Screenwriter-actress Kelly McCormack on her new film, Sugar Daddy, tearing down the male gaze, and redefining femininity. The film is now available on VOD in Canada and the US.
At Seventh Row, we pride ourselves on seeking out the best hidden gems that nobody’s talking about to ensure that our readers never miss a great film again.
In Sugar Daddy, screenwriter-actress Kelly McCormack (Letterkenny, Ginny and Georgia) investigates the various ways in which men commodify women — from paying them for their time as a ‘sugar baby’ date, to expecting their affection or sexual attention in exchange for their kindness. Though not autobiographical, the film is based on McCormack’s own lived experience as a struggling artist in her early twenties and the various interactions she had with creepy men. Because of the film’s metatheatrical elements, McCormack and her producing team decided to bring on director Wendy Morgan, whose prior experience was in directing music videos, where strong stylization is even more common.
McCormack stars as Darren, a broke, experimental musician who is struggling equally with paying the rent and finding her voice as a musician — and having the time and energy to do so. One night, she runs into a former catering colleague at an event who is there as a paid date to an older man — which the colleague describes as another “stand there and look pretty job,” akin to catering but with better pay. When Darren is suddenly fired from her catering job, she decides to look into the opportunities a sugar daddy (or several) might offer.
Working as a paid date to older men is a strange fit for Darren who lacks social graces, prefers oversized men’s clothing to dresses, and has a tendency toward self-absorption. At the same time, she’s a young, skinny white woman, which makes her broadly desirable, if sometimes uncomfortably so. Her first date, the chain-smoking Jim (Nicholas Campbell), takes her shopping for evening gowns, only to invite her to listen to classical music in his car, while dressed to the nines. In the hands of costume designer Mara Zigler, those gowns aren’t just fancy, but almost excessively feminine, like costumes for a fancy dress party. Darren’s obvious discomfort in the clothes this man has dressed her in, so different from her usual outfits, also serves to heighten our awareness of the stiltedness of the exchange, when she’s paid to be an object to look at.
Those clothes come in handy though for when Darren meets with her other clients, most notably, a middle-aged man, Gordon (the exquisite Colm Feore), who isn’t at all what she expected, and not just because he doesn’t seem to leer. On their first date, at a fancy restaurant, after tearing into a burger, Darren declares, “I tried to be a lady for an hour, but this burger….” Rather than taking offense, Gordon only smiles, pleased to get to see the real Darren behind her feminine mask. Unlike Jim or the other men in Darren’s life — including her roommate, Peter (Ishan Davé), who pines after her, and a talent scout (Aaron Ashmore) at a record company who wants to sleep with her — he’s genuinely interested in what she has to say. Asking about her music, he elicits more honesty from Darren than anyone else in the film. Despite having handed her an envelope full of cash on arrival (or perhaps because of it, making the exchange upfront and transparent), a real connection forms.
Though Darren never does more than spend time with her clients, the potential for sexual undertones makes her uncomfortable with sharing the source of her new income with her friends. At her birthday party, her jealous roommate spills the beans, and an uncomfortable conversation unspools. Is Darren engaging in sex work, if she’s not actually having sex with the men? And how different is going on paid dates with men to working as a “stand there and look pretty” catering waiter? Or from her relationship with her roommate, who tacitly expects her to sleep with him as a thank you for covering her gaps in rent and caring for her? As the film is set in Toronto, Darren’s group of friends are racially diverse, and thus more aware than she is about the role of her white privilege in her current employment strategy. McCormack told me that the birthday party scene was rehearsed like a play, and the precision of that work comes through in the film because it’s a scene full of life, complexity, and many characters.
Although Darren’s relationships with men are at the centre of the film, McCormack also explores Darren’s often strained relationships with women. Having grown up with an absent father, Darren is so keen for male approval that she doesn’t know how to deal with being in a situation where a woman — a record producer played by ggel — is in charge. Her father’s absence also drives her strange psycho-sexual relationship, at once tender and uncomfortable, with Gordon. Darren also has a strained relationship with her younger sister (played by McCormack’s real life sister, Hilary McCormack), who shares some of Darren’s insecurities that Darren can see more clearly in someone else than in herself.
