SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Connor Dutchak: My name is Connor Dutchak and I am an actor. I graduated from the Theatre and Drama Studies program at the University of Toronto back in 2016, took a short break from acting to pursue other things, and have been back to acting since 2018.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Connor Dutchak: I was doing a silly little play in the sixth grade. It was about a 10th planet and aliens and I was a kid who wrote a report about it for his school paper. Seems kind of weird, but it was the most fun I’d ever had at school really so I kept acting. But my family had a massive collection of old Disney movies in those plastic clamshell cases, so I think I always really wanted to do this.
SKSM: How did you become involved in Big Wheels Dollar Baby film?
Connor Dutchak: Andrew Bee posted the casting call on one of the Toronto Facebook groups. I saw that it was a Stephen King story and that Andrew and I had worked with a few of the same people so I applied right away.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Connor Dutchak: I think it’s how claustrophobic the story is. Our director Andrew Simpson had us watch One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as inspiration for the characters, but I also think there’s a bit of Reservoir Dogs in there because the space is very open yet restrictive at the same time. It’s as if the environment is slowly strangling you without you realizing it.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Connor Dutchak: I auditioned. I had a few days to prep for it so I got to really dig deep into the text beforehand, which mostly consisted of me muttering my lines to myself while I was doing the dishes or when I was at work.
SKSM: You worked with Andrew Simpson on this film, how was that?
Connor Dutchak: Probably the best experience I’ve had with a director. Andrew knows exactly what he wants, but he also allows you to play so you can make your own discoveries and it doesn’t feel rigid. It’s very rare that you have that level of confidence in one another, and I definitely felt that.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Connor Dutchak: There’s this episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob and Patrick Star become the crew for the Flying Dutchman, and there’s one point where Patrick is trying to navigate around a huge rock, and Spongebob keeps screaming “YOU’RE GOOD, YOU’RE GOOD…” even though Patrick is scraping up against the rock and destroying the ship.
Well, the first day of shooting consisted mostly of Mark Rival and I in the car which you see in the movie, and that involved a lot of backing the car back into place in between shots. I do a pretty good Spongebob impression, and every time Mark would back the car up, I would go “YOU’RE GOOD, YOU’RE GOOD…” and Mark would start howling with laughter every time.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Connor Dutchak: This past year has been eventful to say the least so not as much as I would have liked to, but I hope to rectify that once things start opening up more.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Connor Dutchak: I shot a WWI film called “The Ace and the Scout” in Sarnia back in September which was pretty awesome. The past while I’ve been working on a few scripts and some other art projects.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Connor Dutchak: I’m admittedly not as well-versed in his writing, but I’m probably going to dive into his stuff more once I finish re-reading the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson. That said, you can’t be into movies and not see stuff based on his work. The Green Mile and Shawshank are two of my favourites.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Connor Dutchak: I’m allergic to cockroaches. No, I’m not joking.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Connor Dutchak: Just that I hope they enjoy watching Big Wheels as much as we enjoyed making it. It was an awesome experience for all of us and I hope that comes across onscreen. Also, watch for “The Ace and The Scout.” There should be a trailer out soon.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Connor Dutchak: On the larger topic of moviewatching in general, I urge people to go back to theatres once Covid restrictions ease up more and more. Some of the box office numbers already suggest that this will be the case, but I feel it’s important that people do, and not just for big tentpole films. There’s something really magical about the theatre experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere, and I hope that the time away from the big screen has people wanting to go back.