(September 28, 2018 – Toronto, Ontario) Most actors can look back in their careers and point to one film that marked a breakthrough for them. Either critical success or box-office success or a role that simply allowed them to change perceptions about what they were capable of doing. For Karyn Dwyer, that film was Better than Chocolate (1999). It wasn’t her first film or second. In fact, by time Better than Chocolate came around, she was a veteran, having been cast in 10 productions either for feature release or made-for-television movies. It was her performance in her 11th film, however, that caused more than a mild sensation. It prompted internet voters to rate her lesbian love scenes the hottest ever, and the film ended up being ranked 31 on the Hollywood Reporter’s list of best indie films that year. It went on to win numerous awards and earned Dwyer a loyal cult following when it became one of Canada’s highest-grossing English- speaking movies. Often considered a cross between Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet, yet uniquely herself, Dwyer helped drive Anne Wheeler’s film to deliver some $30 million in world box-office receipts.
Born in Newfoundland, a province that seems to produce comics and comedians, she got her start in theatre when she was 10-years-old and starred in Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador`s production of Alice In Wonderland. After high school, she made the move to Toronto to attend theatre school. She played to sold-out audiences at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, starring opposite celebrated Canadian actor, R.H. Thompson, in “exercises in depravity.” She played Juliet in Native Earth’s Romeo and Juliet, Sooze in Eric Begosian’s Suburbia, then wrote and starred in her hilarious one-woman show, Bad Girls, which played at Toronto`s Rivoli. Not skipping a beat, she turned up as Phoebe in As You Like It opposite Seana McKenna and Albert Schultz.
The oldest of five siblings, Dwyer lost her father to cancer when she was 11-years-old and suffered another loss in 1999 when her brother suddenly passed away. She spent the next three years advocating programs to fight her brother`s illness. She worked with Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell in Lorne Michael’s Superstar, then gave heart wrenching performances in gritty short films such as Pony and Dying Like Ophelia by two-time Governor General Award-winning playwright Judith Thompson. She then starred in the 2004 feature, The Right Way. She also had a guest role in the short-lived CBC series This is Wonderland, reuniting her with Better than Chocolate director, Anne Wheeler, when Wheeler shot an episode of this popular television series.
Karyn Dwyer was 43 when she died in Toronto on September 25, 2018.
Also see Karyn Dwyer’s Filmography.
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