Sometimes the best way to truly discover what makes someone happy, and placate their curiosity on what life truly has to offer, is to let them explore what intrigues them. That’s certainly the case with the young protagonists in the new family comedy-drama, ‘The Adventure Club.’ The heroic friends’ fascination with a seemingly mythical artifact ultimately leads them to realize what kind of people they truly want to be. The pre-teens’ mentor, a local store owner who’s played by versatile actor Kim Coates, helps guide them to reconsider how their actions will not only affect them, but also influence the people they care about.

‘The Adventure Club’ was directed by Geoff Anderson, and written by Fred Ewanuick and co-star Robin Dunne. The family film is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, and is also now available On Demand and iTunes by Gravitas Ventures.

‘The Adventure Club’ follows three pre-teen friends, Ricky (Sam Ashe Arnold), Sandy (Dalila Bela) and Bill (Jakob Davies), who have formed the title Adventure Club. While looking for their latest fun expedition, they decide to search for the ancient puzzle box that Ricky’s grandfather reportedly uncovered years ago. The box is extremely valuable and sought after, because once opened, it allegedly grants the holder three wishes.

One night after dinner, Ricky finds a hidden drawer in his family’s attic, which holds a skeleton key and map. So he, Sandy and Bill decide to look for the lock that the key opens, and their search leads them to the science museum that Ricky’s mother, Jane (Gabrielle Miller), works for as the director. Since she’s busy trying to keep the museum open, her new boyfriend, Martin (Dunne), promises to look after Ricky.

But unbeknownst to Jane and Ricky, Martin, who’s an archeologist, was actually sent by a merciless criminal, Langley (Billy Zane), to find the puzzle box. But the more Martin gets to know Jane and Martin, the more he wants to protect them, and stop Langley from successfully completing his mission. Also with the help of Ozzie (Coates), the owner of a local antique store who acts as a mentor to the kids, Ricky, Sandy and Bill are able to do whatever it takes to protect the puzzle box from being stolen by the thief who plans on doing more harm than good with the wishes.

Coates generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘The Adventures Club’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actor discussed that he was interested in playing the kids’ mentor in a family film like this one, as he prefers being versatile in his roles, particularly since he was offered the part of Ozzie after he finished his arc on his hit crime drama series, ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ Coates also mentioned how he enjoys collaborating with his co-stars and the filmmakers on his projects, like Arnold, Bela, Davies and Anderson on ‘The Adventure Club,’ and how the people already attached to the projects he’s offered is an important deciding factor for him on whether he’ll accept a role.

The performer began the conversation by discussing what interested him in taking on the role of Ozzie in the inspirational family movie, which is a drastic change in image for him from some of his signature characters, including Alexander ‘Tig’ Trager on ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ “That little biker show of mine, which was a big hit, lasted seven years. So when it was over, I couldn’t wait to change things up-that’s the kind of actor I am. I couldn’t wait to get back to films full time,” Coates explained.

Coates also shared that acting, for him, has never been about the size of the role or the project he’s offered. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the lead, the third lead or the eighth lead; it’s just about the part itself, as well as the writing,” he revealed.

The performer added that “With this film, the three kid leads, Sam Arnold, Dalila Bela and Jakob Davies, called me Uncle Ozzie. So for them to call me Uncle Ozzie, who’s a curator of this old antique store that has books that are hundreds of years old and have magic potions, was great. These kids have this adventure club, and they bring Uncle Ozzie right in. There’s a secret handshake that I came up with on the set with the kids.”

Despite the difference in the storyline of ‘The Adventure Club’ from many of his previous projects, accepting the role of Ozzie “was a no-brainer, mainly because o the writing and the part. It’s so different than Trager that I couldn’t wait to inhabit (Ozzie’s) skin, and I did completely. I think I shot all of my scenes in only two days, but it was wonderful” Coates divulged.

“I don’t think the kids knew who I was, but their parents certainly did. But when I got to the set, the kids were happy to see me, and I was happy to see them. We hung out together a bit, and I had a coffee and they had chocolate milk, and we got to know each other a bit,” the actor added as he further discussed his experience of collaborating with Arnold, Bela and Davies. “We talked about what our relationships were going to be like. The kids and I hung out for those two days.

“It was terrific, but so different for me to be making a family movie. For (producers) Shayne Putzlocher and Sara Shaak from Trilight Entertainment to put this film together, and invite Billy Zane and I to the party, made it a no-brainer for me,” Coates also shared. “I had the time of my life” making the movie.

Since Ozzie’s job as the store curator is such a vital part of his life and his relationship with Ricky, Sandy and Bill, Coates’ scenes were shot on location in a real antique store in Saskatchewan, Canada, which is the province where he was born. “This was a real antiques store, but we added all kinds of knick knacks. We shut it down for two days, and we had so much fun filming there,” the performer revealed.

In addition to talking about working with the child actors on the family film, Coates also mentioned what it was like collaborating with Anderson. The actor mentioned that the filmmaker “looks like Will Ferrell, and can be his little brother, so that was a big joke that was going around the set every day.

“All of my scenes in this movie were with the three kids. So I spent my two days with the kids, as well as with Geoff, Shayne and Sara, and I had a blast,” the performer added.

Coates’ experience of working with Arnold, Bela and Bela “was all about listening and reacting, and not planning on everything we were going to say. We learned our lines, but I also ad-libbed a lot, but I don’t think I messed them up too much. They were amazing. I love inhabiting a character, and then bringing funny and different things to him. Geoff certainly let me go” on ‘The Adventure Club.’

