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Dan Payne:'Mulligans' stew
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis

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One of the movies being shown during Reeling 2008 is Mulligans, a movie that revolves around themes such as honesty and second chances. ( There's a lot of golf talk in the film, and a 'mulligan' refers to an extra golf shot allowed after a poor shot. ) Windy City Times talked with co-star Dan Payne, the handsome Canadian who portrays conflicted father Nathan, about getting into acting, the message of the movie and being in the highly anticipated movie Watchmen.

Windy City Times: It turns out you have an extensive sports background. How did you become an actor?

Dan Payne: My brother, sister and I moved a lot and became very tight. My brother and I had dreams of breaking into the industry, but we both moved in separate paths; he moved to Australia and the doors kept opening with sporting careers before I had a chance to choose. I pursued volleyball until my body said, 'That's enough.'

My brother was still in Australia, and I called him and said, 'Remember that dream we had?' He said that he had started a photographic company, and he asked if I would come help him and we would make our own movies. We did that for four and a half years—and things didn't quite pan out the way [ we planned ] . He got bigger business ideas but the film thing didn't quite [ work ] , so I moved to London, England, to start auditioning. I did a few gigs—to the point where I felt I could go home with these credits. I got a great agent here in Vancouver and the rest, as they say, is history.

WCT: What drew you to Mulligans?

DP: I just thought it was a fantastic love story with a lot of well-developed characters. Each character had things to deal with, and at the end of the day it just made for a great story about truth and love.

WCT: As I'm sure you know, there have been a lot of movies about coming out. What makes Mulligans different?

DP: I think it's fantastic because it doesn't say, 'Hey, this is a movie about a guy coming out.' This is about the concept of love, and who loves who is irrelevant—as it should be in the world. I think the story is told really well, from that perspective. Find your truth in yourself, and then you can best understand how you can express and enjoy love. It's not a pointed, single-minded coming-out movie.

WCT: In an interview, [ co-star ] Thea Gill said that she learned about herself while filming this movie. What did you learn about yourself?

DP: Yeah—that there's a hell of a lot for me to learn. I like to think that I'm socially aware, but it's amazing when you start digging past the surface. It's good to know how much you don't know. I have to get more involved.

WCT: What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

DP: [ Pauses ] I think it was the fight with my son as I'm saying goodbye to [ my son's friend ] Chase. The most difficult thing was the emotional tug-of-war—not wanting to hurt my son, having my daughter see the craziness, seeing the disappointment from my wife and sharing the joy with Chase. To be caught in all of that at once was just ... very intense.

WCT: So the nude scene was no problem?

DP: Jumping in the water? [ Laughs ] That was no problem. I've had a skinny-dip or two. [ Laughs ] I have no problem with nudity as long as it's relevant and not graphic.

WCT: The ending of the movie seemed a bit ambiguous to me. I wasn't sure if your character was going to pick up [ someone else ] or drive off on his own.

DP: Perfect. [ Laughs ] I like the fact that they left it that way. I know what I chose. Charlie [ David, who plays Chase and who wrote the script ] , the cast, crew and I talked about how we didn't want the Disney ending so that there's nothing to question. You want people to wonder.

There was change, obviously, and people would have to adjust to that change. What I think was great was that anybody who watched that movie could come [ to his or her own conclusion ] , based on that person's ride.

WCT: Let's say there's a sequel. In what direction would you like Nathan to go?

DP: I would definitely like to see the struggle [ involving ] the choice for his new life, and how the [ change ] would affect his old relationship with his family. I'd love to leave it to Charlie to see if they reconcile in terms of getting back together or reconcile in terms of understanding that they're on new paths.

WCT: I read that you're also in the forthcoming superhero movie Watchmen [ based on the comic ] .

DP: Yes. It was amazing to be in the movie and on the set with Zach Snyder [ the director who also helmed 300 and Dawn of the Dead ] . I think it's going to be pretty huge.

My role is very small. I'm one of the Minutemen—sort of like the vigilante Justice League—and they were pretty much wiped out; then the Watchmen came about. I got to be [ the character ] Dollar Bill, which was pretty cool.

Mulligans will be shown Friday, Nov. 7, at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark, at 7 p.m. See and for more info.

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