AND IT'S BEEN THAT
WAY THIS YEAR.
I FELT VERY STRANGE ABOUT
THE INDUSTRY IN CANADA,
MY BUSINESS.
IS IT MY BUSINESS TO BE IN
THIS BUSINESS, YOU KNOW?

Mike says THE WRITING.
TWO NOVELS.
TURNED
THE ROWDYMAN
INTO
A NOVEL, ALSO INTO A
SCREENPLAY, INTO A MUSICAL.

Gordon says YES.
INTO AN ANIMATED
CARTOON, PERHAPS, NEXT.

Mike says MAYBE THE FUTURE LIES
MORE WITH WRITING.
POSSIBLE?

Gordon says CERTAINLY, I'M
GOING TO USE IT.
I'M GOING TO USE ALL THAT
MUSCLE THAT I CAN USE IN ORDER
TO BE AN ALL ROUND
CREATIVE PERSON.
I NEED IT.
AND I THINK IT CAN HELP MY
PERFORMING, MY OWN PERFORMING,
PERFORMERS IN CANADA TO GET
GOOD THINGS OFF THE GROUND,
HOPEFULLY, AND BE A PART, AND
CONTRIBUTE IN THAT SENSE.
IN LOS ANGELES, THEY SAY THERE
IS SOMETHING LIKE 250,000
SCRIPTS, STORIES, FLOATING
AROUND LOS ANGELES AT ANY
GIVEN TIME THAT
WILL NEVER BE MADE.
NOW, I'M HOPING TO CUT DOWN
THAT KIND OF, THOSE DIMENSIONS
SOMEWHAT, AND PERHAPS WE CAN
BRING OUR WRITERS OUT AND GET
THINGS MOVING IN THIS COUNTRY.

Mike says I JUST KNOW THAT
LIVING IS A HARD DEAL.
AND IT'S EVEN HARDER WHEN YOU
BREAK AWAY FROM THE HERD AND
ATTEMPT SOMETHING
NEW AND AMBITIOUS.
I THINK FROM EVERYTHING YOU'VE
SAID, YOU FIND LIFE HARD.

Gordon says MM-HMM.

Mike says WHERE ONCE YOU TALKED, OR
HOPED TO BECOME A GREAT FILM
STAR, MORE RECENTLY, YOU'VE
BEEN QUOTED AS SAYING YOU
WOULD LIKE TO DO
SOMETHING LASTING.
IS THAT A NEW
PERSPECTIVE WITH AGE?

Gordon says I THINK, POSSIBLY.
IT COULD HAVE BEEN LASTING AS A
FILM STAR FROM THAT STANDPOINT.
IT'S JUST A MATTER OF, DID I
WANT TO WAIT THAT LONG, OR DID
I WANT TO GAMBLE THAT IT MIGHT
HAPPEN IN THE MORNING, OR IT
MIGHT HAPPEN SIX MONTHS FROM
NOW, OR 20 YEARS FROM NOW?
WAS I GOING TO LAY ALL
MY CARDS DOWN USING ONE
PROFESSION ONLY, AND NOT
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT
I MIGHT BE VALUABLE IN OTHER
ASPECTS OF THEATRE, AND SO ON?
ALL I KNOW IS THAT
IT IS EASIER NOW.
IT'S EASIER IN A SENSE.
LIFE IS HARDER FROM
A LIVING STANDPOINT.
I NOW NEED TO GET OUT AND LOOK
AT THAT A BIT MORE, BUT IN
FACT, THE BUSINESS, FROM
INSIDE, I KNOW THAT IT'S EASIER,
AND IT CAN BE.
I JUST NEED TO GET MY
DIRECTIONS STRAIGHT.
I NEED TO SPEND AN AWFUL
LOT OF LONG SILENT HOURS BY
MYSELF, LOOKING
AT IT ALL AGAIN.
BE AS DETACHED AS I CAN
POSSIBLY BE AND SO ON.
FUNNY THING HAPPENS, AND IT
HAPPENED THIS YEAR WITH
THE
ROWDYMAN
MUSICAL.
MY DEMANDS ON MYSELF WERE SO
ENORMOUS THAT I COULDN'T
POSSIBLY EQUAL THEM.
THE RESULTS COULDN'T
POSSIBLY COME UP TO THEM.
AND I FOUND MYSELF VERY MUCH
ALONE WITH PEOPLE OR WITHOUT
THEM, IT DIDN'T REALLY MATTER.
IT WAS ME WHO FINALLY HAD
TO SAY, IS THIS A LASTING
MUSICAL, OR IS IT NOT?
AND I CAN FEEL THAT SAME WAY
ABOUT ANY NUMBER OF PRODUCTS,
OR PROSPECTS.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME
TO CONTINUE THINGS LIKE
ROWDYMAN, TO RECYCLE?
AM I RECYCLING MY LIFE?
OR IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE
COUNTRY, IN THE SENSE --

