Acting Career On the Up Take After A Small Role In Downsizing
|Damiãn Garth Brown outfront of the Scotiabank movie theatre in Toronto|
By Stephen Weir
for Caribbean Camera newspaper
At 6ft 2, Damiãn Garth Brown is a really big man for a very small part in a new Hollywood blockbuster. But, come to think of it, so is principal star Matt Damon, who, like Damiãn, is only five inches tall in the new Lilliputian comedy Downsizing.
Set in the near future, scientists have discovered how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation. Matt Damon and his wife Kristen Wiig decide to abandon their big world stress filled lives by getting small and moving to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.
The 37-year Jamaican Canadian plays an orderly who helps Damon adjust when he wakes up small in Downsizing. “This was the first big budget film I have worked on – I even had (albeit briefly) a trailer on set at the Pinewood Studio in Toronto. I met Matt Damon before we started filming and he truly is a very nice guy.”
“ For me, the big break was in working with director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, and Nebraska.). He said I had charisma and encouraged me to never give up. He had me ad lib most of my lines (with a Jamaican accent) while the cameras rolled.”
" Downsizing " is director Payne's most expensive project to date, costing an estimated $65-million US. So far the movie has only recouped about half of that amount since its opening two weeks ago.
Made for the most part in the GTA, the tiny village where the little people live was filmed in Kelso Quarry Park in Milton near Damiãn Brown’s first Canadian home that he moved into twelve years ago.
Listening to Damiãn Brown talk about how he overcame the hardship of growing up poor in Jamaica’s Kingston and Spanish Town to become a UN spokesperson, a Restorative Justice practitioner and now an emerging actor, one realizes the depth of his talent and drive.
“ I grew up poor and when violence broke out in Spanish Town it was a very scary life. I was the oldest of five children and as often is the case, as the first born I had to take care of everyone else. It continues to this day, I don’t go home to Jamaica much because I would rather send the $500 I would have spent on my airfare, back to my mother.”
Although brilliant in school, the inability to pay for a college education drove young Damian almost to the brink. A meeting in Jamaica with Thoraya Obaid the then Head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) soon found him travelling the world talking about child empowerment. “ In a very short period of time I went from living without hope to being the voice of Caribbean youth.”In 2005 he came Canada, and moved in with his aunt who lived in Milton. Thanks to a scholarship from York University and a grant from the United Nations he earned a degree in political science with a minor in acting. While pursuing theatre acting, he was also very active as a Restorative Justice practitioner at a Youth Court in downtown Toronto
He soon was acting evenings and weekends with Marcia Brown Productions, a Toronto troupe that perform plays for the Canadian Caribbean Community. Small parts lead to starring roles, and television and film roles followed. He is now known for his performances in Doggy Daycare: The Movie, Kim's Convenience and now Downsizing.
“My mother said when you are in the ghetto you don’t want to get comfortable, that’s when it is time to get out of your comfort zone. I followed her advice and moved to Vancouver,” he told the Caribbean Camera. “There aren’t a lot of Jamaican actors in British Columbia’s booming film industry. I have been lucky and I continue to get work.”
Currently Damiãn is bi-coastal living in and working on projects in Toronto and Vancouver. While in Vancouver, Damian recently had the job of stand-in and photo double for Idris Elba in his latest movie “The Mountain Between Us”. He has handled blocking (stand in) roles for the made-in-Vancouver shows Flash and the Arrow.
Like most rising actors, Damiãn Garth Brown has many irons in the fire. Back in Milton for the holidays to see his aunt and attending the opening of Downsizing he also met with his writing partner Lise Moule to work on a one-hour drama TV series. When he has time, he works on perfecting an American accent!
If another Downsizing Role comes along? Even when one is 5 inches tall Damiãn says of course he will grab it because in his life “there are no small roles”.
- Pictures were taken by Stephen Weir at the Scotiabank Cineplex Theatre in downtown Toronto.
- Marketing poster for the movie Downsizing
- An edited version of this story appeared in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival newspaper (left)