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Paul GrossWho is Paul Gross?

He is a Canadian actor, writer and director.

Where have I seen him before?

On TV, on the stage, in movies and campaigning on behalf of the Canadian film and television industry.

Before due South, which brought him worldwide acclaim, Paul's appearances on the big and small screens included: Chasing Rainbows, Aspen Extreme, Cold Comfort, Getting Married in Buffalo Jump, Whale Music, XXXs and 000s and Buried on Sunday. He played Brian Hawkins in the critically acclaimed miniseries "Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City".

Since due South ended in 1998, Paul has set up a production company, Whizbang Films Inc, with Frank Siracusa. Along with guest appearances in The Red Green Show and The Eleventh Hour he has starred in Murder Most Likely; Men With Brooms (which saw his directorial debut and achieved the highest English Canadian box office in 20 years); mini-series Slings & Arrows; political dramas H2O and The Trojan Horse which he co-wrote; the TV series Eastwick; and, of course, feature film Passchendaele which he wrote, directed and starred in. He is a tireless supporter and promoter of Canadian culture.

Go here for more on Paul's career highlights.

Family background

  • Men With BroomsBorn: 30 April 1959, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Mother: Renie Gross, art historian and author of "Dinosaur Country"
  • Father: Bob Gross, retired tank commander in the Canadian Army
  • Brother: Tony (younger)
  • Wife: Martha Burns, actress
  • Children: Jack and Hannah

Paul's parents now divide their time between Edmonton and the family ranch on the edge of southern Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park. Bob, described by Paul as being one of the few pacifist officers in the Canadian military, now runs a small publishing company, Badlands Books.

Childhood

As an army brat, Paul and his family rarely spent more than two years in one place. They lived in England, Germany and the USA before settling back in Canada in the 1970s. Besides Calgary, Alberta, Paul has lived in the province of New Brunswick and in Toronto, Ontario.

Education

As Geoffrey Tennant in Slings & ArrowsWhile living in Camberley, England, Paul attended Cheswyks School in nearby Frimley Green. He left after two years, speaking with a proper British accent and able to use a butter knife. "I always say I was civilised by England," he has jokingly said.

Around 1969 or 1970 he lived in New Brunswick while his father was stationed at Gagetown with the Dragoons. He moved to Washington during his early teens and his drama teacher gave him the inspiration to work as an actor. Paul also began a study of the world's major religions during this time.

He finished high school at the Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario. He spent the summer working as a gofer at the Stratford Festival box office when he was 16. It was there that he heard of the reputation of the University of Alberta's acting program. Neal Watson of the Edmonton Sun wrote:

"He was already leaning toward a career as an actor - any profession that required math was already out."
Paul adds:
"Somewhere after long division, I stopped doing math. That cut off the sciences. I decided I probably should try acting."

He studied acting at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and left in 1980 during his third year, choosing instead to pursue his career as an actor and playwright. He went back later to complete the half-credit needed to receive his fine arts degree.

Whizbang FilmsCan I write to him or email him?

You can write to Paul by snail mail only - so please don't write in asking for his email address! (We don't do autographed photos of Paul either.)

Paul Gross
Whizbang Films Inc.
24 Ryerson Avenue, 4th Floor
Toronto, ON M5T 2P3

To contact Whizbang Films Inc visit their website or click Tel 416 516-5899; Fax 416 516-9550.

What awards has he won?

  • Receiving his 2004 Gemini1981 Alberta Culture competition (The Deer and the Antelope Play)
  • 1982 Clifford E. Lee award (The Deer and the Antelope Play)
  • 1982 Alberta Culture competition (The Dead of Winter)
  • 1985 Dora nomination for Best Performance (Romeo and Juliet)
  • 1986 Gemini nomination for Best Writing in a TV Drama (In This Corner)
  • 1988 Dora for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Featured Role (Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme)
  • 1995 and 1996 Gemini for Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (due South)
  • 1998 Gemini for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series (with John Krizanc) (due South)
  • 2003 Canadian Comedy Award for Pretty Funny Direction (Men With Brooms)
  • 2004 Gemini for Best Performance By An Actor In A Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (Slings & Arrows)
  • 2005 ACTRA Award Of Excellence (pictures here, here and here)
  • 2005 Canadian Screenwriting Award "MOW & Miniseries" (with John Krizanc) (H2O)
  • 2005 Monte Carlo Television Festival Nymphe d'Or for Best Performance By An Actor In A Mini Series (H2O)
  • 2005 Directors Guild of Canada Award for Outstanding Team Achievement in a Television Movie or Mini-Series (H2O)
  • 2007 Gemini for Best Actor in a Drama Series (Sling & Arrows)
  • 2008 Genie for Best Motion Picture (with Niv Fichman, Francis Damberger and Frank Siracusa) (Passchendaele)
  • 2009 NBC Universal Canada Award of Distinction
  • 2009 National Arts Centre Award (The Governor General's Performing Arts Awards) for exceptional achievement over the past performance year
  • 2009 Directors Guild of Canada Award for Team Feature Film (Passchendaele)
  • 2009 National History Society Pierre Berton Award (Passchendaele)

due South won Geminis for Best TV Movie in 1995 and Best Dramatic Series in 1995, 1996 and 1997. It also won the Chrysler's Canada's Choice Award in 1996, 1997 and 1999 and a host of other writing/directing and other awards in each year.

