Jonathan Torrens never expected he’d be the hero of the Nova Scotia film and television industry. But he sprang to its defence when the government announced they’d be cutting the province’s tax credit in the newest budget, effectively killing a burgeoning community of creative people. A recent full day of rallies in Halifax—with Torrens addressing the crowd from on-stage—led to the Liberal government backing off on some of its proposed changes. There is still a lot of talking between sides to take place, but things aren’t as dire as they were a few short weeks ago.
“I have so many things that I’d rather be doing, I did not want to take this on,” Torrens tells TV, Eh? “But I said from the get-go that I would not be speaking up if I didn’t know in my heart and see in my town that it’s working.”
When he’s not fighting for the future of the craft he loves, Torrens is starring in one of several projects. He’s set to return to Trailer Park Boys to play J-Roc next month, followed by Season 5 of Mr. D, and is one-half of the hit podcast Taggart and Torrens with former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart.
His latest TV project—Game On, debuting tonight on YTV—finds Torrens in a familiar setting, portraying a sports commentator named Bob opposite The Daily Show‘s Samantha Bee as Geri. The duo serve as offbeat play-by-play reporters for the life of Toby Martin (Grayson Gurnsey, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell), an awkward 14-year-old whose most embarrassing moments and personal triumphs are noted in Game On.
“I feel like I’ve done the ‘guys in sport coats’ thing, so that it was a woman, and that it was Samantha Bee specifically, and that it was directed by Jacob Tierney, was the neapolitan of flavours that brought me to the table,” Torrens says with a smile. A long-standing respect for what Bee has done in her professional and personal life was a major draw, and he hoped they’d mesh during filming scenes in Montreal. The pair provide what Torrens calls “traffic copping” with dialogue describing Toby’s movement and interaction with friends Seth (Jamie Mayers) and Jessica (Alice Morel-Michaud), sister Mel (Teale Bishopric) and parents Erica (Rebecca Croll) and Jeff (Marcel Jeannin), with the opportunity to riff during the intros and extros.
The chance to ad-lib provides hilariously uncomfortable moments; in Monday’s first of 20 episodes, “Small Change,” it’s hinted Geri and Bob may have been in a relationship that fizzled because one of them “closed their borders” to the other. Having that creative space to play, Torrens explains, came via Game On‘s executive producer and director, Tierney (The Trotsky), who encouraged going off script.
“Sam is every bit as funny, cheeky and acerbic as you’d hope,” Torrens says. “But it takes somebody in the driver’s seat to say, ‘Yeah, take five seconds and pan for gold.”
Game On airs Mondays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.