Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with Canadian actor Spencer MacPherson. Spencer is best known for his roles on Defiance, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Reign. Keep reading to find out what Spencer said about portraying two very different characters.
Tell me a little bit about your audition process for Reign.
I auditioned with Lisa Parasyn around the end of June. It was just the one audition, I went in for. The scene was really reflective of the party boy side of Charles. I did the audition, and I think Fred Gerber, the Co-executive Producer was present. He just gave me some direction and I did it and then I heard back that I got the part maybe two days later.
That’s super fast!
Yeah. It was a really fast process compared to what usually happens.
Did you have to do screen testings with Megan or Adelaide or anybody?
I actually didn’t. I did the one audition and I didn’t have to do any kind of screen testing or anything. They just hired me off that. (Laughs).
Did you watch Reign prior to auditioning or just after you got the part?
In Canada it’s on E. So prior to the audition… I had heard of the show but I hadn’t watched it. Then, as soon as I got the part I did a bit of my homework, and watched.
Reign airs a day earlier in Canada. It airs a day earlier than it does in the US.
I actually didn’t know that E aired it a day before the CW did until literally the day of. All my family was like, “Hey, have you seen your own show?” And I was like, “what? I didn’t know” (Laughs). Now I always watch it on Thursdays and Fridays. I actually was completely unaware at first, so it was a bit of a surprise.
What’s it like portraying a real person?
Oh wow. It’s probably a different experience than other actors are used to because we don’t really have any documentation of what Charles was really like. I guess going off what he did in history, that’s what I have that to work with. It’s really up to the show writers to determine what his personality is really like.
Reign hasn’t really gone by history that much.
Yeah, not a hundred percent, that’s for sure!
But, historically Charles does stick around for a while and a lot longer than Francis did.
So did they tell you how long you’d be around for when you got the role?
Well, when I got the role I didn’t do my research until I started filming. After I got the part I looked up the history. So, I discovered that he lives until twenty-three. I guess that’s a pretty cool feeling knowing that I could have a job until then. (Laughs).
What was it like, I mean you did this with the Degrassi too where you joined a cast that already had known each other for a very long time. What was it like joining the Reign cast?
It was really cool. They were all really welcoming. They’re all extremely seasoned pros. It’s just really cool getting to work along side them and getting to work off of them.
They were all really professional. It’s an interesting dynamic, because compared to Degrassi, I’m the youngest one here. They’ve been doing this for a long time and they’re all well into their 20s, and I’m just the newbie. They treated me really professionally. It was cool.
So, we heard you said that you got the accent from Harry Potter?
Is that true?
It’s a little bit of a different accent that they do on Reign. It’s similar but it’s what they call an RP. It’s what they call an RP accent. I guess it’s a little bit more classy, or I don’t know what the word would be, a royal kind of accent.
It kind of reminds me of the accent that Hunter did when he was role-playing on the game.
Right. It’s similar, but I actually have to do dialect coaching before each episode. There’s definitely differences because without it, I was really just doing the closest thing I could do to Harry Potter or something like that. Yeah, with this there’s certain words and certain things that they say that are specific to that particular type of accent.
Did you have to do any kind of fight or horseback riding training?
Yeah, I’ve had to do tons of little lessons. Horseback riding, and sword fighting has been really awesome because I’ve never done that before. I guess I’ve done a little bit of kendo stick fighting on Degrassi. I actually got to do that, but that’s been my only experience with that. As far as horseback riding, I was completely new to it. I’ve done a few lessons and it’s a really amazing experience and I’m really enjoying it.
What was your first day of horse training like?
It was really hard. I wasn’t that good. The horse they had me on at the start was a different horse than I’m riding later on in the season. His name was J.J. and he was the beginner’s horse. He was pretty chill. Not as responsive as the horses that you get later on, but I guess, he was a good horse to learn on.
Obviously it’s a different kind of costume than you had on Degrassi, or than you wear in your life. So what has that been like, having to wear? Is it uncomfortable? Is it fun? What’s it like wearing those?
It’s so cool. It’s essentially like when you put on the costume you become the character… as opposed to on Degrassi, where we wear modern clothes, it’s not that far removed from something I would wear, you know what I mean?
When you go into Reign and you do a fitting and you get to try everything on, you immediately feel like you’re a part of a different time period. It almost helps the actor to get to wear something that is far removed from yourself. That way, even when you look at yourself in the mirror during the day that you’re filming you don’t even recognize yourself. It’s cool.
Yeah, Charles is next in line for the throne. With Francis, his fate is slowly coming to a realization. Charles is overwhelmed with his coming destiny.
Do you have an episode or a scene that you’re really excited for fans to see in the upcoming episodes?
Oh, there’s so much. I guess the episode that’s coming up this Friday on Reign, there’s definitely a cool story line for Charles that’s really intense. It was really fun to film and I’m excited for fans to see that.
Shifting gears for a little bit, can you tell us for your audition process for Degrassi?
That was I guess what would be considered normal. It lasted for about half a year.
Yeah, maybe more. I originally tried out for just the basic character that everyone tries out for, then I got a call back for Miles, Hunters older brother on the show, and another character that was changed named Benji. I tried out for those, and then I think I did two call backs. Then I was just up in the air for a while.
