Ac­tor on the rise

East Bay’s Billy Ma­cLel­lan happy with suc­cess of ‘Maudie’

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON

As he drinks cof­fee on a Satur­day morn­ing, in Toronto, East Bay ac­tor Billy Ma­cLel­lan is re­flec­tive of the suc­cess of his most re­cent movie, “Maudie,” star­ring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins.

“What a de­light­ful sur­prise it’s all been,” he says dur­ing a phone in­ter­view. “When they first an­nounced it would be re­leased on four screens, it was dis­heart­en­ing but you never know what will hap­pen.”

What did hap­pen was the film be­came a Cana­dian hit, with a surg­ing de­mand from At­lantic Cana­di­ans who wanted to see it. It had to be in­creased to 77 screens across Canada and it be­came the At­lantic re­gion’s num­ber two film in April, even out­per­form­ing such ac­tion-ori­ented Hol­ly­wood fare as “The Fate of the Fu­ri­ous.” It has also re­ceived in­ter­na­tional ac­claim for the film’s stars, in­clud­ing early Os­car buzz for Hawkins who plays Nova Sco­tia folk artist Maud Lewis.

Ma­cLel­lan says work­ing with such peo­ple as Hawkins and Hawke is in­spir­ing and he’s not at sur­prised at the praise for their per­for­mances.

“Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke essen­tially put on an act­ing mas­ter­class — it’s very en­gag­ing,” says Ma­cLel­lan. “Both ac­tors were re­ally go­ing for it.”

Lewis, who suf­fered from rheuma­toid arthri­tis, died in 1970. She sold her paint­ings for as lit­tle as $2 when she was alive but they have since sold for as much as $22,000 and one on­line auc­tion house has al­ready re­ceived a bid of $45,000 for her “Por­trait of Ed­die Barnes and Ed Mur­phy, Lob­ster Fish­er­man, Bay View, N.S.,” ex­pected to sell later this month.

“It’s in­spir­ing the amount of peo­ple pas­sion­ate about see­ing the film,” says Ma­cLel­lan who plays Frank, the friend of Ethan Hawke’s char­ac­ter, Everett Lewis, the hus­band of Maude Lewis, played by Hawkins.

“Peo­ple I don’t know are send­ing me mes­sages on a daily ba­sis about it.”

For Ma­cLel­lan, it’s the lat­est suc­cess in a ca­reer that has also seen him play a ma­jor role on the CBC TV se­ries, Belle­vue, which aired ear­lier this year and starred Academy Award win­ner Anna Paquin.

Al­though he’s been act­ing steadily over the years in se­ries like “Bomb Girls,” “Mur­dock Mys­ter­ies,” and “De­fi­ance,” 2016 was the year he be­gan land­ing ma­jor roles in movies and tele­vi­sion with some of the top ac­tors in the busi­ness and 2017 seems to be the year that they’re get­ting no­ticed.

He has also voiced the video game “Watch Dogs 2” and worked on such shows as “Dark Mat­ter,” “Hou­dini and Doyle,” “The Ex­panse,” and “12 Mon­keys.”

He re­mains busy and has al­ready com­pleted sev­eral projects this year, in­clud­ing an episode for a SciFi net­work show and a ma­jor role in the first fea­ture film di­rected by fel­low Cape Bre­toner Sandi Somers called “Ice Blue” that was shot ear­lier this year in Al­berta. That’s ex­pected to be re­leased in the fall.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Billy Ma­cLel­lan plays a fish ped­lar and friend to star Ethan Hawke in the film, “Maudie.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/GUY GODFREE

Billy Ma­cLel­lan and Sally Hawkins are shown on the set of “Maudie.”

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