McCormack’s first collaborator to come on board the film was costume designer Mara Zigler, who previously worked on both Firecrackers (2018) and Mouthpiece (2018). Although Sugar Daddy was penned years before either film was made, it owes much to their legacy, including its similarly mostly female creative team. Like Mouthpiece, Sugar Daddy is full of musical numbers — here used to give us access to Darren’s creative process — that are so effortlessly integrated into the film that it’s easy to forget it’s kind of a musical. Darren’s sloppy look recalls Mouthpiece’s Cassandra’s sweaters with giant holes and ill-fitting clothing — both of them are rebelling against the male gaze in how they present themselves. Like both Firecrackers and Mouthpiece, Sugar Daddy is directly concerned with what it’s like to live under patriarchy — not quite as white feminist as Mouthpiece, if not quite as intersectionally nuanced as Firecrackers. But since Sugar Daddy was made post-#MeToo, it also pushes more boundaries.
Before the film’s release, I sat down with Kelly McCormack via Zoom to talk about how the film came to be, how she and Mara Zigler worked to hack at the male gaze, writing music for a singer-songwriter character, and the importance of finding male actors who are willing to play creepy men.
Seventh Row (7R): Where did the idea for Sugar Daddy come from?
Kelly McCormack: I was really broke and really angry. I was really tired of the various ways I was being commodified and disrespected in my multitude of part-time jobs, my commercial auditions, and my crappy acting auditions. This became the only way out of all that. I pretty much locked myself in my studio apartment for three months and wrote the film and quit all my jobs. It came from a very Cabin Fever-esque place of rage. I’ve written from happier places, but this was not one of them.
7R: Once you had the script, what was the process to get it turned into a film?
Kelly McCormack: The process was finding a producer who could take it to the next level. I had made two other films for very little money. I really wanted this script to be a foray into another bracket of Canadian filmmaking. I first contacted Lauren Grant, because she is in Toronto and had done a bunch of really great features. I really respect her work, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her. She had just had a baby so she couldn’t do it. Somehow, I got to Lori Lozinski in Vancouver, and then Lori convinced Lauren to say yes to the film. Lori and Lauren are creative producers, creative powerhouses, and they’ve been with me the entire time.
Then, we needed to attach a director, and we wanted something a little more unconventional. We found Wendy Morgan [who previously worked in music videos]. The four of us have been pushing this boulder up a mountain for five years.
7R: How did the script change or develop when you started collaborating with Wendy Morgan? How did your thoughts about the character change?
Kelly McCormack: Writing the script alone in your room, there’s a certain amount of bottled heat and kinetic energy to it. [Then] you bring on other people. From the very beginning, it was Lauren, Lori, and Wendy — the four of us in a room. A film like this, that is so unabashedly female, and from the lived experience of my early twenties — not autobiographically, but it feels familiar to what I felt in my early twenties — it can’t help but instigate and trigger personal connections from the other women collaborators you’re working with. It felt like three other really intelligent, talented women weighing in, taking it personally, and putting their skin in the game. [They were] pushing it and pushing it and pushing it.
We wrote the film before #MeToo. A lot of the themes of the film weren’t really being talked about when we first started out. When #MeToo happened, a lot of the themes of the film were things that people were suddenly talking about, and these things were being normalized. So we had to push it further and make it more exacting in its intentions and its motivations.
Working with other women is a dream. You get other perspectives, and they help you see it from a different direction.
7R: What changed because of #MeToo in Sugar Daddy?
Kelly McCormack: Some of the conversations [about] consent and sexuality. [In the script,] we were trying to unpack the ways in which women are commodified in their day-to-day life and the power dynamics between an older rich man and a younger female artist. Suddenly, #MeToo happened, and there is just op ed after op ed after op ed, spelling out the ways in which women don’t have a choice in some really difficult situations. And the sort of fallacy of choice: the idea that sitting across from a rich man who’s much older, we suddenly have all this agency, when in fact, the architecture of patriarchy and how it functions within the industry means that we’re binded, in a way.
