We’ve had our Northern neighbors on the brain this week with the Netflix series Frontier premiering this Friday (January 20). The period drama, set in 1700s Canada, follows outlaw Declan Harp, played by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones), as he fights back against the Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade. You can also look for British actor Alun Armstrong (Penny Dreadful, New Tricks) as Lord Benton and Canadian actor Landon Liboiron (Hemlock Grove, Terra Nova) as Michael Smyth.
If you haven’t seen it yet, take a peek at the trailer:
Canada is the birthplace of some wonderful actors — too many to list here. But we have whittled ’em down to 10 notable Canadians who’ve had breakout roles on American TV:
1. Tatiana Maslany
Where we know her from: Tatiana Maslany plays a British street kid named Sarah in the BBC America original Orphan Black, which is filmed in Toronto. We meet Sarah in the series opener and, slowly but surely, find out there are others like her — clones, that is — including Helena, who is from the Ukraine, and the Canadian soccer mom Alison (both played by Tatiana). We would have been impressed with just that, but Tatiana didn’t hold back, continuing to roll out a roster of characters in the four seasons of OB to date. We weren’t the only ones in awe of this powerhouse actress. She walked away with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in 2016 for her work on OB.
Where she got her start: Tatiana grew up in Regina and had a number of credits before her breakout role on OB, including Canadian children’s series 2030CE and the police drama Flashpoint.
Where to find her next: While we may be heading into the fifth and final season of OB, we can look forward to seeing Tatiana in the 2017 drama Stronger, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. Tatiana takes on the role of real-life Boston marathon bombing survivor and runner, Erin Hurley. The film is based on Hurley’s now husband Jeff Bauman‘s memoir, Stronger. Jake portrays Bauman, who lost both of his legs in the attack, but was able to help the authorities track down the men behind the bombing.
2. Kiefer Sutherland
Where we know him from: Kiefer Sutherland had a successful film career prior to making the move to TV, with blockbusters like 1987’s The Lost Boys, 1998’s The Young Guns, and 1993’s The Vanishing. But he became a permanent household name in 2001, when he took on the role of Jack Bauer in 24. Viewers were glued to their TVs, watching him work in real-time, counting down 24 hours as he attempted to combat terrorism. In 2006, he won anOutstanding Actor Emmy for his portrayal of Jack Bauer.
Where he got her start: Kiefer was born in London, England, to Canadian actor parents, Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. He was raised in Toronto by his mother, following his parents’ divorce. One of his earliest roles was in the 1984 Canadian film The Bay Boy. He played Donald Campbell, a teenage boy who struggled to cope after witnessing a murder in the 1930s. The story is semi-autobiographical, based on director Daniel Petrie‘s life growing up in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Where to find him next: You can get a dose of Kiefer on ABC, where he stars in the political drama Designated Survivor as the accidental POTUS.
3. Stephen Amell
Where we know him from: Stephen Amell pulls double duty on Arrow, playing billionaire Oliver Queen by day and vigilante superhero, the Green Arrow, at night. Oliver was kidnapped, dumped on an island, and when he made his escape and returned five years later… he was not happy. Arrow kicked off in 2012 and is still going strong, heading into its sixth season in 2017. The Green Arrow gets around, also appearing in other DC Comics series like The Flash (2014-2016) and Legends of Tomorrow (206).
Where he got his start: Stephen was born in Toronto. One of his first roles was on the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2004.
Where to find him next: Arrow makes its return at the end of the month, with the sixth season premiering on January 25. You can check out seasons one through four over at Netflix.
4. Michael Cera
Where we know him from: We’ve seen Michael Cera all over the big screen, starring in coming-of-age films like Juno and Superbad, both out in 2007, and in 2009’s Youth in Revolt. More recently, we heard him as the voice of Barry in 2016’s Sausage Party, which could also be considered a rite of passage story… for groceries. But our first introduction to him was as George Michael Bluth in Arrested Development, premiering in 2003. He was son to Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), who worked hard to keep his dysfunctional family together. Arrested Development went off the air after three seasons, even though it won six Emmy Awards during its reign on TV. But it was so missed, it was revived for a fourth go around by Netflix in 2013. And word is that a fifth season is in the cards.
Where he got his start: We can give Brampton credit for bringing us this fine, young gentleman. Michael was a child actor, getting his start on the Canadian comedy My Best Friend is an Alien, starring in three episodes.
Where to find him next: He’s been cast in the Twin Peaks revival, premiering May 21 on Showtime.
5. William Shatner
Where we know him from: The original Star Trek TV series aired in 1966, with William Shatner leading us on an exploration through the galaxy as Captain James T. Kirk. The series has become such a pop culture phenomenon, but surprisingly there were only three seasons. Even so, its legacy carries on, with multiple generations celebrating 50-plus years later.
Where he got his start: Shatner grew up in Montreal. He was a classically trained actor, joining the Canadian National Repertory Theatre in Ottawa and performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the 1950s. Before making the move to Hollywood, Shatner starred in the Canadian film Butler’s Night Off in 1951.
