When Claire Stollery was just four years old, she went to see Les Miserables on stage. Even then, the Calgary native knew that is what she was meant to do. The actress who played Cosette was just a little girl, and was just like her, and she realized that she could do that too. That fateful day was when Claire Stollery realized she wanted to be an actress. She has never looked back.
Now, years later, Stollery is a sought-after actress, with unparalleled comedic abilities. She has spent years making people laugh on both the big and small screen with her work in Who is Hannah, True Dating Stories, and Man Seeking Woman, to name a few.
“My favorite part of being an actress is the unknown. Every job is different, the people are different, the challenges are different. It’s exciting,” said Stollery. “I get to play dress-up and say and do things we aren’t allowed to in the real world. And no one gets mad at me for doing those things? And people will pay me for it? Amazing, sign me up!”
Stollery once again showed her comedic chops to audiences around the world last year in the film Love in the Age of Like. The film follows Courtney, a young professional woman trying to decide whether or not to break up with her boyfriend because he hasn't "liked" any of her social media posts. The story immediately connected with Stollery.
“My character is a version of everyone’s neurotic self in a relationship. Social media is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to dating. In what other time could you see videos of your ex’s wedding on Instagram? Or see pictures of what your new boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend had for breakfast? It’s a breeding ground for insecurities that can make anyone go crazy! That’s really the crux of my character: a woman who thinks her incredible boyfriend doesn’t actually like her because he never ‘likes’ any of her social media posts. To say she takes things to the ‘nth degree is an understatement,” she described.
Stollery’s portrayal of Courtney has resonated with audiences around the world. After premiering at the Edmonton International Film Festival last year, the film went on to be selected for the Cleveland International Film Festival, Bahamas International Film Festival, Edmonton International Film Festival and Canadian Film Fest. None of this could have been possible without Stollery’s commitment to the role.
“It’s an exciting moment when you finally get to see a project that you worked on, maybe years before, with an audience. Specifically, for this film, it was great to see how well it was received. It’s so nerve racking being a part of the audience because when a big crowd watches a comedy it becomes glaringly obvious if the jokes land or not. There is no ambiguity, you know how the audience feels. But everyone loved it, we got a ton of laughs and thankfully that wasn’t a problem! I was so proud of the film. Sacha Moric, the Director of Photography, is an absolute genius with the camera and made the film look stunning. I love that the industry is making visually beautiful comedies now and not just saving that for the gritty dramas.”
Although knowing each other for years, Stollery and the Director of the film, Ted Bezaire, had never worked together. However, when Bezaire saw Stollery’s demo reel, he knew he needed her in his film. Initially, Stollery was supposed to play the best friend, and another actress was going to play Courtney. However, before starting filming, Stollery took over the lead role, and Bezaire believes this helped make the film the success it was.
“It was a real pleasure to work with Claire on Love in the Age of Like. She brought the character of Courtney off of the page, and gave her life. Claire was always up for trying new ways to approach a scene and open to direction. I hope that we'll be able to work together again in the future. Claire has a real natural presence on screen and that is mainly due to her great talent as an actress. Her improv skills are top notch and that really helps when doing a comedy. She was able to think on her feet and make the scene better, sometimes in the middle of a take. Her comedic skills are also matched with a real emotional depth, making her characters so much more engaging. It's a tough balancing act, but Claire is able to pull it off and make it look effortless,” said Ted Bezaire.
When Stollery took over the role of Courtney, actor Jamie Spilchuk played the best friend. At first, they thought it would change the dynamic of the film too much not having the relationship between two girlfriends. However, the casting choice ended up making the film much funnier, having the lines come from a gay/male perspective. In the end, Stollery was incredibly grateful for the chance to play Courtney and across from Spilchuk, and to take on a character with a bit more depth.
“Although the subject matter is seemingly shallow and silly, Ted wanted our performances to be grounded and the stakes to be really high for the characters. He didn’t want us to be caricatures, otherwise the message would have been lost. I think that was important for the comedy. And what a treat to be able to play this vulnerable, frail, woman on the verge of relationship deconstruction. It’s not too often that a lead is allowed to be so high-strung and funny. So, naturally, I loved doing it,” she said.
The most important thing for Stollery, however, was sharing the message behind the film.
“The story definitely sheds some light on how our generation holds social media as gospel. It really emphasizes the disconnect between appearance and reality and how those two are often misinterpreted as each other. We are starting to see a lot more discussion about how social media is causing depression and anxiety in our younger generations. I can’t even imagine going through high school or middle school and having to deal with social media. I really feel for them because there’s a lot of added pressure on top of growing up and everything that goes with it. When I was in middle school and high school I didn’t get invited to all the parties, but I also didn’t have to see what I was missing on snap chat. So as much as the film is heightened and the characters are being ridiculous in silly situations, it is real and topical, yet funny. And I’m sure there are girls out there who have broken up with a lovely guy because he hasn’t liked her posts!” Stollery concluded.