Martha Burns and Paul Gross in Slings & ArrowsIs he married?

Paul married award-winning actress Martha Burns in September 1988, having met her while they were both performing in Walsh at the The National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Burns was an Indian Princess and Gross was a mountie. At the time of their wedding Paul was finishing work on Getting Married In Buffalo Jump and Martha was appearing in a production of Blood Wedding. Martha is a founder of the Toronto Arts For Youth Association and the Soulpepper theatre company. They now have two children, Hannah and Jack, born in 1990 and 1994. The family shares a home with Chester, their golden retriever, in Toronto.

What kind of music does he listen to?

Find out here! And in a 2009 Eastwick interview, he said: ""I'm completely indiscriminate when it comes to music; I like everything. But at the moment, I've been listening nonstop to Kings of Leon. And I'll flip-flop back and forth between rock and classical. I'm fond of the Romantic Era."

What do other people think of him?

  • "Paul is a kid who refuses to grow up, and everything and everybody is a new experience. Wonder is what he always has in his eyes and in his work, and he never shuts down that wonder for life and how life works and how it goes around." (David Keeley, actor/musician)
  • "Paul's very poised. He's not pushy. And he's very respectful of other actors." (Gordon Pinsent, actor)
  • Paul GrossHe was given the nickname "tank commander" by Callum Keith Rennie, referring to his role as Executive Producer on due South.
  • "He's on all the time. He's constantly kibitzing and doing stand-up routines and pratfalls. He's like a kid - he has to be the centre of attention. But he's very well liked; it's a giant love-in." (A crew member on the set of due South)
  • "He's just really, really smart. Plus, he's very honest. He's one of those guys who will say things that people are thinking but wouldn't have the gumption to say out loud. He's a bit of a cowboy, but an intellectual cowboy. It's not that he misbehaves in any standard way. He doesn't go out womanizing or doing heroin or anything." (Paul Quarrington, writer)
  • "Mr Gross played [Fraser] impeccably; his spirit of cooperation and collaboration were top notch, and I truly enjoyed every moment we spent together." (Paul Haggis, creator of due South; writer of the Million Dollar Baby screenplay; Oscar-winning writer/director of Crash)
  • "He's a very fast typist." (Martha Burns)

What makes him laugh?

As Chris Cutter in Men With BroomsPaul grew up liking British comedy shows such as The Goons, Monty Python and The Young Ones. This clever and sometimes broad humour - as well as the influence of Leslie Nielsen - may have rubbed off on him. Nielsen and his whoopee cushion made several appearances on due South.

What has Paul written?

His first play was The Deer and the Antelope Play, which took shape on the napkins he would scribble on during the slow periods when he worked as a waiter at a restaurant in 1980. This play eventually garnered him his first awards as a playwright. His second play, The Dead of Winter, was the first of his plays to be mounted by a professional company, The Toronto Free Theatre, receiving critical acclaim when it opened in October 1982.

Thunder, Perfect Mind, was Paul's fourth play to be produced, in November 1985, and was an experiment in theatre described as a sci-fi musical and a multi-media extravaganza. It was a very ambitious attempt at something new in the theatre that left too much to the use of gizmos and powerful images and fell flat when it came to the dialogue. "It was a mess," admitted Paul. Paul's mother has shared her recollections of Thunder, Perfect Mind at badlandsbooks.com.

Paul in 1986In 1986 Paul was invited to be playwright-in-residence at the Stratford Festival by artistic director John Neville, a position he also held at The Grand Theatre Company, under artistic director Robin Phillips. At Stratford he worked on a script called Sprung Rhythm, also called Inner Sea, which he had begun at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 1984. The story of a megalomaniacal heart surgeon, it was later reworked and retitled and finally produced as Buchanan at Toronto Free Theatre in October-November of 1986. It didn't fare well in the eyes of the critics, unfortunately, and Paul left playwriting to pursue the more lucrative area of writing for television.

Paul was nominated for a Gemini award for his screenplay for the 1986 drama In This Corner, a film about an Irish boxer mixed up in terrorism. The film was directed by Atom Egoyan and produced for the On The Record series for CBC. Paul also wrote the screen adaptation for the 1993 Egoyan film Gross Misconduct, based on the book of the same name about the life and death of hockey player Brian "Spinner" Spencer. It won top awards at the 1993 San Francisco and Geneva film festivals.

Paul was writer/co-writer on several episodes of due South, including Mountie On The Bounty (Part 2), which won the 1998 Gemini for Best Writing in a Series. He and John Krizanc went on to write the 2003 movie Men With Brooms and the TV political dramas H2O (2004) and its sequel The Trojan Horse (2008).

The writing achievement that Paul is most likely to be proud of is the screenplay for the award-winning Passchendaele (2008), a movie based on his grandfather's harrowing experiences in the WW1 trenches.

What's Paul doing now?

Please see our News page.

Is there a Paul Gross fan club?

No. We do have, however, a worldwide mailing list, the PG-L. There's also a due South mailing list for fans of the show, and a due South newsgroup, alt.tv.due-south.

Is this Paul's official website?

No - PaulGross.org is run by fans. Paul drops in occasionally, though!

Where can I find more pictures of Paul?

Try Google Image Search for more!

With thanks to Sheila Boyd and the Stratford Festival of Canada Archives