FCFF Chats With London Artist John Kapelos

London native, John Kapelos has had a career in film and television spanning decades and is back in town for the Forest City Film Fest.

Image: London Free Press

Image: London Free Press

The 3rd Annual Forest City Film Fest is bringing an amazing selection of films to London, and with the new Flashback Friday screening program, we look to celebrate SWO icons that have made a mark in the film industry through the years. This year, we’re so proud to have actor/producer/musician John Kapelos visit for the duration of the festival, with 3 films: The Unicorn, 22 Chaser, and fan favourite The Breakfast Club! In anticipation of the festival and as a die-hard fan, I was beyond delighted to chat with John about his visit, his life, and his love for London. Take a look!

You went to London Central Secondary School. Can you talk about some special moments from that time? Were there any parallels with The Breakfast Club?

I did my school play, “Guys and Dolls”, and getting into theatre was a high point.

I went to a great high school where there wasn’t much conflict between cliques. I suppose there are parallels with The Breakfast Club and Central - but it was great! The thing about Central for me is that my father went there, and my sister and brother went there, and all my cousins went there. So there was a real sense of history at Central for me.

I was social director in grade 11 and brought bands and stuff to the school. I had long hair and was a bit of a character -- my friends probably rolled their eyes when they talked about “John Kapelos, The Social Director.”

You were a regular feature in John Hughes movies - The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science. What was it like working with him?

He was somebody that made a major splash in the cultural zeitgeist of America. He was from Detroit and he decided he wanted to make films set in the mid-west. I was in Chicago at the time working at Second city. So this was a great thing for me and I auditioned. I shot Sixteen Candles. He actually started shooting The Breakfast Club with another actor who then left. So I came in for the role of “Carl”, did Weird Science after that and Ferris Bueller -- but my part was cut from that. It was still a fantastic experience!

Any favourite moments while filming these movies?

There were lots of fun times -- shooting the whole wedding sequence in Sixteen Candles was a blast! The “priest” that married us is actor Brian Doyle Murray. There were a lot of Second City people -- my “father in law”, Paul Dooley is a Second City alumnus too and a great actor! I look back fondly on shooting a lot of that stuff because for me it was truly exciting to be working in the movies with triple-A people!

I never really had the idea that these were going to be as major as they’ve become.

Looking to the present moment, what’s in store for you in terms of work?

A couple of films that are also showing at FCFF - The Unicorn and 22 Chaser. I’m about to shoot another film or two -- I’m playing a recurring character in a Hallmark series called the Crossword Mysteries. I hope to shoot my own movie. I have an album that’s coming out, “Too Hip For The Room” -- in stores now. I keep active and I’m really excited to be here!

We’re really excited that you’re here too!

It’ll be fun! Until you realize I charge $10,000 a photo... NOT true!

Let’s talk about your other films at FCFF. What are your characters in 22 Chaser and The Unicorn like?

I play a lot of tough guys usually. In 22 Chaser, I play the head of a car-towing company and I’m not a very savoury character. In the Unicorn, I am one of the lead’s parents who reconfirms his vows with his wife every year. He’s a little bit of a softy -- I extol the virtues of love and commitment. I’m a bit of a playboy too.

So I’ve played characters that can be goofy or threatening. The one thing that the trajectory of my career shows is that I can play both blue-collar and white-collar, comedy and drama -- I have room to move.

Image: eonline

Image: eonline

What do enjoy more - being goofy or menacing on screen?

That’s a tough one. I’d probably get more satisfaction from doing comedy. There’s something about getting people to laugh and trying to move them in that way. Oh, now I feel i’m letting down my drama-side! Drama isn’t easy but comedy has its peculiar aspects to it. Since I was a child it’s been gratifying to me to get people to giggle. It satisfies me on a performance level and perhaps also an emotional one.

Londoners are so happy that you’re back for the festival. How often do you visit London?

I probably make it to London twice a year. My parents are deceased but I have cousins here, and people that I care for. I enjoy coming to visit them.

What’s your favourite thing about London?

Where I’m from in North London, you can walk down the street on a summer day and look at the trees -- I mean, the cars might be newer -- but it’s the same as it was when I was a kid. There are parts of London that are identical to the 60’s when I was growing up. Go to Maitland and Victoria St., go to Garfield and Ridout St. and just walk around -- its the same as it was! I think there’s a beautiful solidity in that and I think that is exactly what is charming about this city.

Everyone is SO excited to be meeting you. Do you have a message for London audiences?

I look forward to speaking to my friends and family. I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people at FCFF. I take great pride in where i come from! You know, I really support the film festival. I’m really excited that London is doing this -- it’s a great idea! I hope that a lot of London natives that have gone and done great things in my field are respectful of that and come back here -- they should pay props to London! Londoners have a lot to be proud of!!

We couldn’t agree more! Catch the Screenings and Q&As with John this week at the Forest City Film Festival. Find out more on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Nandita Dutta