Mike says GORDON, HAVE YOU ALWAYS
BEEN LIKE THIS, OR IS THIS A
PARTICULAR PERIOD IN YOUR LIFE
WHERE YOU ARE STARTING TO --

Gordon says THIS IS NEW.
WHEN I WAS AN ACTOR IN
WINNIPEG, I THOUGHT
I HAD FOUND IT ALL.
YOU KNOW?
MY SHANGRI-LA.
I WAS ALL OVER THE
PLACE BEFORE THAT.
I FOUND THIS WAS IT.
BUT I WAS BEING
VERY SILLY ABOUT IT.
AND HAD I GONE TO
HOLLYWOOD AT THAT TIME,
I THINK I WOULD HAVE BEEN A
BIT STRANGE AT THIS POINT.
OR AT LEAST...

Mike says YOU SAID YOU'RE NO
LONGER A HELL-RAISER.
WERE YOU EVER A HELL-RAISER?

Gordon says ONLY IN HERE.

Mike says ONLY IN YOUR HEAD?

Gordon says YEAH, YEAH.
I FELT THE NEED TO EXPAND.
THE NEED TO SHOUT.
THE NEED TO -- I JUST WROTE
IN SOMETHING, AS A MATTER OF
FACT, A BIT OF NARRATION, AND
IT SAID, SHE SAID I WOULD
NEVER LEARN TO SHOUT.
AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT I HAD
FELT IN MY CHILDHOOD IN GRAND
FALLS, THAT PERHAPS WE WEREN'T
SHOUTING ENOUGH, WE WEREN'T
SAYING ENOUGH, WE
WEREN'T DOING ENOUGH.
WOULD I GET THE CHANCE TO
DO ENOUGH AND SAY ENOUGH?
WOULD THERE BE SOMEBODY THERE
TO LISTEN, OR SOMEBODY THERE
TO READ MY WORK?
SOMEBODY TO TAKE MY HAND IF I
HOLD IT OUT, KIND OF THING?
AND I WENT THROUGH A CHILDHOOD
SHOUTING AND SCREAMING AND
ACTING THE FOOL IN ORDER TO
POINT OUT PERHAPS, FAR BEYOND
THE LIMITATIONS OF LIFE, OR
THAT ONE MIGHT EXPECT, PERHAPS
I COULD BEND A FEW RULES,
GET OUT, AND SHOW THAT IN
WHATEVER WAY THAT I WAS
HERE, OR AM HERE, YOU KNOW?
THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME.
IT WOULD BE THE ONLY WAY I
COULD POSSIBLY FIND OUT WHERE
MY TALENTS WERE, AND
HOW I COULD SORT OF...

Mike says BUT YOU ARE NOT
SHOUTING ANYMORE?

Gordon says VERY LOUDLY INSIDE.
I WAS NEVER A STREET
FIGHTER IN THAT SENSE.
I HOPE THAT I'M --

Mike says BUT THIS IS A MORE
REFLECTIVE PERIOD?

Gordon says MUCH MORE.
MUCH MORE.
AND IT'S WORKING.
IT COUNTS.

Mike says GOOD.

(music plays)

Theme music plays as the end credits roll.

Guest, Gordon Pinsent.

Producer and Director, Susan Murgatroyd.

Executive Producer, Mike McManus.

A learning opportunity by TVOntario.

Watch: Interview: Gordon Pinsent