Published: Sunday | April 6, 2008
Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
No stranger to the screen, Jamaican-born and raised actor Peter Williams remains focused on his career in film.
With a Genie Award nomination and more than 50 film credits to his name, this Jamaican-Canadian star was dubbed “one of the country’s finest actors” by the Montreal Gazette. Williams was enjoying his return to Jamaica for the premiere of his most recent project, A Winter Tale, when The Sunday Gleaner caught up with the busy star.
Although he pursued geography at the Nottingham University, once Williams experienced the stage first-hand he was an instant addict. “I didn’t start acting ’til I came to Canada in a play called Whose Life Is It Anyway. I got the bug from there; that was when I was in my 20s,” he said.
Williams got his bearings in theatre at the community theatre centre at the Jamaican-Canadian Association, acting in plays such as Big Yard I and Big Yard II by famed playwright Devon Haughton. According to Williams, the Jamaican crowd is one of his favourites, which gives him the “purest response”.
Since getting ‘hooked’ on his acting career, Williams has constantly been going to workshops and practices with an acting teacher in his home in Vancouver on a weekly basis.
Williams has played an array of various different roles, drawing on a vast wealth of personal and acting experience. He has made appearances in the television shows MacGyver and The X-Files to Da Vinci’s Inquest, Sci-Fi’s Stargate SG 1 and Showtime’s Dead Like Me. His work also includes film roles, ranging from Jungleground and Soul Survivor to appearances on the big screen, like the Halle Berry film Catwoman and The Chronicles of Riddick.
Williams considers his role in MacGyver to be his first big break. “MacGyver was a huge internationally syndicated show which was very popular worldwide,” he said. Another touchstone for the actor was the movie Soul Survivor, which was written and directed by his brother Stephen Williams.
His most recent work, A Winter Tale, received the Tonya Lee Williams Award for Outstanding Canadian Feature at the Seventh Annual ReelWorld Film Festival. Directed and produced by Frances-Anne Solomon, A Winter Tale will open to moviegoers across Jamaica on April 9. Williams portrays one of the film’s central characters, Gene Wright, a concerned social worker who takes it upon himself to start a local black men’s support group after a young boy is accidentally shot and killed.
Williams raved about the film. “It’s fantastic. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be in it. The roles are great, especially the one for Leonie Forbes. Everyone in it is especially good. It depicts the true Caribbean culture in Canada,” he said.
Over the last year A Winter Tale has travelled the globe, opening and closing numerous film festivals, winning awards and garnering favourable reviews along the way. It took home the ‘Outstanding Canadian Feature Award’ at the 2007 ReelWorld Film Festival, the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for Best Caribbean Feature at the 2007 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, and the award for Best Foreign Film at the San Diego Black Film Festival.
While Williams doesn’t have any project at present on his plate, he is looking forward to a fruitful career in the business to “build a bigger body of work like A Winter Tale”.