Munro Chambers has quickly made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. His hard work and dedication to his craft are evident with the dynamic characters he has brought to life in film and television. This multi-faceted young actor first made an impact on the pop culture landscape with his role as “Wilder” on the Canadian sitcom “The Latest Buzz” [2007-10], a role he received a 2011 Gemini nomination for in the Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series category. However, Munro may be best known for his role as “Eli Goldsworthy” on the Emmy-nominated, long running series “Degrassi: The Next Generation” [2010-14] for which he received a Canadian Screen Award nomination in 2014, in the category of Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series.
In 2015, Munro Chambers is slated for a breakout year as he will next be seen starring as “The Kid” in TURBO KID, which made its world premiere at Sundance 2015 in the Park City at Midnight category. The film is already generating a tremendous buzz from critics and film fans alike. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic 1997, where The Kid [Chambers], a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books must face his fears and become a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl named Apple [Laurence Leboeuf]. Despite their efforts to keep to themselves, Zeus [Michael Ironside], the sadistic and self-proclaimed leader of the Wasteland, plagues The Kid and Apple. Armed with little more than blind faith and an ancient turbocharged weapon, The Kid learns of justice and friendship and embarks on an incredible journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl of his dreams.
Beyond Munro’s acting career, he has worked with international charity and educational partner Free The Children for the past five years and has traveled to India, Haiti, Ghana and Nicaragua to build schools, playgrounds and install water filtration systems with the organization.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Munro Chambers to discuss his journey as an actor, his evolution along the way, what drew him to the lead role in ‘Turbo Kid,” the challenges involved with bringing the film to life and much more!
How did you get started on your journey into the entertainment industry?
It really came from my love of film. I also had some family in the business but mainly I just loved performing and becoming these weird characters. I told my father when I was 5 or 6, “Dad, I want to be a cartoon!” He said, “You can’t be a cartoon!” Then I did an Alpha Bits commercial a few years later and, lo and behold, they turned me into a cartoon. They made me into one! I always wanted to perform and create interesting characters, so that is how it all began.
Who do you consider your biggest influence as a performer?
The biggest ones for me were probably Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro and Jim Carrey. I have always liked those guys because they can do such a broad range of roles from comedic to dramatic. I always looked up to them growing up.
Many people came to know you through your role on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” How did you get involved with the series and what were some of the highlights for you as an actor?
You know growing up in Canada and being a part of the industry at a young age, you look at “Degrassi” as being iconic. It has been around for 35 years. It was just an incredible experience to be a part of that show. They gave me so many opportunities with the character I had. It was an amazing time. It is a really big family there. Many people can say that about different projects, and it might not be true, but some of the cast members on the series are some of my best friends now. It is a really great ensemble and such a well oiled machine. They do such a great job of making these interesting storylines really connect with their viewers.
What was the biggest thing you took away from your time on the series from an acting standpoint?
With my character, he had a lot of things going on with him. He had OCD. He was a hoarder for a portion of it. He was bi-polar/manic depressant and that really connected with me. I learned a lot about that side of things, the disorders and people with mental illness. I learned that I really enjoyed performing those characters because you have to try hard to not mock it. That is what we do with “Degrassi.” Whenever we are tackling an issue or a storyline, we try to never mock it and bring light to it in a very respectful way while making it real and organic. I love doing that! I really enjoyed tackling those type of issues and making the audience connect with me, if I can!
You have quite a resume under your belt at this point. Did you ever have a moment where you felt like you had made it as an actor?
I am always working toward that moment, man! Any time I go on set, I am like, “Oh my God, this is going to be my last one!” It always feels like your first one and your last one! [laughs] I think that is exciting because you never want to lose that spark or those butterflies! I think one moment that sticks out in my mind was getting nominated for The Gemini Canadian Screen Awards in Canada. That was a big accomplishment for me but being at The Emmys with a few members of the cast of “Degrassi” was really special. I grew up watching The Emmys and to be there in that group of people with a cast who worked so hard to get there was a really special moment!
