Performing Arts in Canada, summer 1995, vol 29 no 3, p 10-11.
By: Shlomo Schwartzberg
When the Degrassi TV series went off the air, its young cast had
to figure out what to do next. For Pat Mastroianni, who played the sneaky (but
charming) Joey Jeremiah on the show, that meant kicking around doing guest
spots on such series as Top Cops, Secret Service and Mr. Dress Up as well as
appearing in the occasional TV movie (Counterfeit Contessa). He even presided
over a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of a new mall. “I did it all,
man,” jokes Mastroianni.
Now Mastroianni’s days of freelance work are over, at least for awhile. The 23
year-old North York resident has the key role of Frank, a landlord who takes
over an apartment building full of eccentric characters, in the new CBC series
Liberty Street. “Frank is trying to make a name for himself,” says Mastroianni
about his character. “His field is the music industry but he’s working for his
uncle who owns the building. He’s suckered his roommate mac, into doing all
That sounds a lot like Joey Jeremiah but Mastroianni says in comparison,
“Frank is more mature, older and prepared to step on a few toes to get ahead.
Joey wasn’t up to that level of intelligence, I think,” he adds with a laugh.
“Any similarity between the two characters is what I am, the way I work, talk,
gesture with my hands, what I put into the characters to make them more real.”
He’s happy to land the Liberty Street gig, especially after failing to get
into feature films in the States. “It’s very difficult for TV actors to get an
opportunity to get a U.S. movie but I came close. They (the Americans) heard
of Degrassi but they never quite heard of Pat Mastroianni the actor,” he says.
That was a contrast with his Canadian experience where having played Joey
(from age 13 – 19), benfitted him after the series ended, leading directly to
work in industrial films such as UV and Me, about the dangers of exposure to
the sun’s ultraviolet rays. “A lot of the industrials were given to me because
of my recognition factor. [They felt] that people would listen to me.”
Mastroianni recognizes that Degrassi was an unique experience, unlikely to be
duplicated. “We were lucky with Degrassi. We hadn’t done anything quite like
that [before]. It flowed really natural because the kids didn’t know how to
act, we were being ourselves.”
Whether Liberty Street (which has just been renewed for another season) will
be as big a hit as Degrassi is anyone’s guess. It’s not as slick as other
youth oriented series currently on the air. “It’s a grungy something,” says
Mastroianni. “It’s something like Melrose Place but it really isn’t. It’s
closer to just being out of high school, more middle class and real.”
Like Degrassi, Liberty Street “will give off morals, be entertaining, be light
[and] give a good story in 23 minutes. If we keep their [the viewers’]
attention, we did our job.”