Degrassi heartthrob can rock 'em, sock 'em

(Posted Date: Friday, May 5, 2006)

By Lorianna De Giorgio

Even over the telephone, you can tell John Bregar is a young actor eager to make a name for himself in the highly competitive entertainment industry.

The 21-year-olds voice is confident and its clear to the person listening on the other end that by choosing to embrace roles many young actors might shy away from, Bregar has the chance of becoming the countrys next entertainment sweetheart.

A self-described “introverted extrovert,” Bregar has gone from playing an openly gay teenager on the popular teen drama, Degrassi: The Next Generation to one hockey legend Bobby Clarke in the CBC miniseries, Canada Russia 72.

“It was a little bit scary for me at first,” said the North York resident about playing the gay teen Dylan Michalchuk on Degrassi. “I was nervous about the first kiss on national TV.”

While some people critiqued the controversial kiss between Bregar and his onscreen boyfriend for being too racy for a teen drama, Bregar felt the role helped to shed light on a reality some teens face.

Its a dream role, he said, adding its an eye-opening experience to play a realistic version of a gay teen rather than a stereotypical version.

Bregar and Adamo Ruggiero, who portrays Dylans boyfriend, were eventually nominated for an award at the 15th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards in 2004 for their roles on Degrassi. The two were also profiled in the gay and lesbian newsmagazine, The Advocate later that year.

“Degrassi is known for being very real and uncandy-coated, if you will,” said Bregar, who has played Dylan for four years. “I think its always important for an actor to take on challenging roles, to take on roles that mean something and have an effect on people.”

Playing hockey legend Clarke in the miniseries, Canada Russia 72 was also a dream role, said Bregar, adding it was a challenge having to learn how to shoot a hockey puck left-handed.

The miniseries, which aired April 9 and 10 on CBC, profiled the famed 1972 hockey summit series between Team Canada and the Russian hockey team.

Since beginning his acting career at the age of 11 in his elementary schools production of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, Bregar has gone on to play a small part in the feature film Against the Ropes with Meg Ryan.

“It (acting) was a part of me for my whole life. It was a natural talent that I needed to explore. Id love to one day be a cross between a Matt Damon and a Johnny Depp,” said Bregar, who started acting professionally in grade 12.

This summer, Bregar will join several other actors who will be team captains for Presenting Our Vision, a non-profit film camp that provides underprivileged youths with an opportunity to learn filmmaking skills.

“I feel honoured and blessed to be able to go back and teach kids about the art that I love and that I want to do for the rest of my life,” he said.

While his acting career is thriving, Bregar still lives at home with his parents and brother. Living at home has its perks, he said. In addition to having his meals cooked and his laundry done, the support and encouragement he receives from his family helps him maintain his determination to make it big.

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