Vik Sahay remembers being a young actor and sneaking into Toronto International Film Fest parties, often scouting out corner booths in restaurants with the hopes of spotting Hollywood stars.
"There was a moment where I said ‘I’m not going to do this anymore until I’m in a film that’s here,’" he told CBC News.
That didn’t take long. Sahay, now best known for his role as Lester Patel in the U.S. TV show Chuck, is enjoying his third TIFF this year as he promotes the raunchy Canadian comedy My Awkward Sexual Adventure — and perhaps trying to crash some bigger parties.
"This is the first or second big unveiling, post-Chuck, and so I am sitting in a beautiful, tender, scary place of unknown. And it’s exciting," he says.
"What I really want out of this festival is to get people seeing this film. This can be a festival of binge viewing, so it can be hard to get your head above the fray … If we can get some buzz for the film, for when it releases in December, that would be a great thing."
For My Awkward Sexual Adventure, Sahay teamed up with his longtime friend Jonas Chernick, the movie’s writer and lead actor. Canadian television fans might recognize Chernick from his roles on Degrassi: The Next Generation and The Border.
'It’s genuinely a phenomenally funny movie' —Vik Sahay
The pair’s on-screen, often lewd, banter is an extension of their normal conversations. On the way to an afternoon party — in a taxi, not a limo (for the record) — the two taunt each other mercilessly. Sahay, who lives in Hollywood, emails Toronto-based Chernick about twice a week and helped re-write many of his character Dandak’s lines in My Awkward Sexual Adventure script.
In the comedy, Sahay and Chernick’s humour is equaled, if not topped, by Emily Hampshire, who plays a stripper who is secretly a culinary genius. It also stars Sarah Manninen as the sexually oppressed girlfriend of Chernick’s character, who dumps him and cuts loose.
"It’s genuinely a phenomenally funny movie," Sahay says.
"It’s not just dirty, dirty sex — though there is a lot of dirty sex in it."
Watching in the wings
But as much as he likes the movie, Sahay watched the premiere screening from the wings of Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre, pacing a little bit and never quite relaxed.
"The truth is I don’t really watch my stuff — at all. Ever," he says.
"Being there for the opening is going to be thrilling, in a terrifying way. The hardest thing is that it’s a comedy, so you need to be able to hear people responding to it."
After the movie, Sahay is all smiles. During the subsequent question-and-answer session with the cast, the crowd roared at his impression of co-star Hampshire. Later, on a small red carpet heading into a King Street West nightclub, he easily struck poses for photographers.
It’s been a good festival for the film in general. Chernick has received word that Gersh, a major Los Angeles talent agency, is interested in both the movie and its director, Winnipeg-based Sean Garrity.
And for Sahay, it’s back to L.A., with hopes of another visit to TIFF next year.