Excerpted from Everything British Columbia: The Ultimate Book of Lists, a new book written by Bethany Lindsay and Andrew Weichel. Available at Chapters/Indigo, Amazon and your local bookstore.
From The Rock to Kelly Ripa, a lot of the celebrities who visit Vancouver end up heaping over-the-top praise on our city. But once in a while, Hollywood North isn’t so kind to its high-profile guests.
Here are a few actors who didn’t exactly get the star treatment.
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Stories about Shia LaBeouf’s oddball behaviour were only just starting to trickle out back in 2011 when the Transformers actor was filmed going toe-to-toe with a shirtless gentleman on Vancouver’s Granville Strip. Or as TMZ put it, “LABEOUF … PUMMELED TO THE GROUND ON VANCOUVER SIDEWALK.”
The fight didn’t noticeably hurt LaBeouf’s career, but the wave of strange stories that followed—including the time he showed up to a movie premiere with a bag over his head that read “I am not famous anymore” — might have done a teensy bit of damage.
Many proud Vancouverites like to think of their home as a world-class city. Prison Break actor Dominic Purcell had a different term: gulag. In a searing Instagram post published in May 2016, Purcell made it crystal clear how he felt about filming in Vancouver. He slammed the soggy weather, locals’ obsession with the Great Outdoors, and the “blind eye” turned to the homeless and people suffering from mental health issues. He ended with a taunting “Can’t wait to read the hate comments I get,” and upset fans didn’t disappoint. Purcell’s post was later taken down.
Arrow actor Kirk Acevado may not be the biggest name on this list, but his story was as embarrassing a blemish on the city as any. The Brooklyn native, who was born to Puerto Rican parents, said he was waiting for the Coach store on Burrard Street to open when an employee looked him up and down, asked if he intended to buy anything, and then locked the door—only to open it up when a white woman approached moments later. The incident was especially ironic, Acevado said, because of what he was wearing at the time: a T-shirt of baseball player and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson.
Many Vancouver X-Files fans remember when Judas, née David Duchovny, decided to mock the city’s soggy weather during a 1997 interview on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. The actor called Vancouver “kind of like a tropical rainforest without the tropics,” and a “very nice place if you like 400 inches of rainfall a day,” which clearly cut too close to the bone for some rain-soaked wet blankets. People wrote letters to the Vancouver Sun calling Duchovny a “wussy” who needed to “ship his ass out of here.” And the actor did just that shortly after, moving the show’s production down to sunny Los Angeles, where he could be closer to his then-wife, Téa Leoni.
KJ Apa, who plays Archie on Netflix’s hit series Riverdale, was born the same year David Duchovny put his foot in his mouth. And just two decades later, he stepped in the same minefield while trying to offer a perfectly reasonable criticism of Vancouver. During an appearance on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, Apa described the city as “kind of boring” because “everything kind of shuts early”—not an altogether unfair assessment of “No-Fun City.” Some people were mad, although the backlash was nothing compared to Duchovny’s drubbing.
Whether Wesley Snipes enjoyed Vancouver during the filming of Blade: Trinity is hard to say, but he certainly despised working on the movie—at least enough to sue the production company and director.
Among the complaints in Snipes’s lawsuit: that there were too many white people in the cast and crew (a departure from the previous two Blade films, which made an effort to employ diverse teams) and that the film’s humour, much of which came from co-star Ryan Reynolds, was “juvenile.” It was not the chummiest of sets.
Fans of raunchy early-2000s comedies might remember DJ Qualls as the lanky college student who eats soiled French toast in Road Trip. Some Vancouverites also know him as the guy who got his clock cleaned by a local cop. Qualls said the officer roughed him up during a late-night brawl on Granville Street back in 2014, even though he was, by his account, just an innocent bystander. “(Police) tackled me, busted my face and handcuffed me,” the actor tweeted. To make matters worse, Qualls also claimed he was stuck with an $800 bill for his ambulance and stitches.
Over the course of his career in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Errol Flynn became known as much for his off-screen scandals as he was for his leading roles. Without going into too much detail, let’s say the myriad allegations against him would make any modern #MeToo supporter queasy (He was also posthumously accused of being a Nazi sympathizer, though there was little evidence to back it up).
But however you feel about the swashbuckling actor, he arguably had a worse time in Vancouver than anyone—at least on the day in 1959 when he suffered a heart attack and croaked.