Actor Vas Saranga stops by on Close-Up Culture to chat about his role in the highly anticipated CBC Gem comedy series, You’re My Hero.
Hi Vas, welcome to Close-Up Culture. What can audiences expect from You’re My Hero?
Glad to be here! You’re My Hero is going to figuratively hit people over the head with comedy and heart. It’s a super funny and heartfelt show about an unfiltered 20-something dude named Ian who has Cerebral Palsy, and his journey navigating the social pressures of life in a world not designed for wheels. I play Eric, one of the lead characters.
How did you approach and tap into the role of Eric?
Eric is a super immature guy – Ian’s best friend and roommate. The kind of best friend that asks for a lot of favors, and the kind of roommate that doesn’t do any chores. I just had to tap into a slightly younger version of myself to capture that immaturity. I’m actually kind of scared at how easy it was.
What did you enjoy most about playing Eric?
Eric is the life of the party, and with that comes energy. I’ve got a lot of energy to give, and I’m pretty good at bringing it, even for 6am call times on set. I definitely enjoyed letting loose and being free in this role. Being able to collaborate with the directors Kara and Greg, our showrunner Kevin, and our creator Sean on new and exciting takes on physical gags really helped add a dimension of physical comedy to my character. Getting to riff on and off-screen with our incredibly funny and talented cast was icing on the cake.
What was the atmosphere like on set for this comedy?
It was super light and fun! We have some serious comedy heavyweights on this show: Sean Towgood, Tina Jung, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Ali Hassan, Cassidy Civiero, Kelsey Flower, Julie Nolke, Christian Smith, George Alevizos, and the list goes on! The cast is stacked. So many scenes were an exercise in trying not to “break” during a take. Let’s just say there were many takes that were unusable due to uncontrollable laughter. Extra work for our editing team, but WORTH IT.
What was your collaboration like with co-star Sean Towgood?
We became very fast friends. Before we met in person we sent voice notes back and forth to each other over Instagram DMs. Just day to day stuff, asking each other 20 questions, that kind of thing. It was immensely helpful in developing a friendship off-camera that translated to on-camera when we got to set. We’d hang out between scenes and regularly talk about the story and character while running lines with each other. The ongoing conversations helped us understand how each of us approaches the craft, and that led to being able to have more fun on set and portray best friends.
As the creator of the show, Sean was very gracious in giving all the actors freedom right out of the gate to take ownership of their characters. If this meant making suggestions about dialogue here and there, or asking questions about their motivations, he was all ears. Love working with him!
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
Firstly, I hope they are supremely entertained by it. It’s truly funny and heartwarming. Lots to relate to, and so much originality in the concept. It puts a person with a disability in the spotlight, giving audiences a view into a normal day-to-day life of a character in a wheelchair, with Cerebral Palsy in this case, but in a story that isn’t one of the typical extremes of “triumph” or “tragedy”. There’s a far more down to earth quality to this show than any I’ve seen, and I hope audiences connect with it for all those reasons.
Can you tell us about your background and when you fell in love with performing?
When I was around 8 years old, I saw the “Back to the Future” trilogy which I credit for igniting my love for movies. When “The Matrix” came out my mind was blown, of course. I knew I had to be involved with telling screen stories. I made student films in high school and was a pretty budding young director, if I may say so myself, but I kept putting myself in the short films as an actor, sort of because I had to. Then I realized how much more I wanted to be an actor than a director, and the rest is history, as they say.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I’ve got several screenplays written that are being shopped around. I’m always creating. I plan to have these off the ground in the near future so hopefully we’ll be talking about those soon!