At Torontoist we love Q&As and profiles, but sometimes asking a whole bunch of people the same set of questions can be even more revealing. So that’s what we decided to do.
Atom Egoyan is a renaissance man. He has already proven himself a master of the moving picture, with titles like The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat, and Chloe, prestigious film festival awards, and even a few Oscar nominations. Now, he’s taking away the luxury of the retake, and going dramatic with Martin Crimp’s Cruel and Tender, on now at the Bluma Appel Theatre with Canadian Stage (starring his wife, Arsinée Khanjian), and operatic with Richard Strauss’s Salome with the Canadian Opera Company in 2013.
It also turns out that he’s a trained classical guitarist. Here’s more you didn’t know about one of Canada’s leading visionaries…
1 What do you regard as the favourite quality you possess?
Curiosity. I just like to know what’s happening, to check out new music, new artists, new theatre. I don’t exist in my own world, I like to see what other artists are creating around me. I find it really inspiring to be around other creative energy.
2 Would you rather have the power of invisibility or of flight?
Invisibility for sure. As a writer, of course. I wouldn’t be able to observe other people’s lives by flying. And I could just fly on a plane to all the cities that I wanted to be invisible in.
3 For you, what would a bad day look like?
A day with absolutely no creative prospects whatsoever.
4 What virtue do you most admire in another person?
Openness. And passion.
5 What is one possession you deeply regret losing?
My first pet rabbit when I was young. I’m still dealing with the scars from that. His name was Bugsy. My heart still lumps up when I see posters for missing pets.
6 Which historical personage do you most admire?
George Orwell—his fierce intelligence, his ability to write well, his clear thinking, sense of humour, passion, curiosity, all those things I mentioned before.
7 What’s your greatest disappointment?
That I wasn’t able to pursue music more seriously. I studied classical guitar and thought about doing that at one point, but then went down a different path. I’ll never play as well as I wanted to. I still keep my fingernails on my right hand long and on my left hand short, because that’s how you keep them to play classical guitar. And sometimes other guitarists notice and ask me if I play, and I say “Yes, but not really anymore.” They probably just think I do a lot of cocaine.
8 If you could have one natural gift what would it be?
Languages. I wish I had the ability to speak different languages. I’ve been to a lot of places where I wished I spoke more than just English and French, and my French is not even that good.
9 What’s something in your pockets right now?
A cell phone, a schedule for rehearsals, a wallet with a magnifying glass. I think that’s it. No weapons.
10 Words you live by?
Probably, “Do unto others.” That’s a big one. I’m aware of the dangers with that though, because there are some people that don’t want to be treated the way you would treat yourself. But it’s a good place to start.