I think #MeToo just pushed us further. It made us go, “Okay, now people are finally talking about these themes. So how do we make them talk at the front lines of it?”
7R: Does that mean changes to the script? Or was it just more about how you’re executing it?
Kelly McCormack: Every draft we did — we did seventy-eight drafts of the script — was about making Darren more flawed, more complicated, and more complex, adding more layers. Every dynamic she has with the men in the film, including her roommate, her friends, the sugar daddies, they all are various quiet moments of exchanges and power dynamics. It’s about finding and isolating every moment, and making sure that it’s a landmine, making sure that it can trigger something. It’s not just a passing conversation. Everything is loaded in some way, which is why we really packed this film to the gills with so many complexities and layers.
7R: What is it like to play a part that you’ve written for yourself?
Kelly McCormack: It’s very normal for me. Coming from theatre, your entire job, as an actor, is to investigate the words and to be the living vessel for the playwright’s intentions. So oftentimes, when I’m looking at a play, or a script, I’m writing, for myself, a backstory or a biography or wondering why this person said X, Y, and Z. In theatre, you embody multiple roles: you’re directing, or you’re set designing, or you’re writing. It’s the indie theatre spirit.
By the time we actually shot the film, I wasn’t wondering whether or not I should have said one thing or another, I was actually looking at the words, thinking, “Why did I write this? What does that mean for the woman who wrote this film?” I kind of disassociated myself because I wrote the film five years earlier. Although we made lots of drafts, a lot of the stuff that I’d written was originally in there.
I had changed so much [as a person]. Oftentimes, I was looking at it going, “What did I mean by this? And who was I when I wrote this?” I think the time [to sit with the material] helped. It’s very normal for me to write and perform at the same time. It all comes from the same place. I think, more readily, my acting comes from writing because that’s what it is: it’s just words, triggering meaning triggering character.
7R: Because you’ve worked in both film and theatre, was there something about this story that made you really want to tell it through film?
Kelly McCormack: Every time I write something, it becomes immediately clear, when I’m writing it, or the moment I get the idea, what medium it should be on. I had made two other feature films and wanted to make one that was more of an engine for me, as an actor. I called it my Rocky.
I had made these two ensemble cast films, and I really wanted to participate in a way that was a little more in line with the type of films that I really liked. I’m a really big fan of Italian films: [Luchino] Visconti, [Federico] Fellini, [Michael] Powell and [Emeric] Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (1948). I love any film that deals with meta-theatricality and colour, and surreal dream sequences.
When I came up with the idea, I felt that it was a film. I was like, “Oh, this is a film. It’s not a book. It’s not a play. It’s for cinema.” And I wanted a lot of people to see it. I want a lot of young people, particularly young women, to register some of the themes and the conflicts and the angst and anxiety and the fear and the empowerment that we’re trying to push forward with this film.
7R: Did you have a sense of what Darren’s physicality was going to be like, as you were writing? When did that come in?
Kelly McCormack: I started sort of embodying Darren as I wrote the film, knowing that she would be wearing all this oversized clothing, her slouchiness, and her lack of posture, her moving from her hips in a way that was more masculine. And then, when the costume design comes in, it really helps me with trying to figure out her physicality.
It was maybe a shorter process for this film, because I’d been living with it for so long. So it’s not like I had to just figure it out and make all these choices. These choices were soaked into the character, and the writing for so long.
7R: The meta-theatricality in Sugar Daddy is quite interesting. The film is quite stylized. Even Darren’s fancy dresses are slightly heightened. How did that come together?
Kelly McCormack: The earliest collaborator for this film was actually my best friend and sort of lifetime collaborator, Mara Zigler, who’s the costume designer,
7R: She’s so great.
