By Doug Kennedy
It is difficult to pinpoint just when Kevin McGarry’s dream of becoming an actor took hold.
It might have been when he and his brother Ryan began recreating scenes from Jim Carrey movies at the kitchen table , or when he crossed the stage at Kincardine High School in front of classmates, friends and family.
However he got there, McGarry has progressed from acting in small theatres across Canada to major film roles on television and in films. This is another great success story about a young Kincardine native who admits to love being the centre of attention and has successfully joined a long list of outstanding Canadian actors.
His parents moved here from Ajax in the late 70s. His father Mike worked at Bruce Power, while mother Kathy worked at CIBC and Hepcoe-Meridian Credit Union. His brother Ryan is an accountant in Aylmer.
McGarry had always gravitated towards comedy and comedians from a very young age. He recalls skipping out of a math class in Grade 9 and wandering into a drama class. The door was open and nobody noticed him watching from the back. He remembers two things, how it looked like a lot of fun and that he could definitely do that.
McGarry is someone Cathy and I have admired and watched for the last few years. He is a regular on CBC’s Heartland and When Calls The Heart, also on CBC and Netflix.
McGarry treasures the friendships he made as long ago as third grade, and still stays in contact with Ryan Deer, Steve McEwen, Sam Reid, Tom Palmer, Zac Nesbitt and Chris Dwinnell. The group had just returned form a fishing trip before the lock down in March because of Covid 19.
“Kevin always knew what he wanted to do with his career and worked very hard to achieve his goals,” said Deer. “I remember how exciting it was to see him on TV for the first time, in the Budweiser commercials. Then, my favourite, the KFC commercial, dude you go the route. He has certainly come a long way, he has been in some amazing shows and movies and has had the opportunity to work with some big name actors.”
”Kevin hasn’t changed one bit, he still enjoys hearing about what’s new in Kincardine, and loves coming home to catch up with familiar faces.”
One of his high school teachers that had a big influence on him was Cati VanVeen. She remembers a spring art show where he was required to operate the follow shot. This involved sitting at the top of the stands and moving the spotlight. To follow the actors on the stage while sitting near the top, McGarry leaned over and said to me “next year I am going to on that stage.” The following year he auditioned for a lead role in the play Blue Moon Diaries and he won the role of detective. “The next big surprise was when he told me he was going to pursue a career in acting. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I watched him on Open Heart and now on Heartland. It still amazes me a kid I taught in drama has made it as an actor.”
After drama school, Kevin performed in a lot of small theater productions that toured across Ontario and performed at schools. His first television role was a short lived show called Lovebites on the TBS network. After that, he joined the Charlottetown Festival and performed in the musicials The Full Monty and Anne of Green Gables. Then he spent two seasons at the Shaw Theater, performing in shows including Come Back little Sheba, and His Girl Friday.
Television was next for McGarry with a role as a doctor on the popular series Open Heart. This past season he did a guest spot on the popular Canadian show Schitts Creek. Currently he plays Mitch Cutty on Heartland and Nathan Grant on When Calls the Heart.
McGarry is really proud of being a Canadian actor. His roles have taken him across Canada, to Los Angeles and as far away at Hungary, where he filmed the CBC show, Ransom. He said the internet has really changed the job over the last few years. Self- taping has become a bigger part of for auditioning for jobs.
McGarry has a number of fellow actors that he admires. Michael Shannon and Tracey Letts, two actors who came out of the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, top the list. He loves the entire cast of Fleabag on Amazon. Pheobe Waller-Bridge is the writer and star in the show. She is incredibly inspiring.
Heartland has been picked up for its 14th season but McGarry is not sure when it will start shooting again. He also will start filming season eight of When Calls the Heart, shot in Vancouver, British Columbia until November. He feels bad about what Covid 19 has done to put a lot of people out of business in the theatre industry.
In the future, he would like to direct his own features. He has directed a few shorts and written two small musicals that were put up in Toronto. He would like to continue and be a part of the creative process.
From where I sit, I can say McGarry has captured Kincardine’s attention, and we are most certainly proud of watching your talent turn you into the star you have become today.
By Doug Kennedy