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Terry Fox Role Poses Challenge to Actor
Ashmore Hopes to 'Bring Across Sense of Humour'

- Sandy Garcia

Playing a superhero is nothing new to Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore, but recapturing the spirit, humanity and determination of a real-life superman was a challenge that took months of research.

Ashmore, who plays the role of Terry Fox in the CTV made for television movie Running On A Dream: The Legacy Of Terry Fox, says he didn't want to approach this acting gig as trying to portray a hero.

Instead the important thing was "to bring across his character and his sense of humour," Ashmore told Metro. "I don't think Terry Fox walked around going 'I'm a hero, I'm amazing.' But when I spoke to his family, the things they would talk about were his dedication to what he was doing, his ability as an athlete -- so those are the things I tried to bring across."

Ashmore portrays 21-year-old Fox, who from the time he embarked from St. John's, Nfld., on April 12, 1980 never gave up on his goal of running 42 kilometres a day for 143 days across Canada on one leg. With the support of his family and friends, Fox ran 5,373 kilometres until the cancer forced him to stop.

To help Ashmore in his new role, Fox's family supplied the film's production team with the runner's personal journals, written during his cross-country trek.

Ashmore immersed himself into Fox's life by talking to his brother and sister and watching documentary footage, as well as training with athlete Grant Darby, who has the same amputation as Fox, to learn how to mimic Fox's loping gait.

"I also talked to his brother and sister … watched all the documentary footage and I just sort of immersed myself in all of this information," Ashmore said. "I think the physical aspects were really difficult.

"Watching Terry Fox run is such a distinct motion, and something pretty much every Canadian's seen, so I wanted to get that right. I didn't want people to get distracted saying, 'that's not how Terry Fox did it,' and emotionally be taken out of the movie."

Now that Ashmore has finished with Terry, he's begun shooting the third instalment of the blockbuster X-Men movies, X3 and is reprising his role as Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman.

Catch Running On A Dream: The Legacy Of Terry Fox Sunday on CTV at 7 p.m.