Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)

Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

It has been a four-year wait for a Central Okanagan actor in the cast of a new hybrid production that combines elements of a documentary and feature film.

Evan-Riley Brown plays the role of Staff-Sgt. Weaver in the Second World War retelling of a true story of heroism called Journey To Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission.

The film will make its debut on streaming and video-on-demand services on Feb. 2.

“We did the filming for the move four years ago but it has taken this long to be released because of the CGI work that was involved,” said Brown.

“I am looking forward to it coming out.”

While his family and relatives will likely gather together to watch it, Brown admits he will probably avoid any family premiere celebration.

“It is hard for me to watch a movie with me in it because you tend to notice all the imperfections and how you might have done a scene differently,” he said.

“From a craft perspective, you tend to analyze yourself rather than just watch the movie.”

READ MORE: Okanagan musicians struggling in silence through pandemic

The movie release marks a recent upswing in Brown’s career, with a lead role in another movie called Kill Spree being released later this year and a short-film called Isolation currently being showcased on the film festival circuit.

He is also working on two screenplays that he hopes to draw interest from potential producers, one being about the gangster era in Montreal during the 1970s.

Journey To Royal tells the true story of Lieut. Royal Stratton, a pilot with an emergency rescue squadron in the South Pacific, who leads a mission to save the lives of nine downed airmen.

Flying unarmed into the path of the enemy, Stratton’s flight crew intersect with pivotal turning points of the war and must rely on their wits, skill and fortitude to survive.

The feature film aspect of the movie is combined with historical photos and first-hand accounts of surviving Second World War veterans.

Brown said he was drawn to the script because it was not a propaganda movie that glorifies war in the wrong ways.

“I submitted my name for an audition, eventually got a chance to read for it, and a month later I found out I got the part,” he said.

Brown grew up in the Lake Country community of Winfield and graduated from George Elliot Secondary with dreams of becoming an actor.

He traces the roots of his love for acting to when he saw The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, at age of three.

That interest persisted through his childhood, leading him at age 18 to pursue his career dreams in Hollywood.

He studied at the legendary Stella Adler school of acting in Los Angeles, earning a full scholarship to the school program in his second year, an experience he credits for honing his craft skills as an actor.

“It has been a great influence for me…Actor Mark Ruffalo is a graduate of the program also and he came back to speak to us about his experiences, how he went to 400 auditions without getting a single role.

“It was nice to hear sometimes how other people have struggled so you don’t feel alone…to keep trying to stick with it.”

Brown remembers a wide-eyed Canadian kid moving to Hollywood as a struggling actor being a harsh lesson in reality.

READ MORE: Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The Lake Country local found L.A. to be an unfriendly city, where just saying hello to people as you pass them by led to strange looks, where everyone seems to claim to be an actor and film projects are often talked about or promoted but rarely come to fruition.

He found an initial break portraying the character Annihilist in Video Game High School, an Internet web series that ran from 2012 to 2016.

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump as the U.S. president in 2016, Brown said changes to his visa credentials convinced him to return home rather than risk paying the $6,000 non-refundable fee to earn a three-year extension to his working visa that promised, if accepted, to further limit his work options to either an actor or writer and not both as had been the case previously.

“With COVID and everything that has happened, 2020 was actually not a bad year for me as I have been doing a lot of writing and living in the comfort of my own hometown. And these films that I have previously worked on are starting to be released this year, so I am looking forward to seeing that happen,” he said.

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