Written by Mandy
1. This is the most-asked question on every message board, so let’s end the confusion now. How does one pronounce your first name? Sound it out for us.
Ephraim is pronounced “Ee-frum,” but that’s just one of many pronunciations. It’s a biblical name that was originally pronounced “Ef-rum,” but the anglicized version of the name is “Ee-frum.” It means “fruitful” in Hebrew (though I am not Jewish), and a friend of mine once told me that in ancient Hittite it means “he who has fought with the devil,” or something like that. I’m not sure about the last part, but I can dream, as those are both pretty neat meanings for your name.
2.What made you decide that acting was something you wanted to pursue? Was Degrassi: The Next Generation your first acting job?
When I was a small child I was always a big fan of playing make-believe. When I got older and realized [make believe] was a viable career option I decided to go with it. I think I finalized that decision in grade 12 when I starred in my high school’s production of “Six Degrees of Separation” as Flanders. It was a really life-crystallizing experience, and I think it was during that production that I finally decided once and for all that it was what I wanted to do with my life.
My first professional acting gig? Oddly enough, it was Degrassi. I’d only been auditioning for a few months after deciding to pursue acting as a career when I landed the part.
3. How familiar were you with the show before you auditioned?
I was somewhat familiar with it. I went to high school with Jake Epstein (Craig) and John Bregar (Dylan), who had already been on the show for quite some time. I was used to hearing them talk about being on it. I’d seen a few episodes before getting the job, but it was only after I’d been on it for a while that I really got to know it.
4. What was the audition process like for you? Was Rick the part you originally auditioned for?
Well, the audition process was fairly normal, as far as I could tell. When I first got the sides for the audition, there was no direct mention of Rick’s abusive nature but I really got a sense of something going on underneath the character’s surface that attracted me to the role. It was really neat to come to the callback to find out my intuitions were right (and my suspicions were confirmed!). Rick was the only part I’d auditioned for on Degrassi.
5. When Rick first appeared on the show it appeared to be a guest role, yet he has played an increasingly bigger part in the series. Did you know when you got the role that you’d be asked back for an extended period or was it a surprise?
HUGE surprise as a matter of fact – I was in a lecture when I got a call about a read-through, at which point I thought I’d got another job. When I asked what the read-through was for and they said Degrassi, I was thrown for a loop. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was really excited to come back to the show for another year, especially when I found out exactly what they had in store for Rick.
6. You joined the series much later than most members of the cast. Did this make you anxious at all or did you feel like you fit in with the rest of the cast?
I WAS slightly anxious as it was my first time on a real set ever, but it was actually the best first job to have because I already knew some people there (namely Jake and John from school) so they helped me segue in with the people there. However, even without that, the whole cast and crew are great, so there wasn’t the slightest problem with jumping right in.
7. Any funny moments stick out in your mind from being on set?
Well, there was one time I leaned against a locker in between takes and the locker skidded back a foot because it wasn’t attached to the wall. It was at that point that Stephan Scaini (the director) came over to me, patted me on the shoulder, and said “Yeah, Ephraim. It’s all TV. Not real.” It was a sobering moment for everyone, believe you me.
8. You played a character that – well, let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly the nicest guy. Was it difficult to get into character, and even more so, to break character when you were done filming for the day?
It’s tough to get into a character whose actions go against your internal moral compass, but where would drama be without villains and conflict? Once you get into that mode it’s really fun to play with that dark side of human nature. However, when the character grew more in Season Four, when [the audience] learned there was a lot more to him than just this evil abusive person and that underneath he was just a kid with a problem who sincerely wanted to change – that’s when things got a lot more interesting for me as an actor.
I had my run-ins with bullying throughout middle school and such, but it’s unthinkable what Rick had to go through, despite his past. During a couple days shooting [the two-part episode] “Time Stands Still,” it was really tough to break character at the end of the day because I had to entrench myself in all that psychosis. But I think that kind of feeling was hitting everyone on set during that time, as everyone was running themselves ragged making sure we did justice to the real-life situations the episodes were inspired by.
9. Are there any similarities to the character you played and who you are off-set?
Oddly enough, there are a couple. I’ve always been a huge theatre nerd, which was definitely something that helped me identify with Rick. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, too, so we share that. Quite frankly, I’m pretty glad that’s basically all me and Rick have in common.
10. With a role as intense as Rick, it’s easy to blur the lines of reality. Do fans of the show have a hard time distinguishing you from the character?
Actually, that’s a funny story – I was in a mall once with a few friends when someone came up to me and said “Hey, you’re that guy from Degrassi, right?” I talked to the guy for a while, he said I did a good job, et cetera, but when I said goodbye he waved and said “Okay, don’t go beating up any girls now!” which I thought was entertaining.
On the whole, most of the people who’ve recognized me on the street have been really, really nice – it’s cool to have people just come up to you and tell you you’re doing a good job.
11. What about those who do know you, your family and friends: How did they react to seeing you as Rick?
Yet another funny story – the night after “Time Stands Still Part 1” aired in Canada, I got a message on my cell phone from one of my friends which basically went “AAAH!! EPHRAIM STOP BEING SCARY!!” and that was the biggest compliment in the world. My family has been really impressed and supportive of all my work, and my friends think it’s great (though jokes like the one above aren’t in short supply).
