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Shearstown actor Evan Mercer nominated for Canadian Screen Award

Evan Mercer of Shearstown is nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards for his performance in the feature-length film “Riverhead.”
Evan Mercer of Shearstown is nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards for his performance in the feature-length film “Riverhead.”

A Shearstown actor’s debut in a feature-length film is receiving national attention.

Evan Mercer is one of five nominees for best supporting actor in a feature film at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards.

“I don’t really know what to say about it,” Mercer told The Compass Tuesday, a few hours after a text message from his director broke the news for him. “It’s very surprising.”

Mercer is nominated for his role in “Riverhead,” the first feature-length film from Newfoundland director and writer Justin Oakey. The film was partially shot in Conception Bay North and premiered last fall at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax.

Mercer isn’t the lone nominee representing “Riverhead.” His co-star Lawrence Barry is up for best lead actor. “Riverhead” is described as a gritty tale centred on a blood feud in a fictional rural Newfoundland community.

“There’s so many people in the film who I thought did such a good job, and I don’t completely understand how I’m one of the people who got singled out,” said Mercer, who called his mom Thomasine Mercer after he first heard the news. “I think honestly everyone in the movie was equally as deserving.”

Evan Mercer is one of five nominees for best supporting actor in a feature film at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards.

“I don’t really know what to say about it,” Mercer told The Compass Tuesday, a few hours after a text message from his director broke the news for him. “It’s very surprising.”

Mercer is nominated for his role in “Riverhead,” the first feature-length film from Newfoundland director and writer Justin Oakey. The film was partially shot in Conception Bay North and premiered last fall at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax.

Mercer isn’t the lone nominee representing “Riverhead.” His co-star Lawrence Barry is up for best lead actor. “Riverhead” is described as a gritty tale centred on a blood feud in a fictional rural Newfoundland community.

“There’s so many people in the film who I thought did such a good job, and I don’t completely understand how I’m one of the people who got singled out,” said Mercer, who called his mom Thomasine Mercer after he first heard the news. “I think honestly everyone in the movie was equally as deserving.”

Evan Mercer and Carbonear's Stephen Oates co-star as brothers in "Riverhead."

The awards are presented annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television to honour the best in Canadian film, English-language television and digital media.

Mercer has always been a bit of a performer. He had his own little standup comedy routine at the age of nine, and he acted throughout his high school days.

After graduating from Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, he left acting behind for a few years.

“At some point, I realized it was what I really enjoyed doing and what I wanted to do,” he said.

Mercer credits his former high school drama teacher Marc Warren for offering him a way back to acting through a summer theatre production in Bay Roberts a few years back. That experience paved the way for his full-time pursuit of an acting career.

He has worked in theatre professionally in Cow Head, Cupids, Trinity and St. John’s. He appeared in one episode of CBC’s “Republic of Doyle” and most recently performed in Halfhandsome’s sketch comedy show “Almost Baymous” at the Barbara Barrett Theatre in St. John’s. He is set to appear next month in Rock Solid Productions’ presentation of the David Auburn play “Proof.”

For “Riverhead,” it was the lead actor Barry who recommended Mercer to the director.

“We had a few meetings, and I guess (Oakey) appreciated that I had a little bit of experience with that area and could probably do a better job with the accent.”

The Canadian Screen Awards will be presented March 12 at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Actor and comedian Howie Mandel is scheduled to host.

“I certainly don’t expect to win, but it would be a nice opportunity to go and kind of hang out and see what the awards ceremonies scenes are all about.”

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He’s optimistic the two nominations will help the film’s cause when it comes to finding an audience.

“It looks beautiful, there’s a wonderful soundtrack, and I know that there’s a strong local interest,” said Mercer. “I always have lot of people asking me for it, but I guess we’re still trying to push it a little further. I hope after this maybe we can get it into a few more theatres or maybe even on Netflix or something.”

editor@cbncompass.ca

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