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Sights set on success with three TIFF films

By Lorianna De Giorgio

November 4, 2008

IN-DEMAND: Actor Joris Jarsky likes to embody different characters and their emotions in the new films: Blindness, Toronto Stories and The Green Door.
One film at the Toronto International Film Festival is one thing.

Two? That’s just great.

But three? Well, that’s a dream had by many actors in this city.

Dreams do come true for Joris Jarsky later this month, as the midtown actor appears in three films — <em>Blindness</em>, <em>Toronto Stories</em> and the short, <em>The Green Door</em> — each set to receive their Toronto premiere at this year’s fest.

“It’s a great feeling growing up in Toronto and reading about the festival and always wanting to be in the festival,” says Jarsky over coffee at the Drake’s café a few weeks before the fest run of Sept. 4-13. “It’s always been a goal. And it’s always nice when you achieve goals.”

Time will tell if his acting profile beefs up thanks to the premieres. But it’s not like Jarsky is depending on it.

In the nine years since graduating from the National Theatre School of Canada, Jarsky has landed regular work appearing in a slew of flicks and TV series including, <em>The Hulk</em> and <em>FoolProof</em>, alongside fellow Canucks Ryan Reynolds and Kristin Booth.

He’s been lucky to have skipped side gigs that usually fall on up-and-coming actors, from working as waiters to doing odd jobs in order to pay their rent.

Instead, Jarsky has created a name for himself as a versatile, in-demand actor.

With <em>Blindness</em> — celebrated director Fernando Meirelles’ film about an epidemic leaving everyone blind save for Julianne Moore’s character — Jarsky has also tasted the festival circuit attending its international premiere at Cannes in May.

The experience was, well, magical, Jarsky says.

“It was like going to the palace of film,” he says, with a wink.

So too was the fact he was starring in a film he had always hoped to star in since he had read the original version by Portuguese novelist José Saramago.

The fact that Torontonian Don McKellar was adapting Saramago’s novel didn’t hurt either, Jarsky says.

Saramago’s messages of compassion, and how we all need each other, and need to recognize each other’s troubles, made sense to Jarsky.

“I wanted to be in the movie, and when I saw (Meirelles’ 2002) City of God, I was like ‘If there is an acting God out there, can I work with Fernando Meirelles?’ ”

Jarsky’s prayers were answered April 2007 when he was called in to audition for the part of the hooligan in the film.

“What Saramago says about society is quite beautiful, and it needs to be said now more than ever,” Jarsky says. “I grew up watching movies that I felt said something. It’s always nice to be part of a movie that says something.”

<em>Toronto Stories</em> says something. It’s a feature film comprised of four different stories by four different directors, Sook-Yin Lee, David Weaver, Aaron Woodley and Sudz Sutherland. It follows events a nameless boy witnesses in a course of a single day.

By the end, the four, first seemingly different, stories are connected. As a whole, <em>Toronto Stories</em> can be viewed as a film about the city we live in, and the countless stories that make it unique.

Jarsky’s own story of how he became an actor started with him wanting to make people laugh.

When Jarsky realized he could extend himself to more serious, dramatic roles, receiving praise for his talent in the process, he was hooked.

“As I got older, and I started acting more, the challenge of embodying another character appealed to me,” he says.

Plus, Jarsky says he wasn’t good at anything else. He tried to be a cook but failed. He also tried his hand at painting soon realizing he didn’t have the knack for it.

“I couldn’t possibly imagine what I would do for a living if I had to choose something else,” Jarsky says a matter-of-factly.

And it’s films like <em>Blindness</em> and <em>Toronto Stories</em> that prove to Jarsky he’s made a good – great – decision with his career.

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