Pretend We’re Kissing, the first feature from writer/director Matt Sadowski, premieres this Saturday night at The Royal (608 College St).

The film stars Dov Teifenbach, Tommie-Amber Pirie, and Zoë Kravitz and follows the story of Benny – who just wants to be more confident, stop thinking so much and fall in love. When he has a chance encounter with Jordan (Pirie), a woman obsessed with the notion of fate and a magical kind of love, he may finally have the opportunity. That is, if he can get out of his own way and out of his head.

We talked to Tommie-Amber Pirie about the film, acting, and a typical day in her life.

She Does the City: What drew you to PRETEND WE’RE KISSING?

Tommie-Amber Pirie: Well initially it was a friend – David Reale – who had put forth my name to Matt thinking that perhaps I would be suited to the part. And lo and behold, everything ended up working out! I liked the script, the fact that it was set in Toronto, as well as Matt’s vision for the piece. The main characters, Jordan and Benny, feel like people that I know – who are filled with doubt, uncertainty, ideals and many questions when it comes to connection and romance. I wanted to represent Jordan as a real girl, from the city of Toronto, who was looking for love. Plain and simple. I loved her sass and her vulnerability and her zest for life and I wanted to play in that realm.

What was it like working with Matt Sadowski?

Working with Matt was fantastic. He actually began his career as an actor so I felt as if this was a gift because there is nothing more satisfying as an actor than having your director know how to communicate with you! It’s imperative. Also, I believe it’s the reason that I felt so at ease on set. He allowed me to explore and play and really do whatever the hell I wanted because he trusted me fully. It was inspiring to be around someone who was so excited and pumped to shoot every single day. I mean, this was his first big feature which was based on his life, so the tangible energy that he exuded every day on set was so motivating and contagious.

Photo: Erin Simkin

Photo: Erin Simkin

Can you describe your character in the film? 

I play Jordan, an outgoing, free-spirited artist who wants to live her life to the fullest. She is entranced with the idea of fate and magical love and both of these ideals come to the forefront for her, and becomes ultimately something that she wrestles with, when she meets Benny. She feels relatable to me. She’s just a down to earth chick who meets a guy, has a feeling, and goes with it. She speaks her mind – tries to live in the moment, be true and hope for the best. As for preparation – I had the luxury of being able to rehearse with Matt and Dov. We worked on these characters and improvised a ton in order to find the back story and so forth. I also did a lot of reflecting about my life and how it is that I believe and think about love and romance and fate. I identified a lot with Jordan so I really just wanted to bring as much of my authentic self to her. Through me I found Jordan. Or perhaps she was already there.

What does a typical day of shooting look like for you?

If I have to be on set for 6 a.m. it looks a little something like me pressing snooze at 5 a.m. about 6 times and wanting to break my phone in half, then feeling around for my coffee grinder in the kitchen with my eyes still closed. I usually don’t speak until coffee has entered my body. Watch out! If I have a mid-morning call time, I will usually wake up and cuddle in bed with my dog and cats and partner – again COFFEE – walk the dog down by the beach, shower, read my book, gym, write emails, pay bills, sort receipts, imagine impulsively hopping on a flight to Costa Rica or Italy or dying my hair purple. When I realize that I have to be at work in a couple of hours and that hopping on a place would make a lot of people angry, I will look over my binder which has all my notes and lines and get a sense of what we are shooting and prepare for the day. I would shoot all day and then come home and cook. I love cooking. My nights usually consist of homemade food, tea or beer, Netflix and chocolate.

What made you want to get into acting?

It was an innate desire that just took over when I was about 16. There was just something in me that knew I was going to be an actor. I love storytelling. I love people. I have a passion for how human beings connect and think and live. I still have so much to learn and I think that’s what excites me and keeps me going. I don’t feel like I have even touched the edge of the types of characters that I really want to play and that fuels me. I feel as if I have just begun.

What attributes should a person cultivate to excel in performing?

I would say: thick skin, determination, hard work, inquiry, open eyes and heart, self-inquisition, grace and joy.

What’s your favourite part about your job? Least favourite?

I love the research, rehearsal and the moments between action and cut. The connected moments with an acting partner. Finding those moments of truth. That excites that hell out of me. And ONE of my least favourite things being shitty industry people.

Describe a situation in your life where you realized you needed to make a big change.

My transition from being a competitive figure skater to actor was a moment in my life where I knew that I wanted and needed to make a change. Going to the arena after 15 years of skating started to feel like a chore for me, and I knew that that wasn’t a life worth living ; doing something that I would feel obligated to do. Right now in my life I know that I want to be an actor. Who knows what the future brings. Life is a funny thing and entirely unpredictable. I don’t set anything in stone. If it feels right and feels good – go with it. Commit to it. When that changes – reevaluate. I love what I do with all of my heart and I don’t ever see myself stopping. That being said, this can be a tough industry in many regards. But the payoffs are what make it worth it. That’s why I love to focus my energy on other things than acting as well. I want to create fully and love fully and play fully. I Wanna live my life to the fullest – I suppose very much like Jordan.

See Pretend We’re Kissing as part of the Closing Night Gala at the Canadian Film Fest on March 28.  More information here.  The film will kick-off its theatrical release at the inaugural Canadian Indie Film Series on April 1 in Landmark Cinemas locations across Canada; see the full list here. The film will then continue its release in Toronto on April 3 at the Carlton Theatre (20 Carlton St.), as well as in Landmark Cinemas in Ottawa, Whitby and Vancouver.