Forget the Stars and Stripes, when it comes to big-screen talent, Canada has turned out an impressive number of stars over the years — from young to seasoned, and industry fledglings to those with decades of experience under their hockey jersey. While these actors have worked across all genres, they have certainly made their mark in sci-fi and the creepier genres, showing the world why Canada is so awesome. So shall we begin?
20. Hayden Christensen
Vancouver native Hayden Christensen is most recognized for his portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. While it seems that he has for the most part disappeared from the limelight, he has appeared in a few sci-fi movies since 2005's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, such as Jumper (2008) and Vanishing on 7th Street (2010). When asked why he stepped out of the limelight after the Star Wars movies, he told the Los Angeles Times:
"I guess I felt like I had this great thing in 'Star Wars' that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me."
Christensen continues to act, most recently starring opposite Kate Bosworth in the 2015 drama 90 Minutes in Heaven.
19. Bruce Greenwood
Son of Quebec, Bruce Greenwood has had a long career in both film and TV, getting his big break in The Beachcombers TV series in the late '70s, and most recently appearing in Star Trek Into Darkness as Captain Pike. He also co-starred in the Will Smith vehicle I, Robot and provided the voice of Bruce Wayne in the animated TV series Young Justice. Add the coming sci-fi thriller Spectral to the list and it's easy to think of Greenwood as a Canadian sci-fi kingpin.
18. Natasha Henstridge
Natasha Henstridge first caught the attention of sci-fi nerds everywhere with her film debut as the alien Sil in 1995's Species. Following that came the Newfoundland gal's star turn in John Carpenter's 2001 horror sci-fi Ghosts of Mars. Her next project is horror film The Black Room, due out later this year.
17. Michael Ironside
Hailing from Toronto, Frederick Reginald Ironside's career in both film and television spans decades. His most memorable sci-fi roles include 1981's Scanners, 1990's Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Highlander II: The Quickening and '90s classic Starship Troopers. Does this make him a bit of a sci-fi legend? Could be.
16. Rick Moranis
Comedian Rick Moranis is one of those talents who can make you laugh with a blink of his eye. The Toronto native cemented his place as a Canadian icon when he became one half of the McKenzie brothers (Bob, in case you don't remember). In the mid-'80s he took his unique brand of humor and quirky charm to the big screen in a little independent film called Ghostbusters, alongside fellow Canadian Dan Aykroyd, before tackling the role of Dark Helmet in Mel Brooks' 1987 Star Wars spoof Spaceballs. He has starred in 1986's Little Shop of Horrors and even voiced a familiar-sounding moose in the Brother Bear films. Moranis has since become more selective with his roles, even turning down a chance to appear in the Ghostbusters reboot, instead keeping busy with voice-over work, commercials and writing.
15. And 14. Anna Paquin And Shawn Ashmore
People often attach Anna Paquin to her adoptive home country New Zealand, but she in fact hails from Winnipeg. The Oscar winner — who won her award at the age of 11 for her role in Kiwi production The Piano — became a fixture in the X-Men franchise when she took on the role of Rogue in the film that started it all in 2000. She returned to the role in the sequels, last appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Having finished her television role as a fairy-tinged human in the vampire series True Blood, Paquin will next be seen in the thriller series Alias Grace.
Shawn Ashmore found success in the 1998 television series Animorphs before hitting the big time playing Paquin's love interest Bobby Drake, a.k.a Iceman, in the X-Men franchise.
13. Dan Aykroyd
Ottawan Aykroyd brought his unique brand of humor to the role of Dr. Raymond Stantz in Ghostbusters and makes a cameo in the new reboot. He's also been part of the successful sibling combo in The Blues Brothers (not sci-fi, but still pretty cool), with the late John Belushi. Aykroyd's quirky Canadian success in the '80s continued with Twilight Zone: The Movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and into the '90s in his memorable role as Beldar in The Coneheads.
12. Margot Kidder
Hailing from all the way up in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Margot Kidder had been plugging away at the acting game for a decade when she took on the role of Lois Lane in 1978's Superman, alongside Christopher Reeve. She also starred in scary '70s favorites The Amityville Horror and Black Christmas, before her personal battles with bipolar disorder threw her life into chaos in the late '90s. Kidder is now back on track, and her latest film, crime drama The Red Maple Leaf, was released in September.
11. Carrie-Anne Moss
When it comes to showing how badass sci-fi women can be, credit must be given to Vancouver's own Carrie-Anne Moss and her portrayal of Trinity in The Matrix franchise. Revisit her epic turn in the original Matrix HD trailer below.
Moss has also appeared in Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and has done various voice-overs, such as Aria T'Loak for the Mass Effect video game, and animated movies The Clockwork Girl and Dragon Nest: Warrior's Dawn. She can currently be seen in the Netflix series Jessica Jones as Jeri Hogarth. Really, is it too bold to say that Moss is the queen of the nerds?
10. Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox has been a household name for more than 30 years, thanks largely to his iconic role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future series. But his sci-fi rule didn't end there, with the Edmonton kid also appearing in Teen Wolf that same year. He then went on to star in Peter Jackson's The Frighteners and Mars Attacks!, both in 1996. In 1991 Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, revealing his diagnosis to the public in 1998. He has been semi-retired from acting for a number of years, instead using his celebrity to bring support and awareness to the disease.
