An actor from Bradford West Gwillimbury who has walked the Oscars red carpet and worked with big-name Canadian actors and comedians knows the best way to find Christmas spirit.
That is by being in a made-for-TV Christmas movie, of course.
“Especially when you’re filming it in winter… there is no bigger way to get into the Christmas spirit than living it,” said Scott Cavalheiro, who stars in Christmas With a View, now on Netflix.
“The moments are real. As much as (viewers) enjoy it, we enjoy it even more. It’s a very fulfilling time. I can’t believe I get to go skiing with this fake girlfriend (or) make a gingerbread house. We’re creating holiday spirit.”
But because these types of movies are so popular, Cavalheiro said he often gets people giving him ideas for the next big holiday feature.
“There’s no shortage of people saying, ‘Wouldn’t that be a good idea if…?’” he said. “The beauty about Christmas movies is we’ve all seen so many of them you could literally create the script because you know what happens. That’s the charm of them.”
Christmas With a View was made in the Barrie area, including at Horseshoe Resort, where Cavalheiro grew up skiing and snowboarding.
He said it was an “amazing” experience filming a movie so close to his hometown because he got to invite friends and family to the set to watch production and meet Vivica A. Fox, who is also in the film.
“It gives you that sense of accomplishment,” he said.
Cavalheiro said his heart goes out to any youth in Bradford West Gwillimbury today who are looking for artistic outlets.
When told the town has an arts and culture master plan in the works, and there is now a Bradford Arts Centre with youth programs, he said, “That’s so lovely to hear.”
As a kid growing up in BWG and attending Holy Trinity Catholic High School, Cavalheiro said there were not too many opportunities for him to explore his interest in acting.
“There wasn’t any community theatre at the time. I liked performing and making people laugh and being a s***-disturber in any class I was in,” he said, with a laugh.
Cavalheiro said he was able to try drama class in Grade 9 for three months, but, sadly, his teacher died suddenly that year, ending the classes.
“That sort of squelched any talent at the time,” he said.
Instead, he focused on his science classes, in which he excelled, and he later received scholarships to universities in Canada and the U.S.
But he was still stuck on acting, and he applied to a theatre school in Windsor.
“(I thought,) ‘If I get in, maybe that’s a sign I should (be an actor),” he said. “By some weird stroke of luck, I got in… and I hated it.”
Cavalheiro ended up leaving the school and completing a neuroscience degree at York University — “The sister subject to the dramatic arts,” he quipped.
But he did not give up completely on acting, and he found an agent while living in Toronto.
“It was a slow burn. It took me many years … to get any traction whatsoever,” he said.
Then, he met Canadian actor Tom Cavanagh — known for starring in TV shows Ed and The Flash — who became his mentor for some time.
After appearing in a role in Cavanagh’s movie The Birder, Cavalheiro said he fell into a professional rut and thought about going back to school to become a doctor.
“He pretty much said, ‘You’re going to go through this stuff your whole life. You’re never going to go through the door if you’re looking over your shoulder,’” Cavalheiro said.
Since that time, Cavalheiro has taken roles in Schitt’s Creek (alongside Eugene Levy, Dan Levy and Catherine O’Hara), Ransom, and comedian Russell Peters’ series The Indian Detective, among others.
He also recently finished filming 10 episodes of Good Witch and the film No Sleep ‘Til Christmas, “which is oddly not a Christmas movie,” rather just a comedy, he said.
He and his wife, actor and comedian Claire Stollery, who was in Goon 2 and had a recurring spot on Rick Mercer Report, also run a scripted TV class in Toronto, where they live.
“When you’re on set, it’s a really weird Twilight Zone sort of (thing). I thought when I met Russell Peters I would’ve been starstruck. I thought I would be super nervous. They’re just people,” he said.
One of Cavalheiro’s most memorable encounters with a celebrity was meeting actor Sam Rockwell at a boxing class in Toronto.
“I actually watched his movie Moon the night before I met him,” he said.
Cavalheiro said he was in the change room with the other class participants getting ready, “and there’s a naked Sam Rockwell in front of me. I had to do a double take.”
In class, “I just kept staring at him out of the corner of my eye. This guy is oozing cool,” he said.
During a break, Cavalheiro said Rockwell, who he later learned was in Toronto to film the movie Poltergeist, started checking his hairline in the mirror.
Cavalheiro said he went up to Rockwell and said, lightheartedly, “You’re a vain piece of s*** as well!”
“He said, ‘What? Are you an actor?’”
From there, the pair talked about movies and sparred later in class, and Rockwell even helped him film a short video for his Instagram account to say happy birthday to his wife.
To work in a movie with an actor like Rockwell would be a dream come true, and Cavalheiro said would love to make it to the Oscars as a nominee one day.
So far, he has only gone as a guest of one of the Academy Awards producers.
“I felt like I was cheating,” he said, but “if they’re doing an Oscar for Christmas movies, maybe I have a shot.”