Kelly McCormack: She’s so great. We’ve worked on everything together. She was always attached to this film. We’ve been talking about Darren for many years, talking about performative femininity, within myself, personally, and also with this film.
We wanted to isolate the various ways in which the iconic female silhouette is commodified. So you have the Virgin Mary in blue on top of the car, that we’ve referred to as the “car pietà”. You have the woman in red: the fallen woman, the pretty woman, the Scarlet Letter, that sort of red, commodified idea of female sexuality. We wanted to reclaim it. You have the tea cup blue dress that she wears, it’s kind of like a princess dress, with Gordon.
You start seeing these patterns in the ways that women are presented and the way that their sexuality is packaged. We wanted to exact those in a way that felt glorious and luxe and performative and theatrical. When talking to Mara, our production designer, Jesse Jerome, and also working with someone like Wendy — who comes from music videos and is very game to push things to a further stylistic edge — it was a constant conversation. Every time we made a creative decision about these sort of imaginary spaces, it was a fluid conversation between us. It was a very fun arts-and-crafts-esque environment. The whole film was like one large art project.
7R: Darren’s clothes that she wears when she’s not out with these older men are at the opposite end of that spectrum.
Kelly McCormack: She’s more naturally masculine and wears a lot of her dad’s clothes. He’s significantly absent from the film.
Mara has worked very hard to redesign the female silhouette to encourage oversized, vintage clothes and a more masculine silhouette. She worked on a film called Firecrackers, and the costume design in that film is just epic. She did Mouthpiece, as well. She’s really made a name for herself and pioneered a space in costume design where women dress how we dress. I wear, like, three giant boys’ t-shirts that are extra large.
As an actor, oftentimes, I’ll pitch that idea. I’ll be like, “I get that she’s in a tank top, but what if she was wearing a huge t-shirt?” And people are like, “Well, no, we’ve got to see your waist, or we’ve got to see your form.” We just reject that, [which is] so male gaze. It’s so silly.
You’ll notice that in all of the intimate scenes that Darren has with the men in the film, she’s wearing oversized clothes. You don’t really see her body. It’s only when she’s alone with herself and she’s making art [that she] is naked with herself. Mara was trying to hack [at] the male gaze of the female body with this film, along with all the other things we were trying to do.
7R: What else was on that list that you’re trying to do with Mara and the film?
Kelly McCormack: Just burn things down. Just think about something, burn it down, think about something, burn it down. Challenge the way the female voice is commodified in the music industry. Burn down the various ways that Darren seeks approval from men and is unable to communicate in a healthy way with women. You see that in her relationship with Amanda Bruegel’s character, Nancy.
We really just tried to pack it all in, and it’s kind of unrelenting. Even when I watch [the film] now, the next scene just hits me, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, right, this happens! Oh, my God, I can’t believe we did this, as well!” So it’s been a journey of trying to unravel everything. Because once you start pulling one string, everything just unravels. I guess that’s the metaphor.
7R: In the scene at the birthday party, there are so many great lines about the different kinds of exploitation. Can you tell me a bit about that scene?
Kelly McCormack: That was a fourteen-page scene that was pretty much in the original draft. I come from theatre. Every major play that I adore has a huge dinner scene in the middle of the play, be it August: Osage County, Festen, or every Shakespeare, Macbeth, all of it. Let’s get all the characters on stage. Let’s get them talking. Let’s get them drunk. Let’s get all the opinions in there.
All my films have that. Barn Wedding (2015) has that. I’m sure that I’ll put that in every film, because it’s just so much fun to write. I wanted to show various perspectives within a super-perspective: get a really smart group of women together who aren’t afraid to talk about sex work and its various colours, and see the details within that conversation and the contradictory moments and the complexities of it. I wanted to have them hang Darren’s privilege out to dry. She sort of doesn’t talk in that scene, and all the men sort of disappear. It’s really about, how do other women perceive what she’s doing?
7R: Definitely with the Indigenous character, it brings up the idea that Darren can only earn money from sugar daddies because she’s a white girl.
