Photo courtesy of Elysse Gilbertson on the set of Medic
Ottawa born and a University of Ottawa alumni, Adam Lolacher is an actor with some stories to tell.
After giving up his basketball aspirations at a young age due to injury, Lolacher got into acting. Now living in Vancouver, the young actor has been appearing in television series and stage plays since 2005.
OLM chatted with Lolacher about his foray into acting, his new project Medic, and the advice he has for aspiring actors.
Ottawa Life Magazine: Tell me about yourself
Lolacher: Well, I’m 35. I was born and raised in Ottawa, although I moved around quite a bit. I guess I kind of fell into acting in my last year of high school. I always wanted to do it but I was timid and introverted.
I went to the University of Windsor for theater. I wasn’t really happy with the clique of theater school, so I dropped out. I decided to go back to the University of Ottawa. I stuck with it, went to school and met some great people. By the end of it I didn’t want to leave. It taught me responsibility and I had some really great teachers. University was a good grounding.
OLM: What first piqued your interest in acting?
Lolacher: I was watching Saturday Night Fever with my cousin when I was 16. The was a moment (while watching the opening) where I was like, ‘wow, that guy is really cool. He kind of just owns the world.’
I started doing improv and classes, but I was timid and I cared what people thought of me. University gave me that confidence to branch out and have fun. Playing basketball and playing in front of people creates that connection, it’s another kind of stage.
OLM: What have been some favourite plays that you have performed in?
Lolacher: I did a play called the Glory of Living in Toronto. It was probably the darkest and most disgusting play (in my career). It was based on two real people in Georgia who kidnapped women. I played Clint, who was a lot more overweight than I am. I put on 15 pounds to immerse myself (in the role). I learned quite a lot about my patience and myself. I met some really cool and awesome people that I still talk to this day. The role really tested me and challenged me.
OLM: Who are some actors that inspire you?
Lolacher: My buddy Juan Riedinger is probably up there. He’s a local actor who is doing really well; he’s somebody who I’ve always looked up to, although I would probably never say it to him. He has inspired me to work harder and be better. Larry Moss has been a great mentor to me. I’m inspired by music a lot as well… feelings, too.
OLM: What was your writing process for Medic? It seems really intense.
Lolacher: I wrote, produced and acted in it. It is intense.
I have a big fascination with homelessness and mental awareness. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, too. I started writing about somebody who was homeless and who was looking for something… but it wasn’t working. There wasn’t a message. I started talking to my brother who is in the army, and who has gone overseas. He came back in 2010 from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. I started doing research on soldiers who have returned home. There’s a great documentary called War in the Mind narrated by Paul Gross. I thought, “what if this happened to my brother?”
I dug deeper into stats and horrific things (that soldiers have gone through). I started incorporating these things about a soldier who has returned to Canada, but still feels like he’s at war. He’s reliving it and he doesn’t know what to do. This film exposed both sides of the world: a world of uncertainty and loneliness and a world of selfishness.
OLM: Playing somebody with PTSD would be pretty draining. How did you prepare for that role?
Lolacher: I did a lot of research. I met with different soldiers in town, interviewed them and talked to them, and asked them about their experiences. I met a lot of people who have some form of PTSD. I met with an actual medic. We went over a bunch of military jargon and procedure. I worked diligently on trying to lose weight and immersing myself into it. There was a day or two where I went method on (the part). I went into the city and camped out over night. I don’t recommend it but it was something I felt that I had to do.
OLM: What would you define as success?
Lolacher: As I get older, it’s all about creating my own work. When this film is done and it’s out there, it’ll feel pretty good. I’ll be happy that I did something that I’ve wanted to do. Money would be nice, and I’m sure fame has it perks. To be honest I just want to be a steadily working actor. At the same time, I’m happy to be doing my own stuff. I don’t need to be rich, I just want to be happy and live comfortably.
OLM: Are you working on anything else?
Lolacher: I’m working on a feature right now. I can’t go into it too much because I just finished the outline. It’s set in the Southern US… I’m really fascinated with it. It’s my “Sling Blade.” It’s kind of gritty, indie…. It will be all about the characters.
OLM: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring actors?
Lolacher: I think you have to enjoy it and you have to love it. If you don’t, then don’t do it. You fail more than you succeed unless you’re like, Chris Hemsworth. I would recommend finding some sort of training. I would recommend reading plays, read a lot of books. Not just acting books… actual books. Like Catch-22, Grapes of Wrath… classics. They will widen your imagination and vocabulary. Create your own work, do a play. Theater is where it’s at, that’s where it all came from.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.