A couple weeks ago I was sent to go and take photos of someone who dresses up as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Elmo for birthday parties. I wasn't sure what to expect from the person behind the mask and I honestly wasn't expecting to meet someone with so much passion for the job.
I met Gregory Marrast at the Cube in Old Market Square and every time he changed into a new costume he became the character. As Spider-Man he didn't walk: he crouched on the ground, jumped up onto a picnic table, then leapt back to the ground. All the while strutting and making witty comments. He probably had his photo taken with a half dozen people before we were finished with the Spidey costume.
By the time we got to the final costume, Elmo, I was convinced this guy could play any character. Elmo was the icing on the cake though: this time, he changed his voice as well as his body language. I couldn't keep from smiling and I wasn't the only one. People in passing cars were honking their horns and shouting, "I love you Elmo!"
After he changed back into his street clothes I asked Gregory if I could have a little chat with him.
What is your greatest struggle right now?
Right now, as an actor, I think it's finding opportunities in this city. Just because Winnipeg is such a hard place to break through in terms of actually becoming a success. I have a bachelors of arts in theatre and film at the University of Winnipeg, but so far the most jobs that has gotten me is a job at a shoe store downtown.
It's kind of a struggle, opportunities come and go, you have to audition a lot. You've got to put yourself out there, but what I have found with what I am doing right now, is that I'm kind of creating opportunities for myself.
What about doing this makes you happy?
I just like seeing that smile on kids' faces and it doesn't matter what I'm doing, whether I'm Spider-Man or another superhero or I'm Michael Jackson, I'm just coming up to them and smiling at them or giving them a sticker or just taking a picture with them, I'm making their day. I like seeing that sense of joy and passion in kids' hearts when they see someone that they admire. I never got that opportunity when I was younger.
Do you have a story of a particular moment while doing this that you remember that has stuck with you?
One birthday party I did, I was in my Spider-Man costume, and a little girl had fallen off a slide and she was hurt and crying. I was just like, "Oh no! Spider-Man is going to fix this!" I ran into the house and the mom handed me a Spider-Man ice pack and I ran to her. I put the ice pack on her head and I said, "It's ok, Spider-Man's got you." She looked up at me and said, "Thank you Spider-Man, you saved me." That kind of stuck with me more than anything else I've done, just because that little girl just really believed with all her heart that I was the hero that I was presenting myself to be. Even though I'm just a guy in a costume. I honestly felt like a superhero in that moment, just because I had saved her in that instance.
Have you ever gotten to that point where it is the complete opposite, you're like "OMG! What am I doing?"
Where I have doubts about this? No. I've never had a doubt about doing this. Acting and theatre, I've always just known it's a passion of mine and I've never wanted to not do it.