I started the whole process in November and I didn’t hear back from them until about June when I auditioned for Hunter. I went in and I did it, and I think I was the only one up for the part. I did the screen test with Sara and yeah, heard it about two days later that I got the part.
Had you been a fan of Degrassi prior to joining the show?
I had seen it, I’d seen a bunch of various seasons here and there. I didn’t watch it religiously or anything, but I’d seen a few episodes and I always really wanted to be a part of that show. It’s an excellent platform for young actors in Toronto and Canada.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hunter’s storyline for Next Class?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I guess I could just say that he’s got something very interesting happening with his character. They’re really going to explore what you’ve seen in the past with him. He’s got some really good story lines coming up in Next Class. I’m really excited for everyone to see them, and I hope everyone is really going to like them.
Did filming overlap for Reign and Degrassi?
It did. It really did. It was really new to me. I was working every day and I wasn’t used to that. It was just back and forth between both sets. There were days when I would get a shuttle from Degrassi and then halfway through the day to Reign. Then film the other half of the day at Reign. It was a lot of juggling. I was just really happy to get to be working on both of these shows. The opportunity was amazing and it was really awesome that the people at Degrassi worked with the people at Reign to make it happen for me.
Was it hard to go from Hunter’s mindset to Charles’ and then back and forth?
It really was. It was kind of hard because they don’t have a lot of similarities. I guess the basic teenage issues, that can be a relatable thing. Really they’re pretty different from each other so it was kind of hard to switch back and forth. Even just going there and talking in the accent all day and then going back to Degrassi and talking in this kind of teenage deep voice. I don’t know. Just the voices, the things we do, and the time period, it’s a big switch I guess.
Would you ever go from one to the other and accidentally not speak in the correct accent?
No, I never did that on set, but there would be times when I would start to say British slang that I had picked up from hanging out with those people on set, because a lot of them at Reign are actually British. I would kind of pick up some, “Hello mate.” All the little terms they use and stuff. (Laughs).
Besides acting, what are you passionate about?
I sing. I like to sing. Before I got into acting for film and TV, I loved to do musicals. That’s kind of where my passion came from. I love singing, love music. I also really love art. I love drawing, stuff like that, painting.
What’s your favorite musical?
My favorite musical is probably Sweeney Todd or Into the Woods. I love Stephen Sondheim.
You like the darker musicals?
Oh yeah. I like the darker movies. I just like that kind of thing.
Do you have plans to release music of your own?
I would love to in the future. Right now, my roomate, Ehren from Degrassi and I kind of jam sometimes.
What’s your favorite genre of music?
I like a lot of different genres. I like some indie stuff, but I’m also into rap. I like to listen to everything, except for country. Not a big country fan. (Laughs).
Do you guys have a house pet or something? I saw something on Twitter about that!
Oh yeah, we have a pet rat named Maurice. We’ve had him for … I guess it’s been maybe two months. He’s a real spirit. He’s really great to have around.
What actor from Degrassi have you not gotten to work with that you would like to have more scenes with in the future.
A bunch. I guess Hunter doesn’t really get out there. He’s got to talk to more people. (Laughs)…. They’re all so good…I hadn’t thought of it. I really would’ve liked to work more with Munro when he was on the show. I really admire his work. When I was younger and I used to watch the show, I’d see him on it and I used to look up to his acting and his character.
I know this is a loaded question, but what is your favorite Canadian TV show?
In my own time, honestly I don’t really watch a lot of TV. My favorite TV shows … I loved Breaking Bad when it was on, Game of Thrones. Canadian TV shows … I don’t know. Degrassi! Degrassi! It’s my favorite show.
Nice plug! (Laughs). Besides Reign and Degrassi is there anything else that you’re currently working on?
Yeah, I’m doing a couple of short films currently. One with an actor on Reign and another with an actor on Degrassi. I’m filming those in between Reign and those are really fun.
Since our website is Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you nerd out about, or what makes you a nerd?
I’ve prepared for this one. I’m a big superhero fan.
Who’s your favorite superhero? For DC and Marvel.
For Marvel it’s definitely Spider-man. I’ve always related to Peter Parker. DC, probably Batman. Just like my brother on Degrassi, Eric. Batman’s pretty cool. Batman’s got the best villains. That’s the thing about Batman.
What else do you nerd out about besides superheroes?
I nerd out about movies. I’m a bit of a movie nerd. I’d say my favorite genre is probably thrillers. I love The Sixth Sense. I nerd out about TV shows but yeah, I’m a basic superhero nerd.
Is Batman or Spider-man your go to Halloween costume?
This year, I’m thinking of being Marty McFly. I’ve been superheroes. I’ve been the Joker, I’ve been villains. I used to Spider-man when I was a kid every year.
Are you into superhero movies or shows, or are also into the comics and graphic novels?
I love the movies. All the Marvel cinematic universe movies are really cool how they tie in with each other. I love that. Then I also love the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. I’m a big fan of those. Then the TV shows, I just started watching Gotham. I’m maybe a few episodes in. Definitely the movies, I’m a big fan. Whenever The Avengers movies come out, I’m like the first one to go see them.