Kelly McCormack: Yeah, Kaniehtiio Horn was, I think, the first person we cast. She’s a good friend of mine from Letterkenny. We had initial conversations where I said to her, “What would this conversation be for you?” Because it’s a different conversation for her. It’s a different conversation for Indigenous women in Canada. They don’t have the privilege of considering this type of work, or this type of commodified sexual expression without the horrific undertones of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIWG).
When we had early chats about it, she said, “I’ve played a lot of different characters representing the horrific struggles of Indigenous women in Canada. But I don’t know if I’ve ever played someone who’s just like myself, where I’m just at a party, and someone says something a little whack, and I have to be like, ‘Oh, no, now I have to say something and challenge them'”. She’s like, “It happens to me all the time that it’s kind of nice to portray it on camera.”
You’ll notice that moment happens, and then nothing really happens from it. It’s an opinion that she says, and then everyone goes silent. It’s a moment where you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t think of that. I didn’t even consider the fact that we’re having this conversation.” And here is Kaniehtiio Horn’s character just listening to this, and probably dealing with the undertones of knowing that the rest of the women at the party are in a privileged perspective in regards to their opinion of it.
7R: Can you talk a little bit about the way that you created the dynamics with all of the men in the film? They’re very delicate.
Kelly McCormack: That’s a very wonderful compliment. We definitely wanted the men to feel multidimensional and not just creepy dudes. We wanted them to feel authentic to men struggling with their own aspects of performative masculinity and their own insecurities and their own fragility. We wanted to really navigate what it is they know they want but they don’t know why, and unpack that for each one.
Ishan Davé’s character, Peter, the roommate, is someone who I think a lot of young women have met. He has been taught that his feelings towards Darren mean a type of ownership, a type of containment for his roommate. The idea of the friendzone was something that I grew up hearing from the boys I went to high school with. I wanted to unpack where that comes from in an honest, authentic way,
Nick Campbell’s character who plays Jim, I think he’s attempting to recreate a lovely moment he might have had with his deceased wife and connect over classical music. It is both a little creepy, but also very profound and tragic.
Colm Feore, of course, probably had the most complicated layers and conflicting motivations. He’s wrestling with his absent relationship with his daughter, as Darren is wrestling with her absent relationship with her father. The two of them seek each other out with this sort of guise of this commodified exchange, but I think they’re both looking to fill a void left by someone close to them in their life. And it plays out in a confusing, pseudo-sexual, disorienting way.
7R: How did your thoughts on those interactions change once you started working on them with other actors?
Kelly McCormack: Every actor we hired, Nick and Ishan and Colm, are all such lovely, feminist, thoughtful people, that it was important to us that they would also understand, politically, what we were trying to do. I think it was uncomfortable for them. That’s why I give them so many props for saying yes to the film. We need men who are willing to portray and investigate the various uncomfortable and scary ways that male insecurity and toxic masculinity and fragility manifest in their behaviour towards women.
Ishan is such a gentle, kind, thoughtful, sensitive human being, and yet he’s playing this character who is commodifying his roommate. I think it was really hard for him. But he, obviously, is a very talented and thoughtful artist. And he was like, “Alright, here we go. I’m gonna play this person. These people exist.”
7R: Her relationship with her roommate, theoretically, doesn’t involve money being exchanged between them, but he treats her more like a commodity than Colm Feore’s character, who is literally paying her.
Kelly McCormack: I definitely wanted to show that. Sometimes, the man that’s paying you to go on a date with them is maybe a more comfortable interaction because it’s upfront, than the roommate who feeds you and listens to you and cares for you, and does all the housework for you, and therefore, underneath, expects that you will become his girlfriend or partner.
I think it’s an important realm to investigate. Sometimes, the commodified exchanges that we have are less disorienting when they’re upfront and spoken about, than when they are underneath everything and coating everything. I wanted to deal with that exact thing. It’s almost more uncomfortable.
7R: Did you do any rehearsals for Sugar Daddy?
