Actor Drew Nelson chats about THE STRAIN & working with Guillermo del Toro

Are you ready for this new show? Canadian Actor Drew Nelson is featured in a recurring role in Academy Award Nominee Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated horror series The Strain, based on the best-selling novel trilogy co-written by Guillermo del Toro and author Chuck Hogan. Premiering July 13, 2014 at 10 PM ET/PT on FX and FX Canada.

The Strain is a thriller that tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (played by House of Cards’ Corey Stoll), the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself.

Drew’s character Matt Sayles is the new live-in boyfriend of Eph’s estranged wife Kelly, played by Natalie Brown, and emerging father figure to their son Zach.

I had the most amazing opportunity to chat with Drew to find about more about him and about The Strain

The Strain

This show takes place in New York…this has got to me the most resilient city in the world. Why do you think that setting is so popular for these kind of “what if” shows? 

Drew: Absolutely it is! That cities’ been through the ringer for sure, but there’s a reason why it keeps bouncing back.  New Yorkers are tough, resilient people.  I think the setting is so popular because of all the history it carries. You can also get any location imaginable in NYC, and because The Strain has such a diverse group of people in the cast spanning various ages and ethnicities, it’s the perfect setting to do justice to the world Guillermo and Chuck created in the books. 

When in New York…what are your favourite things to do, see, eat etc.?  

Drew: Haven’t been back for a few years now, but my next trip would entail spending a lot of time in Brooklyn, catch any latest theater show either Off-Broadway or Broadway. Dying to see “Sleep No More” – heard incredible things so far from friends of mine who’ve seen it!  As far as food and restaurants, I’m always open to discovering new places. There’s never a shortage of things to do in NYC.

How about a few shout-outs to Toronto? Any favourites? 

Drew: Of course, love my city! Shouts to Mitzis in Parkdale for always hookin’ up the best brunch in the city. Some great menswear stores here including the good people at Uncle Otis in Yorkville and Nomad and Sydneys in Queen West. Also love my summer park days at Trinity Bellwoods and island afternoons at the Toronto Island.

Viral outbreaks are very real but together with a vampire strain is crazy! Have you ever experienced an outbreak…or have an encounter with a vampire 😉  

Drew: haha. I’ve definitely encountered a couple of vamps in my lifetime. Nope, never experienced an outbreak before, and hope I never have to.

What is the first thing you would do if there was a real serious outbreak? 

Drew: Book a plane ticket and get the hell outta there!

Yah.. me too!!! I imagine that the shoots must be so intense at times…so what did you do to calm down after a day of shooting The Strain? 

Drew: Have a couple of brews and wind down with some friends. The cast and crew were so friendly and easy to work with that it wasn’t as intense as you would think. A lot of joking around on set to lighten the atmosphere in between takes, but when the cameras were rolling – it was go time.

Working with Guillermo del Toro must be quite an incredible experience! Has he given you any advice that you won’t ever forget?

Drew: I wouldn’t say any direct advice, but I definitely learned a lot by being around him and observing how he works with other actors and his crew. I had a lot of physical activities that needed to be incorporated into scenes in order to make a shot that he designed work. That was definitely a challenge, but Guillermo’s cameras are always in motion, so it’s something you just have to get a handle on quickly and he helped me through that. My co-star, Natalie Brown (who plays Kelly Goodweather) would always call me “the business man” ha!

Why do you think we have this fascination about Vampires, anyway? By the way, this isn’t Twilight, right?

Drew: No, this is the exact opposite of Twilight and True Blood. The vampires in our show are feral, primal creatures who are out to drain as many people as they can in order to spread the virus. Guillermo’s plan was to set the record straight and bring back what vampires are supposed to be based on the classic lore that he’s been a fan of since his childhood. The Strain is going to revolutionize the vampire genre.

What do you love about your character in this show?  

Drew: A lot of things – I’m sworn to secrecy though. You’ll just have to watch to find out.

Will I have nightmares?  

Drew: This show will definitely not be for the squeamish.  We’re hoping that you do!

LOL!!! Okay, what’s on your playlist? 

Drew: Hmm… lots of classic 90’s hip hop, 80’s Michael Jackson, James Brown and other soul, r&b and motown, all the way to Radiohead, Nirvana to newer groups like Phantogram, Beach House and Disclosure.

What’s your lifestyle? Do you follow any blogs?  

Drew: My lifestyle is my work at the moment. Seems to be taking up a lot of my time, but I love finding time to hang with my friends, and have an odd drink on the weekend.  Now that the summer is almost here, I’ll be out a lot more. Us Torontonians tend to hibernate during the winter – it’s time to leave the caves!

I follow a bunch of blogs, my good friends at thelabmagazine.comand I also love grafitti art so I follow  and bombingscience.comFor fashion I follow and support my buddy Bryan’s local fashion brand,, and I’ll check out The Sartorialist and Selectism every once in a while too.

More about Drew Nelson…

Recently, Drew completed production on the Canadian feature film Man Vs., starring alongside Three StoogesChris Diamantopoulos.  Set to be released in 2014, Man Vs. follows a TV crew who is dropped off in the remote wilderness and forced to fight more than the elements.

Other television credits include the series Suits, Supernatural, Smallville, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue, Lost Girl, and Fringe. He has also become a fan favourite on the Cartoon Network’s Total Drama Island as the voice of the likeable bad-boy Duncan.

In addition Drew has a number of his own projects in development as a writer/producer, including the urban fantasy feature Lost Ones, and an untitled feature thriller which is being produced alongside Lab Films, the team behind IFC’s In Their Skin.

When he’s not acting or working on his own films, Drew enjoys music, photography, graffiti and street art, urban exploring, and sports like ping pong, golf and basketball.

Thanks to Drew for this amazing interview!!


The Strain


Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

Be first to comment