Esk’etemc actor William Belleau is busy with work and pinching himself as he continues to secure roles in major productions.
Belleau said working on The English was another great experience, in a long list of challenging characters he has gotten to portray in the past few years, gaining confidence as he does.
The English is a limited series starring Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer, directed by Hugo Blick. Belleau landed the roll of a villain in the series, Kills on Water.
He said his work in the role is something he is proud of and he was excited to get to play such a complex character. Belleau’s voice as Kills on Water even features in the trailer.
“He’s a man among the shadows when you meet him,” described Belleau of Kills on Water, noting the villain is not “your conventional bow and arrow character.”
Instead, Kills on Water is a “businessman and he wants to know things” said Belleau. “This characters was ruthless and calm.”
He traveled to Spain for the filming, getting what he jokingly called a “workation” out of the experience, with Belleau never having been outside of North America prior to flying there for the shoot. He spent 10 days in and around Madrid for the project.
“I pinched myself, thinking this is my job,” he recalled of the experience. He spent a few days touring around a bit after his scenes in the show were completed and before he had to fly back to Vancouver.
Since The English, Belleau has worked in Georgia, Oklahoma, filmed a pilot in New Mexico, a feature film in and around Montreal, Quebec, and he also worked on a television series shot mostly in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a bit of work in New Brunswick. But he can’t divulge much about these projects due to non-disclosure agreements before they become more public.
One film he worked on in 2016, provided him with a moment which helped provide him increasing confidence in his work as an actor.
During filming in Vernon of Killers of the Flower Moon, Belleau shared a scene with film icon Sir Anthony Hopkins, in which Belleau portrayed a logger.
During the brief scene, Belleau said he was “feeling it” when he asked someone on set to give him some chewing tobacco for his character, something which wasn’t in the script.
Belleau also then improvised the addition of spitting chew at Anthony Hopkins’ character’s feet during the scene. Hopkins went over and spoke to the director and Belleau initially thought he was in trouble, and braced himself.
Instead, Hopkins himself added a line, drawing on what Belleau had done, and both made it into the scene.
After they finished, Belleau said Hopkins came up to him, looked him in the eye and told him: “Good work.”
“To me that was indescribable,” confessed Belleau.
He is now more accustomed to life as a working actor, and all the privilege it entails, so many years after graduating in 2008 from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. This was during the global economic downturn, which made finding jobs a bit tough at the beginning.
He moved back to Vancouver shortly after graduating in New York and was going to auditions while picking up odd jobs in construction. He said on the first job site, they made bets on whether he would even last two weeks. Six months later he was a supervisor.
“Steel toes, hard hat, high vis, that’s how I would sustain myself,” recalled the actor.
Belleau has lived in Vancouver since he began his acting career, but he said he always makes time to come home, though it has been harder and less often since the pandemic began.
“I love it at home,” said Belleau. ”There’s nothing like it.”
He was back at Esk’etemc when he spoke to Black Press Media, both to pay his respects to his uncle who had passed away and to spend some time hunting.
“It’ helps me calm my waters,” explained Belleau of being back home. His connection to his home is integral to who he is.
“I feel like my love for where I’m rooted has helped me become more me,” he said. He is now also working on writing some scripts and trying to reconnect to the “inner artist” he had in high school.