Kelly McCormack: We rehearsed that dinner scene at Ishan Davé’s [who plays Peter] house. All of us got together because all of us come from the theatre. I love rehearsals. I’m one of those actors for whom the more rehearsal we can do, the better. So we went to Ishan’s house and just spitfired that scene, and did it over and over and over and over again. By the time we got to camera, it was like a play. Ishan and I did some rehearsals. We did some rehearsals a little bit throughout. But with the budget that we were working with, there’s so little time that although you have the idea of doing rehearsals, you can’t always manifest that time.
7R: Can you tell me a bit about the music in Sugar Daddy and writing the songs?
Kelly McCormack: All the original music in the film was written by Foxtrott, Marie-Hélène Delorme. She’s this incredible musician out of Montreal. Together, we came up with Darren’s musical persona and musical style over the course of about two and a half years. It involved me lugging out my pedal steel to Montreal on Via Rail, which was sort of fun, sort of not fun, because the pedal steel is super heavy.
Marie-Hélène Delorme is an incredible music producer, as well. She produces all of her own music, as well as other artists’ music. It was important to us that Darren was also a producer, that she could make things and wanted to take up space with sound. She wasn’t just a singer-songwriter, but someone who could write expansive, rad, impactful music.
It took us a long time because Darren is not myself, and it’s not MH. It’s not Foxtrott; it’s not her music. We’re inventing an artist outside of ourselves, and then trying to figure out what she sounds like and what her influences are, and how the various influences and types of music and genres that she’s delved into, through classical music, weave their way into her sound.
7R: What was the process for singing and recording those songs for the film?
Kelly McCormack: We would go into the studio, and MH would direct me in trying to figure out what Darren sounded like. We recorded one song, “The blow away”, while I lay on the floor, because we were trying to replicate the ultra-sexual feeling-in-your-guts sound. So I performed the whole song lying on the ground.
We just recorded them as they were written [when they were written]. They were kind of written over those two years. I would just get into the studio with Marie-Hélène and just vibe it out.
A lot of the opera music that I sing in the film, the Maria Callas song, and the pedal steel I play, it all gets woven underneath all the production. A lot of the orchestration of the final track of the [film] is this kind of “Bohemian Rhapsody” of the entire film and all of its musical influences. It’s this wonderful boiling pot. I still listen to it, and I just can’t believe that we were lucky enough to arrive at that place. The song is also nominated for a CSA (Canadian Screen Award) so that’s pretty cool.
7R: Your sister is in the movie playing your sister.
Kelly McCormack: Yeah, my sister! There can only be one! She’s a fantastic actor. She and I grew up harmonizing and singing together. It felt like she could be the only person who could play it. It was necessary we try and get her to be in the film, and thankfully, she said yes.
7R: How did you pick The Roches song that you sing together?
Kelly McCormack: The Roches were a group of sisters. Their music has always been a guiding light in my life, along with Joni Mitchell, all that beautiful harmony-based folk music. The Roches was stuff that Hilary and I are always singing. I wanted a song that would feel authentic to something that two young girls would sing to their mom in the kitchen when they were really young. So that was where we landed. I sent an email to Suzzy Roche to see if she would let us sing the song, and thankfully, she responded kindly. I’m really proud of that moment. Singing the Roches song was really special to me because it was a very familial integration into the film.
7R: Were you involved at all with the editing of Sugar Daddy?
Kelly McCormack: Yes, I was very involved in the editing and so was the rest of my team. Christine Armstrong, the CSA-nominated editor of the film, did an incredible job. Her instincts are so incredible. She could totally understand and see herself in the character and was so emotionally attached to Darren’s journey that she was just the perfect match to work on this film.
Her and I worked in the edit for many, many, many weeks. We just got into that grimy headspace. We were working from, like, nine in the morning till ten at night and forgetting to eat. I hope she looks back fondly on this experience (laughs). We were just pushing it further and further and further.
