Keep your eyes peeled when you watch Deadpool. One St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumnus has a small but notable role during the snarky superhero’s climactic battle sequence.
“Hey!” you’re saying, “that’s Rob Hayter!”
Hayter, now based out of Vancouver, pops up as Bob when Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is trying to rescue his sweetheart Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) from the clutches of the nefarious Ajax (Ed Skrein). Ajax has a squadron of well-armed thugs acting as a repellant against the lippy martial artist. When the so-called ‘Merc with a Mouth’ unmasks Bob, he experiences a moment of recognition that surely must have been akin to what St. Albert theatre fans had.
The actor earned his chops early working with Joanne Reinbold through drama at St. Albert Catholic High School and then under Maralyn Ryan’s deft guidance for such SACT performances as Ragged Child and 3 Musketeers. The latter of those 1989 performances is where he said he got his first taste of both comedy and fight choreography, something that has since become his “bread and butter.” When the film’s stunt co-ordinator Rob Alonzo needed a stunt performer who could carry his own with the noted smart aleck Reynolds, Hayter was the name that came up.
And he loved every second of it, even before the film ever went into production.
“Some of my friends had worked on the test footage, which eventually became the ‘leaked’ trailer… so I kind of saw it all coming down the pipe,” he began.
“It was just so fascinating and refreshing to watch how these guys defied how the traditional Hollywood productions approached the making and promoting of the film. It was a total passion project, and as an artist, I really respected that – and it was such a Deadpool way of doing it.”
This wasn’t the first time that he got to work with men in tights and capes. He did stunt work on both Superman projects Man of Steel and Smallville on TV. There was also Arrow and Watchmen, though he says he’s more of a Batman guy, stipulating “not the movies as much as the comics.”
“I think my favourite comic book project is the one I’m working on right now. It’s based on a Vertigo Comics character called “Lucifer.” I’m the stunt co-ordinator on the show, and it stars this British actor Tom Ellis, who is fantastic. Basically, the devil decides to shut down hell and moves to Los Angeles. Because where else would you go if you were the devil, right?”
While it’s always good to be working and have things on the go, it’s the hubbub surrounding Deadpool that offers him a moment to rest on his laurels even briefly. The movie, released on Feb. 12, has spent the last three weekends at the number one spot at the box office, raking in a worldwide total of more than $600 million on an estimated $58 million budget. That’s gangbusters business by any accounting standards.
And there’s Hayter standing proud as one of the exclamation marks in this brash expletive-filled ultraviolent action comedy.
“Honestly, I was just so proud to be a part of this project even before it hit the theatres. Working with Ryan and (director) Tim Miller was fantastic. The stunt team that Rob Alonzo and Phil Silvera brought together was exceptional, and the way this whole project has been approached from the very start – original, timely, creatively driven – it was totally a pleasure. If it had tanked, I’d still feel the same way. These guys put their hearts into it. You can’t lose like that…”
It also set a new standard for creating and building up interest in a film project in his eyes. It was an exceptional product, he said: witty, intelligent and well crafted. It respected the source material and its fans. It didn’t let anyone down, let alone him. He said that he was “super glad to have been just a teeny little part of it.”
“I really feel like these guys broke the mould with this one,” he continued. “To me, I think this film will go down in history as the film that marked the start of a new era in film/TV – a new way of making and promoting films to a new audience. This one was built for all the bloggers and the YouTubers and the gamers, for the folks that read graphic novels and watch Netflix. It’s the generation of people that I think Hollywood hasn’t caught up to yet.
While there’s already talk of a sequel, it’s yet uncertain at this point if Hayter will bring “Bob” or any other cartoony character back to cinematic life.
“Oh geez… wouldn’t that be cool?” he mused. “I know I’ve thought about it. Don’t know if anyone else has. I sure hope so…”