Early Years and Education
In 1961, Sean McCann landed small roles in two episodes of the CBC anthology series General Motors Presents, including one episode about Louis Riel. He appeared in an episode of CBC’s Playdate in 1962, opposite Christopher Plummer, Don Francks and Bruno Gerussi. He also worked in theatre in Canada and the United Kingdom. McCann made his feature film debut opposite Margot Kidder in the drama A Quiet Day in Belfast (1974) and had a supporting role in Joyce Wieland’s drama The Far Shore (1976), a feminist reimagining of the story of Tom Thomson.
Sean McCann enjoyed a long career as a character actor in film and television. He appeared in the series Sidestreet (1975), King of Kensington (1977), For the Record (1978), The Littlest Hobo (1979–82), Seeing Things (1982), The Beachcombers (1989), Border Town (1990), Street Legal (1991), E.N.G. (1992) and Traders (1997). He also performed in the tax-shelter films Three Card Monte (1978), Nothing Personal (1980), Louis Malle’s Oscar-nominated Atlantic City (1980) and Allan King’s Silence of the North (1981).
In 1985, McCann landed the role of Lieutenant Jim Hogan and appeared in all 96 episodes of the popular CTV/CBS police drama Night Heat (1985–89). The role earned him a 1987 Gemini Award nomination for best supporting actor. He worked with Donald Brittain in the docudrama about the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada, Canada’s Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks (1985), and played Farrah Fawcett’s father in the acclaimed US TV miniseries Small Sacrifices (1989). McCann appeared as Ontario premier Mitchell Hepburn, opposite Beau Bridges and Kate Nelligan, in Million Dollar Babies (1994), the CBC miniseries about the Dionne quintuplets. He appeared in a Heritage Minutes episode about Agnes Macphail and was memorable as Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in Brittain’s critically acclaimed three-part miniseries, The King Chronicle (1988).
McCann was nominated for Gemini Awards for his appearances in Noddy, a children’s series that was broadcast on PBS, BBC and CBC (1998–2000). In 1999, he won a Gemini Award for best actor in a guest role in a dramatic series for his performance in Power Play.
McCann’s other notable film and television credits include Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave (1980), Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables (1985), David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991), The Air Up There (1994) with Kevin Bacon, Tommy Boy (1995) with Chris Farley, Paul Schrader’s Affliction (1997) with Nick Nolte, Simon Birch (1998) with Ashley Judd, Robert Lepage’s Possible Worlds (2000) with Tom McCamus and Tilda Swinton, John Greyson’s The Law of Enclosures (2000) with Sarah Polley, the Oscar-winning musical Chicago (2002), the hockey movie Miracle (2004), the TV series Naturally, Sadie (2005–06) and the Terry Sawchuk biopic, Goalie (2019).
Sean McCann was married to Andrée Paquet for 51 years. They had five children together. A devout Catholic, McCann was also a recovered alcoholic who was active with the Toronto chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A self-confessed political junkie, Sean McCann ran for the provincial Liberals in the 1977 election (after losing, he joked that “Playing [William Lyon Mackenzie] King is about as close as I am going to get to being a politician”). A lifelong baseball fan, he worked for the Toronto Blue Jays as a baseball scout and an amateur baseball ambassador. He also served on the board of directors for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.