One of Canada’s best loved television comedians Gavin Crawford of This Hour Has 22 Minutes had his work cut out for him in Maureen Bradley’s heart tugging comedy drama Two 4 One.
He plays Adam, a lesbian transitioning to become a man who is still involved with his ex- lesbian lover. And to make matters more complex, a fertility kit mishap leaves him pregnant. Adam’s ex-lover, who is trying desperately to become a mother and his doting, open minded mother must deal with his confusion and fear and their own.
M&C had the chance to speak with Crawford in Toronto about this unusually challenging role and the growing awareness of transgendering.
Q: The timing for the film’s release could not be better with so much attention being paid to Caitlyn Jenner. People are learning.
I think that was entirely an accident. I don’t think really that was in anyone’s mind but we’re definitely talking about those sorts of issues. In the last couple of years transgender has had more and more visibility, Laverne in Orange is the New Black and the way our society communicates now o Twitter and Facebook. It’s easier for previously more marginalised voices to be heard, to get voices out there. It’s been a nice build up and so a little film like this could get made is also lucky, it’s part of the zeitgeist.
Q: The detailed information you’d have to know or feel as a man playing a woman transgendered to a man. From the way you move and dress and talk and act and respond. How hard was it?
To a certain extent I’m fortunate that I have transgendered friends, female to male friends so I could look to them if I had any questions but I’m familiar to feel what it’s like. I drew on that, and the specifics of don’t carry yourself, carry yourself as what you think you should be in the world. I’m not the most male person anyway. If I go into a bar with straight guys and wanted to fit in, I’d add more shoulders. I have a tendency to gesture and cross my legs, so I just go well I’m trying to pass and be a straight guy and that’s’ what I would mimic. It kind of works. Adam’s a strange character is uncomfortable in his own skin, and on the cusp of feeling confident. Adam carries himself more guardedly than I do.
I don’t necessarily think about how to carry my body. When I play a character my body just does things.
Two 4 One Trailer
A good director will steer you. When I play characters on This Hour Has 22 Minutes like a teenager, once I get the image of the person the body, it kind of follows and I don’t have to think about it. I have to notice what my body is doing and let it keep doing what it’s doing. That’s my experience of female characters. I don’t try to really camp it up, just go with whatever is authentic. It’s important for this character. It’s a comedy and in order to work it has to read relatively real.
My only question was convincing myself that it would be plausible, will the audience buy into it or think “Oh, there’s the guy from 22 Minutes”. I was worried. Well if I can act it I can act it. It’s important. You can’t get hung up on the details and I think it was successful.
Q: You are a very good dramatic actor – and I wasn’t expecting the film or your performance to have such dramatic weight. Do you think comedy made you fearless?
I guess so; the weird thing is you have to do less in drama than in comedy. Trying to make people laugh is specific and difficult. With drama you try to feel the feelings your character is feeling. People make it seem hard but comedy is difficult. Comedy has timing and everything else on top of that, and drama has to be true. I don’t want to sound glib but some people are more impressed by one than the other. That’s true. That expression “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” exists for a reason.
Q: This is a comedy drama about miracles and love and identity, but it manages to avoid melodrama. Were you on top of that?
I definitely thought about it while we were shooting. Every project is a crapshoot so you try to do your best and hope everything works out. The most nerve wracking thing to me is that Adam is so selfish and whiny. If I wasn’t playing him I’d say “Get over yourself and look at the people around you!” I know you’re feeling that because I’m inside it. He is selfish and complicated.
For me the challenge was to play a flawed character. I usually make fun of flawed characters as a comedian and that was the challenge. That’s what’s great about drama. You allow yourself to let the audience see the characters feelings and I get to play those people.
Q: Two 4 One won the Audience Award at the Seattle Transgender Film Fest and will play L.A.’s Outfest this month. Congratulations!
It’s playing Outfest tonight. My brother is in L.A. and I have friends there and they’ll watch and tell me how they like it!