There has been a lot of buzz about your latest project, “TURBO KID.” What can you tell us about the flick and how you got involved?
“Turbo Kid” is really incredible. It is written and directed by these three directors, Anouk Whissell, François Simar, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. They are amazing! They are like a three-headed dragon! [laughs] It is basically about an orphaned kid who is in a post-apocalyptic world set in 1997. It is about him finding himself. It is a coming of age story with him trying to be a superhero! He is a comic book freak and he gets the opportunity to become the hero he has always wanted to be. He is kind of socially awkward but he gets that opportunity, surrounded by all of these weird and wacky characters who look like they are straight out of a comic book. Behind that, there is also a great love story! There is also a lot action, blood, guts and gore! It is a really fun film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. We hope that people feel that as well and have fun laughing with us!
What was it about the project or character that drew you in and made you know this was a role you had to take on?
With this project specifically, I had never read a script like this and I had never done a genre film before! The Kid is 15 years old, which is much younger than I am. That was interesting to me. I have also played younger than my age. You have to realize I have been in high school for 10 years now because I keep playing high school kids! [laughs] On the surface, the aspect of a genre/superhero film intrigued me but underneath there is a really great love story between The Kid and a character named Apple. It is a really nice story and it is very charming. That is what really connected me to it! I just tried to bring a naivety to him, a social awkwardness but I also wanted to make sure there was that arc where there is a change from the beginning to the end.
How did you prepare yourself for the role, both physically and mentally?
There is a lot of action in the film. Physically, I am a pretty physical guy. I play sports all the time. I am a good Canadian boy, so I play hockey twice a week! For the mentality of the character, I just tried to tap into my inner nerd! I was the kid who was hoping that one day Professor X would roll up to my door and lift me into the X-Men! [laughs] He is that type of kid but, like I said, he is also socially awkward because he has never really been around people or a girl that was around his age for that matter. It kinda came down to being the viewer because that is what my character is. He is watching all of this craziness going on around him. Everything is over the top but it is done respectfully because everyone did just as good, stayed consistent and stuck to their character. He is kind of a grounding force in the film. As an actor, it was really great to watch everyone else perform these really wonderful characters.
The film is loaded with action. Were you involved with any of the stunt work for the film and what was it like working with that part of the crew?
That was awesome! I actually got to do a lot of the stunts in the film. I didn’t get to do a lot of the biking, as far as the trick, because I am not a great BMXer. However, I did get to do all of the fight sequences and a couple of the falls. That was great for me! I love doing the stunts and the action hero stuff! As a kid, you always wanted to do that, right? You always wanted to be Batman or Captain America and do those sorts of things! For me, I was really fortunate to get to live out that dream and do some really cool fight sequences and work with some awesome people!
Tell us about working with the directors on this project and what did they bring to the table?
Number one, three directors is unheard of! [laughs] It is funny because they are all of the same mind! You think it would get kind of clustered and they would have conflicting opinions but it wasn’t like that at all. They were all on the same page at all times! The one thing I really enjoyed about them is how collaborative they were. They really, really respected the actors opinions about scenes or dialog, so it was a really great collaboration. I feel like we all got to put our two cents in and make a film that we wanted to make. This is their film. It’s their baby. It is their first feature film and they really wanted to make it special, so the fact that they even let me get a word in about this or that was great. We really worked together as a team and that was really interesting to me and I look forward to that with other projects. Hopefully, I will be getting that experience again!
What do you consider the biggest challenge you faced as an actor with this project?
The cold! [laughs] It was freezing, man! We filmed it in Montreal in March of last year. It was nits! It was -20 degrees! So cold! [laughs] It was really challenging to get back to that kid-style of being innocent and naive. I hope that comes across. He is a socially awkward kid but it was a fun character. The rest of ensemble made it that much easier because they are so great!
Have you had the opportunity to see the film with an audience at this point? If so, what was the experience like for you?
