Callum Keith Rennie

Active - 1994 - 2018  |   Born - Sep 14, 1960 in Sunderland, Tyne-and-Wear, England  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction, Action, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

One of Canada's fastest-rising actors, Callum Rennie (also known as Callum Keith Rennie) came into the business at an age when most actors are considered to be heading steadily over the hill. Rennie had his breakthrough when he was 34, starring alongside Sandra Oh in Mina Shum's acclaimed Double Happiness (1994). Nominated for a Genie (Canada's equivalent of the Oscar) for his portrayal of Mark, the endearingly geeky guy who falls in love with Oh's character, Rennie was effectively introduced to audiences across Canada, many of whom wondered where he had been for so long.

Born in Sunderland, Tyne-and-Wear, England, on September 14, 1960, Rennie moved to Edmonton, Alberta, with his family when he was barely out of diapers. Raised as the second of three sons in a middle-class family, he first thought about becoming an actor at the age of 18 and began appearing in local theatre productions. Unfortunately, any career aspirations he had took a back seat to an addiction to alcohol, one that would control his life until he was 33. Drinking heavily, Rennie continued his involvement with the theatre, appearing in a number of stage productions, but his work -- which often met with substantial acclaim -- was largely overshadowed by his addiction.

Things finally began to change for Rennie in 1993, when he got into a bar fight that resulted in glass in his left eye and a vow to quit drinking. His ensuing sobriety was accompanied by a change in his career, marked by an increasing number of supporting roles on various TV programs, including a recurring spot on the CBC's My Life as a Dog, for which he won a Genie. Rennie's 1994 screen breakthrough in Double Happiness opened the door for more screen work, including Bruce McDonald's wickedly good but woefully little-seen Hard Core Logo (1997), a pseudo rock documentary that cast Rennie as an aging punk rocker. He also landed a starring role on Due South, an popular Canadian TV series that cast him as a hard-bitten Chicago cop.

In 1998, Rennie won one of the most important roles of his career to date in Don McKellar's Last Night. An acclaimed film about the end of the world, it cast the actor as a man intent on trying every possible sexual variation imaginable in the time he has left. Rennie won a Genie for his performance, which imbued the character with more charm than smarm and captured both his efficacious self-assurance and surprising awkwardness. The film also allowed the actor to collaborate again with Sandra Oh, as well as director David Cronenberg; the following year, Cronenberg cast him in a substantial role in eXistenZ.

As the 21st century began, Rennie could be seen in The Last Stop as well as Christopher Nolan's breakthrough hit Memento. He jumped back and forth between small and big-screen projects such as Bliss, Dark Angel, The Butterfly Effect, Blade: Trinity, The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, and 24, finding one of his biggest successes when he was cast in the AMC mystery series The Killing as Rick Felder.

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  • Emigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1964.
  • Went to high school with Bruce McCulloch from Kids in the Hall.
  • First took up acting at the age of 25.
  • In 1993, he almost lost an eye during a barroom brawl, which led him to give up drinking and focus on his acting career.
  • Had breakthrough film role in the Canadian feature Double Happiness (1994).
  • Attended the Bruhanski Theatre Studio in Vancouver.