Shawn Ashmore news information gallery media print forums main

The Toronto Sun

Ashmore Brings Le Guin Character to Life
- Murtz Jaffer

Shawn Ashmore isn't a sparrow. He's a Sparrowhawk.

The 25-year-old actor from Burnaby, B.C., plays aspiring wizard Ged in the TV movie Earthsea.

The special, based on Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard Of Earthsea and The Tombs Of Atuan novels, airs tomorrow and Sunday in a four-hour, two-part mini-series at 9 p.m. on SPACE.

Ashmore's character Ged also is bestowed with the wizard's title of Sparrowhawk, given to him by mentor and master wizard Ogion (Danny Glover). Ashmore says the bird and his character should be taken seriously.

"It's not a sparrow! It's a sparrowhawk!" he said. "It actually kills sparrows, as far as I know... I'll stand behind a sparrowhawk."

Earthsea is a familiar tale of good versus evil.

In the story, Ged/Sparrowhawk struggles to find himself and perfect the wizardry skills he has been blessed with, much to the chagrin of his blacksmith father.

Ged's powers are needed to save the magical land from the personal ambitions of King Tygath (Sebastian Roche). Ashmore says that Ged's inner demons are what drew him to Le Guin's books and the character he plays.

"Ged becomes a man through different challenges, but the challenges that he really has to get through are the ones that he brings upon himself, which we all do."

The accessibility of the characters will help the mini-series appeal to an audience wider than just hardcore fantasy fans, Ashmore said.

"It is a great story about people learning who they are through discovery, through knowing each other, through a journey... that's great storytelling," he said. "I think there's something for everybody."

This is the Canadian's first lead role, and he said the workload was demanding.

"Physically it was tough because the hours were crazy," he said. "There was added pressure because it was a chance to be the guy that people remember from a project. There were a lot of nerves at the very beginning."

While the miniseries is prepared to face criticism for its similarities to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, there are also significant differences, according to Ashmore.

The actor said that Le Guin's American background helped her recognize society's multiculturalism, whereas Tolkien's world was segregated (although he was quick to point out that neither style was right or wrong, just that there was a difference). He also said that Le Guin's books were written 50 years before Rowling's.

"So she (Le Guin) had that idea about a young wizard going to school first," he said.

Ashmore worked alongside veteran actors Glover and Isabella Rossellini for the special, and continued his streak of romantic storylines with young Hollywood starlets. In Earthsea he stars opposite Kristen Kreuk (of Smallville fame) and this follows his work with Anna Paquin in X-Men.

Tough job, eh?

"It never gets old! I am not single (I have been dating a girl for the last year) but it never gets old," he said.

Ashmore is currently working on his latest project, in which he plays Terry Fox for a CTV movie that will air in the fall. He hasn't left the world of fantasy film behind, however, as he will stay on in the role of Bobby Drake/Iceman in X-Men 3, which begins shooting in August.

"I am trying to mix it up," he said of his on-screen roles.

The Toronto Sun