By Neil Armstrong
|Damian Garth Brown Photo contributed|
A Jamaican-Canadian actor is among the cast of the recently released $68 million USD film, “Downsizing,” directed by Oscar-winning Alexander Payne which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2017 and opened in theatres in December.
Damiãn Garth Brown plays a Leisureland Orderly in the satirical science fiction about scientists discovering how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation.
“Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures,” notes the promo.
Brown says Payne and his casting director were looking for actors who had a grasp of the Jamaican dialect.
He said in their search they came across Marcia Brown and were told that she is the premier director/producer of Jamaican Canadian productions and so they contacted her and she recommended his name for an audition.
The local actor was excited when he heard a message on his phone from Payne telling him that his audition was fantastic and welcoming him onboard.
“The rest is history. I got there. I saw Mat Damon on set, he was pretty nice,” says Brown, noting that the scenes were filmed in Toronto.
Payne encouraged Brown to: “Keep doing what you’re doing. You have a presence and I saw that in your audition tape. Regardless of what happens in this movie you have to keep doing it.”
Brown describes it as “amazing” and “overwhelming” to be cast in a multi-million dollar movie and to be working amongst professional filmmakers.
“Even though the editing room wasn’t kind to me in this film it was good to see myself on the screen and to see my name in the credits. It was really an amazing experience. I hope it gets better from here,” says Brown.
It was only two years ago that he chose acting in films as a full-time pursuit at the prompting of a friend who knew his acting history and that he would do well.
She introduced him to Dean Osmon, an agent in Vancouver, and since then he has appeared in “Doggy Daycare: The Movie” (2015) and “Kim's Convenience” (2016).
“Initially he said there’s something about you. I’ve never signed anyone I’ve never met but there’s something about you,” said Brown about Osmon who was willing to take a chance on him.
Within three months he was a full union member and his first role was in the series, “Heroes Reborn.”
Filled with excitement that he was in the episode, Brown told his friends to watch and was “devastated” when he watched and saw that the scene with him had been cut in the final edit.
His agent told him that this happens to major actors and that there were other things he should take into consideration.
Before his entrée into the world of films, Brown, who is also passionate about theatre, performed in several highly acclaimed productions in Toronto, Canada.
He began in theatre in a popular program at Children First in Spanish Town, St. Catherine and when he immigrated to Canada in 2005 he continued on stage in some productions of playwrights Devon Haughton and Marcia Brown while an undergraduate student.
Brown is a proud graduate of York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Theatre Arts (‘09). He has also received a Certificate in The Principles and Practice of Social Work from the University of the West Indies.
|Damian Garth Brown out to see the film, "Downsizing," in Toronto. Photo contributed|
While pursuing acting in Toronto he was also very active as a Restorative Justice practitioner at a Youth Court and was even accepted to the University of Exeter Law School -- one of the Top 10 law schools in England.
Currently, he is living in and working on projects in Toronto and Vancouver – both cities known colloquially as ‘Hollywood North’ for their booming film industry.
While in Vancouver, Brown recently had the opportunity to stand-in and photo double for Idris Elba in his latest movie “The Mountain between Us” also starring Kate Winslet.
He said Elba was so humble, down-to-earth, and encouraging that one would never think this was “a world class internationally recognized actor.”
Elba advised him to keep his focus whatever he does and to get people around him that support what he is doing.
Brown said he told Jamaican actor, Paul Campbell, that he got a small part in “Downsizing” and Campbell responded: “Never let me hear you say that again, there is no small part.”
Along with a writing partner, Brown just finished a pilot script for a television series and there could be a project with Campbell in the future.
[This story has been published in the NA Weekly Gleaner, Jan. 25-31, 2018.]