Close-Up: An Interview With The Love Club Star Brett Donahue

Actor Brett Donahue is set to star in the new original four-part movie event, The Love Club following the story of four women, each dealing with their own dating debacle. Brett appears as Tara’s main love interest Noah in the fourth instalment, The Love Club: Tara, airing on the Hallmark Channel this February 23rd and the W Network this March 3rd.

We spoke to Brett about this exciting role, making music, his acting background, and much more.

Hi Brett, welcome to Close-Up Culture. How did this opportunity to star in The Love Club come about? 

It came about in a pretty traditional way. I got a call asking if I’d like to be a part of the project, but the producers needed to know whether or not I could sing and play an instrument. I said yes, even though the singing and playing isn’t something I normally do. I play piano, but accompanying my playing with singing isn’t really something I’ve done a lot of. I threw together a quick tape of me playing and singing a sweet little song by Michael Kiwanuka and sent it off. A few days later I got the official invite. 

You play Tara’s main love interest, Noah. Can you tell us more about Noah and your experience playing him? 

Noah is an aspiring singer-songwriter, traveling around in his Westfalia van, practicing his craft and trying to get his music discovered. At his core, Noah is a really sincere guy and a bit of a romantic, which leads him to get involved with Tara in ways that he never really expected. Noah credits himself as a songwriter more than a singer, which was a fun aspect for me to play. I liked the fact that the guy has obvious talent, but doesn’t necessarily want to be the centre of attention. I think he’s much happier finding success, while remaining a step or two outside of the spotlight. I think this ultimately made it a character that I was more naturally drawn to and wanted to investigate.

I wanted him to have aspects of awkwardness, a person still looking for their place; someone that doesn’t have their sh** together completely. These things ultimately give me more questions to investigate, which makes the process all that more involved for myself. The other aspect I loved (or dreaded in moments) was the fact that I had to play and sing on set. Live. Which, as I mentioned, is not my most comfortable zone to be in. But it served to be a real challenge that I appreciated having. I certainly wish I had had more time with the music to really get it integrated in me, but I was shooting another project right before starting The Love Club, and in truth, the music was still being decided right up until we started shooting so in the end we just had to roll with it (literally). 

How much fun did you have working with Camille Stopps and the rest of this crew? 

Camille is a ball of light, and an absolute delight to work with. Though we’d never worked together before, we’d known each other for a number of years prior. When I saw that it would be her playing Tara, it made the decision to join the cast a no brainer. It was so nice to have to act across from someone that you already “know”. There’s an immediate intimacy created because of this connection, and that’s such a gift to have. No warm up period needed for getting to know the other person. It allowed us to take this familiarity and put it right into the work, even though we were playing two people who just met haha.

Then there was the music…. Which was such  a joy to make with Camille. Doing those scenes was so easy because really, all I had to do was sit back and enjoy this wonderful voice coming at me. The music was a really nice addition for us both. It always served as something that not only ground our experience as characters, but something the two of us as actors could really focus on and keep coming back to whenever we needed to find each other. 

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to acting? 

I grew up in Winnipeg. Had a pretty blue collar experience as far as my family goes. Growing up I played a lot of sports and my main focus for a big part of my life was trying to make it to the NBA. Didn’t happen haha. But it was an injury during a basketball game that really served as a foundational pivot (pun intended) for me heading towards acting. I joined my high-school’s improv team. The success here really instilled a confidence in myself, in doing this sort of work, which led me to make it my main focus in university. I attended both The Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg, and became involved in theatre festivals in Winnipeg, where I really got to enjoy my first aspects of performing for a real public, and it quickly became the thing that I envisioned doing. 

As my studies in Winnipeg were coming to a close, I was faced with the choice of staying in Winnipeg and trying to become a local actor, or head out to one of the big centres and try to make it; both of which didn’t feel exactly right for me at that time.. Luckily I had  also applied and was accepted to The National Theatre School of Canada. It was really through my time here that I gained what I needed to step into a professional environment. From there, I started auditioning and carving out a little path for myself in the industry. 

You starred in one of the best horrors of recent years (Slaxx) and an acclaimed mystery TV series (Three Pines). What type of roles and projects would you love to take on in the future? 

I always struggle with this question. I can’t really say I want to do this kind of  thing, or that kind of thing. There’s so many things I am still wanting to experience in this business. There’s so many avenues for growth. I love working on smaller independent shoots, with people that have been crafting their stories for years and years. But that said, navigating the world of big productions requires another set of skills in itself. There’s a lot of theatre I still want to do. I think I’ve had a good amount of variety in my work, and that’s something I really wish to continue. I want to be surprised by what’s asked of me as an actor, because I think that’s really the only way I can surprise myself. I’ve never yet had the opportunity to live out a character over a longer episodic project. I think that’s something that I’d love to attempt. 

What are your dreams and ambitions for the future? 

My ambitions are  to continue to grow in what I do. Continue to learn, and continue to be tasked with new challenges. I want to direct, I want to write, I want to act, I want to dance, I want to play, and I want all of those to come in no particular order.

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