If Dylan Myskiw ever finds himself on stage at the Academy Awards clutching an Oscar in his hands, he will have a job-seeking friend and a Kijiji ad to thank.
That’s where Myskiw’s crazy foray into acting began.
It was early in the summer of 2019 and Myskiw was at home in Winnipeg, Man., when his phone went off. On it, he found a text with a screencap from one of his buddies.
“He had been looking for a quick job that would just last for the summer and this was something that was looking for background people for a movie,” says Myskiw.
It turns out the movie Flag Day was shooting a scene in Winnipeg. It was being directed by Sean Penn and starred Penn and his two sons Hopper and Dylan along with Josh Brolin and Miles Teller. The screenplay had been adapted from a novel by Jennifer Vogel called Flim-Flam Man: The True Story Of My Father’s Counterfeit Life.
Myskiw had just come off a great playoff run with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the spring and was training for his overage year in the Western Hockey League. He had backstopped Edmonton to the Eastern Conference finals and had helped to push the eventual WHL Champions from Prince Albert to six games. Myskiw’s lights and camera moments came solely when he was standing in a blue crease. Between on-ice and off-ice sessions, his days were already pretty full so Myskiw wasn’t really looking to add anything more to his summer but he decided to go along anyway.
“There was a pretty long line to wait in,” Myskiw remembers. “When we finally got to the front of it I figured I had been waiting so I might as well sign a paper and get my picture taken.”
Myskiw finished filling out the form. One of the last questions asked about his availability.
He was as honest as he could be. He wrote, “Pretty much not available at all,” in the space provided.
A week went by and another text popped up from his buddy who had now received a call and an offer to be an extra in the scenes being shot at the University of Manitoba. He was in.
Myskiw heard nothing.
Two more weeks passed and Myskiw was at the airport about to fly to Calgary, Alta., for the Calgary Stampede when his phone rang. It wasn’t a number he recognized.
“It was the studio,” Myskiw said. “They told me one of their main actors wasn’t available and that they would like me to play the role.”
They weren’t asking him to be an extra like his friend. They wanted him to play a role of a character double in the movie. A movie being made by and starring Sean Penn that was filming in his hometown.
It was kind of surreal for Myskiw. Hockey goalies with no acting experience aren’t usually high on anyone’s list to take over parts from other working actors.
In fact, this wasn’t even the first time the studio had tried to contact him.
“I had received an e-mail from them but I thought it was a joke. I really thought I was being pranked so I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t respond,” Myskiw laughs.
The call was very real but Myskiw’s flight was about to board. He told them he was going to be away for a week or so and the studio told him that would be fine and to come and see them as soon as he got back. Then he got on the plane and flew to Stampede.
Myskiw’s return to Winnipeg was something right out of an actual movie. Recount a story like this to anyone who hadn’t seen actual proof and they wouldn’t be able to help but accuse you of making it up.
“I went into a tent with two other people who were also being considered. Inside was Sean Penn and he took a few minutes to look at us and then he made his choice and he picked me and the other two guys left. I ended up sitting down with Sean for a while and talking about what he wanted me to do. I met with wardrobe and makeup and a few other people and got all of that setup and about a week after that I got a call to head to downtown Winnipeg to shoot a week of scenes.”
If Myskiw was still having any doubts they disappeared really quickly.
“I was walked down to where all of the trailers were with all of the actors and saw that one of them had my name on it.”
Instead of hanging out at a rink having people blast pucks at him he was now hanging out with Penn and Brolin and Teller.
“I travelled around the city with them shooting in all sorts of different places,” says Myskiw. “I had a few talking scenes and they kind of used side shots of me and different angles. Most of it was to keep the timing of the scenes correct.”
For someone who was figuring things out as he went along, Myskiw seemed to be a natural.
“At the end, they seemed pleased,” Myskiw said. “In fact, I’m still getting calls asking if I’m available for other shoots in Winnipeg and I keep having to tell them that I’m playing hockey right now but when I get back to Winnipeg I could do some work for you.”
Flag Day is currently in post-production and a release date has yet to be set.
If the London Knights have their way, Myskiw will not be back in Winnipeg for a while. They’d like him to help them script another one of those long playoff runs. And with a 2.30 goals against average and a .924 save percentage this season, Myskiw shouldn’t stray too far from any net he is being asked to protect.
Should there be a happily ever after ending to the 2019-20 hockey season, he might have a few on-set sequels to head to next summer.