Locally driven

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Canadian actor Art Hindle, star of the hockey film Face-Off, says he’d like to see an increase in Canadian programming, as was the case with shows like Road to Avonlea.

Actor Art Hindle talks television and film

Art Hindle spent his afternoon blazing a trail for winter’s arrival, much like he did as Billy Duke for hockey in the film Face-Off.

Hindle lives in King City these days, with wife Brooke, on a horse farm. Though he loves where he is now “communing with nature”, he’ll admit his heart is still in the Beaches.

The actor of Canadian television shows E.N.G. and Paradise Falls, and of silver screen portrayals in Porky’s, Black Christmas and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, has been traveling back to the city to celebrate an anniversary.

His first film Face-Off, the love story of hockey player Billy Duke and folksinger Sherry Nelson, was released 40 years ago.

On the film’s anniversary, Nov. 3, Hindle, along with family attended a screening of the film at the Hockey Hall of Fame, as the sports movie has skated its way onto Blu-ray.

Although he donned a blue Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in the film, skated with plenty of NHL legends like Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau, Darryl Sittler and Derek Sanderson, Hindle admitted he was a little green in his premiere.

“When I watched it, it was painful for me to watch because I was a young actor and I could see a lot of warts and moles in my performance,” he says. “But now, 40 years later I can look back on it and I think I did a pretty good job.”

Still, the fact so many stars of hockey’s past had appearances in the flick is awe-inspiring to Hindle.

“You couldn’t do that film today because the NHL probably wouldn’t allow it and they only just barely allowed this Blu-ray to be issued,” he says. “Of course with the players association, for this calibre of players we had in this film, it would be prohibitively expensive to do this film.”

Hindle’s candid, admitting he always wanted to be a sports reporter, though the irony of him not playing hockey as a kid is not lost on him.

He grew up on Courcelette Road in the Beach and Eastwood Road in the Upper Beach. That life on shore led him to Ashbridge’s Bay, where father Ben Hindle was once commodore of the Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club.

“My summers were spent not really playing baseball, but he would put me in a sailboat or rowboat, put a little life jacket on me and launch me into Ashbridge’s Bay,” Hindle says. “He wanted me to become an Olympic sailor, I think.”

Though he sailed into different waters as an actor, an adventure that eventually led him to Los Angeles, Hindle developed another passion: the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.

During the 2011 federal election ACTRA was involved in keeping arts and culture in voters’ minds as they went to the polls. More than half a year later, Hindle says the message is still loud and strong.

“You can’t sort of mark time, or stand still,” he said. “You’ve got to keep these issues in front of the politicians because if you don’t they’ll just move on to whoever else is making the noise.”

When it comes to Toronto, where Hindle is active as an ACTRA councillor and as Vice President of External Affairs, the television and movie industry has nothing to fear in Mayor Rob Ford.

“As far as TV and film, he’s a businessman, he realizes that it brings big bucks to Toronto,” he said. “And so I don’t think he’ll touch that.

“As it is, it’s a $60 billion industry in the gross national product.”

It was here in Hogtown where Hindle spent five of the best years of his career on the show E.N.G.

“It was an ensemble cast with 12 or 13 actors with a lot of wonderful guest stars and we just basically had a lot of fun doing it,” he says. “Literally, every day we were laughing on the set. Very rarely did we ever have a sour moment.”

That Canadian content on television sets countrywide is lost. Shows like Street Legal, Road to Avonlea, Jake and the Kid along with Neon Rider aren’t as commonplace as they once were, Hindle says.

“I hope and wish there would be more Canadian content on prime time private networks that rent our airwaves,” he admits. “I’d like to see them have a couple hours more Canadian content.”

Even more so, with economic uncertainty flipping through minds like a finished film reel.

“You do need arts and culture,” he said. “When times are tough, that’s what keeps the people happy.”

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