Before the Scene is where we all start. In a small town with our families. In front of a mirror with our friends. The days spent sleeping on a couch. The nights working at a bar. Living with the unknown and surrounded by uncertainty. It’s about the times that define us. It’s about the darkness just before the limelight.
Shaun Sipos is a Canadian actor best known for his work on television in Complete Savages and The CW’s Melrose Place. He recently starred with Chloe Moretz and Blake Lively in Hick, which shot in Louisiana. He can next be seen in the 3-D reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which recently shot in Shreveport.
What made you want to become an actor?
I think, when I was younger, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. I thought that being an actor would help me to meet interesting people. I actually thought it would introduce me to some great love in my life…a wife or something like that. Then it actually did introduce me to a great lover – to acting – and kind of changed the way that I view the world. It changed my paradigm. And I fell in the love with the art of it. The art of storytelling. I realized that I have such a great love of mythology all through my life that I never really realized. There are all these great stories. It really brought that out in my life.
What was your biggest fear?
Probably not being accepted. Not being seen for who I was. Not being loved. My biggest fear in terms of acting is probably just being a terrible actor.
What was your lowest point?
Living out of my truck and then crashing on your couch. But it was also one of the most beautiful points in my life. I mean, I had nothing. It was very Jack Kerouac-esque. I was traveling around, staying with Justin [Chatwin], and we just really had nothing. Had no money. Ended up getting a television show, which was a wonderful adventure. But it was probably my lowest point in terms of self-esteem and surety that I was doing the right thing. But there was a wonderful adventure and curiosity about it. It was a big catch-22.
What kept you from walking away?
I don’t think it ever entered my mind. I was too in love with the adventure to just walk off. I was just too captivated so I never thought of it. Which could be deemed as naiveté or it could be deemed as courage, I don’t know, but it just never really entered my mind.
What did you walk away from?
I walked away from what I knew. What I grew up with. I walked away from people that I didn’t feel really supported me. I walked away from what my family probably thought was the way I should live my life. Probably being a doctor. From what is just generically looked at as being the right road in Vancouver Island.
Who was your closest ally?
I’d say you and Justin Chatwin.
What were you doing before the meeting that changed your life?
Drinking and not shaving. That’s probably what I was doing! There have been a couple of meetings that have had a significant impact on my life, my journey. I met Mel Gibson, who I think is a great storyteller. I think that he has his demons, but I do think he’s a genius and I was just being a rebellious, angry youth. This was when he had gone sober. Meeting him pushed me to gain control over my habits and he believed in me and he didn’t lynch me for acting out. That and then working with Ray Liotta and [writer/director] Bruce McCulloch, seeing what kind of work you need to do and what kind of work is expected of you.
What were the words that kept you going?
I love you. I’m there for you. You’re special. I believe in you. Those are powerful words when they come from the right people. Coming from my family and my closest friends.
How have you changed?
I’ve gained a greater perspective on the journey and having faith that, if I follow my beliefs and my heart, I’m stepping in the right direction. I have more faith when I’m unsure. If I feel really sure about something, it actually offsets me. If I feel slightly unsure and a little off kilter and scared, that’s probably the right direction. And I try and stay on that, whereas before, when I was younger I think I was just so frightened that I would try and run the other way.
What words do you have to inspire others?
Never say no to yourself. Develop your imagination and don’t censor it. Anything is possible if you work hard and have and tenacity. And trust your friends.