9. Kiefer Sutherland
As the son of a famous Canadian acting dynasty, it's little wonder that Kiefer Sutherland chose to go into the family business. While Sutherland Jr. was born in the UK, for the most part he was raised in Canada, the son of Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. One of his first big roles was as David in 1987 creepy vampire classic The Lost Boys, followed a couple of years later by sci-fi horror Flatliners. Sutherland has also performed a wide variety of sci-fi voice-over work, including in Armitage III: Polymatrix, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
8. Ryan Reynolds
Doesn't he just look like the type of wholesome, polite, dashing gentleman you would want to bring home to your mom? Or mum, as it where? While we all know Ryan Reynolds as the merc with a mouth thanks to the ultra-successful Deadpool, the Vancouver lad actually took his first sci-fi footsteps in a couple of television shows, namely The Odyssey, The X-Files and The Outer Limits. And following on from his Van Wilder days, Reynolds took on big gigs with Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern — where he met his future wife Blake Lively — and Self/less. With a Deadpool sequel on the horizon, it's safe to say that Reynolds' sci-fi chops are bar none and show no sign of slowing.
7. Keanu Reeves
Despite people seeming to have a love/hate relationship with his films, generally people just love Keanu Reeves the man. While not born in Canada (he was actually born in Beirut, Lebanon), he moved to Toronto as a boy and holds Canadian citizenship. His role in the '80s time travel movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was one of his most popular roles, but his first real sci-fi big hitter was as the title character is 1995's Johnny Mnemonic. However, it was the The Matrix that propelled him to a bona fide sci-fi leading man. Constantine, A Scanner Darkly and The Day The Earth Stood Still followed the success of The Matrix in quick succession. His next project is a sequel to John Wick .
6. Cobie Smulders
When this How I Met Your Mother sitcom stalwart was tasked with the role of Maria Hill in 2012's The Avengers, she quickly became a familiar and heroic figure to the franchise. That first Avengers spot led to appearances in the Marvel show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Smulders even lending her pipes to the role of Wonder Woman in The Lego Movie. She'll next be appearing in the sequel to the Tom Cruise movie Jack Reacher this October.
5. Evangeline Lilly
Evangeline Lilly hit the big time with the success of the polarizing TV series Lost. She then appeared in 2011's futuristic drama Real Steel with Hugh Jackman. Her jump into the world of fantasy came as the character Tauriel in The Hobbit trilogy, a role that was created just for the movie version of the books. Like Smulders, Lilly held her own against her more familiar big-screen co-stars, and in 2015 took on the role of Hope van Dyne in Ant-Man. She will be reprising the role again in 2018 in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp.
4. James Doohan
I could list James Doohan's many other accomplishments, but to all sci-fi fans he will always be Scotty from Star Trek. Born in 1920 in Vancouver, outer space lost its best engineer in 2005 when he was 85 years old. Appearing not only in the movies, Doohan even made an appearance in one of the series spinoffs, Star Trek: The Next Generation, in an episode called Relics. He summed up his character best when he famously said:
"I really didn't have to work, shall we say, with Star Trek. It was a natural. When I opened my mouth, there was Scotty. It's like I tell people what you see in Scotty is 99 percent James Doohan and 1 percent accent."
3. Christopher Plummer
Toronto class act Christopher Plummer's career in film and television began in 1953 and continues today. Immortalized as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Plummer has enjoyed a varied career punctuated with sci-fi appearances including 1978's Starcrash and Dreamscape in 1984. But it is in the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, when first we meet General Chang. It was Chang's hatred of the Federation and his fondness for Shakespeare (a nod to Plummer's thespian past) that made him such a memorable character. Plummer will soon be starring in the animated film Howard Lovecraft & the Frozen Kingdom, coming out this October.
2. William Shatner
What is there to say about William Shatner that he hasn't already said about himself? Charming, suave, a bit of a smart-ass, this Montreal legend has a career spanning seven decades and multiple genres. But to all the Trekkies, he will always be just plain ol' Captain James T. Kirk. When Shatner first brought the role to life in 1966, he was already an industry veteran. Aside from Star Trek, he starred in 1977's Kingdom of the Spiders, and has lent his distinctive voice talents to Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey. He has also starred in Creators: The Past, an Italian fantasy film that came out in August
There you have it. Nineteen of the top 20 favorite Canadian sci-fi stars. So who has snagged the top spot on the list?
1. Donald Sutherland
The most famous thing to come out of New Brunswick since snow, President Snow, a.k.a Donald Sutherland, got his big, spooky break in 1964's Castle of the Living Dead opposite Christopher Lee, and has been hard at it ever since. Indeed, he practically stole the show from Katniss in 2015's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 2.
Sutherland's sci-fi screen credits are nothing short of incredible. He starred in Virus with Jamie Lee Curtis, and has performed voice-over work for Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within and for Astro Boy in 2009. Some of his most memorable sci-fi film roles have been as the lead, such as in 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He has crossed multiple genres, from thrillers to horror, comedy to sci-fi. He truly is a master of the strange and unusual.
I hope that you have enjoyed my list of some of Canada's great film sci-fi actors. Agree with my list? Disagree? Wondering why I didn't include what's his name? Sound off in the comments section below.