Newspaper article The Canadian Press

John Dunsworth's Death Changes Nova Scotia Film landscape:'The Man Was a Legend'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

John Dunsworth's Death Changes Nova Scotia Film landscape:'The Man Was a Legend'

Article excerpt

Dunsworth had profound impact on N.S. industry


HALIFAX - Everyone in Nova Scotia's theatre and film industry has a John Dunsworth story.

For actor Jeremy Webb, it was being compelled to spout Shakespearean monologues in Dunsworth's downtown Halifax casting office in the late '90s.

"He started to get all excited and he wanted another one and another one," said Webb, who credits Dunsworth with getting him his first television gig after moving to the city from the United Kingdom in 1998.

"There I am, essentially on Barrington Street, in a shopfront casting office doing Shakespeare at full tilt wondering what the hell I was getting into. But that was just so typical. He had this energy and drive and passion for everyone in the community ... Every single person in the theatre, TV and film industry has a John Dunsworth story. The man was a legend."

Dunsworth's death was announced Monday evening on his Twitter feed. The statement said he died "peacefully after a short and unexpected illness." He was 71.

His colleagues say Dunsworth had a profound impact on the local arts community, and his death changes its landscape.

"His legacy is being a mentor and a guiding light for so many of us all for the last 30 years," said Webb, who will soon take over as artistic director of Halifax's Neptune Theatre, where Dunsworth had performed in at least 26 productions since 1970.

"And it wasn't just about the work, although he loved the work. He literally did everything for everyone. He would drive past you in the street in his beat-up old car and if you didn't know him you'd be terrified because he'd honk his horn, wind his window down and yell at you to see if you wanted a ride somewhere.

"I think everyone is in shock because you can't imagine the Nova Scotia arts community without him."

Dunsworth is best known for his portrayal of Jim Lahey on the "Trailer Park Boys," but his acting credits extend far beyond the popular comedy series. He has performed in countless local productions over the last four decades and at one point ran a Halifax theatre company. He also had a recurring role as reporter Dave Teagues on the television series "Haven."

Actor Lucy DeCoutere, a fellow "Trailer Park Boys" co-star, said Dunsworth was one of the first people she met when she got her start in the film industry decades ago.

"For a lot of people, he was the gateway into the acting world," said DeCoutere of Dunsworth's time as a casting director.

"He would continuously be immersed and he practised what he preached. He did everything. He was involved with as many productions as a human can be."

A champion of the arts community in Halifax and beyond, Dunsworth was one of many industry pundits to voice his disapproval of the provincial Liberal government's decision to slash a film tax credit more than two years ago. …

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