Nfld. & Labrador

From the Rock to the Golden State: Oscar winner endorses Mark O'Brien's new movie

Newfoundlander Mark O’Brien is starring in Ready or Not, a Hollywood film that has earned a glowing recommendation from Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro.

Guillermo Del Toro praises Newfoundland actor's latest film

A still of Mark O'Brien as Max Miner in the Amazon series The Last Tycoon. (Amazon Video)

For actors with dreams in Newfoundland, Mark O'Brien has become the gold standard.

More than a decade ago, he was involved in short film projects in St. John's. Now, he's starring in Ready or Not, a wide-release Hollywood film — and industry titans are taking notice.

"The trailers and materials for READY OR NOT didn't prepare me for how suspenseful, scary and fun it is," said Guillermo Del Toro, Oscar-winning filmmaker, on Twitter.

Del Toro may be best known for known for Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, among his many Hollywood credits. 

"I was blown away when I saw that. I'm a massive Guillermo del Toro fan," O'Brien said.

It's been a great summer for O'Brien. Between the endorsements and the star-studded cast, the young actor said he couldn't be happier to work on the unique new film.

It revolves around actor Samara Weaving's character biting off a bit more than she can chew when meeting her husband's parents. O'Brien plays her husband. 

"I take her into the family. It's kind of a weird ritual that we have, that you play a game at midnight — and she pulls the one card that would mean we have to kill her before dawn," said O'Brien of the comedy-horror film. 

Newfoundland Connection

O'Brien wasn't the only actor on set with a connection to this province.

Henry Czerny starred in two films shot in Newfoundland: The Boys of St. Vincent, a made-for-TV drama, and Anchor Zone, a 1994 cult classic starring Newfoundland comedian Mark Critch.  

"The Boys of St. Vincent [is] one of the most seminal Canadian films and performances ever, in my opinion. He's a wonderful guy. And you know, he still gets a lot of people coming up to him for Boys of St. Vincent," O'Brien said of Czerny. 

Absolutely everything I have right now I owe to Republic of Doyle. - Mark O'Brien 


O'Brien said that out of the entire filmmaking process, getting your name in the credits to begin with can be the most gruelling part of the trade.

"The hardest part is getting good work. It's a tough business, man. It's really tough and to be able to find something that's actually good quality with good people … Ready or Not was that. It was something I really wanted to do because it wasn't just a job, because I liked the job and I liked the people," he told CBC Radio's On the Go.

Big thanks to Republic of Doyle

Republic of Doyle, a comedy-drama from CBC, launched O'Brien's career, which also has him earning acclaim for his work on the TV series City on a Hill right now. 

"Absolutely everything I have right now I owe to Republic of Doyle," he said.

It wasn't just the exposure that helped him out, though. The six-year gig was a learning experience.

Republic of Doyle starred, from left, Sean McGinley, Allan Hawco, Krystin Pellerin, Lynda Boyd (seated), Rachel Wilson, Mark O'Brien and Marthe Bernard in 2015. (CBC)

"I learned so much about this business and about acting, and about, you know, playing a certain kind of role and sticking to it for six years. It teaches you sort of a discipline and professionalism and how to conduct yourself on and off set. So it's all those things that really matter," he said.

Being in his hometown during that time was an added bonus, too.

"We felt sheltered in a wonderful way, because I was around my family, my friends, and I was doing something that could have been seen to be really daunting, but it wasn't. Because I felt comfortable and safe, for lack of a better word," he said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On the Go


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