Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Kyle McIlhone: It’s small town in Quebec, Canada called Georgeville. A nice, quiet town with a population I think around 200 people. I’m a country boy at heart. It was mostly playing in the woods, driving dirt bikes, and having to beg your parents to drive you to a friends house an hour away.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Kyle: I’m really a bit of both. I definitely look like my dad a lot in the sense of the same body of frame and mannerisms, but I’ve got a lot of my mom’s features in my face and colors.
Film Courage: Did your parents support your creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Kyle: They’re my biggest supporters. I don’t exactly come from an artistic family, but they were always behind any decision I made as long as I thought about it seriously.
Film Courage: When did you know you wanted to pursue an acting career?
Kyle: I think it was after a high school play I did, Lord of the Flies, I had a supporting role. I remember putting so much work into the piece, going over lines, how do I do this moment better, brainstorming ideas for moments, really giving the piece its due respect and focus in rehearsals. Then the opening came and at the end the applause from the audience and finally having that feeling of my work paying off. It was the first time where I really gave my all. And I decided that I wanted to pursue a career where I give my all, and Acting presented itself.
Film Courage: What was your college/university major?
Kyle: My first college I majored in Partying, and was successful in two classes, one being Theater. Then I was told about a professional theater program where the focus on acting was primary. I auditioned, got in and left with a college degree in professional theater.
Film Courage: How many languages do you speak?
Kyle: Being from Quebec the predominant language is French and my parents are English speakers. My mother tongue is English but I’m pretty fluent in French. My parents had the good sense to enroll me in a French elementary school right off the bat.
Film Courage: How has being exposed to at least two different cultures helped you as an actor?
Kyle: The more you are exposed to different ideas and ways of thinking, the more your understanding of life takes different forms. A different question you might ask about this idea or whatever. I guess it comes down to being exposed to say different cultures can help broaden the mind.
Film Courage: Why did you choose New York as the place to start your career?
Kyle: Well, I started my career in Montreal really, and I was really enjoying it. I was serving at the time but still managing to do quite a few plays and acting quite a lot. I always wanted to move to New York and I was really interested in the Meisner technique. So that brought me to the Neighborhood Playhouse and New York, and I think I’ve really fallen for the city, its people and what’s happening.
Film Courage: Do you plan on staying in New York?
Kyle: If New York becomes my home base I’d be very happy with that. I’d like to work, so I’ll follow the work opportunities where ever that might take me. But if I have my way, New York will be the place I call home.
“It’s quite a feeling to be apart of something where 10 people are all putting every ounce of their being into a common vision.”
Film Courage: What acting performance from any production (film, tv, theater) has affected you to this day?
Kyle: I was a part of two theater companies in Montreal. The first one eventually became known as Title 66 productions, and we were all graduates of the Dawson Theater program. Our second production was the “The History of the Devil” by Clive Barker. A really ambitious play with something like 36 characters. We were 8 actors so we all played multiple roles and we all helped to produce the piece in different essential ways. By the end of it (we as a company) were all sleep deprived of working two jobs, as well as acting and about 10 pounds lighter than when we started to process. Once finished, we had all put our blood, sweat, tears, and soul into it. We were proud of it. That’s what it’s all about.
Film Courage: If you could go back in time, what deceased celebrity would you have dinner with and what would you ask them?
Kyle: I would love to sit down with Orson Welles over a good meal and whiskey. I’ve seen most of his films and watched a lot of his interviews and he was a man of the world. He knew something about everything. I could listen to him talk for hours.
Film Courage: When you think of a great actor aside from names and films, what qualities do these individuals possess?
Kyle: The most important thing for me is the vulnerability and courage to take risks. Everything else kinda follows suit.
Film Courage: Besides acting what else do you like to do?
Kyle: I really like biking in New York. It’s like a sport for me and can be quite thrilling. I try to check out new things in New York such as plays, improv shows, museums and anything that is new to me.
Film Courage: How was it to be accepted to the famous Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre?
Kyle: It was truly an opportunity of a lifetime. Back in Canada, I had taken a few Meisner workshops and I really gelled with its approach. Then you factor in all the great actors that had come before me which was just kind of overwhelming. I had been searching for that kind of environment for a long time where from 9 in the morning to 6 at night I did nothing but acting, improving my instrument.
