LIFE imitated art on the set of Boychoir for actor Garrett Wareing.
The music-filled drama, from The Red Violin director Francois Girard, follows a troubled schoolboy's transition from poverty to acceptance into an elite boys' choir.
Like his character Stet, Wareing was a novice singer when he was cast in the role.
After an exhaustive search for a young singer who could act, the director decided to cast an actor with the potential to sing.
"All of the other boys (who played the members of the choir) had theatre backgrounds - they were all singers, and then there was me who had no theatre background and no singing experience," Wareing told APN.
"I trained for two weeks before we started filming at the American Boychoir School with the conductor, Fernando (Malvar-Ruiz), so I got to learn the music and while I was on set, I did sing.
"It was cool to see the possibilities that singing opens up."
Boychoir is Wareing's first feature film role. He stars opposite Hollywood heavyweights Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Debra Winger, Eddie Izzard, Josh Lucas and Glee's Kevin McHale.
"It was a very different experience. I went from crying in a bathroom on the floor covered in blood to working in Riverside Cathedral with Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates," he says, referring to his first short film role in the horror movie Sweet Dreams.
"They all welcomed me with open arms. They were so sweet to me. I was so nervous going into it, but they made me feel at home.
"Kathy Bates gives the best hugs."
Hoffman also made Wareing feel at ease on set by telling stories in between takes. Never mind that Wareing, 12 at the time, knew him only as the voice of Shifu from the animated film Kung Fu Panda.
Thankfully Wareing has since seen some of Hoffman's best films, including Tootsie and Papillon.
"He was always telling stories," he said.
"It got to the point where Francois said, 'We appreciate your stories but we need to do some filming'."
Playing an angry, orphaned 11-year-old boy, Wareing often had few lines in his scenes.
"It was very much internal, Stet's whole journey," he said.
"He didn't speak very much, so I had to show something behind the surface. Francois helped to pull that out. He's such a great director; we worked so well together."
Like all choirboys, Stet's angelic voice has a short shelf life.
"I talked to a few of the boys (from the American Boychoir School) about losing their voice and the tragedy of that," he says.
"When Stet loses his voice, it's like he's lost everything that he loved. Music loved him back when he didn't have anybody."
Boychoir opens on Thursday.
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