One of Chelah’s selections from the juiced-box in the Bar None: Broken Social Scene – Water In Hell
[Press 'Play' for, "The shuck and jive is over / The second time is over / It's too bad the monkey's on your shoulder." Get it? "The monkey's on your shoulder..."]
A few weeks back, my daughter and i saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes and i wrote the review everyone is talking about so much my ears are constantly ringing. ‘Course that may just be the voices in my head calling but i’m gonna put them on hold long enough to tune you into some awesome Booze Talkin’. Because, right here in the Bar None, i have the honor of interviewing a real actress, who has even done some real acting.
Chelah Horsdal is the immensely talented actress i was able to have a sit down with, even though she wouldn’t technically sit down and can you blame her? Have you seen the stools in the Bar None? She played “Irena” in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the home care giver, and came off as totally believable because she gave so much care i started caring myself.
Look, here comes the proof of that.
i was hanging out in Vancouver or some other place pretty darn Canadian and it was in the zoo, which is how i knew it was Canada because that’s the only time i go to the zoo. Unless there’s a lot of snow and then i know it’s not Canada because i hate the snow and always leave a place where there is some. Where does Al K Hall go in the zoo? You know it, Barmaids and Beerhounds, straight to the monkey cage with all the other little kids because i like to watch them throw their crap. Plus, the monkeys are pretty funny, too.
There i was, watching the monkeys making a wet bar out of peanut shells and simian feces, when who sat down beside me but Chelah Horsdal and i’m not even kidding. Fortunately, she didn’t recognize me, the infamous AL K Hall, so when the monkeys started getting drunk on mash they’d made from palm fronds, i made my move.
Al K Hall: Mind if i sit here?
[As we'd been sitting beside each other since the mash had starting fermenting, Chelah was a little confused. She looked at me like i'd just escaped the cage, so i skipped the introductions. ]
Al K Hall: You live in Canada, right?
Chelah Horsdal: Yessir, I am a proud Canadian.
Al K Hall:What’s the most Canadian thing you do?
Al K Hall: But you spent a year in the Caribbean, too. Right? What was this “lost” year like? Tons of parties? Do you remember it like David Bowie does the 70′s?
Chelah: It wasn’t quite as glamorous as one might think. I worked in a restaurant on the beach and spent heaps of time diving and playing volleyball. I certainly kept late nights, but I left the hard living to other expats.
Al K Hall: i know, i was the kind of guy living the hard life for you. Still, why would someone move from the Caribbean back to Canada?
Chelah: It’s amazing how fast it can get old. If you have ambition, an island in the Caribbean is not the place to be.
Al K Hall: Hmm. i don’t have ambition, maybe i should head down there. Can i drop your name? Like, “i’m cool, Chelah sent me.” Wait, what’s the story behind your name?
Chelah: “Chelah” is Sanskrit. It means the learner/student of life. It’s all about hippie parents.
Al K Hall: As am i. [AlKHallism: ?] What’s your idea of fun?
Chelah: Hiking with my dog, dinner parties with my peeps, working…you can see I’m a real animal.
Al K Hall: Tell that to the monkeys. [One is so drunk it passes out and falls from the tree like a dead bird.] What’s something i wouldn’t know about you until i got drunk with you?
Chelah: That you’ll never learn something new by getting drunk with me.
Al K Hall: Ooh, good answer. But what kind of vices do you have?
Chelah: I don’t believe in vices because that implies that you have to break the rules to be happy….and I don’t believe that to be the case. Do what brings you joy and don’t feel any guilt for it.
Al K Hall: Tell me something i don’t know, Learner of Life.
Chelah: My dog has been known to suck my thumb.
Al K Hall: You’re right. i did not know that. i do know, however, that you started off your acting / modeling career with ads and TV commercials. What was the most ridiculous product you ever had to sell?
Chelah: I did a commercial for some generic female sexual enhancement product years ago. I still have no idea what the company was or what the actual product was.
[i laugh so hard i startle the monkeys.]
[Here's another song Chelah selected from the juiced-box: Brooke Fraser - Here's To You]
Al K Hall: Is that how you got the role of ”Irena”, the nurse, in Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
Chelah: I auditioned. Simple as that. The fact that it was a last minute one may have served me in the long run, as i was so frustrated with not getting the words right. Rupert [AlKHallism: Rupert Wyatt, the film's director] later said that’s what he liked, I wouldn’t give up.
Al K Hall: Where was the shoot?
Chelah: They shot the majority of the film in Vancouver…which is my home town, so it was an easy commute. I was only on set for a couple of days, but the scope of the production was massive.
Al K Hall: Was James Franco totally stoned the whole time? Is John Lithgow as distorted in person as he is on the screen?
Chelah: I adored both of them. James is totally professional and lovely to work with. John is a talent for the ages….so extraordinary, humble and talented.
Al K Hall: Be honest now, before you got the part, how many of the Planet of the Apes had you seen?
Chelah: I had seen the 1968 original a few times as a kid and the 2001 remake. I have yet to see any others…not even Rise… yet!!
Al K Hall: Trippy! Why not?
Chelah: I was scheduled to fly to LA for the premier but booked a huge gig in Toronto the day before. Threw my plans up in the air and ultimately, I’ve been working solidly since then…no time for going to movies. I almost watched it in the hotel this past weekend, but was too bagged from a 14 hour work day.
