Beach actor shines in Pretend We’re Kissing

You can add Tommie-Amber Pirie to the list of talented performers who call the Beach home. The Ottawa native moved to Toronto at the age of 19 to pursue her acting career. Living in the heart of the Beach close to both city and nature is a good fit for an animal lover who enjoys cycling and walking her dog by the lake.

Canadian actors need to be versatile and willing to work long hours in a variety of film and television roles. You’re more likely to see our down-to-earth “stars” riding a bicycle than climbing out of a limo. (Maybe it’s the pay!)

Pirie is adept at droll comedy, serious drama or supernatural thrillers. She first wowed TIFF audiences as Jay Baruchel’s sister in The Trotsky (2009) and has appeared on such popular TV shows as Bitten, The Listener, Lost Girl and Rookie Blue. For the CBC series Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Pirie was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and two Canadian Comedy Awards. In The F Word she played one of Zoe Kazan’s “knit-wit” friends spinning yarns and keeping each other in stitches at the Purple Purl on Queen Street East.

Tommie-Amber Pirie in Pretend We're Kissing
Tommie-Amber Pirie in Pretend We’re Kissing

Sports training can instill the value of hard work and discipline. Pirie spent many years as a competitive figure skater. So did Rachel McAdams and Malin Akerman. Laura Vandervoort, Amy Jo Johnson and Nina Dobrev were gymnasts. Playing goalie for the Leaside Wildcats helped Rachel Skarsten face the pressure of appearing in Fifty Shades of Grey (no, wait, that’s a different kind of discipline!)

I spoke to the charming Tommie-Amber about her free-spirited character in the new indie film Pretend We’re Kissing, playing now at The Carlton.

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BF: In this film you play Jordan, who believes in a magical kind of love and fate … that things are meant to be. What do you think?

Tommie-Amber Pirie: Personally? I definitely have the mentality that things happen for a reason. I believe in serendipitous moments. Every person you meet, every experience you’re a part of happens for a reason. It’s a learning experience. Jordan and I share the same perspective on fate. I don’t think fate is a dreamy kind of quality. There’s the butterfly effect … one little thing can affect the world.

BF: Hopeful romantic or hopeless romantic?

Pirie: Hopeful romantic!

Dov Tiefenbach and Tommie-Amber Pirie in Pretend We're Kissing
Dov Tiefenbach and Tommie-Amber Pirie in Pretend We’re Kissing

BF: Both The F Word and Pretend We’re Kissing are proudly set in Toronto and show off our city with beautiful images. The islands become an enchanted place. What are some of your favourite spots in the Beach?

Pirie: There’s a new coffee shop, Bud’s, near Queen and Kippendavie. There’s nothing better than seeing a movie at the Fox Theatre. Sometimes I’ll just go have a beer and watch a film. Often I’m down by Woodbine Beach walking my dog. I feel so at home in the Beach. I don’t see myself ever leaving the Beach. It’s insanely expensive, but the community is so diverse and inviting. I love the unique qualities of the people you meet on Queen Street, like “Hollywood” Wayne.

Bf: “Anxious” is one of the words defined in the movie. Which would make you most anxious: a competitive skate, an acting audition or moving to Toronto?

Pirie: I would say skating … doing my skating program in front of so many people. You have four to six minutes to have a perfect performance. Everything you’ve learned comes down to that four minutes. It’s such a mental game. If I didn’t have that experience of going through that, I wouldn’t have the perseverance and determination to go through acting. You have to have tough skin!

BF: This new film has been called a “non-rom com”.

Pirie: Quirky comedies have found their place, for instance, Juno with Ellen Page. Romantic comedies are looking a little bit different. Pretend We’re Kissing is an independent film, not big like The F Word. It’s finding the naturalism and realism.

BF: Can smaller “indie” films find an audience?

Pirie: It’s hard to get funding today, especially in Canada. You have to rely on the audience, on independent theatres that will show your film.

BF: The Beach is home to many fine performers. What do you like most about living in the Beach?

Pirie: I feel so lucky that I get to live in the Beach, it feels like my home. There’s nothing better than going “home” to my home in the Beach after a long day on set. Being down by the water reinvigorates me and makes me feel connected and whole. I LOVE THE BEACHES!

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