Welcome Home, Nicholas

After several years in Hollywood, Vancouver actor Nicholas Lea is back and glad to be here

CREDIT: Jon Murray, The Province

'This is one of the world's great cities. It's the place I grew up in, I feel safest here, I feel calmest here.'

David Spaner

The Province
Sunday, July 06, 2003

Nicholas Lea -- one of the city's most successful expats in Hollywood -- has come home.

"I've spent so much time the last seven, eight years in Los Angeles, away from my family, away from my friends, away from the city that is my favourite place to be and I just want to come here and have a proper life," says Lea, who starred in the feature Vertical Limit and was a regular on TV's The X-Files and John Woo's Once a Thief.

"This is one of the world's great cities, why wouldn't I want to be here? It's the place I grew up in, I feel safest here, I feel calmest here. People already say, 'You look more relaxed than you did down in L.A.,'" says Lea, one of the featured actors in Dreaming in the Rain: How Vancouver Became Hollywood North by Northwest.

"L.A. to me is not really an attractive place. It's like you spend enough time down there and you get sucked into the middle of this concept that you're supposed to be on billboards and supposed to be famous and if you're not you suck and life's not worth living. And it's just so not the case, man.

"I got into it to be an actor. I just wanted to act. I didn't want to do anything else."

Lea is not alone. In the past few years, a parade of Canadian actors have returned (for starters: Nicholas Campbell, Nick Mancuso, Wendy Crewson, Alan Scarfe, Helen Shaver). The growth of Canadian cinema has created a new circumstance in which actors, from Bruce Greenwood (The Sweet Hereafter) to Molly Parker (Kissed), have found their breakout roles in Canada.

"I haven't closed off my hopes for getting bigger and better roles just because I'm here. I think I've limited myself in some ways but I've opened up a whole different avenue," says Lea.

He's not ruling out Canadian TV, either.

"If it was good, for sure. I'd like to do it here. I wouldn't really want to live in Toronto do it. If it was good quality, if it was a Da Vinci-type show, I'd be tickled.

Lea will continue to work elsewhere.

"I'm hoping I'll be able to spend at least half the year here and the other half working, whether it's in L.A. or other places around the world. I'm going to New York, I think, to do David Duchovny's movie. It's a script that he's written and they've got Robin Williams attached."

Since returning in March, Lea worked a few days on his friend Ben Ratner's movie Moving Malcolm and is increasingly involved in the Lyric acting school but mostly he's been setting up his new life in a rented home on the city's west side and barging his things over to a place he's bought on a Gulf Island.

Family and personal relationships played a vital role in Lea's decision to return.

"I have a girlfriend here that I've been with for two years now and we see each other like once every two months. What kind of relationship is that? At the end of the day those are the things that are going to be the most important. When I'm on my deathbed, I'll hopefully be able to count more friends than parts that I had."

Copyright 2003 The Province

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