Film Courage: What was the admission process like?
Kyle: It was nerve-wracking to think about how it would go at first. I had a lot riding on being accepted so the stakes were high. I took a bus down by myself from Montreal and I, of course, imagined all the worse scenarios (being mugged, getting lost, or losing all my documentation). When I got there it was the complete opposite of my anxiety-influenced imagination. Pamela Moller Kareman was very warm and open to me and took a real interest in why I wanted to come to the Neighborhood Playhouse. By the end, it felt like we had a great conversation where I must have put my best self forward.
Film Courage: How did you get cast in New York’d?
Kyle: Karan and I took on this project with the idea to learn more about filmmaking. All its stages and demands, but to also to showcase our talents and give ourselves an opportunity to act. So when Karan and I started the early stages I was always going to be cast in it.
Film Courage: Who is your character?
Kyle: My character is known only as the Delivery Guy. That character didn’t take any crap when he felt he was being unjustly treated (he says it right away). He puts himself first throughout the film. In moments we see that the Delivery Guy is a bit of a trickster and that he can be an instigator. I am very much like him just to a lesser degree. I can be very blunt and not always polite, especially when I’ve decided that someone is a douchebag. The Delivery Guy, in the domino moment of the film that changes everything, won’t walk up five flights of stairs, I probably would have said no at 10.
Film Courage: What do you love and love to hate about New York City?
Kyle: I love the people that live here, especially those who have grown up here. There’s an honesty to them that I really appreciate. They have somewhere to be and do and don’t have time for anything fake. There seem to be no malicious feelings when they’re honest. I also love how it can be very accessible especially with a bike. The reason I bike is that I hate to take the subway system. That’s a common thing for people that live in New York like to bitch about.
Film Courage: Have ever had a similar day personally in New York City (as in New York’d)?
Kyle: I once took out the trash and forgot my keys and had to wait for my roommate to come home three hours later. It wasn’t all bad because my neighbors invited me into their place for a coffee while I waited.
Film Courage: What has been your best day in New York?
Kyle: Well, being from Canada and wanting to live and work in New York, I had to apply for a work visa. It was a very demanding and stressful process. It consisted of about five to six months of working on the application every day, a couple thousand dollars, and with no guarantee that it would be approved. Then on a cold day in December, I received an email stating that my application had been approved. I stared at my computer screen for the longest time not believing the words. I feel it was a huge step for me.
Film Courage: Where are you your best self?
Kyle: When I am focused I am at my best. A lot of the time when the mind isn’t focused it will wander. And most of the time for me it can wander to ideas of doubt, resentment, fear, and mostly dark holes. So when I set goals and am striving for them on a regular basis, I am at my best. When that is taken care of, there is less stress and I am a better person to be around, I’m more open, empathetic, and in a better place to help if need be. A lot of my day is spent trying to get out of my head, to stop overthinking so much. That’s one of the reasons the Meisner approach to acting was so attractive to me because it forces you out of your head and more into your gut and what’s happening right in front of you. When I live a life that way I am more on the path to my best self.
Film Courage: Have you ever had a bad audition?
Kyle: Apart from something that I can’t really predict; going up on a line, not having the same interpretation as the people auditioning me for example, I think a bad audition is a lack of preparation. So that’s how I get back on the horse, I just make sure I am more prepared next time and move on. Being prepared, going in and doing my audition as best I can, presenting them what I think of the character, is all I can do. When I have hit all those points I’m satisfied with myself and it’s out of my hands.
Film Courage: In what ways are you a better actor now than before you got to New York?
Kyle: Routines!! Routines, and habits that sharpen my skills. At Dawson College and at the Neighborhood Playhouse, I was known as the mumbling actor. The one where you might think, he’s doing alright up there, now if only I could understand every word. As many of my wonderful teachers and mentors have taught me, the first thing an actor owes an audience is CLARITY. Every morning I work on my diction, through tongue twisters and cold reading of newspaper and articles online. I’ve improved immensely. Todd Sussman a teacher at the Playhouse, kind of hit the nail on it for me once. He said I couldn’t start to act if in the back of my mind I was worried about the audience understanding me. Having learned that and have done something about it I feel I am bolder in my choices and clearer in what I am doing. Having gone to the Neighborhood Playhouse, I do feel more in control by really being in the moment with the other actors. I think I’ve become wiser, which always helps. Meisner said it takes 20 years to become an actor, and I really think there is merit in that. The more life experiences you get under your belt, the more you might be able to bring to a certain piece.
