Actor on the rise
East Bay’s Billy MacLellan happy with success of ‘Maudie’
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.
Billy MacLellan plays a fish pedlar and friend to star Ethan Hawke in the film, “Maudie.”
Billy MacLellan and Sally Hawkins are shown on the set of “Maudie.”