EDMONTON – Typecasting is a working actor’s nightmare.
For Quinton Aaron, best known for his breakout role as Big Mike in The Blind Side, it’s also nearly impossible to evade.
“I try to get people to think outside the box with me,” says Aaron. “I don’t only have to play the big black guy.”
The 31-year-old Tampa-based actor — who also happens to be six foot, eight inches and 450 pounds —, picks parts that have a twist.
In the yet-to-be-released Halfway, he’s a brainy ex-con released in rural, white Wisconsin. He’ll soon jet to Hungary to play an action flick assassin. He’s been in apocalyptic Christian films, including the Nicholas Cage Left Behind reboot. Aaron’s also 43 pages into his own pet project — a love story script — though he’s too busy to chip away at it much these days.
For the next few days, Aaron is in Edmonton to shoot It’s Not My Fault (And I Don’t Care Anyway), a locally produced feature directed by Edmonton playwright Chris Craddock, based on Craddock’s one-man play, Public Speaking.
Aaron plays a homeless heroin addict with gigantism. He’s pressed into kidnapping the sexually prolific daughter of a crooked motivational speaker, played by Canadian Alan Thicke. There are two endings, Aaron says, and a lot of insanity along the way.
Q: What do you think of Edmonton?
A: I’ve been here once before. I was up here in December of 2012 for like a week. I have some friends out in Spruce Grove. So I hung out there; we went ice fishing.
Now seeing the city in the summer, it’s dope. I like it. The other night, hanging out, I’m thinking that it’s way early, it started getting dark, but it’s midnight. Wait, what?
Q: Tell me a bit about your role.
A: You’ll see a pretty gentle giant. You don’t really know how to take him at first. Is he someone who can blow up and mess everything up? Is he a ticking time bomb? Or is he just harmless and innocent?
I love the story, it’s going to be awesome. It’s like a dark dramedy, there’s drama in it, there’s comedy in it. And it’s dark.
Q: Are you actually a gentle giant?
A: In real life? Yeah. I’m an approachable guy. I’m a very nice guy. I’m a hugger. I’m definitely someone who loves people. I would say there’s a gentle giant in me.
A lot of big people, they don’t want to be bothered. They’re angry, they’re mean. I’m alive, healthy and doing what I love. I have no reason to be mean and angry. I’m blessed.
Q: The Blind Side was such a huge hit. Has it been a struggle to follow that?
A: It’s been six years, and it’s like every time people see me out and about, they go crazy like the movie’s in theatres now. Literally, I feel like a six-foot-eight Denzel sometimes.
I never really had a team. A lot of people get their big chance to blow up, then they have all the right people around them that can push their career to the next level. Well, I had people around me that only wanted to sit back and ride the train. Once the heat cooled off, those people kind of went elsewhere, and I was left to figure it out on my own. Over the past five years, a lot of the jobs I’ve been doing have been through my own connections and relationship building. I’ve been pretty much representing myself.
Q: Did you know Alan Thicke before this?
A: We have the same eye doctor! We ran into each other here and there. I met his son Robin awhile back, the year I went to the Oscars. I’m a huge fan.
I grew up watching Alan Thicke on Growing Pains. I think my mom watched it more than I did, and I watched it because she watched it. I saw Kirk Cameron once, I was four or five at the time, and I kept saying, “Growing pains! Growing pains!” She thought my stomach was hurting.
Q: Alan Thicke’s character plays a self-involved motivational speaker. If you were a motivational speaker, what kind would you be?
A: I actually am a motivational speaker.
I have a foundation (quintonaaron.org). We talk to a lot of kids about bullying, childhood obesity, following your dreams despite your current circumstances. Most of it is me telling my testimony, what I’ve been through in life, how I got to where I am despite all the challenges I had to go through.
I recently lost 120 pounds. It’s pretty dope. I still got a long way to go, but I’m getting there.