Having made his TV movie debut in Disney XD’s Bunks, Markian Tarasiuk went on to play Wade Robson in the 2017 biopic Britney Ever After alongside Natasha Bassett in the titled role. In this year’s film release Status Update, Markian can be seen playing high school bully Brian Massey and alongside his screen career, he has involvement in SpeakEasy Theatre where he has written his first stage production. Recently, Markian answered our questions and told us more about being on set of Bunks, working with SpeakEasy Theatre and filming for Status Update.
Had you always wanted a career in performing arts?
Ever since I did a play when I was fourteen at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, MB. Before then I took acting classes since I was six, but never really considered a career – this play was my first exposure to the professional world of acting. It was called “Over the Tavern” by Tom Dudzick. Since that experience, I knew I wanted to be an actor.
What was it like filming your role of Brian Massey in Status Update?
It’s so cliche to say: but it was just so fun. The cast and crew of that movie left a permanent impact on me in terms of what a movie set can be. The director Scott Speer let me improvise in almost all my scenes and it became a constant competition (in a good way) to see who could make each other laugh more. Brian was a really free character to take on with not many rules – so I was free to try different things and push comedic boundaries. He’s the one larger than life character in the movie, and I took full advantage of that side of Brian.
How long were you on set for?
I was on set on and off for six weeks.
Where did most of the production work take place?
We filmed in and around Vancouver for the entire shoot.
Can you tell us about the movie and your character?
I like to call Status Update a coming of age movie for 2018. It utilizes classic life lessons of growing up in a modern way – specifically using technology. It’s about Kyle Moore – the new kid in town trying to find his place at his new High School after moving to a new city. Brian Massey (me!) is one of the “bullies” at the school. But not a stereotypical kind of bully. Like all bullies, Brian too, is fighting with insecurities and searching for who he is and where he fits. I think all the characters in the movie are just trying to navigate High School and growing up. It’s hard!
What was it like working alongside the cast and crew, and had you worked with any of them previously?
I had not worked with anyone previously on any projects with anyone going into Status Update. But after the filming, I knew I had created some lifelong friendships. We really bonded as a cast and I think that shows in the movie. I still keep in touch with a few of the cast today and have gone on to work on other projects with them. Projects where I’ve created friends are my favourite ones to work on, so Status Update will always be a special project to me.
Who is your character Uli in Project Mc2?
Uli is the right hand man to Bobby Stone in season six. Bobby Stone is a major mogul in the water industry and actually becomes the villain of season six (spoiler). So I do all his dirty work throughout the season.
Who is Prince Micah in The Magicians?
Prince Micah is from the Tribe of the Floating Mountain that is no longer floating. He comes to Fillory to have a royal wedding with Margo. He’s basically part of this arranged marriage with Margo. But instead of being one of those awkward arranged marriages, the two really get along – but not for a long time. Prince Micah is noble, kind and all the things you’d look for in a Prince. It was my chance to be a Disney Prince as an actor, so I really enjoyed coming onto The Magicians for this role.
How was it acting in the Britney Ever After TV movie?
A bit of a trip. I couldn’t believe I was a part of a Britney Spears biopic. I grew up with the biggest crush on Britney – like every guy my age did. So being in scenes with Natasha (who was playing Britney), was pretty surreal.
Did you know anything about Wade before being cast?
Not a whole lot. I did a bunch of research before the audition to get a sense of Wade Robson. I knew he was Britney’s prominent choreographer in the early 2000s and that “maybe” they had a relationship. But whenever I play real people, I really want to avoid doing an impression. It’s better for me to capture the energy of the person as opposed to their voice or mannerisms – unless that’s a large part of who they are. In this case, the hair and goatee did a lot of the work for me.
You made your television debut in the Disney XD movie Bunks, what do you remember about being on set?
Ah! Bunks. Again – this was one of the more fun projects I have been a part of. It took place at a summer camp and most of the filming was at actual summer camps around Winnipeg and Kenora, ONT so it actually felt like I was at summer camp. We ate in the mess halls, we played instruments around campfires and had to put a ton of mosquito spray on. We even went swimming in the lake after we were wrapped for the day. This was also the first time I had heavy makeup needed on a consistent basis to be a zombie. I remember having to sit in the makeup chair for nearly two hours for a lot of the days on set.
What do you enjoy most about stage work?
The stage is where I come from. It’s where I was trained and where my first experiences with acting were. So theatre has a special place in my heart. Unlike film, you get to live the full journey of the character in one evening. With a film, the journey is split up over days on set and you constantly have to clock where you’re at in the story. In theatre, you are living it all at once, so the feeling is more immediate and fulfilling to me. There’s also a massive difference in acting in front of a live audience vs. acting for a camera. The performance can later change or be manipulated in an editing room. On stage, there is no filter or tricks, so the acting has to be immediate and completely based in truth – because the audience will smell bullshit very quickly. There’s just something magical about a theatre experience. A magic you can’t recreate with any other type of art form.
How are you involved with SpeakEasy Theatre and what can you tell us about the company?
I am currently the General Manager and Artistic Producer. Since my acting career has taken a focus to film and television, I use SpeakEasy as a way to stay connected to my theatre roots and fulfill passion projects. We have a focus on new Canadian work and have a lot of projects currently under development. Our mandate states: It is with great urgency that our present culture needs the live experience to connect, question and remember why we are alive. SpeakEasy Theatre is committed to creating an environment where communities come together to celebrate around subject matter that is necessary. We are driven to foster stories created by diverse artists who are immediate, honest and unforgiving. Our mandate perfectly states what we (me and the other four team members) aspire to accomplish with all the work we produce. We were just nominated for five Jessie Awards for our last year’s production of The Shipment by Young Jean Lee. I was very proud of that production and bringing it to the Vancouver community. We also produce The Pull Festival: Vancouver’s 10-Minute Play festival. Each year we produce six new short plays. Next year will be our eighth festival!
How did The Classroom come about and when will rehearsals start?
The Classroom is my first writing experience. After being produced by my alma mater at Studio 58 in 2016, I have been working on it ever since. The play development process is a long and tedious one – because I want to get it right before it goes up. Rehearsals are set to start this fall.
Apart from your work with SpeakEasy, what other projects will you be working on?
This month I’ll be doing a video game that I can’t talk about (dang NDA agreements). I also have a few personal film projects under development – but super early stages that not much can be said about it!
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