Virtually ubiquitous in Canadian film, actor-director-screenwriter Don McKellar has established recurring creative partnerships with famed fellow countrymen Francois Girard, Atom Egoyan, Bruce McDonald and David Cronenberg. McKellar first gained notice on the big screen with "Roadkill," McDonald's 1989 rowdy road comedy about a woman on the trail of a missing rock band. In addition to writing the dryly humorous screenplay, McKellar played Russel, a thoughtful serial killer who sees crime as a valid career option. He teamed up with McDonald frequently, also penning and appearing in the director's acclaimed "Highway 61" (1992), writing the screenplay of the gemlike drama "Dance Me Outside" (1994) and starring in the short "Elimination Dance" (1998), based on the writings of Michael Ondaatje. McDonald also served as director of McKellar's CBC series "Twitch City" (1998-2000), an understated comedy chronicling a man (McKellar) living just above the poverty level in Toronto's Kensington Market, who rarely leaves his apartment and lives through television. Dourly comical with a realistic edge (including characters whose clothing and belongings had the uncommon flavor of authentic underprivilege), the series won many fans, and scored an order for a second set of episodes in 1999. Additional small screen appearances by McKellar include a guest shot as a bike messenger on the popular CBC sketch comedy series "The Kids In the Hall" and co-starring roles in two Showtime telefilms: 1997's adaptation of Rod Serling's riveting holocaust drama "In the Presence of Mine Enemies" and 1999's biopic "The Passion of Ayn Rand."
With director Francois Girard, McKellar would do two of his most well-known films, "Thirty Two Films About Glenn Gould" (1993) and "The Red Violin" (1998). He co-wrote and briefly appeared in the former, an episodic biopic about the eccentric pianist that became an art-house success. McKellar, himself a fan of Gould, helped shape the film's impressionist view of the musician, with each section corresponding to a different aspect or passion of Gould's life. The latter, which traced the travels of the titular instrument through generations of varied owners, received great acclaim on the festival circuit and several Genie nominations and a Best Screenplay win upon its Canadian release. The star-studded cast (featuring Samuel L Jackson and Greta Scacchi, as well as Canadian favorites Sandra Oh and McKellar) ensured a solid international audience.
While he is surely a perceptive and economical screenwriter with an evocative style and an ear for dialogue, McKellar has proven an onscreen asset as well. Unconventionally attractive, with a self-effacing charm, the dark-haired actor has displayed notable presence and watchability. McKellar worked extensively with director Atom Egoyan, perhaps most memorably as a bizarre pet shop owner in the director's intriguing "Exotica." This 1994 Genie-winning performance marked his second collaboration with the celebrated director, having previously essayed a young film censor in "The Adjuster" (1992), Egoyan's provocative look at human's voyeuristic leanings. In 1997, McKellar had a featured role in Egoyan's one-hour "Sarabande," a drama featuring legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma that aired on PBS as part of the series "Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach." McKellar has additionally acted in many Canadian productions alongside some of the nation's best known performers. His credits include "Never Met Picasso" (1996) with Margot Kidder, "Joe's So Mean to Josephine" (1997) with Eric Thal and Sarah Polley, and "The Herd" (1998) with Mark McKinney, Graham Greene and "Thirty Two Films About Glenn Gould" star Colm Feore. In 1999, McKellar had a featured role as Yevgeny Nourish, a double agent enmeshed in the alternate game universe of David Cronenberg's "eXistenZ."
McKellar made his feature directorial debut with "Last Night," an original and unsensational look at the end of the world that proved his threefold talent as star, screenwriter and director. The film was truly McKellar's, his touching and funny script and intuitive direction formed a notably well-made movie, while his compelling performance stood up well alongside some of the most omnipresent and respected performers in Canadian film: Sandra Oh, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley and even famed director David Cronenberg (who previously appeared in McKellar's short "Blue").
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Scripted and starred as an earnest serial killer in Bruce McDonald's "Roadkill"
Re-teamed with McDonald as screenwriter and co-star of "Highway 61"
Featured as a young film censor in Atom Egoyan's "The Adjuster"
Helmed the short films "Blue" and "The Bloody Nose"
Co-wrote and starred in the episodic biopic "Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould"
Played a quirky pet shop owner in Atom Egoyan's "Exotica"
Wrote screenplay for Bruce McDonald's Canadian reservation-set drama "Dance Me Outside"
Featured in the drama "When Night Is Falling"
Starred with Margot Kidder and Alexis Arquette in "Never Met Picasso"
Featured in the Showtime remake of Rod Serling's gripping Holocaust drama "In the Presence of Mine Enemies"
Featured in Egoyan's drama "Sarabande" with cellist Yo-Yo Ma (aired on PBS as part of the series "Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach")
Starred with Eric Thal and Sarah Polley in "Joe's So Mean to Josephine"
Created, wrote and starred in the CBC's comedy series "Twitch City"
Along with writer-director Francois Girard, wrote "The Red Violin"; also had a featured role
Starred in Bruce McDonald's short film "Elimination Dance"
Wrote and starred in his feature directorial debut, "Last Night"
Co-starred in David Cronenberg's thriller "eXistenZ"
Featured in Showtime's biopic "The Passion of Ayn Rand"
Wrote and directed "A Word from the Management"
Cast in the Canadian TV series "Slings and Arrows" as Darren Nichols, a pretentious theatre director
Starred in the Comedy Network animated sitcom "Odd Job Jack" as the titular hero, Jack Ryder
Helmed second film, "Childstar"
Appeared in Ken Finkleman's miniseries "At The Hotel"
Earned a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for "The Drowsy Chaperone"
Hosted the CBC Radio One series "High Definition"
Wrote the screen adaptation of José Saramago's 1995 novel "Blindness" (also starred), directed by Fernando Meirelles