Al K Hall: Trust me, you’re going to love it. You do a wonderful job, as in everything else you’ve done. There is apparently a little known law in Canada that every TV show or commercial or film shot in the Great White North must have an appearance by Chelah Horsdal. How does that make you feel?
Chelah: I like to think it’s part of the union’s collective agreement…ahem. In all seriousness, this month is my 10 year anniversary of deciding to become an actor and I’ve been so incredibly lucky to work a fair amount for a number of years now.
Al K Hall: Your résumé is even longer than my pianist. Is there anything you’re especially proud of that we here in the Bar None should know about?
Chelah: Holy Toledo, trying to pick favourites is a challenge. Often times the highlights are one scene that stands out or working with particular artists. Working with Sir Ben Kingsley on Elegy was too much to believe. One of my first guest stars was the pilot for Criminal Minds, and that was a huge emotional breakthrough as an artist. The pilot I just shot in Toronto, Wish List, is hands down the best professional experience I’ve ever had.
Al K Hall: Impressive! You’re the first person ever to use “Holy Toledo” in a Booze Talkin’! Another honor to add to your list; like you’ve been nominated for a couple Leo’s [AlKHallism: 'Leos' are the British Columbian equivalents of the Golden Globes]. Would you thank me in the acceptance speech were you to win?
Chelah: Yes, yes Al, I would thank you.
Al K Hall: And some people wonder why i say, “Thank you for patronizing me.” Another person who patronizes me is Mrs Demeanor, who is the kind of a geek that would kill me if i didn’t ask about your participation in Battlestar Galactica. You were in three episodes…
Chelah: Your wife clearly has impeccable taste…one of the all-time greatest shows on television. I loved working on it and loved Didi Cassidy.
Al K Hall: How was the ambiance on the set?
Chelah: Many of the cast were like a big family & the crew was so supremely talented. I only wish they had brought me back in season 4 to be revealed as a Cylon.
Chelah: Everything & Everyone is premiering at the Vancouver Film Festival this week. I’m super excited to see it. It’s an ensemble piece that explores relationships between friends, family & lovers….funny & tragic…the first feature written by Ian Tang. Hopefully we’ll have distribution news to share in the upcoming months.
Al K Hall: And Cabin in the Woods? It was written by Joss Whedon and everything.
Chelah: Cabin In The Woods… I have a teeny-weeny part about which I can share nothing—it’s all top secret. Although I understand it’s finally going to be released after sitting on a shelf for sometime.
Al K Hall: Cool! What’s also very cool is that you’re modest. Like no one knows you’re a talented artist who contributes work to charities for auction.
Chelah: The fact that anyone has paid actual cash-money for my art or photos just boggles my mind. But it’s helped me to contribute, for which I’m super grateful.
Al K Hall: What charities do you support? Where can my readers go to help out if they’re drunk and feeling generous? Can we see an example of your photography or artwork?
Chelah: I’m a supporter of Caleb’s Hope, an organization started by my friend and colleague, Holly Dignard. Holly has spent agreat deal of time on the ground working with and empowering women who have fallen victim to great horrors in Northern Uganda. I also make an effort to both fundraise and donate to Doctors Without Borders and The Canadian Red Cross during times of crisis, as both are organizations with the infrastructure to affect tremendous change and offer aid efficiently. And most recently, I aligned myself with Make-A-Wish Foundation in honour of the show we shot this summer, Wish List. Seemed like a natural marriage.
Al K Hall: And what about a sample of that artwork?
[The last of Chelah's selections from the juiced-box and one of my personal favorites: Ray Lamontagne - Jolene]
Al K Hall: What do you have for your many fans?
Chelah: Even the phrase ‘my fans’ sounds insane to me, as I really just head out and try to do my job. It rarely even occurs to me that someone may see or notice me in the final product.
Al K Hall: i sure did.
Chelah:I suppose if I were to pass along one sentiment it would be this: find your bliss in whatever it is you do. I’ve found mine, and that’s why this interview is even taking place. If you can find a place to do what you love, even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day, I wish for you that you take it. And be kind. It’s free.
Al K Hall: As is the dreaded Bar None questionnaire. Think of it like pulling off a band-aid. The faster you do it, the less you cry. What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?
Chelah: Wine…a chunky red or full, lush white.
Al K Hall: When was the last time you had a hangover?
Chelah: Last weekend.
Al K Hall: Do you smoke?
Chelah: Smoking is for suckers.
Al K Hall: What’s your favorite swear word?
Chelah: Shut the front door!
Al K Hall: Holy Toledo! Finally, what’s your favorite thing about me, Al K Hall?
Chelah: Wait…Al? I thought I was talking to [censored]!? What’s in hells bells?!
You’re gonna hafta stop reading now, because here comes the bad news. i never really met Chelah Horsdal in a Vancouver Zoo or any other zoo or any other real place for that matter. We did the whole interview through email. i fiddled with my end of things to make it look like we’d met face to face, but all of her answers remain unsullied.
i’d like to thank Chelah here and now for taking time out of her whack schedule to humor me and my silly questions. She is truly an inspiring woman, artist and actress, and i hope i didn’t burn any bridges with my ridiculousness because her star is going to keep rising higher and higher.
[AlKHall-ism: The majority of Chelah's photos were taken by the very talented Melissa Gidney. Check her out if you want her to make you famous, too.]
If y’all are interested in the other The Booze Talkin’: Exclusive Interviews, just click on the link.