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This article was published 16/7/2020 (268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Many an actress has justifiably complained about having difficulty finding work after a certain age.
That problem never seems to have been an issue for Wendy Crewson. As a Canadian performer, the Hamilton-born, Winnipeg-raised Crewson has enjoyed a busy career in Canadian film and television, going back to an episode of The Littlest Hobo in 1981, and continuing in notable projects such as the made-in-Winnipeg telefilm The Many Trials of One Jane Doe (2002), Away from Her (2006) and Who Loves the Sun (2006).
If Crewson looks familiar to the average moviegoer, that may be because she played the wives of famous men in a trifecta of ’90s hits, including the 1997 thriller Air Force One (playing the endangered first lady to President Harrison Ford), the 1994 family comedy The Santa Clause (playing the confused ex-wife of Tim Allen’s Santa designate) and in the 2000 cloning thriller The Sixth Day (playing the confused and endangered wife to a matching set of Arnold Schwarzeneggers).
Notwithstanding her Hollywood movies, Crewson, 64, has remained busy after moving back to Toronto from California in 2000. In the past few years, the Westwood Collegiate alumna has shown up in series including Frankie Drake Mysteries, When Hope Calls and Workin’ Moms.
She does feature films too, of course, but in the current COVID-19 climate, those films are bypassing theatres and going directly to on-demand options. That is the case for the comedy From the Vine, in which Crewson plays the wife of an auto exec (Joe Pantoliano) who, upon getting his pink slip, heads to his remote Italian birthplace and finds a personal mission in reviving his grandfather’s disused vineyard.
On the phone from her Toronto home, Crewson is modest while explaining her ability to stay in demand, which she attributes to her manager-agent, Perry Zimel, "who likes to keep me working."
"Honestly, he handles my career in such a lovely way. I’m always happy when a job comes along. I don’t say no very often to anything. I like to be working. I like to be on a set."
Crewson says it made no discernible difference to her career when she publicly came out as a lesbian in 2014.
"I thought maybe it would matter but no, it hasn’t made any difference that I know of," she says. "I haven’t stopped working.
"I don’t think it means what it once did. In my generation, it seemed like a big deal but for this generation now, it just seems like nothing."
However, it was crucial for Crewson personally.
"Authenticity is the most important thing and I feel like in a business where you are in the public eye, it feels hard to grow and change as you want to," she says. "As long as my family was OK and my kids were OK, then I was OK.
"It may be one of the most interesting things about me," she laughs. "It was a very smooth transition. But I was in a very privileged position. I’ve got a supportive family. I’m in the arts. If not me then, who?"
Crewson was busy enough that she almost took a pass on taking the work in From the Vine, until producer Paula Brancati campaigned to entice her to join a project that took her to the charming mountaintop town of Acerenza in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata.
Brancati called and presented her with what she calls "the most seductive offer I have ever had" for the low-budget, independent feature, sending the script, the music for the film, and pictures of Acerenza.
"It was a funny thing because I had like three weeks in my schedule and I decided I wasn’t going to work," Crewson recalls. "But I couldn’t resist. It just felt like this little magical thing that somebody had just handed me the key for. How could you ever turn this down?
"So we went and lived in this tiny mountaintop town. You drove into the clouds and mist into this walled medieval town. It was one restaurant. No one spoke English. We were transported back in time and it was thrilling. We had the most incredible time shooting that movie."
Crewson acknowledges it was a bit of a novelty to play the romantic partner to Pantoliano, an actor whose career has generally rested in macho roles (The Sopranos, Bad Boys, The Matrix).
"That’s been the most gratifying thing," she says. "He’s a very dedicated actor and it was a big movie for him to carry in that role. He’s not used to being a leading man, and it was sweet that he was a bit nervous about it."
Crewson says a romantic winemaking scene she shared with Pantoliano stood out for her.
"Joe’s wife was there, she had come to visit, and she said, ‘See, you finally get to kiss the girl,’" Crewson recalls.
"So that was fun to be able to do that. For all his tough-guy stuff, that’s not who Joe is at all.
"What a sweet film this was to make."
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.