“The storyline is really about these three kids who stumble upon this magic box. They’ve heard what it might be, and how it’s been attached to Ricky’s family for generations. They want to find and open it, because it may be filled with treasure. So they come to me with this old piece of parchment,” which has the map on it. Ozzie realizes the map has a code on it, and it somewhat scares the store owner, Coates revealed.

“This is powerful stuff, so he knows the kids shouldn’t be fooling around with this sort of thing. But I still help them out on their journey. Billy Zane plays the bad guy, and he also wants the box,” the actor noted. He added that he really appreciated Dunne and Ewanuick’s writing in the script.

Coates also appreciated the fact that ‘The Adventure Club’ has some comedy in it, and that he was able to infuse his character with humor, which makes Ozzie one of the movie’s most memorable characters. “When I get offered something like this, which I think has a comic flair to it, I immediately take it.

“I actually just finished my first sitcom,” the performer also revealed. “I’ve done about 50 or 60 movies, as well as ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and other arcs on television. I also come from the stage. I’m a method actor…so I enjoy all facets of acting,” he divulged, “but I’ve never done a sitcom before.

“But Kevin James, who’s a buddy of mine, and with whom I’ve made two movies, has been wanting me on his new show, ‘Kevin Can Wait,’ since he started it. I kept saying no, but I finally said yes,” the actor admitted.

“These sitcoms do everything in two days. They shoot 24 pages a day with four cameras and a live audience. It’s insanity, but I had such a good time. I love comedy,” Coates also shared.

While he doesn’t think that his approach to comedy and drama, whether on television or in films, is any different, Coates has certainly seen a change in the overall landscape of entertainment. “Since ‘The Sopranos’ in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and then certainly when I said yes to ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ which was my first lead as a regular, television has changed. People are not just doing films anymore; they’re also doing television and commercials. There aren’t any rules anymore,” the performer noted.

“When I first started acting in the early ’90s, you couldn’t do television; you had to work in films or on the stage, which I did. I did ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ Broadway, and was also the youngest Macbeth at Stratford,” the actor acknowledged. He added that the stigma of television has changed recently, as better series have repeatedly been brought to the small screen.

Coates then discussed his experience of working on the 2001 war film, ‘Black Hawk Down.’ He praised the drama’s helmer, Ridley Scott, who he called “one of the greatest directors ever. We filmed that movie in Morocco for five months, and sometimes we would only shoot one page a day,” the performer revealed. “But then when you shoot a sitcom, and you film 24 pages in a day. So that’s one aspect that’s different between films and television.”

The actor also mentioned that when he shot ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ it “was such a well-written and well-acted show. But those were horrendously difficult days for the cast and crew. We shot in 110 degree weather in L.A., for 16 hours a day. The actors were all wearing leather and riding motorcycles. The toughness of the script and the show is what it’s all about.”

Also speaking of whether or not filming television shows and movies independently on location changes his approach to acting, as opposed to when he’s working on a bigger studio project, Coates admitted “It depends on the project. When you’re filming in Paris in spring, versus filming in northern Ontario in January, there’s a difference. One’s freezing, and the other’s absolutely beautiful,” the performer said with a laugh.

Coates added that he’s never taken a job based on where and how the project’s going to be filmed. “I always take the job based on the part and the script, and also who’s directing. I then find out where we’re going, and how long I’m going to be there…So I just base every job on the script, the part and the people. Then they tell me where we’re going, and I embrace it,” the actor explained.

With ‘The Adventure Club’ now playing in both select theaters across the U.S., as well as On Demand and iTunes, the actor explained why he thinks the VOD platform is beneficial for independent films like this one. “I don’t think (VOD) going anywhere better anytime soon, especially for independent films. If you go to a movie theater, 70 to 80 percent of the movies playing there are massive blockbusters. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, because I’ve been in massive blockbusters.

“But for little movie like ‘The Adventure Club,’ (or his indie films) ‘Officer Downe,’ ‘Strange Weather’ and ‘The Land,’ which are incredible projects, they can play at a few theaters for a couple of weeks. But (indie filmmakers) don’t have the money to advertise, and compete against the Marvel movies,” the performer explained.

“People who know me know this is why film festivals are paramount to me. That’s where ilmmakers get to show their movie to people who want to see real films. They can talk about, and review, them, and then maybe the movies will be bought and shown in theaters. If they’re not, they will go to VOD, Netflix and eventually DVD, and that’s the only way they can make their money back,” Coates noted. “I’m so happy to be a part of for all of my smaller movies, like ‘The Adventure Club.'”

Now with ‘The Adventure Club’ playing in select theaters and On Demand, Coates has several other upcoming films that he’s happy to also be promoting. On February 28, ‘Officer Down’ will be released on DVD, after it was released on VOD late last year.

“I also have the beautiful movie, ‘Strange Weather,’ with Holly Hunter, which I filmed last year,” and is set to open this spring. “I also have ‘Goon: Last of the Enforcer,’ the sequel to ‘Goon,’ the hockey movie I did a few years ago. It opens everywhere in North America on March 17,” the performer divulged.

Coates will also be seen in the Netflix Western mini-series, ‘Godless.’ “We filmed it last summer in Santa Fe. We have a massive cast, and it’s a Scott Frank written and directed project,” he shared. I also have another mini-series, which is called ‘Bad Blood,’ which I’m starring in with Anthony LaPaglia and Paul Sorvino. It’s based on a true story, and it’s about mobsters in Montreal. It’s set to come out in the fall.”

Watch the official trailer for ‘The Adventure Club’ below.

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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