12. You’re 19, obviously older than the character you played, but how do you feel about the issues you addressed with Rick? Were these the kinds of issues you faced in school?
When I was younger, back in grade school and such, I was on the receiving end of bullying for quite a long time. I thank every lucky star I have that I got to go to an arts-oriented middle school and high school where I was more accepted. But trust me, I can identify with what Rick went through. The thing a lot of people find hard to acknowledge is that kids can be just as cruel as adults, and at a young age it can be tremendously scarring for those on the receiving end.
The message this storyline has behind it is really quite simple: Love thy neighbour. It’s that same old thing about getting along with your fellow man and being a nice person – which may seem tired, but the fact is that it’s something people still need to be reminded about. This type of behaviour only leads to a vicious cycle of violence and anger.
Rick was only looking for acceptance and a second chance. Things would’ve gone much differently had there only been a little more open-mindedness towards him. The story is really about forgiveness, and that’s something I’ve always loved about it.
13. You were featured in the U.S. version of TV Guide, singled out for your performance, and there have been mentions in other magazines. Did you have any idea how large a reaction your role would generate or of the following the show had in the U.S.?
I had a bit of an inkling, but it’s been much bigger than I’d ever imagined. It’s really rewarding as an actor to be a part of something that has affected so many people, especially when it’s got such a strong message behind it.
14. When you aren’t on the set, what do you do for fun?
When I’m not working on set, I’m working somewhere else – mainly the University of Toronto, where I’m enrolled in the Arts and Sciences program as an English/Philosophy major. However, if we’re talking about my ACTUAL free time, I’m usually with my friends and family, who I don’t get to see a lot because of my hectic work and school schedule.
Watching TV with my sister or hanging out downtown dishing politics and philosophy with my friends is always how I’d choose to spend my free time. I also do a lot of writing and drawing – other than acting, I aspire to direct and write for film, so I’m trying to get a head start with some scripts that I might be able to get produced years down the line if someone decides to lend me a billion dollars.
15. As an actor, if you had the chance to choose your dream cast to work with, who would it include and why?
I’d love to get a chance to work with Tom Cruise or Liam Neeson. Because I’m so used to the behind-the-scenes of film, there are few actors who I consistently forget are actors when I watch them on screen. Both Neeson and Cruise are people who completely blend with the character and cease to be Tom and Liam on screen, which is something I’d like to be able to do one day.
As for directors, I’d give my right leg to work with Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, or Kevin Smith. I’m so angry I missed working with Kevin Smith by a couple of episodes on Degrassi. But I can at least say I’m somewhat connected to the Askewniverse now.
16. What do you consider to be movies that influenced your acting style, your life, or had a great effect on you? What are some of your favourites?
I think the two most important movies in determining my decision to become an actor are The Princess Bride and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When I was little I used to run around the forest at my cottage dressed as Westley or Indy reciting the entire films. I think that kind of make-believe was the original seed for me wanting to be an actor.
I’ve always been a fan of the Star Wars series as well. As a writer, it’s so neat to see a modern-day writer single-handedly create a mythology. It’s something to aspire to.
17. What songs are queued up in your CD player?
I’ve been getting into Radiohead and Joe Strummer lately, and I’ve had a hankering for The Who and AC/DC for the past while. You can’t argue with the classics. I’m also currently listening to a lot of Enter The Haggis, which is an independent folk-rock band from Toronto that plays a really cool mixture of rock, funk, and Celtic. I’ve always liked traditional folk-rock for the same reasons I like Star Wars – making the old new again. It’s amazing how accessible traditional reels and jigs can be when you punk them up a little.
18. If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
I’d love to get into film directing, writing, or editing. I get so much joy from acting, but I get almost as much sitting for hours on end in front of an edit suite putting together films. It’s one of the things I miss about high school – my film production class! Endless hours of playing with really cool editing programs. Barring anything in the film industry, I might’ve become an archeologist. I’ve always had a keen interest in mythology and history – though Indiana Jones might’ve had something to do with it, too.
19. What is one sentence you would use to describe yourself?
This one is a toughy – hmm… I’m an actor, student, philosopher, fool, hopeless romantic, and eternal optimist.
20. Now that Degrassi is over and done, are there future projects we can look forward to? Are you planning on pursuing your acting career?
Well, as a matter of fact, I just wrapped up shooting a TV movie for ABC/Family called Blended, starring Melrose Place‘s Josie Bissett. It’s a family comedy about two single parents who get married after a drunken night in Vegas, and the hilarity that ensues. If the product is half as funny as the times I had on set, it’ll be a fantastic picture.
I’m also starring in a pilot for a television series called Falcon Beach for Global Television, which is a Canadian network. That pilot is a teen drama about a cottage town in Manitoba. The script was really great, and I had an absolute blast filming it – I really hope it gets picked up so I get to work with the cast and crew again.
And, to answer that last part, I’m in this business for the long run. There are few things in life that bring me more joy and fulfillment than acting, and if I can scrape a living out of it, I’ll consider myself one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth.
Property of PopGurls.com – do not repost without permission.