In show business it is not unusual to wish someone good luck before a performance by telling him or her to “break a leg,” metaphorically speaking, of course. Ironically, Kyle Schmid did just that many years ago, and while it meant the end of one potential career, it led to him pursuing a very different line of work.
“I played very high-level soccer in high school and during that time my mom also got me interested in the acting industry,” says Schmid. “However, it was something I did for fun and never really thought it would take off or lead to anything serious. Then when I was 17 years old I broke my leg, which more or less ended my chances of a soccer career, but at the same time they say that everything happens for a reason.
“When I was working on a movie, [producer] Debra Martin Chase, who has since become a dear friend of mine, took me aside one day and said she would like to take me out to lunch. Debra had this look in her eye and told me, ‘This [acting] is probably something you might way to pursue.’ I laughed and said, ‘This is a hobby. It’s a way for me to make a little money to save for university.’ She said, ‘No, you’re good. You’ve got something.’ Debra had me go to Los Angeles where she introduced me to a great acting coach who taught me just how far you can go with exploring your craft. Since then, this [acting] is something I’ve fallen in love with and been very passionate about.”
Schmid made his debut in the 1996 feature film Spill (a.k.a. Virus), in which the lives of everyone visiting a U.S. National Park are threatened by an out-of-control truck filled with biological weapons. “My character got to fire a double-barreled shotgun, became infected with a virus, was given a tracheotomy, died and was subsequently carried down a hill by [football player-turned-actor] Brian Bosworth,” recalls the actor. “He actually carried me on one shoulder and a 220-pound guy over the other shoulder while going down a 45-degree slope at a full sprint. As a 13-year-old boy I was thinking, ‘Holy crap, this is pretty neat!’”
Fast Food High, The Pacifier and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants are among the actor’s other movie credits. On the small screen, he has appeared in several made-for-TV movies as well as guest-spots on such TV programs as I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, Odyssey 5, 1-800-Missing and CSI: Miami. In 2007, Schmid was cast in his first series regular role as Henry Fitzroy, a vampire with a conscience in the short-lived Lifetime TV series Blood Ties.
“Creating a character like that was an interesting challenge because you look at all the portrayals of vampires in movies, but don’t want to copy them,” he notes. “You get an idea of what a vampire is, but the last thing you want to do is play, for example, Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire. Quite the opposite; you want to create something new, especially for someone like me who, at 22 years old, was portraying a 450-year-old.
“Working on Blood Ties and having the audience enjoy what we did was one of my coolest experiences so far as an actor. The fan base is very dear to me and I’m extremely appreciative of all the support they’ve given our cast as well as the writers, directors, etc. Without them there wouldn’t have been a show. It was a ton of hard work on everyone’s part, but it was a situation where we all arrived onset with smiles on our faces. We had a real family and the chemistry among the cast and crew made the series something special.”
This month, the actor can be seen in the Sci-Fi/Horror movie The Thaw (released October 6th, 2009 on DVD) playing Federico Fulce, one of four ecology students who accompany Dr. David Krupien (Val Kilmer) to a remote Arctic research station to examine a thawed out Wooly Mammoth. Unknown to them, the animal is host to a deadly parasite and, after being infected, they must figure out a way to destroy it before it is unleashed on the rest of humanity. The real-world issue of global warming is behind the discovery of the Mammoth in the film and is what initially attracted Schmid to the project.
“I found the whole global warming aspect really interesting because it’s a subject that is becoming increasingly prominent on everybody’s mind nowadays, and the fact that it’s examined within a Sci-Fi type of movie was something that I thought was quite clever,” says the actor.
“As for my character, I’m always attracted to those that start in one place and end up in a completely different one,” continues Schmid. “With Federico, he goes through quite a journey during the film, from a levelheaded top student in his class, to dealing with the loss of a loved one and, ultimately, the Sci-Fi elements of our story. Our characters’ situation becomes one of fight or flight, a kind of natural instinct to survive and realistically what a person would do under such extreme circumstances.
“We shot the first half of the movie in a great location [in British Columbia] called Williams Lake. It’s absolutely amazing country and we actually filmed on a native [Indian] reserve, which allowed us to meet some of the most generous and fascinating people. Their history and culture are beautiful and the stories that they told us on the drives to set were just incredible. At one point, some of us got to go into a ‘sweat,’ which is a big thatched hut that is in total darkness. It has these hot coals in the middle of it that cause you to sweat, while people around you are playing drums and humming. It’s a very interesting out-of-body experience. They treated us so kindly and were wonderful to us. At the end of it all I think everyone had a very spiritual experience in the sense of them taking us in and allowing us to become part of their culture.”
When asked about his Thaw co-stars, Schmid has nothing but good things to share. “Val Kilmer is a fascinating individual and it’s clear to see where his talent lies,” he says. “He plays a major part at the end of the film with my character and it was cool having the chance to work with him. Martha MacIsaac [Evelyn Krupien] is a terrific actress and someone who has been in the industry for a long time but our paths had never crossed before this. Viv Leacock [Bart] always had such an amazing and positive outlook. He’s a family man and he brought his children – a baby boy and three-year-old daughter -to set.
“Coincidentally, prior to this movie, Aaron Ashmore [Atom Galen] and I finished shooting Deep Cove [a.k.a. Fear Island], so between the two projects we got to hang out together for basically two-and-a-half months. We went from that movie, which was a fun but gruelling project to shoot as well, to this one, and to work with someone who you know is going to be right there with you is like going to war with someone who you’ve already been to war with. You want this person by your side, so it was fantastic.”
The actor is equally complimentary of Thaw director Mark A. Lewis, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Michael. “Mark and I got together during the audition process and were able to chat and toss ideas back and forth to each other,” says the actor. “I think we both realized we were on the same page with a number of things, so when it came to working on the film, he was very open to, if necessary, rewriting a scene. And because he wrote the script with his brother, it was like being directed by someone who’d already envisioned the entire process, which he had. So everything flowed. We’d look at each other during a scene and I would know exactly what Mark was thinking, which was great.”
As the actor mentioned, before starting work on The Thaw, he and Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen in Smallville) were in front of the cameras filming the upcoming horror thriller Deep Cove. In it, five college students spend spring break marooned on an island where they are stalked by a crazed killer.
“Like Federico in The Thaw, my character of Tyler in Deep Cove is someone who also has a great story arc,” enthuses Schmid. “He’s completely different from Federico in that Tyler is a spoiled little jerk who has had everything handed to him and gets away with everything he does wrong, which is probably every adolescent’s dream. It’s tough to describe his arc without giving away the entire plot of the movie, but basically he goes from realizing that having everything handed to him without being penalized for what he might have done wrong is a very ignorant way to live life. I mean, without any real-life experience of knowing what’s right and wrong, you’re never sure how far the consequences might go.”
No matter what character he is playing, Schmid is all about turning in his best performance and having a good time along the way. “When it comes right down to it, the most rewarding part of acting is walking off a set every day knowing you left your best work on the dance floor, so to speak, and smiling while you’re doing it,” he muses. “For me, it’s about taking it all in as well as appreciating the fact that I get to do a job that any number of people would love to do and that at the same time I’m enjoying myself.”
For more info on The Thaw, check out the following Facebook link – http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Thaw/44321861106
As noted above, Blood Ties photos copyright of Lifetime TV and The Thaw photos by Diyah Pera and copyright of Anagram Pictures, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!