Sunday, May 07, 2006


Do we ever really change?

I ask because recently I checked out the new Michael Douglas secret-service thriller The Sentinel, and playing the part of one of the youngest members of his staff was an actor by the name of Josh Peace, who just happened to have been in my Grade 8 homeroom class at Dalewood Public School in St.Catharines, Ontario.

The kick of it for me is that guys from Mrs.Inneo's Grade 8 class are not supposed to be in movies starring Michael Douglas. And yet there he is, Josh Peace, having three, maybe four lines of dialogue, handing Michael Douglas a coffee in the beginning of the flick, good-naturedly giving his colleague the middle finger as he scratches his forehead, trying, unsuccessfully, to pick up Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria, cracking jokes during a polygraph test. He plays the young, smart-ass agent. Which is entirely appropriate, because when I remember Josh Peace, he was young, and, yes, a smart-ass.

He was a funny, screamingly funny twelve year old. He was the class clown, a joker, always ready with a quip or a condom on the overhead machine. (Don't ask.) Later, throughout high school, me and my friends would wonder what ever happened to Peace, and recount tales of his off-colour jokes and wit. (Once, chuckling to himself at the back of French class, our teacher asked him what was so funny. "Oh, nothing," Peace said. "I was just thinking about women." Which, when you're twelve, is an astonishingly adult thing to say.) While I was in university I watched a TvOntario segment on young actors and boom, there he was. Since then, he has been featured in a number of Canadian movies, and even had the privilege of being shot to death by Marky-Mark (minus the Funky Bunch) in The Big Hit, where Peace played, big surprise, a snarky, pushy wise-ass.

Strange. How who we are twelve, still reeling from the onslaught of puberty, can carry over into our other, later lives. For all I know, Peace could have played Shakespeare and Chekhov and O'Neill and Miller; he could have had hard-core, serious thespian training.

But when I saw The Sentinel, and watched him play out his few lines in his own, distinctive, smart-ass way, I thought: Nothing changes. We are who we were.

Do we ever change, mature, accelerate? Is who we are at twelve consistent with who we are at thirty? That person deep inside of us, that core -- does it mutate, or simply evolve?

I don't know.

But it's fun to think about. Fun to wonder what life gives us at birth, and what it takes away, and what it sometimes, against all odds, allows us to retain enough of.

Enough to be cast alongside Michael Douglas, at any rate, which has gotta count for something in the grand scheme of things.

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