Where to find him next: He’ll always be Captain Kirk to us, but we can listen for him as the voice of The Overseer in 2017’s animated film Malevolent, and as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the animated video Batman vs. Two-Face, also scheduled for release in 2017.
6. Nathan Fillion
Where we know him from: Nathan Fillion took on the role of Richard Castle in the comedic crime drama Castle in 2009. He played a mystery novel writer, who put his instincts to use in solving actual crimes with NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). The show ran for eight seasons, ending just last year. Prior to joining the long-running series, Nathan was a regular on American TV, starring in shows like Firefly (2002-2003), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2003) and Desperate Housewives (2007-2008).
Where he got his start: Nathan was born and raised in Edmonton. He made his way to American TV when he was offered a role on the soap opera One Life to Live in 1995.
Where to find him next: Castle may have come to an end, and rather unexpectedly, but Nathan is doing just fine. He’s set to star in the much-anticipated Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, premiering on February 3.
7. Cobie Smulders
Where we know her from: Cobie Smulders is from Canada and played a Canadian on the fan favorite show How I Met Your Mother. And a very proud Canadian at that, making regular references to growing up playing hockey (her dad wanted a boy) in in her Canadian hometown. Her character, Robin Scherbatsky, was also a teen pop star in Canada, but that was something she tried to downplay. Of course, friend Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) dragged it out of her, which we’ve provided above for your viewing pleasure. How I Met Your Mother ran for nine seasons, from 2005-2014.
Where she got her start: Cobie grew up in Vancouver. One of her first jobs as an actor was in the Canadian-American production, Jeremiah, in 2002. The TV series is set in 2021, following an apocalypse that wiped out all the adults.
Where to find her next: We can look for Cobie over at Netflix, starring opposite her HIMYM co-star Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
8. Sandra Oh
Where we know her from: Oh was an original cast member on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, portraying Dr. Cristina Yang. The medical resident was driven and competitive, always craving more and hoping to be chosen for surgeries. While crazy busy and lacking sleep, she somehow made room for romance, keeping us viewers on our toes. Working in the medical profession comes with a lot of pressure and can result in a breakdown, as seen in the above clip. Sandra made her departure from the series in 2014, walking away with a Golden Globe and two Screen Actor Guild Awards for her performance.
Where she got her start: Sandra grew up in Ottawa. She was introduced to acting while still in grade school and ended up studying drama at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. In 1996, Sandra starred in the Canadian film Double Happiness, putting her on the map.
Where to find her next: We can look for Sandra in the 2018 release Meditation Park.
9. Kim Cattrall
Where we know her from: Sure, we remember Kim Cattrall from the 1987 film Mannequin, starring opposite Andrew McCarthy. But the actress’s major claim to fame was her role in HBO’s Sex in the City. She played the sexed-up Samantha Jones who, along with her three friends, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), ran around Manhattan like they owned it. While that wasn’t quite the case, Samantha did own her PR firm. And she owned her sexuality, never apologizing for her behavior. The TV series ran from 1998 – 2004, and was followed by two spinoff films in 2008 and 2010.
Where she got her start: Kim was born in Liverpool, England, and raised on Vancouver Island. She made her return to England in her tween years to live with her grandmother, eventually making her way back to Canada at 16. Following her high school graduation, Kim made her way to NYC, kicking off a successful acting career.
Where to find her next: We’re not aware of any future projects — perhaps she’s taking a well-earned rest — but Kim revisited her English roots, starring in the 2011 Comic Relief spoof, “Uptown Downstairs Abbey,” as the Countess of Grantham. And she made her return to Canada in 2014, starring in the Canadian dark comedy, Sensitive Skin, as Davina Jackson, which you can check out over at Netflix. We can look forward to seeing Kim in the Acorn TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution, premiering on January 30, 2017.
10. Matthew Perry
Where we know him from: Matthew Perry took on the role of the beloved Chandler Bing on the now classic sitcom Friends. Chandler started off as the funny guy, who always had the one-line zinger. But with the help of his friend-turned-lover-turned-wife Monica (Courtney Cox), he morphed into the sensible relationship guy. He still had Joey (Matt LeBlanc) to sway him to the dark side and make bad decisions, but, for the most part… he was reformed.
Where he got his start: Chandler, oops, we mean Matthew (he really owned that part) was born in Massachusetts but raised in Ottawa. He moved to Los Angeles at 15 to pursue an acting career. Matthew appeared in popular 1980s series like Charles in Charge, Silver Spoons, Just the Ten of Us, Highway to Heaven, Empty Nest and Growing Pains… whew, busy kid!
Where to find him next: Right now he plays Oscar Madison in the CBS series, The Odd Couple, opposite Thomas Lennon, who takes on the role of Felix Unger. Both characters are single after failed marriages, so they decide to buddy up and room together. It’s an updated version of the original The Odd Couple, made famous by Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
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