Actor, screenwriter, and director Don McKellar is one of the most prolific and well-respected members of the Canadian film industry. During the 1990s, he frequently collaborated with such directors as Atom Egoyan, Bruce McDonald, David Cronenberg, and François Girard, and he did a substantial amount of work for television and the stage. In 1998, McKellar stepped behind the camera to make Last Night, which he also wrote and starred in. The film--a comedy-drama about the last night of the world--was enthusiastically received at both the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals, further establishing McKellar as a dynamic personality in both Canadian and world cinema.
McKellar was born in Toronto on August 17, 1963. After earning a BA in English and Theatre from the University of Toronto, he made both his screenwriting and acting debut in 1989's Roadkill, a Bruce McDonald film that cast him as a serial killer. He won Genie nominations for his performance and screenplay, and he went on to collaborate with McDonald two years later on Highway 61. McKellar reprised his actor-writer role for the film, starring as the lead character, a barber who finds a corpse. That same year, the he appeared in The Adjuster, his first screen collaboration with Atom Egoyan. After making his directorial debut with the 1992 Blue, which starred Cronenberg, McKellar collaborated with Girard on Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1994). Directed by Girard and co-written with him by McKellar, the film was a critical success, going on to win four Genies (Canada's equivalent of the Oscar) and a Special Jury Citation for Best Canadian Film at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival. More success followed that same year for McKellar when he starred in Egoyan's Exotica. A lush, mysterious film centering on the happenings of the titular strip club, the film featured McKellar as a gay pet shop owner, a man as low-key and moody as the movie itself.
That same year, McKellar served as the screenwriter for the similarly acclaimed Dance Me Outside, a film about Anglo-Indian tensions in Canada. After another collaboration with Egoyan--the made-for-TV Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Sarabande--as well as roles in a number of other films, he turned back to screenwriting, co-writing Il Violino rosso with Girard, who also directed the film. McKellar also acted in the film, which received decent reviews. Its reception paled in comparison to that of Last Night, which also came out (in Canada) that year. A studied contrast to the doomsday heroics of such films as Armageddon and Deep Impact (which also came out that year), Last Night took a laid-back, casually comic look at the end of the world. The film won a Prix de la Jeunesse at that year's Cannes Film Festival, as well as a number of Genies and a Best Canadian First Feature Film award at the Toronto Film Festival. It also allowed its director to step out from the shadows of his more famous mentors (McDonald, Girard, and Cronenberg all had cameos in the film) and into his own patch of limelight. In 1999, Last Night was released in the United States. Audiences could also see McKellar that year in Cronenberg's eXistenZ and in The Passion of Ayn Rand, which premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.