ANDPOP is celebrating Canadian talent. Each month we’ll introduce you to an up-and-coming Canadian who’s making waves in the industry. Kicking things off is Robbie Amell.
A true Canadian, Robbie Amell is a self-diagnosed hockey fanatic. Believe it or not, his experience on the ice has actually come in handy as an actor.
“I grew up playing a pretty high competitive level of hockey,” he reveals. “It gets intense and you get angry, and you pour a lot of emotion into what you’re doing on the ice. I feel like I can pull from that in the action scenes, in the fight scenes and pretty much anything where the adrenaline gets going.”
The action scenes he’s referring to are for The Tomorrow People, the CW series he stars in. Amell plays Stephen Jameson, a regular teen who discovers he’s not so average after all. Like his character, the 25-year-old isn’t so ordinary either; he’s one of the few actors who can claim they booked their very first audition.
“It’s my dream role,” he says. “I get to have fun, I get to use these superpowers. I have such amazing castmates and producers and writers.”
In his debut role, he played Eugene Levy’s son in Cheaper By The Dozen 2. “Until I booked that movie I never remotely considered acting as a career,” he admits. “And then a month into shooting the movie I told my hockey coach I wasn’t gonna be coming back.”
Amell says watching comedy greats such as Levy, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt do their thing inspired him to ditch the puck and pursue acting. “It changed my life,” he says of his on-set experience. “I just watched and absorbed as much information as I could and I said I gotta give this a try.”
A few years later Amell moved to Los Angeles to give acting a serious shot — a decision that wasn’t easy for him to make. “Looking back it seems like a bigger deal than it was because I was still 18. One of my best friends was going to the University of San Diego, so I was able to crash at his place when I moved to California and without him I don’t know if I would have been able to make the move,” he says, adding that pals Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls) and Reign’s Jonatha Keltz helped with his Hollywood transition.
It wasn’t long before Amell booked recurring roles in shows like Revenge, How I Met Your Mother and Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. However, The Tomorrow People — which ironically enough brought him back to Canada — marks his first starring role on the small screen. “It’s my dream role,” he says. “I get to have fun, I get to use these superpowers. I have such amazing castmates and producers and writers.”
The Toronto-native isn’t the only superhero in his family. His older cousin, Stephen Amell, plays the green-hooded butt-kicker in Arrow. Amell says the duo was really close when they were young, adding that he looked up to his cousin a lot. But it got to a point where the seven-year age gap was just too much. “He’s looking at girls and I’m still playing with Ninja Turtles,” he jokes.
It was only a few years ago that the two reconnected after bumping into each other in downtown Los Angeles. “Within 24 hours we were best buddies again,” he says. They also happen to be network buddies; up until recently, their CW shows aired back-to-back in what was aptly dubbed “Amell Wednesdays.”
Fans of The Tomorrow People know that it’s pretty action-heavy and Amell says both he and his cousin do a majority of their own stunts. “We do 90 per cent of everything and 100 per cent of what we’re allowed to do.”
A few CW shows have received early renewals, but unfortunately The Tomorrow People wasn’t one of them. Amell tells fans not to worry and that there’s still hope for his show. He says the network will only make a decision about the sci-fi series after it moves to its new Monday night slot.
“We’re really hitting our stride on the show right now, and our writers aren’t holding anything back,” he assures. “People die, there are big reveals made. The last five or six episodes are really gonna blow people away.”
The Tomorrow People airs on Mondays at 7pm ET on CTV Two.