TORONTO — "Blood Quantum" star Michael Greyeyes has a hopeful outlook for how the COVID-19 pandemic may ultimately affect society.
"I think people learn through hardship. I really believe that," the actor in a recent phone interview from his Toronto home.
"I don't think we can find our courage without trouble and without suffering. So what I'm really hoping is that when things finally come back to normal — whatever that new normal looks like — that we look back and we learn to value each other, we learn to criticize the systems that aren't working for us, and that we come back as a kinder society.
"I think hardship helps people see what's really important."
The Plains Cree performer, choreographer, director and educator founded the non-profit theatre organization Signal Theatre in Toronto.
In "Blood Quantum," which was recently released on video-on-demand, he plays the police chief of a fictional First Nations community that's immune to a zombie plague.
The film's story of a mysterious outbreak has coincidentally become timely amid the novel coronavirus, reflecting the societal effects of pandemics, including xenophobia and paranoia.
Greyeyes said he had some big projects lined up just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and now they're on hold.
"I miss the work. I really, really do miss the work," Greyeyes said.
"I was working in the U.S. on a feature film called 'Wild Indian.' I was the lead in that film, and it was a crime thriller. We were supposed to finish up the last few days of filming in San Francisco and I just really want audiences to see that story.
"It's incredibly frustrating not be able to be with the filmmaker, Lyle Mitchell Corbine, and the crew to finish it, because I think it'll be a game-changer as far as content."
At the same time, Greyeyes is in support of the lockdowns and feels "some good things are happening."
He's been watching a lot of movies with his family and introduced his daughters to classics like "The Godfather" and "Pulp Fiction."
"I don't know when we'll come back to work. I hope they'll do it in a safe way," he said.
"But it reminds me of things that matter, being: Do you have a roof over your head? Are you healthy? The people you care about, are they close to you? Can you take care of them, can you provide for them?"
"So for me, the pandemic just reminded me of simple truths, simple, valuable lessons about living."
The part of life he's surprised he doesn't miss these days?
"I can live without eating at restaurants. That surprises me," Greyeyes said.
"Not a product placement or anything, but we've been getting HelloFresh for a while. And we're like, 'This is great food and we enjoy the cooking and the food is delicious.' And I'm like, 'I'd rather eat in with this stuff than go to any restaurant.'
"So I don't know if I'll be eating at as many restaurants when this thing finally turns around."