In preparation for the 2013 Montreal Comiccon, taking place this weekend at the Palais Des Congres in the downtown area, Sound on Sight got a chance to sit down and talk with Pat Mastroianni. Beloved by fans for his portrayal of the always charming Joey Jeremiah on Degrassi Junior High, Mastroianni took the time to answer a few of our burning questions and to tell us why he thinks Degrassi is so well loved by audiences of all ages.
Sound On Sight: How did you feel about your departure from Degrassi? Was it just time to move on or..?
Pat Mastroianni: I mean, as well as any Canadian who was growing up with the series back in the 80’s knows is that this show is very much like Doctor Who in that it spans generations. Um, we had many incarnations of the show over the last 25 years-
SoS: The newest Degrassi has been on for thirteen years, if I’m not mistaken?
Mastroianni: Yeah, the latest one, correct. The Next Generation’s been on for thirteen seasons. I was only part of five of those seasons. But for me it was very much a passing of the torch to the next generation of kids on the show. Umm, I had my moment in the limelight with Degrassi back in the 80’s and then the revival of it in the 90’s, when it was on reruns. And the fact that the Canadian public welcomed us back after all those years with the Next Generation was a huge compliment to not only us, and what we did on the series, but the fact that the audience was still there to watch these types of shows.
SoS: It’s incredible. Because there are people who’ve watched this show their entire lives and they’re just fascinated by it.
Mastroianni: Yeah, yeah. It’s a little bit of a soap opera for us.
SoS: Most Canadian shows don’t seem to do that well. What is it about Degrassi that keeps it on the air and keeps it really relevant in this day and age?
Mastroianni: Probably because people our age, in their 30’s and 40’s, can relate to what it was like growing up as a kid, so we watch them with a little bit of nostalgia. The next generation of fans, which are the kids that are watching (who are) 14, 15, 16 years of age right now (…) I think they can relate to a lot of the story lines, they can relate to a lot of the characters. Because they really make an effort on that series to stay true to what the Degrassi franchise was all about; and that’s just story telling. Character driven stories.
And you can watch a character develop over seasons, and that way you become a bit of a friend to that person, there’s a familiarity. Like Joey; everybody who watched my character on Degrassi knew a Joey, wanted to be a Joey, or, you know, dated a guy named Joey-
SoS: Yeah, he was that kid that everybody knew back in high school.
Mastroianni: Yeah, and believe me, I am completely honoured to have that sort of stigma being Joey Jerimiah from Degrassi, which is why I enjoy coming to these Conventions. Because it allows me an opportunity to say hey to the fans (…) and you know, I meet a lot of fans that are now in their 40’s and the kids don’t know who I am because they’re fans of the new kids on Degrassi.
SoS: Have you followed the show since you’ve been off it?
Mastroianni: I followed it for the first five seasons and I sort of had my fill. You know, I do pop in once in a while to see who the cast is. I couldn’t tell you who anybody on the current season thirteen is. I just don’t recognize any of them ‘cause when I came back, it was Emma and Manny, and you know, Spinner and all those guys. And now they’ve gone on to bigger and better things, hopefully, and it’s a whole new cast now. It’s like, hey, I did my job, I passed the torch, and hopefully the show runs for another twenty-five years.
SoS: Are there any projects coming up that you’re really excited about? Anything you’re currently involved in?
Mastroianni: Quite a few, actually. You know a lot of people say “what have you done lately? Have you been in the acting business much?” And I’m like “guys, I never left.” The only thing is that the stuff I do these days is a lot lower profile; like a guest appearance on The Listener, or on another show. (…) My biggest project, that I’ve just completed, is a Christmas movie (…) with a lot of great American actors.
SoS: May I ask what it’s called?
Mastroianni: Yeah, it’s called “A Very Larry Christmas” and it’ll come out, umm, obviously around Christmas time. (…) I just finished, I just wrapped a short film last week. I like to support a lot of up and coming filmmakers. ‘Cause they’re the ones that are the next generation of producers and directors.
SoS: Do you have one right now that you think is going to be the next Martin Scorsezie?
Mastroianni: Well believe it or not, I worked with a director here in Montreal by the name of Simon (Boisvert) (…) and we did a film together a couple of years ago called 40 Is The New 20 all shot locally with local talent, local crew. And it was just this independent film that he made. It was his first English speaking film, he’s very well known here for his French films, (…)I’d say he’s the next young, you know, filmmaker to keep an eye out for because he does it all on his own.
SoS: So you’ve done TV and film… do you have a preferred medium?
Mastroianni: I guess where I started is TV, and that’s my favorite. A lot of people say theatre’s the real acting place, and it is, but it’s different, right? People love theatre, people love film, people like TV. I started in TV so that’s where my heart is. And I would love to get back on another series one day soon and hopefully a sci-fi series so that I can keep doing these Comic conventions, because I’m having a blast here. I’m a bit of a comic nerd myself-
SoS: Any particular comic? Favorite superhero?
Mastroianni: Oh my god, I love Spiderman. And I collect silver age comics so I have a pretty vast collection of first issues, first appearances back home. And a lot of the comic book dealers back in Toronto that I do business with, they were the ones that said “Why aren’t you doing these comic conventions?”
They actually got me into Montreal. The one vendor, his name is Walter at Big B Comics just outside of Toronto, he hooked me up with these folks here and got me to participate. So I’m really excited.
You can catch more of Pat Mastroianni this weekend at the 2013 Montreal Comiccon.