Born in Oshawa, raised in Orono. We chat with all-Ontario Canadian actor Jeff Teravainen as he takes on multiple exciting roles on a number of well-received TV productions, including 12 Monkeys and Dark Matter. We don’t want to give too much away as we chronicle his career through our questions.
Q1: You are quite active on multiple different TV projects right now. Give readers some insight on some of the projects you are involved with that are on air right now, and what characters you portray.
I have been very fortunate to play some amazing recurring characters on the shows Dark Matter and 12 Monkeys. Both amazing shows with very nice cast and crew. Very different shows too. I play LT. Anders on Dark Matter. It was great, as last season ended with Anders being a major part of the big cliffhanger. This season we learned more about him. He is a kind of a hybrid cop/soldier/undercover agent who works with the Galactic Authority; the overseers of all things in the Dark Matter universe. He is close with 6 played by the super talented Roger Cross, one of the main characters on the show. He is a good guy, who believes he is doing the right thing. But he may not be on the right side. I guess we will see! On 12 Monkeys I am FBI Agent Stack, a tough G man from the 1940’s. Also lots of fun, especially as I worked closely with TV legend Jay Kearns who played Dutch on The Shield. Off camera we spent hours talking history, etc. He is super nice and professor smart, so I was in heaven!
Q2: It’s quite amazing to read that you started your journey as an artist not in film and TV, but in music. You’ve been a lead singer and a musician for a number of bands prior to acting. What made you pivot and shift you towards film and television?
I wanted something more stable LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I always wanted to act. I thought if music took off, perhaps there would be opportunities. When music started to fall apart, I had to get a real job. While there, I was “scouted” for modeling. That led to commercials. I loved the whole thing of being on set. It was indeed challenging, but rewarding playing different people, so I started taking lessons. It’s been 12 years now, full time, without going back to the real world. I am very thankful.
Q3: Do you ever get time to go back and do a bit of music during your downtime, perhaps say between filming gigs?
Never. I had my fill of the industry. Lots of bad stuff happened. After it being everything to me, I walked away. I have probably only played my guitar, for example, for less than a few hours since around 2002. There have been a few drunken Karaoke times over the years. My Daughter is uber musical, though, so as she gets older I may dig the guitars out. It is such a treat to hear her sing the way she does. I still love music itself. I especially love soundtrack music; Bernard Herrmann to Hans Zimmer, etc. Some wonderful pieces scored for video games; Bioshock comes to mind.
Q4: From on-screen acting in film and television, to voice work in animated projects, to voice work in video games, you have been involved in a bucket load of different genres and styles of acting (kudos btw!). Do you see yourself attracted to a specific field or style or do you like the opportunity of having different types of projects on your plate? Is directing or writing anywhere in the future horizon?
Thank you! The bottom line is I LOVE what I do! I thoroughly enjoy it all. I am a video game nut, so playing a part in them is huge for me. I will never forget being in London England in 2008 and seeing FAR CRY 2 on the cover of a video game magazine with a raving headline. I was so proud to have played a major character in that game, and seeing it in London drove home how far reaching a job like this is. Obviously, doing TV and film is just incredible too. Acting is probably my favorite thing, but I also love doing voice over, especially for commercials. I am very fortunate to work in that end of things. They are normally very fun environments and also very lucrative. Whether it is as an announcer for a TV spot or perhaps a character in a radio spot, they are all different but all very creative. I have voiced 2 Olympics and the FIFA world cup. They were fun as I got to use my big deep voice for them, where as many commercials these days are looking for non announcery reads. I have voiced characters in say, Beyblade, where I don’t even recognize myself. But that is all part of the fun!
I have written 2 scripts, but they need a lot more work before I show them off. It was more of a challenge to myself to do them. I also didn’t have a kid then! It is the same with directing. Someday I would love to shadow someone to learn more about the art. I have so much respect for both these professions. I am floored by writers. One of my favorite people in history to meet would have been Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame. Not only was he so far ahead of his time, and supremely talented, but almost otherworldly prolific. People that can write one amazing script are something to me. This guy wrote countless.
Q5: Fossil hunting – Probably the coolest “hobby” I’ve heard of! What got you into that? (Full disclosure: maybe a bit biased as I am totally into archaeology and related fields, so that got my interest)
Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with the past. As a child I would be out digging for bones, mummies, etc. I too love archaeology, history, etc. My favorite magazines every month are BBC History and National Geographic. Where we live was once an Ordovician Sea. If you know where to look, you can find the remains of some of earths first animals with eyes, mouths, stingers, etc. Trilobites, Sea Scorpions, Orthocones. Of course I am indoctrinating my Daughter. Last year she found an amazing Orthocone, and now loves it too. This was a squid like creature that lived in a long shell that could grow as big as a bus. When you find these things, it is humbling to know they have been “waiting” for you for 4-5 hundred million years. Think about that…. If I were rich I could easily disappear for a good while on some dig in Egypt looking for some ancient wonder, in a cave in Spain searching for our cousins the Neanderthals, or The La Brea Tar Pits finding ice age mammals!
Q6: What’s next on your plate? Any projects folks should know about that will be coming to a screen near them?
I have a few that I cannot say anything on yet. However, I just shot a cameo with Dark Matter star Jessica Sipos recently. That was a blast and she was so great. The film is called Goliath. You can also see me in the upcoming season of The Expanse, a show I love. And again, hopefully some things I can talk about soon!
Keep up-to-date with what Jeff Teravainen is up to on twitter: Follow @JeffTeravainen.
Disclaimer: The above interview has been edited slightly for readability and consistency.