Russell Peters eyes acting gig on 'Flashpoint'
TORONTO — Comedy superstar Russell Peters is beefing up his resume with several weighty Hollywood roles that he hopes will bolster his bid to develop a dramatic acting career.
The Brampton, Ont.-raised funnyman has even been vying for a part on CTV's "Flashpoint," which follows an elite police tactical unit based in Toronto.
He muses that he could play a killer, a cop or a murder victim.
"Flashpoint" is one of the leading nominees heading into the Gemini Awards on Sept. 7, a televised bash that Peters will host from Toronto.
Peters says from Los Angeles that he's already filmed roles in the upcoming Garry Marshall movie, "New Year's Eve," with Sofia Vergara and Katherine Heigl and "See If I Care" with Eva Mendes.
He also has a prominent part in the upcoming hockey movie, "Breakaway," about a rag-tag group of Indo-Canadian rink rats who seek on-ice stardom.
It debuts at the Toronto International Film festival, which kicks off Sept. 8.
Peters says he'd like to develop a diverse body of work that allows him to jump from comedy to drama and back again.
"Kind of like the way Martin Short did," Peters says, referring to the Canuck comic legend who recently turned up on the meaty specialty dramas "Damages" and Weeds."
"I love 'Flashpoint,' actually, that's the one show I actually have been asking to get on," says Peters, best known for peppering his stage show with outrageous accents.
"I really like that show. It's a really, really good show."
For now, "Flashpoint" will have to wait. Peters is tied up with a slew of projects that include a holiday special for The Comedy Network and an episode of the Hulu documentary program, "A Day In the Life," produced by "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock.
Although he was able to work his own material into "Breakaway" and expects to determine much of the comedy planned for his Gemini gig, Peters says he stepped back on "New Year's Eve" to take cues from an industry giant.
"Garry Marshall knows what he's doing, he's not an amateur at this," he said of the "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride" director.
"He knows how to try and bring out your strengths or what will work onscreen."
In "New Year's Eve," Peters says Heigl plays a caterer while he and Vergara are her underlings. Peters' character is in love with Vergara's character.
"He's pretending to be something he's not in order to try and get close to her," says Peters, who also appeared in the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller "Source Code."
"See If I Care" involves a more serious role, where Peters plays Eva Mendes' boss.
"I kind of modelled it a little bit after Mel from 'Alice,"' says Peters. "(He's) lovably grouchy."
Peters says he's not thinking too closely about where his career takes him but is buoyed by an explosion of diverse jobs.
"It's all pretty cool what's happening," says Peters, who will also be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame on Oct. 1.
"It's better than a lot of things not happening."
"These are roles that just come to me and I take them as they come. But I would like to go down that road some more and play some more things that are little more outside my box but still have a funny edge to them."
The range of projects all seem to be helping the stand-up veteran break out to a more mainstream audience in the United States. Peters says he's noticed that he's getting recognized more often these days.
While crossing the street the other day in Beverly Hills he came across the unlikeliest of fans: a "douche bag" driver who had the stereo blasting in his car.
"I was like, 'Oh God, one of those guys.' And as I'm crossing the street he sticks his head out and goes, 'Is that Russell Peters?' I was like, 'All right!' That douche bag all of a sudden became my favourite person in the world."
Another encounter took place while driving up L.A.'s famed Rodeo Drive in his convertible. Peters says a sightseeing tour group was stopped at the light across the street from him.
"We were passing at the intersection and all I heard was "That's Russell Peters!' And I was like, 'Yeah!' " he says.
"I love it. You know, you hear celebrities go, 'Ugh, I just want my privacy.' Shut up. If you wanted privacy you would have been an accountant."