The editing is truly the last writing process, the last voice that gets to shape the film. That last voice was as collaborative as every stage [of the film]. My producers would come in and they’d have notes and Wendy would have notes. We’d all just get in there and shape it. But it was a beast to shape. It was definitely a difficult one. It followed the script, but all the artistic imagination spaces and more surreal moments, we kind of had to figure out what the rulebook was for how they fit into the film.
7R: What did you learn in the edit?
Kelly McCormack: We started seeing Darren a little more clearly. There would be multiple takes where you’re watching me try different things. There was an atrociousness to Darren that we tapped into, which came from the song and the music and all that. We started really loving the moments where Darren was acting brutally flawed. We got addicted to using those takes, where Darren was just a little bit off: she’s like, sticking her finger in her mouth, or being a little bit of a jerk, or just doing weirdo things.
We would be scrubbing through the material looking for any time where Darren — which I guess is me, but I sort of talk about Darren like [this person] outside of myself — would be doing something just truly weird. In the edit, Christine and the rest of my team got really excited about the kaleidoscope of weirdness that could give us.
7R: What kind of experimenting were you doing on set with different takes with Darren?
Kelly McCormack: I guess, you choose the more gentle [acting approach], at first, or you choose the obvious one, the one that comes to mind. And then, when you’re in it, and the camera’s rolling, and the time is running out, and you’re doing it, and the camera is like an inch from your face, you’ll be like, “Alright, let’s do the take where you don’t really think about it, or you don’t really make a choice, or you’re not doing the obvious thing.”
Oftentimes, as a weirdo experimental theatre actor, I’ll just do something that doesn’t make much sense to me in the moment, but in the edit, you might go, “Oh, that’s interesting you did that.” I was putting my finger in my mouth a lot. I don’t know if that was attached to the fact that, at the end, she sort of upchucks all this black ink while she’s finding her voice.
There was a moment in the film where I come in from a date with Gordon, and Peter has found a new girlfriend. I walked in, and then just did this weird spin, and then I go into my room. We kept calling it the psycho spin. People started laughing and losing it on set. It was a weird night. We were running out of time. I was feeling so loopy. I hadn’t slept in days. I don’t know why I did it, but it was one of those moments where you just do something that doesn’t make any sense, but then it triggers this entire… So then, we kept looking for “psycho spin” moments. We’re like, Where’s another psycho spin where Darren just does something dumb and weird? And you’re like, “Okay, that’s who this woman is. She’s that.”
7R: That is a great moment.
Kelly McCormack: I’m glad you like that moment because it’s our team’s favorite moment. When Wendy and I talk about our favourite moments in the film. It’s Darren spitting into her hand, and then her doing the psycho spin. People were like, “What are you talking about?” And I’m like, it doesn’t matter. It’s just Darren acting like Darren. We just totally got excited about that stuff.
That’s where filmmaking is the most fun: you start doing stuff that you don’t understand at the time, that you can’t quite put words to. And then, you line it up in the edit, and you give a meaning. Then, it becomes this whole other accidental motif.
7R: How do you get into a space where you’re able to do that kind of spontaneously? Obviously, you’ve been living with this character for a long time. I don’t know if that changes how you approach how she’s going to move or what she’s going to be like.
Kelly McCormack: That question I could answer from the perspective of where my pedigree comes as an actor. It comes from experimental theatre, trying different stuff, being in a black box, naked on stage, covered in ink, pretending to be a tree. On set, whether it’s for my own projects or for other shows, like on Letterkenny, on League, on Ginny and Georgie, whatever I’m doing is always looking to just make it a little extra, a little weirder, and push myself to do something different every take. That is where I come from, as an actor. I’m just a grimy theatre, weirdo artist, who just wants to play and make weird choices.
You could be missing out on opportunities to watch great films like Sugar Daddy at virtual cinemas, VOD, and festivals.
Subscribe to the Seventh Row newsletter to stay in the know.
Subscribers to our newsletter get an email every Friday which details great new streaming options in Canada, the US, and the UK.