Yeah! We premiered “Turbo Kid” at Sundance a couple of weeks ago. That was an amazing experience for all of us. People really seemed to be engaged with it from laughing to cheering! That was a great experience to watch it with everyone else! I think it was well received. My biggest thing was that we, the crew and the cast, really had fun with it. I think how much fun we had on set really came across on the screen!
Whether it is this role or any other character, do you have a process you go through to bring a character to life?
It really depends on the character but I like to do as much research as possible. For example, I did a guest starring role on a show called “Cracked” where my character was homeless and had Tourettes Syndrome. I really tried my best to read up on material, watch documentaries and really get down to what makes it real. There is a stigma and I wanted to go against the stigma and make it as real and genuine as possible. So, for my character in “Turbo Kid,” I tried my best to find out what he likes, what he is into, what scares him, what makes him nervous and what excites him. Then I try to bring those elements through in the script.
We have been able to watch you grow up on screen through your many projects. What do you consider your biggest evolution as an actor?
Honestly, I think it has to be “Degrassi.” I was on the show for five years. Before that, I did a series where it was mainly comedic, the character was very Kelso and Joey Tribbiani-esque for three years. Even before that, there were a lot of nice dramatic movies and shows. With “Degrassi,” I got to play a character with such range. They really gave me a lot of opportunity for storylines and I am really grateful for that! They kind of threw stuff at me and really challenged me as an actor. That is really why I choose to do this project, “Turbo Kid,” because it was such a fun challenge. I always want to be challenged and I never want to play it safe. I always want to take a risk and hopefully it works out! I think, as an actor, you have to be versatile and be able to step out of your comfort zone. I have always really been a fan of that approach. For example, one of my favorite filmmakers right now is Derek Cianfrance, who directed “Blue Valentine” and “Place Beyond The Pines.” I feel like those films are such flies on the wall and so raw. I think to take on scripts like that or projects of that sort, where you can make them so raw and tear your heartstrings out, is something I really like. I also really like slapstick comedies, along with many other genres. I really think you have to be open to anything. With this industry, you never know what is going to be thrown at you.
What can you tell us about the work you do for charity? We would love to help spread the word!
Yeah, that has been a really special thing for me. That is another thing that came about through “Degrassi.” They have an amazing partnership with Free The Children. With Free The Children, you go to a town in a country like India, Kenya or Ghana and you help out their community! You help by building a school, a playground or a water filtration system. We aren’t there to fix things overnight. It is a process of helping them build a system to sustain themselves. It is really great because we get to go there and experience their culture, religion and families. It is really great that they allow us into their homes because we can all learn so much from each other. It is a great organization and you can learn more about it by visiting www.freethechildren.com.
What is the best lesson we can take away from your story as an actor, so far?
It’s always funny when that question comes up because I feel like I am learning lessons all the time, so it’s kind of weird to give one. But, if I had to give one, I would say you have to learn to accept and appreciate the word no. Don’t get discouraged by it or get scared from it. Just learn to get excited about hearing it and find out what you can do better!
Solid advice. When you aren’t focused on your craft and busy schedule, how do you mellow out or relax?
Honestly, I love hanging out with my family and friends. I have a really small group that I hang out with and watch and discuss films. Mainly, I find myself talking about my Toronto Maple Leafs! I am a huge hockey fan!
Nothing wrong with that! I am a hockey fan myself!
Oh yeah? Who do you cheer for?
I am based out of Maryland, so I am a Washington Capitals fan.
OK! Yeah! Great! You guys have an OK team! You’ve got Ovie [Alex Ovechkin]!
Yeah, we’ve seen peaks and valleys like everyone else!
[laughs] Yeah, we have been up and down! You have to stay true to your team though, right!
Absolutely! Thanks so much for your time today, Munro. I wish you continued success and I am definitely looking forward to everything you have in store for us in the years to come!
Thanks, Jason! I really appreciate that! Talk to you soon!
Be sure to connect with Munro Chambers on Twitter for a look inside his world; @The_Munro. Learn more about ‘Turbo Kid’ by following the official Facebook page of the film at www.facebook.com/TurboKidmovie and check out the epic teaser trailer below!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.