In the new release of psychological horror film Orphan: First Kill, Matthew Finlan plays Gunnar Albright in the prequel to the 2009 release Orphan alongside a cast including Isabelle Fuhrman, reprising her role of Esther, and Julia Stiles, who plays his mother. Matthew’s next project is the upcoming TV series EZRA, in which he plays Cade Walton, with the series premiering on OUTTV on October 1st. This year has also seen Matthew play Leo in My Fake Boyfriend alongside Keiynan Lonsdale, and Jerald Baxter in the Netflix film Brazen. Over his career so far, Matthew has had a number of guest roles including Charlie Chaplin in Murdoch Mysteries, and he appeared in the Netflix series Grand Army. Recently, Matthew answered our questions about playing Gunnar Albright in the new release of Orphan: First Kill, his upcoming TV series EZRA and his time filming My Fake Boyfriend.
You play Gunnar Albright in the new psychological horror film Orphan: First Kill, can you tell us about your character and was there anything that drew you to the role?
Playing Gunnar Albright was a dream come true. I was a huge fan of the original Orphan and couldn’t believe that I would have the opportunity to join the franchise – let alone with Isabelle Fuhrman reprising her iconic role and Julia Stiles playing my mother. Gunnar is a competitive boy on the brink of becoming a man who takes advantage of his family’s privilege in all the worst ways. Though appearing to be the golden child, Gunnar harbours a dark secret.
When I got the audition, I felt that I understood the tone of the project. What drew me to the role was the duplicity of Gunnar and the wild twist of this prequel.
How did you find the experience on set of the film and what was it like working with the rest of the cast, which includes Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther?
Being on set for this movie was such a pleasure. Everyone brought their A-game. We were filming at the height of the pandemic, and I think that made all of us especially grateful to be making such an impactful film. My castmates were incredible and I learned so much from watching their work. Isabelle Fuhrman is a powerhouse, and she made my job easier being so in character as Esther.
What did you enjoy most about working on a horror feature film and what are some of your favourite highlights from filming for the Orphan franchise?
What I enjoyed most about working on a horror feature was that the stakes of the story are always so heightened. Everything from a subtle glance to the delivery of a line can make a difference to the story. And then, of course, there are the stunts and the blood, oh so much blood. I think one of my highlights of filming this franchise is getting to know the story on a deeper, more personal level. I had the rare opportunity to go from fan to contributor on a project I adore.
What were you looking forward to for fans to see Orphan: First Kill and why would you recommend watching it?
I’m looking forward to fans seeing a new side of Esther and the events that contributed to her becoming who we saw in the original film. I would recommend fans and critics to watch this movie for the cinematography and the absolutely delicious plot.
You have filmed for the upcoming TV series EZRA as Cade Walton, is there anything you can say about this?
Everyone should check out EZRA on OUTTV premiering October 1st. Though not a vampire himself, Cade is part of a thought to be extinct lineage. He has a lot brewing under the surface that we do not learn about until later in the season so watch it ALL. He is a bit of a character role and I had a blast playing him alongside such a talented group of people. You don’t want to miss this one!
Earlier this year, you played Leo in My Fake Boyfriend, what was this project like to work on?
Working on My Fake Boyfriend was such a treat. I hadn’t previously been given the opportunity to improv on set until this movie. And having that freedom led to some of Leo’s greatest moments. I’m so grateful to director Rose for trusting me with such a wild character.
Can you tell us about the film and your character and what was it like seeing the completed film for the first time?
My character meets the protagonist Keiynan Lonsdale through a dating app at a bar and ends up becoming a hot mess. Watching the film completed at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco was surreal. Playing a comedy is a challenge because you don’t have people laughing on set, you have to trust your own comedic instincts.
How was it being in the cast of My Fake Boyfriend and what did you enjoy about playing Leo?
As I mentioned before, the freedom in being able to improv on set was my favourite part of playing Leo and it is something that I have brought with me to any new role I’m cast in.
What was Jerald Baxter like to play in the Netflix film Brazen and how was it working on a Netflix release?
Playing Jerald Baxter was a gift because he is a character based on Nora Roberts’ novel Brazen Virtue. Having the novel to draw from was a wealth of knowledge into Jerald’s psyche. It helped me understand why he does what he does to his multiple victims and to justify his brazen behaviour. Though a dark and disturbed individual, I enjoyed the challenge of finding his quiet and docile side.
Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role and what was it like reading the script for the first time?
When I found out that I had booked the role I was truly grateful to be trusted with such an important character. I have so much love for our director Monica Mitchell and to know that she had faith in me made me have faith in myself that I could portray Jerald.
What are some of your stand-out highlights from filming for Brazen?
One of the highlights that stands out for me from filming Brazen was the fact that I got to do all of my own stunts. I did have a stunt double Alex and he was fantastic, however, when the stunt team saw how capable I was, they put me in for all of my own stunts. I also loved being able to shoot in Vancouver. It is such a beautiful city and I would jump at any opportunity to film there again.
In 2021, you guest-starred in an episode of Murdoch Mysteries as Charlie Chaplin, how was the experience taking on the role of Charlie and how did you prepare for filming?
Playing Charlie Chaplin was a bit daunting because who doesn’t know who Charlie Chaplin is? However, at the age I was portraying him, 19, it was before he had created his iconic character, The Tramp. This took a little bit of the pressure off because it was as if I got to play a version of Charlie the world hadn’t met – a Charlie before he became famous. That is one of the things I love about Murdoch Mysteries, they always try to insert new pieces of information into classic stories giving a refreshed perspective on something we thought we already knew everything about.
What was it like being part of the Netflix series Grand Army?
I played a very small role on Grand Army, however, it was still thrilling to be part of a show that was telling authentic stories about young people.
Over your screen career so far, you have worked on a number of other projects, including October Faction and Frankie Drake Mysteries, can you tell us about some of them?
In both of the series you mentioned, I played only a very small role. However, the size of the role doesn’t matter, it’s always what you bring to it and what you learn from having played it. Frankie Drake was my very first television appearance and, funnily enough, October Faction was my second. I was still learning how to be comfortable in front of the camera for both of these roles but I am so proud when I watch back the footage to see the budding actor that I would become.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My love of acting started in the theatre on stage doing musicals with my community theatre group back in Peterborough, Ontario. I still have such a soft spot for theatre and plays and hope to one day return to the boards for some of the iconic roles that I was simply too young to play. I believe that there is no better job in the world than getting to be an actor because as an actor, you get to be everyone else.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
There are countless television shows that I enjoy watching but recently I’ve been very consumed by reality TV. And when I am not on set or busy learning lines, I prefer to be outdoors running or spending time with my family and friends whom I love dearly and would not be able to do what I do without their support.
What are you hoping the rest of the year brings for you?
As we head into the fall, I hope that I can get busy writing a couple of projects I have in mind and step into the role of producing a show that I am very excited about… but we’ll have to do another interview about that some other time. Thank you for all of your questions. Let’s chat again sometime!
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