Shaun Johnston (born September 9, 1958) is a Canadian film and theater actor. He co-founded the Shadow Theatre in Edmonton and made his first professional forays into Alberta’s thriving theatrical scene.
Shaun Johnston was born September 9, 1958 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Raised on a farm in Ponoka, Alberta, between Red Deer and Edmonton .
He played basketball in high school, majored in business administration at Red Deer College and worked for a time in Alberta’s Treasury Department. After a few years of hard work on his family’s property, where farming was “a way of life and not a job,” he decided to return to college and begin his search for a degree to graduate in law.
Interested in a career as a fashion photographer, he moved to Toronto in the early 1980s and struggled to get into the industry before finding work as a runway model. After a few years, he developed a taste for acting and returned to Alberta to study theater at Red Deer College. He then graduated with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Alberta theater. This background helped define the direction of his career: “Growing up on the prairies influenced a lot my work as an actor. I like to believe that my approach is open and natural. I think I am a product of my environment. ”
Johnston’s first work as a professional was in Edmonton’s thriving theatrical scene. It was there that he co-founded the Shadow Theatre, which currently remains one of Edmonton’s most successful theater companies. In 1993, he played his first leading role in a feature film as a biker of loose life in William Hornecker’s tragic drama, Two Brothers a Girl and a Gun. Shaun tells the story of how he happily negotiated his way into filming Indie for a box of Budweiser, a T-shirt and a Buck knife. “Best investment I ever made,” she says. This role earned him the first of several best actor awards at the Alberta Film & Television Awards and a long career.
Numerous roles in film and television followed in Canada and the United States, including Archive X, Jake and the Kid, Smallville, Traders, DaVinci’s Inquest and the Gemini Mayerthorpe Award winner. Shaun played the captain of the real life train in September Dawn (2007) and Colonel Nelson Miles in the Emmy Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee winning film (2007). For these works and other credits, Shaun received in 2011 the prestigious David Billington Award from the Alberta Media Production Industries Association.
In 2007, Shaun assumed the role of Jack Bartlett and received a nomination for the Gemini for his work in Heartland’s first season.
Although Shaun has accumulated an impressive list of credits as an actor on stage, film and television, he is best known as Grandpa Jack in CBC’s hit series Heartland. It’s a role he was practically born to play.
His continuous performance in the show reveals that he totally mastered the art of acting and still managed to imbue his character with a deep understanding of the human condition. In many ways, the figure he portrays reflects the warm and sentimental impulse of the series and the raw but sensitive qualities underlying his continuous preoccupations with family integrity, positive values and the basic challenges of life.
Grandpa Jack Bartlett, Shaun’s character, illustrates his devotion to firmly rooted beliefs about the nature of heroism. Taking the role in 2007, Shaun surprises and entertains fans in equal measure with his consistently insightful work for the Gemini series. While his film and television performances cover a wide variety of characters, both heroes and villains, he admits to having gravitated in recent years to “the most stoic and heroic types.
For this reason, his representation of the taciturn grandfather Jack resonates not only with his personal convictions, but also with those of the fascinated viewers of the program who identify with Jack’s severe perspective, sense of justice, and disdain for false behavior.
More About Shaun Johnston
Shaun points to certain Western archetypal heroes like Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart as role models for the kind of man he likes to portray on screen, someone who defends traditional values like honesty and patient acceptance of what life has to offer. He defines his own work by his goals and models his development as a mirror actor in one of his favorite movies, The Man Who Killed Facínora. Shaun says: “By demonstrating the codes of commitment and honor, this film inspires someone to simply be a good man”.
An actor who embodies an archetype of the North American Westerner, Johnston would feel at home in photos of Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Glenn Ford from other times. Tranquilizingly old school, his Jack Bartlett represents home, honesty and acceptance without complaining about all the letters life offers him. Shaun says: “All roles are extremely demanding. It is the nature of the actor’s commitment. But if you want to increase this challenge, play a historical character. Then you feel the eyes of the world on you. ”
Outside the screens, Johnston is an avid field hockey player and guitarist. In his own words, Shaun says: “Yes, it’s true. But maybe we should replace the word “avid” with the word “medium”. Ha!” He’s an ardent producer of charity events, having raised funds and raised awareness of organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Cottage Society and Autism Calgary. In 2011, Shaun was honored to receive the David Billington Award, awarded annually to an Alberta who has made an invaluable contribution to the Alberta production community with his passion and dedication.