Whether Shannon Kook would land the role of a young Trey Teepano in the upcoming thriller Dark Places was dependent on actress Charlize Theron’s approval.
The Bathurst and Dupont resident recalls the audition process for the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel, which was co-produced by the South African-born actress.
“It was one of the longest processes I’ve had of yeses and nos because they had to go through the gauntlet of producers and studios, and they kept holding off,” he says, with a wry grin. “It was quite a daunting experience.
“They said, everyone said yes and it’s just going to Charlize, and I was like, this is really going to suck if she’s the one who says no. But it all worked out.”
He said he was “really pumped to meet her” but discovered once he got to set that she had left two days before.
“Her part is set in modern day, and mine is in the ’80s, when her character is seven years old,” he said in explaining why she had already left.
Though he didn’t get to see his fellow countryman — Kook divided the years of his youth between Johannesburg and Mitchells Plain before moving to Toronto in 2004 — it reminded him of his first brush with stardom
“I won tickets to Monster, which was screening at Yonge and College, and I had no friends, so I tried to give tickets to people on the street,” he says, past frustration reimagining itself through his expression. “No one would take them. They were all sort of suspicious.
“I went in and [Theron] was standing a metre away from me, and the lights were going down, and I
was going to say hello. I was going to use her native tongue, Afrikaans.”
He didn’t have the courage to act on his well-wishes, but his pursuit of film and television has landed him on the Toronto International Film Festival’s shortlist of Rising Stars for 2014.
The 27-year-old studied theatre and song at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal before landing the role of Zane in DeGrassi: The Next Generation.
His breakout movie roles include Empire of Dirt, which was an official selection at the 2013 TIFF, and the horror film The Conjuring.
“It’s a big honour,” Kook says of being named a Rising Star with fellow thespians Sophie Desmarais, Alexandre Landry and Julia Sarah Stone. “There are so many great actors out there.
“This was really well-timed for me, at the point I’m at in my career, personally. But at the same time, even with all the lights and the spoiling that we get in the program, there’s just a lot of reality in life that you have to deal with.”
He said he finds it important to remain grounded “and not let your head fly off your shoulders.”
Even with the attention, there are pauses between the work, but Kook doesn’t mind as he is the head bartender at Tequila Jacks downtown.
It’s there where he’ll be asked to pose for photos with fans, serve shots and encourage patrons to have a good time.
Reminded by his Theron experience, Kook says he never turns down a photo op, even if “90 percent” of the time he goes without a tip.
“They’re so excited to see me,” he said. “I’ll leave the bar — and I’m running a really busy bar — and I’ll try to make it over to them because you never know when you’ll see somebody again, and you don’t know what impact you have on their life.”