After nearly two decades of acting, Travis Turner is starting to make some serious inroads into the acting business, finally getting a lead role in a movie production.
Turner’s big break came when he was selected for the role of Bodi Grogan in Marley and Me: The Puppy Years, a direct-to-DVD family film released earlier this year. But since he’s only 24, that’s doing pretty well. Turner, who grew up in Penticton, started like so many others, in school theatre productions and local theatre, like the Light Opera Society.
“I was here till Grade 9,” said Turner, who once wrote in his school yearbook that, “Travis wants to be a rapper and an actor when he grows up.”
Travis, who is back in town visiting his mother and family over the Christmas holidays, has shown a lot of persistence in making those childhood dreams come true. After finishing high school in Alberta, Turner moved on to attend the film school at Langara College and started working on his career.
“I got an agent and I had to go on like 80 auditions before I even got my first break,” said Turner. That was a role in an episode of the TV series Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica.
More small parts and short films followed, but a stroke of luck put Turner in contention for the lead in The Puppy Years. Most leads, he explained are cast in Los Angeles, before the productions come to B.C. to film; by then, they are only looking to fill the smaller roles.
“I was super lucky to meet (director) Michael Damian, who also put me in A Princess for Christmas,” said Turner. Though Damian liked him, Turner said he still went through the casting process, and was ecstatic when he was notified that he got the role.
“The whole experience was really neat to be able to do, front to back, a whole feature, versus short films or even a small stint,” said Turner. “That was a learning experience, but overall, it was a lot of fun. The dogs are a little challenging at times to work with, but they are cute, they are puppies.”
Turner had one more surprise when, after the film was finished, he was invited to the Hollywood premiere.
“I didn’t even know there was going to be a premiere, and to go to that premiere in L.A. and be able to walk on a red carpet was a childhood dream come true,” said Turner, who also had a major role in A Princess for Christmas, with Roger Moore.
Turner said that is probably his biggest production playing right now. It’s already been rated the No. 1 romantic comedy in the United Kingdom and is getting similar reviews in the U.S.
Then there is Ragz, which Turner describes as a hip hop version of High School Musical, expected to be released in 2012.
“I got to write the intro and outro for that one,” said Turner, who is also trying to develop a career as a rapper and has already performed with Moka Only and opened for Lil’ Kim. “What was cool about that one was the acting and the music go together. When that comes out, I am hoping to be able to drop my album too, as Little T.”
Turner said getting to this stage has required a lot of support from his parents. As a child actor, his parents arranged an agent in Vancouver, and tried to get him to as many auditions as they could.
“My mother would try to drive five hours for an audition, but you have to go to so many,” he said. “My parents put me in theatre so I was still able to be doing what I loved. It wasn’t until I graduated where I was able to go to film school and go to a city where there is more of an industry.”
So far, Turner said, his youthful appearance has been useful.
“I am older than I look. I can probably play 15-16-year-olds,” he said.
“It helps being older and able to play young, especially for those roles where it does call for a mature presence. You have to find it emotionally for it to capture on screen.”