Writing the Future with Astronaut, An Interview with Shelagh McLeod

The themes writer/director Shelagh McLeod explores in Astronaut are many, and to balance between the concept of sending an elder into outer space to the challenges he faced meant figuring out what the film must focus on. 

Shelagh McLeodIn theatres July 26th
Please check local listings

Not everyone would have been able to attend the North American premiere of Astronaut last week at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. Fortunately, hot off the heels of this event are theatrical showings starting tomorrow in major cities of this very fine film. The themes writer/director Shelagh McLeod explores are many, and to balance between the concept of sending an elder into outer space to the challenges he faced meant figuring out what the film must focus on. 

For readers not aware of your work, could you please introduce yourself and the work you feel you are best known for.

My name is Shelagh McLeod, I was born in Vancouver. My family left Canada when I was six years old and we moved to the UK. I have been an actor for nearly forty years and have worked all over the world. I guess my career really started with a TV Film called ‘Cream in my Coffee’ written by the great, late, legendary writer–Dennis Potter. I played the younger version of Dame Peggy Ashcroft’s character–Jean. I did theatre, film and many TV series. One of which was Peak Practice—a lovely heartwarming series that went on for many seasons.

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[Fantasia 2019] Astronaut is What Dreams Are Made Of

The quest to fly high and leaving all those worldly concerns behind is secondary in Richard Dreyfuss’ Astronaut.

Astronaut Movie Poster (2019) starring Richard DreyfussNorth American Premiere at 2019 Fantasia Film Festival, and theatrical release on July 26 (select cities)

Richard Dreyfuss is the Astronaut in Shelagh McLeod’s debut movie about old age, dreaming big, faith, and making it into the stars. This actor is well known for such classics, namely Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Both movies helped prepare him to take on a tale about not slowing down.

This actor deserves award recognition for his performance. Angus’ (Dreyfuss) desire to keep going is much like how Sammy Hagar inspires with Van Halen’s song, “Dreams.” Although he is in the twilight of his years, he does not want to be put in the pasture. His grandson Barney (Richie Lawrence) knows it. They also both love stargazing and enjoy talking shop. When considering the elder was a civil engineer, he knows a lot of science relatable to how the universe works, life and everything else. No, the answer is not 42. Nor should it be a marker to gauge against in achieving life’s goals.

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[Victoria Film Festival ’14] Plenty of Laughs can be Found with Cas & Dylan

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Cas & Dylan Movie Poster

Not many road trip style movies are both tearfully funny and musically joyous at the same time. In Cas & Dylan, the meeting of two unlikely individuals creates a deeply moving tale and a great character building drama.

When Cas Pepper (Richard Dreyfuss) is a widowed oncologist diagnosed with a medical problem, he has a few choices to make. He can either get it treated or retire. Or, he can embark on a road trip so he can find some peace. Little does he know, a spritely young writer Dylan Morgan (Tatiana Maslany) leaps into his life and what she likes to do is cause chaos.

What makes this film wonderful to watch is that these two characters are both on a journey of self-discovery and awakenings.

Pepper is a bit of an old codger. He’s stuffy and loves his country music. Dylan, on the other hand, is a young minx who loves rock and roll. Her troubled life needs a hand. Maybe she needs a strong father-figure in her life to help guide her, and because she has been hanging out in the hospital Pepper works in, maybe she saw something in Pepper that she liked.

Writer Jessie Gabe crafted a great, layered, story that shows how the two unlikeliest of people manages to bond. Even director Jason Priestley demonstrates he knows his comedy very well. He directed for television many times and his transition to working on feature length films looks like a promising one. The way he had Maslany come to life on the screen is beautiful, and she will no doubt be a star on the rise. Dreyfuss is just as wonderful in his transformation of realizing he can be happy again.


Even the choice of bluegrass music used is a sweet touch to drive home the idea that the type of music Donnie & Marie mixed together is still reverent today. This heartwarming film with a message will no doubt change the formula for odd couple comedies still to come. All this product has to do is to break out of the film festival circuit and hit the domestic with marketing revving up everything it can do to make this film known.

5 out of 5

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