Making notable strides in the cinematic world, a teenager from Calgary is blossoming into a formidable actor, scoring a significant role in a new animated feature film alongside Hollywood’s luminaries.
Finn Lee-Epp, at the tender age of nine, was captivated by the prospect of becoming an actor. In his words, observing other child actors in various TV shows sparked an innate curiosity and fascination for the profession.
In less than a year from that moment, Finn made his on-screen debut acting alongside Diane Lane and Kevin Costner in the movie Let Him Go, playing the role of their tragic young son. Finn admits that at the time, he was blissfully unaware of who these Hollywood stars were, which perhaps saved him from the onslaught of overwhelming nerves.
Fast forward a year, and Finn secures the role of Ryder in the forthcoming animated film PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. In the plot, Ryder courageously leads the pups after a mystical meteorite crashes into Adventure City endowing the pups with incredible superpowers.
The news was broken to him by his parents in a somewhat theatrical manner, making it a moment to remember. As Finn sat at school, oblivious and enjoying his lunch, he received a text from his father asking him to step outside. His mother greeted him with a simple, “Hello, Ryder,” and just like that, Finn realized he had bagged the role.
This new role holds a special significance for Finn as he used to watch the original TV show with his younger brother. He gleefully pointed out the numerous references from the original series cropping up in the movie, making the experience all the more enjoyable. His friends, especially those with younger siblings, were equally thrilled about his new gig.
Despite the competition being fierce with 300 kids auditioning for the part, Finn’s performance caught the attention of the film’s co-writer and associate producer, Bob Barlen. He commended Finn’s portrayal of Ryder, lauding him as the metaphorical quarterback who propels the storyline forward.
Finn’s part was recorded over eight months in a Calgary audio studio, where he worked virtually with the film’s director, Cal Brunker. According to Brunker, this method helped Finn immerse himself more organically into the scene and hence deliver authentic and compelling performances.
“It was quite the revelation,” explained Finn. The script often underwent changes –– at times little tweaks in dialogue or tone, at others, multiple parts were entirely rehashed. The unpredictability of the process kept him on his toes as he never knew what the final form would be.
Adding to the stellar cast of the film is Kristen Bell, Taraji P. Henson, Kim Kardashian, Mckenna Grace, James Marsden, and Chris Rock. Finn did not get the chance to work with these megastars directly but admitted that he felt quite starstruck knowing he was part of the same project.
“Even though we’re inching closer to the premiere, I still can’t shake the unreal feeling. It’s like a dream come true, to be honest,” he shared. This newfound success has steeled Finn’s resolve to pursue more roles in the industry and continue honing his craft for as long as he can.