Tygh Runyan Bares All (Glen Schaefer, The Vancouver Province)


Tygh Runyan has watched friends become famous, he's worked with famous
people and, one day, he might become famous himself.

It's a thought the Ladner-raised actor approaches with a healthy sense
of the absurd -- when it came time for him to star in a movie he had
more urgent concerns.

The movie, opening Friday, was the small-town relationship drama
Touched, by B.C. director Mort Ranson. The 23-year-old Runyan co-stars
as a charismatic young drifter who goes to Keremeos and befriends an
alcoholic widow (Lynn Redgrave).

When Runyan first heard he got the part he was in Los Angeles and sought
out pal Scott Speedman, who plays Ben on TV's Felicity, for a bit of

It was about those outdoor nude scenes.

"He read the script and thought it was great," Runyan says. "I told him
we'd be shooting in October in the Okanagan and I'd be naked. I said I
worried about the shrinks."

Speedman said some encouraging words, something about how the audience
would understand the circumstances. Runyan pumped iron for three months
and, when the time came to bare all for his art, he was ready.

"Now the nude scenes are my favourites in the movie. It's like
taking a big leap -- interesting things happen when you confront your

The movie was filmed a year and a half ago, at a time when co-star
Redgrave was going through a painful break-up with her husband.

"Her family came up to console her that Thanksgiving," Runyan says.
Redgrave kept working through personal troubles that later became public
when the international media picked up on the story.

"One of the amazing things about her is the ability to create a
character in her mind, such a densely detailed, wild character, and
bring that into physical reality for the camera," says Runyan. "All that
stuff in her character's past -- you don't see it but you sense it."

The movie features some of Canada's best actors -- Graham Greene, Lolita
Davidovich and Maury Chaykin among them -- but most of Runyan's work was
with Redgrave. The two create an intense, audacious May-September
romance onscreen. He hasn't seen his co-star since filming ended but
they keep in touch through e-mail and letters.

Runyan's own background includes growing up in Ladner, what he calls his
"rowdy fishing-town years." His father is a professor at UBC doing
pioneering research in environmental science. His mother's a poet.
Runyan studied at Emily Carr College of Art at the same time as he was
getting into acting as a teen with roles including TV's drama Northwood.

By the time he did the low-budget teen comedy Kitchen Party in 1997,
when he became friends with then-unknown co-star Speedman, the painting
had taken second place to acting.

So far, fame and Runyan have a way of circling warily around each other.
Most recently, he completed three weeks' work in Vancouver on the
technology thriller Anti-Trust, starring Ryan Philippe and Tim Robbins.
Philippe and Runyan play young computer techies and Robbins is a
sinister Bill Gates type.

"It's a bigger role," says Runyan, who's the fifth billed after
Robbins, Philippe, Claire Forlani and Rachael Leigh Cook.

"I'm Ryan's friend at university, trying to convince him to start a
business with me," he says. "Ryan goes to work for Tim and discovers bad

Runyan saw the fame factor at work in that movie -- he and Philippe were
in the midst of filming an outdoor scene downtown when a fan stepped
onto the street to snap a picture of Philippe, ruining the shot.

"Ryan would get people coming up to him all the time -- 'Come to my
party, come to this rave' -- but he's down to earth, a hard worker."

Philippe came to see Runyan's indie rock band the Beans open at the
Commodore for the Flaming Lips on a recent Saturday, a gig Runyan says
was a step up from the usual indie venues.

"It was cool. We were rock stars for the night -- dressing room, fruit
bowl. Ryan was hassling me about it."

Runyan sees more of the fame fallout when he's in L.A. with pal
Speedman, who's got an even higher profile through being on TV every
week. He says the Torontonian has maintained a sense of humour.

"It would be ridiculous, people throwing themselves at him, and
he's like, 'Let's see if she'll buy us some drinks.'"

Runyan figures the fame thing might be good for a laugh or two. He's
writing a screenplay with another actor chum about the lure of celebrity.

"It's a comedy about a community theatre and two crazy guys who aren't
really actors but think it would be glamorous. They lie their way into

He might learn more about the real thing next fall when Anti-Trust comes
out in wide release. Also due out around then is the L.A.-filmed movie
15 Minutes, starring Robert De Niro, with Runyan in a small role as an
artist who becomes famous after going on a shooting spree.

Most of his scenes in that movie were with Frasier star Kelsey
Grammer, who plays a TV talk-show host.

But Runyan, a huge De Niro fan, got to meet the man on set one day.

"We were introduced really quickly. He had all these people with him."

You mean an entourage?

He shrugs. "Yeah, I guess that's what it was."


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