June 2003

Keeping an Eye on Lemche
- Ingrid Randoja

Actors are used to being watched. But when you're acting, and you don't even know where the camera is, well, that can be unnerving. Just ask Brampton, Ontario, native Kris Lemche, one of the stars of the new horror flick My Little Eye (opening in limited release this month).

The movie, directed by Marc Evans, is a cross between The Blair Witch Project and TV's Big Brother. Five twentysomethings agree to move into a creepy house for six months and have their lives broadcast on the internet. if they make it through to the end, without any of them leaving, they win a million bucks.

Of course, since this is a horror movie, things go horribly wrong for these young exhibitionists.

The 25-year-old Lemche, who plays Rex, the wise-cracking cynic of the group, says there was a lot of pressure to be natural on set, since there were often five digital cameras filming his every move.

He remembers having panic attacks every day because he was afraid he was overacting. "One of the very first scenes we shot was us eating a meal and I couldn't believe how much pointless sh-t I was throwing into meal-eating. I was acting with the food," says Lemche on the phone from his girlfriend's apartment in New York City.

Lemche started acting at Brampton's Mayfield School of the Arts. He enjoyed being on stage, but it wasn't a calling (he planned to go to university to study biochemistry). However, during summer vacation he called an agent curious to see if he could get work. Within a few weeks he had been cast in the TV show Flash Forward (alongside his younger brother Matthew), and his path was set. He dropped out of high school in grade 12 and has made a living as an actor ever since.

You may recognize Lemche from his Gemini Award-winning turn as Perry the farm hand in TV's Emily of New Moon. On the big screen he has played an assassin in eXistenZ, the boyfriend in the critically acclaimed Canadian werewolf flick Ginger Snaps and a teen in the macho Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper and Seth Green vehicle Knockaround Guys.

That must have been a testosterone-fuelled movie set.

"Oh yeah, the set assumed a hierarchy of alpha male behavior," he says, laughing. "Dov Tiefenbach and I were playing kids, even though I'm the same age as Seth and maybe five years younger than Vin and Barry, but we were treated like children. It was like a big brother/little brother relationship. Like when a little brother goes, 'Why are we doing this,' and big brother says 'Because I told you so!'"

If anyone understands the big brother/little brother relationship it's Lemche, who has been competing with his little brother since they were teenagers.

"I think he's a really great actor," Lemche says proudly. "I respect him, but there's also a huge competitiveness between us. Becuase we're only two years apart we were always up for the same parts. There were times, after we had stopped living together but were still in Toronto, when we'd suddenly be sitting in the same casting house and looking cut-eyed at each other across the room."

Lemche now lives in L.A., we he's found work in TV shows like Dragnet, and just finished shooting a TV pilot. However, if he had his way, he'd be based out of New York.

"My girlfriend is a New Yorker and we both come here to get away from L.A. If I thought I could make a living in New York, I'd move here in a heartbeat. But I've got to move up a few more notches in the acting food chain."