Roy Dupuis | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Roy Dupuis

Roy Dupuis, actor (b at Haileybury ON 21 April 1963).

Roy Dupuis, actor (b at Haileybury ON 21 April 1963).

Roy Dupuis was born to a Franco-Ontarian father who was a salesman for Canada Packers and a Québécoise mother, a piano teacher, in an Ontario village on the northwest shore of Lake Timiskaming, 150 kilometres north of North Bay. Shortly after that, his parents Roy and Ryna moved to Amos, Quebec, in the Abitibi region, where Roy spent a good part of his childhood.

He was 12 when his family returned to Ontario (Kapuskasing). After his parents divorced three years later, he moved to the Ste-Rose neighbourhood of Laval, Quebec, with his mother, older sister and younger brother.

At first intending to have a career in science, he registered in physics in university, but when he saw Ariane Mnouchkine's film Molière, Roy Dupuis became interested in acting. In 1984, he replaced a friend in a National Theatre School of Canada entrance audition and was selected from among more than 1,000 candidates.

In 1985, he went to Québec City to act with Élise Guilbault in William Shakespeare's play Two Gentlemen of Verona adapted into Québécois by Dominic Champagne and directed by Fernand Rainville and François Dussault.

When he finished his theatre school education in 1986, he won roles in theatre, television and film. Roy Dupuis played Harold in Colin Higgins's Harold et Maude (Harold and Maude), directed by Richard Thériault, Martin in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love, directed by Michèle Magny, Gerry in Au pied de la lettre by André Jean and directed by René-Richard Cyr, and Pierrick in Toupie Wildwood by Pascale Rafie, Dominic Champagne's directorial debut. In 1989, he played Jay in Le Chien by Jean-Marc Dalpé, directed by Brigitte Haentjens, and Roméo in Guillermo de Andrea's Roméo et Juliette, a Québécois adaptation of Shakespeare's work. Brigitte Haentjens directed him again in the play Un oiseau vivant dans la gueule by Jeanne-Mance Delisle in 1990.

He was also on television in 1988 in an episode of l'Amour avec un grand A by Janette Bertrand and in the celebrated 1990 series He Shoots, He Scores directed by Richard Martin.

Roy Dupuis also won several film roles, distinguishing himself in 1998 in the short film Sortie 234 by Michel Langlois. That same year, he was in the casts of the feature films Comment faire l'amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer by Jean-W. Benoît, Yves Simoneau's Dans le ventre du dragon and Denys Arcand's Jésus de Montréal.

The 1990s made him a TV star with his character Ovila Pronovost in the cult series Les filles de Caleb based on Arlette Cousture's novel. That part won him the Gémeaux Award for best male lead, the best actor Metrostar in 1991 and 1992 and a FIPA d'Or for best male lead at the Festival international de Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA) in Cannes. He played the character again in a series called Blanche, directed by Charles Binamé. He also had the main role (Michel Gagné) for four seasons (1991-1994) in the series Scoop written by Fabienne Larouche and Réjean Tremblay and directed by Georges Mihalka, Pierre Houle and Alain Chartrand. He then played a psychotic in the series Urgence by the same pair of writers and directed by Michel Poulette.

Perfectly bilingual, Roy Dupuis played the role of the father of the Dionne quintuplets in the Million Dollar Babies series by Christian Duguay in 1994 and the character of Michael Samuelle in the series Nikita (1996-2001) by Joel Surnow, which made him internationally known with broadcasts in more than 50 countries. He also won the title role in the miniseries Maurice Richard: Histoire d'un Canadien by Jean-Claude Lord (1999) and the role of biker Ross Desbiens in the series Le Dernier chapitre directed by Richard Roy, which won him his third Metrostar, for best actor in a TV series (2003).

During that same time, Roy Dupuis was seen onscreen in many French and English-language feature films. In his first major role, he was brilliant as Claude, the young prostitute who murders his lover in Being at Home with Claude (1992) by Jean Beaudin. In that drama, adapted from René-Daniel Dubois's play by the same name, the young actor blossomed in the final 30-minute-long monologue. Roy Dupuis had become an undeniable figure in Québécois film, lending his talent to major public productions as well as numerous repertory works. He appeared in about 20 films of all genres, not hesitating to take on perilous roles in tragedies and comedies and as historic characters. He was in the cast of Cap tourmente (1992) by Michel Langlois, Charles Binamé's C'était le 12 du 12 et Chili avait les blues (1993), Screamers (1994) by Christian Duguay, Le passage des hommes libres (1995) by Luis Armando Roche, Claude Fournier's J'en suis (1996), Yves Simoneau's Free Money (1997), Un homme et son péché (2001) by Charles Binamé and Les invasions barbares (2002) by Denys Arcand. He sometimes appeared in several films in the same year. In 2003, he played a main role in Monica la Mitraille by Pierre Houle, played the key role in Gilles Noël's Jack Paradise and was practically a one-man show in Manners of Dying by Jeremy Peter Allen. In 2004, he starred in C'est pas moi, c'est l'autre by Alain Zaloum, Les États-Unis d'Albert by Marc-André Forcier and Francis Leclerc's Mémoires affectives, which won him the Jutra and the Genie for best actor. He played Rocket Richard again the next year in Charles Binamé's Maurice Richard, which earned him the best actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

That year, he was also detective Conk Adams in the film That Beautiful Somewhere, which Robert Budreau shot in North Bay.

In 2006, he appeared with Susan Sarandon and Christopher Plummer in Paul Barzman's Emotional Arithmetic and Shake Hands with the Devil by Roger Spottiswoode, for which the role of Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire won him the Genie for best male lead.

In 2007, he participated in five feature films: The Time Keeper by Louis Bélanger, Némésis by Marc-André Forcier, Jean-François Richet's L'instinct de mort, Un été sans point ni coup sûr by Francis Leclerc and Kim Nguyen's Truffe.

In 2008, Roy Dupuis returned to the theatre in the controversial play Blasted by playwright Sarah Kane and directed by Brigitte Haentjens. Brigitte Haentjens had also directed his first role on the stage in Sam Shepard's True West.

That same year, he also appeared in a new feature, Les Doigts croches, a Ken Scott comedy.

Roy Dupuis is considered born for the stage and one of the greatest actors of his generation, with the makings of a James Dean, Marlon Brando or Tim Robbins, who have been his models.

By combining beauty, animal magnetism, sensitivity and an internality that is the main characteristic of his craft, he brings remarkable depth to all his roles.

Influenced by his musician mother, Roy Dupuis plays the cello but is also an athlete who participates in track and field, boxes, plays hockey, basketball and volleyball, skis downhill and cross country and does some sky diving.

Therefore, he did not hesitate to take a six-day rafting expedition on a wild Lower North Shore river, the trip dubbed SOS Rivière Romaine. In fact, Roy Dupuis is president and co-founder of an environmental group called the Rivers Foundation, which works to save major watercourses threatened by the construction of hydroelectric dams. Sharing the philosophy of the aboriginal peoples, he admires their relationship with nature, which can be summed up as: "We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children."

Although he loved living in the city from the time he arrived on the Island of Montréal in 1977, Roy Dupuis now lives in the country in an 1840s farmhouse and plans to one day make a trip around the world in a sailboat.