Film Courage: What was it like to start two theatre production companies in Montreal?
Kyle: At the beginning, I think we were all just glad to have a project to work on. Then it became a community which is really important to have, although it was a lot of work for no pay. I don’t think any of us would have accepted pay at the beginning because we wanted all the profits to fund our next project. The theater company that I haven’t mentioned yet is the Third Eye Ensemble, and it was mostly comprised of people who were older and more experienced than myself. To be among veterans of the art is invaluable, I was for the most part just trying to be a sponge and soak up all the wisdom in rehearsals.
Film Courage: What did the theatre companies teach you about acting?
Kyle: To be efficient. We all had production tasks that we had to do on top of mastering our roles. Most rehearsal would start with a production meeting to see where we were then we’d drop that and get into acting. We had to be able to make that shift and zone in and focus. It really made me appreciate everything that goes into putting up a piece. The crews are essential, from the lighting to the sound to sets and costumes. It’s quite a feeling to be apart of something where 10 people are all putting every ounce of their being into a common vision.
Film Courage: Biggest supporter in your life?
Kyle: My parents of course as I said before, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. Apart from them, I had a mentor Frederick Ward who used to be a professor at Dawson College. He was also the artistic director of the Third Eye Ensemble. He really pushed me to go to New York. He also challenged me a lot to be the better version of myself. He was someone I could go to for help over the phone, and have great conversations about the craft.
“Meisner said it takes 20 years to become an actor, and I really think there is merit in that. The more life experiences you get under your belt, the more you might be able to bring to a certain piece.”
Film Courage: Quote or mantra that you live by?
Kyle: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us” by Marianne Williamson. The whole poem really speaks to me and I say it every morning to remind and motivate me. I struggle with confidence a lot outside of acting and this mantra/poem is a good point of reference to strive for.
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Kyle: Karan and I are in the early stages of working on our next film together. We have a few script ideas in mind, and once we have the script we’re usually off to the races quickly. I’m beginning rehearsals for a play by Barry Gillman that will be premiering in the New York Summer Festival at the Hudson Guild Theater in July. I’m also fortunate to be apart of DreamCircle Production which founded with two of my former classmates. We are currently developing a web-series for Youtube Red with a working title “Demonetized.” Which is about when a group of young filmmakers’ Youtube channel is Demonetized due to its overtly sexual and unintentionally homoerotic content; they are forced to reconsider their “artistic expression” in order to get back in Youtube’s good graces. DreamCircle is also in preproduction of its first feature film “A Terrible Thing to Waste.” Check out our youtube channel DreamCircle Productions.
Kyle McIlhone Bio:
Kyle McIlhone grew up in a small town in Quebec, Canada. Kyle started his training to be a professional actor at Dawson College in the three years Professional Theatre Program.
Kyle has then accepted into the respected Neighborhood Playhouse two year conservatory in 2013. He is proud to be among other alumni such as the Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall, Leslie Moonves, and Gregory Peck.
Kyle’s professional credits include multiple key principles in the production of The History of the Devil, The Exonerated, Ludwig and Mae, The Vindictive Vice President, Towards Zero, The Dog that ate my Play, Zero to Hero and many more.
Upon Graduating from Dawson College, Kyle was awarded the third year award The Outstanding Achievement Award and The Brian Cloutte Bursary, for outstanding achievement and appreciation for the craft.
Kyle also had the privilege to help found two theater companies in Montreal, Title 66 and the Third Eye Ensemble and upon graduating from the Neighborhood Playhouse he was lucky enough to become of a member of Polaris North company in New York City.
Kyle looks forward to working in New York City, where he hopes to grow as a professional actor and filmmaker for many years.
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There are days when New York City seems to open its doors to you and every single piece falls nicely into place supporting the dream that brought you to that big wonderful city. Then there are the other days…the days when those same pieces become ill-fitting sharp-edged shards ganging up against you and any goal you may have. Those are the days when the cruel heartless city itself seems to be conspiring against you. Those are the days you know you’ve been…New YORK’d. It WILL happen to you…