Cochrane actor Chase Lawless has gone from busking in his hometown to the silver screen and is now set to appear in the finale of Paramount Plus' Mayor of Kingstown Jan. 9.
Lawless is no stranger to the set, having appeared in television shows such as Letterkenny and movie productions like The Apprentice and Bordello, and said the new episodic series is by far the biggest production he has worked on.
"I'm very grateful that I booked the role because it is a big stepping stone in my career," said Lawless. "The budget is millions of millions of dollars per episode, and then of course, also getting to work with names like Jeremy Renner and Aiden Gillen, who did Game of Thrones, was amazing."
Mayor of Kingstown follows the influential McLusky family, power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the only thriving business is that of incarceration.
It primarily takes place at a prison in Michigan and explores themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality.
The series is shot at the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario, where Lawless is currently based, out of Toronto.
Lawless' character, a sniper for the National Guard, is introduced at a turning point at the end of the series' first season.
"At this point in the show, the prison is in complete disarray," he said. "It's absolute anarchy, and that's why the National Guard has been deployed. It's kind of at this climax of violence in the series, so people can expect lots and lots of gunfire."
While Lawless does not have a lot of screen time, he does have a speaking role, and viewers can expect to see him stationed on the wall of the penitentiary with his rifle at the ready as chaos ensues.
The episode also features about 30 background talents all playing National Guardsmen, who happen to also be actual members of the Canadian Military.
Lawless described a moment on set while seated in a military vehicle with two of the background performers, a father and son duo.
The father, who was in about his mid 50s, told Lawless that he had been in the military for 30 years, and his son was the one manning the vehicle terrace gun overhead.
"It was really kind of surreal," said Lawless, who took advantage of the opportunity by asking them for tips so he would not simply look like an "actor with a gun," he laughed.
"I have my firearms licence," said the actor. "But it was nice having them there for pointers on everything, like how to tie your shoes or wear your uniform a certain way."
Lawless, who started acting professionally in 2016, moved to Toronto after completing four years in Red Deer College's theatre and film programs.
Before that, he went to high school at St. Timothy's in Cochrane, where he performed in school plays like Treasure Island, a version of Alice in Wonderland and Huck, to name a few.
He was also busking outside of MacKay's Ice Cream around this time, and Christina MacKay, one of the founders of the local ice cream attraction, would sometimes sit and watch him perform.
Lawless said he enjoyed singing and playing guitar while he was in high school, though, at the time, he didn't think he was good at it.
"Since then, I have started doing professional singing lessons, guitar lessons — so that I can get auditions for some stuff that's musical," he said.
A highlight of his musical pursuits was performing at his sister's wedding this past summer.
"It's definitely one of the things that I kinda had on my bucket list, was to perform at her wedding," he said. "So that was a nice little thing to cross off."
Lawless' next stepping stone is a move to Los Angeles in search of more opportunities, which he plans for in March or April of this year.