North­ern Sec­ondary grad Jonathan Keltz on his leap from Ari Gold’s as­sis­tant on En­tourage to heart­throb Leith on Reign

Village Post - - Contents - by David Pater­son

When Jonathan Keltz was a child, he used to go about his fam­ily’s home putting on a Bri­tish ac­cent.

It was an early sign of the love for play­ing roles that would even­tu­ally lead him to a ca­reer as an ac­tor.

Now, aged 26, he is get­ting to put that much-prac­tised ac­cent into ef­fect on TV.

Keltz plays the char­ac­ter of Leith Ba­yard, a ser­vant turned noble­man, on CTV Two’s Thurs­day night his­tor­i­cal drama


The show fo­cuses on the young Mary Queen of Scots dur­ing her time liv­ing at the French royal court, and though a Bri­tish ac­cent isn’t strictly nec­es­sary for a show set in France, it’s what the laws of the TV uni­verse call for.

When Reign re­turns in Oc­to­ber, it will do so with Keltz, who spent his teen years in mid­town Toronto, pro­moted from a recurring role to the main cast.

It’s Keltz’s most high-pro­file part since he played Ari Gold’s as­sis­tant on HBO’s hit show En­tourage, and he’s clearly thrilled about the chance to spend a sec­ond sea­son with his char­ac­ter.

“It feels great to be part of the main cast,” he says dur­ing a phone in­ter­view the day af­ter he be­gan film­ing for the up­com­ing sea­son. “I’m re­ally ex­cited about it.”

Reign is an un­usual mix of pe­riod drama, teen angst, sex and ro­mance that has di­vided crit­ics (and given his­tor­i­cal purists heart at­tacks at

the fic­tions it lib­er­ally sprin­kles onto events of the past) but is fun to watch and has found a siz­able au­di­ence and been sold around the world.

Es­sen­tially, it’s the good hair and love tri­an­gles of a teen drama, with

the corsets and cos­tumes of Game

of Thrones.

Keltz be­lieves au­di­ences find the show re­lat­able, and its break­neck nar­ra­tive speed “sweeps people up.”

That fre­netic pace ex­tends to the pro­duc­tion it­self where each episode is shot in around eight days.

De­spite be­ing set in 16th­cen­tury France, Reign is al­most en­tirely filmed in and around Toronto, mainly at a stu­dio in Eto­bi­coke that houses sets that mimic the in­te­rior of a Re­nais­sance cas­tle.

Out­doors ac­tion is shot at sev­eral con­ser­va­tion ar­eas out­side the city, and footage of his­toric build­ings in Ire­land is in­ter­spersed to set the pe­riod tone.

For Keltz, film­ing in Toronto is a home­com­ing of sorts. He was born in New York City and spent his child­hood in the artsy town of Wood­stock, N.Y., be­fore mov­ing to Toronto at age 14, where he en­rolled at North­ern Sec­ondary School.

Hav­ing been bit­ten by the act­ing bug while at a Wood­stock school with a strong drama pro­gram — he re­calls one of his teach­ers giv­ing him Ham­let to read at age 10 — he says his fam­ily’s move to Toronto was “in­stru­men­tal” in his de­vel­op­ment as an ac­tor.

With a mother in pub­lic re­la­tions and a fa­ther in ed­u­ca­tional pro­duc­tions, Keltz had a feel for the in­dus­try, and Toronto, be­ing a bur­geon­ing cen­tre for film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion, pre­sented an abun­dance of op­por­tu­ni­ties for a young ac­tor.

Keltz be­gan book­ing small parts on shows like De­grassi: The Next

Gen­er­a­tion, and two weeks be­fore his 19th birth­day, he de­cided to move to Los Angeles and pur­sue act­ing full-time.

Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, Keltz wasn’t hugely in­te­grated in the arts and drama scene at North­ern Sec­ondary School. Hav­ing ar­rived there as what he calls a “loud, bois­ter­ous New Yorker” in school, he grav­i­tated to­ward sports rather than the arts.

“I wasn’t re­ally in­volved in the ex­tracur­ric­u­lar arts pro­gram be­cause I was al­ready very much en­gaged in do­ing stuff out­side of school. It was nice to be in a bal­anced school and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem,” he says.

If such a thing as Hol­ly­wood star­dust ex­ists, it’s also pos­si­ble that Keltz’s move to Toronto caused a lit­tle to rub off on him.

The apart­ment that his par­ents moved to on the edge of For­est Hill, and which they still live in, was once home to Keanu Reeves’ mother. Mean­ing it’s prob­a­ble that

The Ma­trix star was kick­ing around there quite a lot.

Hav­ing a show like En­tourage on his re­sumé also adds a touch of sparkle to Keltz. The ac­tor played Jake Stein­berg, a char­ac­ter brought in dur­ing the show’s sixth sea­son as an as­sis­tant to L.A. agent Ari Gold.

Orig­i­nally, his stint on the show was sup­posed to be short-lived, ar­riv­ing mainly so his char­ac­ter could be fired in short or­der by Gold, but Stein­berg ended up stick­ing around for 15 episodes, in­clud­ing the se­ries’ fi­nale in 2011.

Keltz calls the show an “un­be­liev­able ex­pe­ri­ence” and one

“It feels great to be part of the main cast. I’m re­ally ex­cited about it.”

that gave him the op­por­tu­nity to meet big-name ac­tors like Mark Wahlberg.

“For an en­tire gen­er­a­tion, [ En­tourage] was a life­style fit­ting their dreams, and it did an amaz­ing job of re­flect­ing that with rel­ish,” he says.

To­day, Keltz shares an apart­ment in Toronto with his girl­friend. Hav­ing bounced be­tween Canada and Los Angeles a lot — as an ac­tor, he says, you have to go where the work takes you — he’s en­joy­ing spend­ing some time in Toronto.

It’s giv­ing him time to in­volve him­self in some projects out­side of act­ing.

He is cur­rently help­ing his fa­ther, who is spear­head­ing a project called Crit­terKin that aims to teach chil­dren so­cial skills, like em­pa­thy and kind­ness, through books in­volv­ing an­i­mals.

At the not-so-cud­dly end of the char­i­ta­ble spec­trum, he will also be a part of the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety’s Fear­less cam­paign, which will ask well-known fig­ures to try some­thing they are scared of.

Un­for­tu­nately for the CCS, Keltz says most of the go-to ideas, like heights or sky­div­ing, don’t re­ally scare him. Ap­par­ently, staffers are hav­ing to be quite in­ven­tive with his task, but he won’t give any de­tails on what that might be.

Cur­rently, Keltz is fo­cused on his role in Reign, but the ac­tor says he is at an ex­cit­ing mo­ment in his ca­reer.

He is blessed with genes that have given him a fresh-faced look, and so he has of­ten been asked to play roles younger than his ac­tual age. Now in his mid-20s, he says he is get­ting the chance to play a broader range.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to be­gin to play young men and older char­ac­ters,” he says.

Whether any of those will call for that Bri­tish ac­cent again, only time will tell.

Reign re­turns to CTV Two in Oc­to­ber. Catch the sea­son pre­miere on Thurs­day, Oct. 2, at 9 p.m.

Jonathan Keltz was pro­moted to a reg­u­lar cast mem­ber for the sec­ond sea­son of ‘Reign’

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