I remember auditioning for the part of Becky for the series Huckleberry Finn and Friends when I was eleven. Ian got the part as Huck Finn and, well, I didn't. His face would be familiar to anyone who's seen Time Cop, Stakeout, Free Willy III or even just one of the 44 episodes of Sweating Bullets he guest starred in, as well as 21 Jump Street, Mom P.I., Highlander ... the list of MOW's, features and TV series goes on and on. With a resume loaded with all this experience, it's a wonder that he's managed to stay so low key. It was lunch time for cast and crew when I visited the set of Rupert's Land to interview the elusive Vancouver actor. Hair dishevelled, and dried blood caked under his nose, I'd obviously awoken Ian from a nap -- or something -- when he greeted me at his door. I knew that it was probably fake blood, being in the midst of make believe so I thought I'd play it cool and not say anything, (surely he would bring it up)... Maria Verdicchio: You've been around for a long time, yet I've really never read anything about you, which I find quite shocking, because it seems to me that we should be helping our own actors and promoting the Canadian film industry. Tell me how you got started? Ian Tracey: When I was 10 there was a notice going around at my school asking for boys to audition at the CBC, for Leo and Me. I didn't get the part, but they kept me on file and I got called for other auditions after that, and eventually landed a part in the movie The Keeper with Christopher Lee. MV: Back then there was only the CBC to audition for. Ian: Yeah, the CBC and the odd independent movie like The Keeper, but mostly the CBC and commercials, which I did a couple of but didn't care for them much. At 12 I worked on a movie called Dreamspeaker directed by Claude Jutra. It was a West Coast native spiritual story about a disturbed boy who broke out of reform school and was attended to by a Shaman. After having worked with Claude I really understood acting because he took alot of time with me and taught me things that even later on during training I didn't learn and those things really stuck with me. I guess what he taught me was method and how to really be real and think about what you're doing, not just remembering lines but how to get emotions out of yourself. MV: Well there weren't many acting teachers in Vancouver at that time either. Ian: No there weren't. I never actually took classes until later on in grade eleven and twelve in highschool. I hadn't had any training at all except for on-the-job, which is probably the best kind of training, but I learned how to explore the classics in highschool, and Shakespeare, but after high school I didn't continue to train at all, I was working. Although I was serious about acting, I didn't think seriously about training because I was told I was on the right track. And, as you said, there weren't alot of training facilities around at that time, and I didn't really know anyone who was into training and it was like "oh, you're an actor". I was already acting. Then in my late teens, my friends were all doing "normal" things, and I thought that maybe I was going to grow up in a bit of a fantasy world, you know, going to work as an "actor", and making huge coin as a kid, well at that time it wasn't big money, but to anybody else it was, so I thought I'd drop out of it a little bit and get a real job. So I did my time in restaurants as bus boys and waiters and in muffler shops, gas stations. MV: Wait a minutc, it usually doesn't work that way... Ian: No, I actually did it on purpose to get a taste of real life. It was neat because the first restaurant job I went for, on the application it asked "what have you done before" and I put in a couple of acting gigs, and where it asked "how much you made per hour" I put in $350 a day. The manager, when he read the application, just laughed thinking I was being funny and hired me because of my sense of humor. I went through a couple of years where I didn't do much acting, then I wanted to get out of the restaurant business so I got into lighting (on film sets). I got some of the best acting lessons of my life just being on set and working with alot of high calibre professional actors. As a lamp operater, you set up the lights, then hide in the corner and watch the actors. I learnt alot about the technical aspect of acting that way. MV: So how was it getting back into acting after that? Ian: It was fine, it gave me a new sense of ease. Working as a crew member on a set there's no pressure that everybody's looking at you, or waiting for the right take to happen. It was this whole new sense of what the "team" was up to. So when I got back into acting I had a whole new comfort zone. The crew is your first audience, and there are times where you have a couple of days of work out of a month long shoot and you come in kind of nervous because you don't know anybody and you wonder if they're liking it. But after being a crew member I could easily suss out whether it was working, or I got beyond caring, because I knew what they were up to. It gave me a good sense of how to behave, like a good person, and not become a primadonna which can happen to alot of child actors. MV: Do have the desire to be in Hollywood? Ian: No, but when I was growing up that was always in my mind that when I got older I'd make the pilgrimage to L.A., but when that time came, I was into lighting and had planted a few more roots, so I put it off. Then I did Stakeout in 1988 which was really good for me, because it got me alot of publicity. It would have been a good time to go down so I made a brief journey, because some casting directors and agents had asked if I'd come down, and spent about a week going around meeting them. Some of them were wanting to sign me if I stayed, but at that time I really didn't want to stay because things were going on for me here. I wasn't ready to move. I kind of thought that although I had been an actor for a long time, I wasn't really ready to enter the "big time," to get into the big swirl of things. MV: That takes alot of courage because most actors here are dying to get to L.A. Ian: I felt that inside, somehow, I wasn't ready to go. I don't know what it takes to make yourself think that you're ready. I think I'm ready now because I've had a chance to do the calibre of work here that guys in L.A. scramble to do. They scramble for lead parts in episodics and supporting roles in films and I was able to get that up here without the masses of competiton that there is down there. MV: But, do you want to go now? Ian: I think it's an inevitibility. In the back of my mind I've always wanted to go. I've wanted to have a shot at lead parts from the root of the jobs' existence, before they get their leads then come here to fill up the Canadian quota, handing out their supporting roles they're obligated to give away to Canadians. MV: Do you think Rupert's Land will give you that chance? Ian: I'm hoping that more than it doing anything for me in the States, it will help me here. There aren't tons of independent Canadian features that I've had a chance to get into, but the independent market has really been blossoming here and I've done a couple over the last few years but not lead roles. I can get leads in American episodics, but I haven't cracked the independent scene here so I'm hoping this will open up that door for me. As well, I think Rupert's Land has a European feel to it and it will do well at the American and Canadian festivals and that will bring me more to the forefront as a lead actor in film rather than all the TV I've been doing in the past decade. ... Tracey reaches up and feels the caked blood on his face. "Oh, I was in a fight scene before lunch and I forgot to wipe off the blood," He apologizes and goes back to his thoughts. The actor is starring in the new TV series Da Vinci's Inquest which will air in the fall. And watch out for Rupert's Land also scheduled for a fall release.