Paul Soles is an epic 90-year-old roommate

This local actor dishes on six decades in showbiz spanning from the stage to the web


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Soles worked with Christopher Plummer in a remount of ‘Macbeth’

CBC

Longtime actor Paul Soles was on the ground floor of television in Canada in 1953. He has graced the stages of Toronto and Stratford, Ont., and he’s now starring in CBC’s hilarious web series My 90-Year-Old Roommate.

But back in the 1940s, he attended a now closed Toronto institution called Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute, and it was there that the theatre bug bit him for the very first time.  

“There were many great teachers that encouraged me to succeed,” he recalls. 

It was around that time that he also began to discover the importance of good scriptwriting. 

“If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” Soles jokes. “It’s the job of the actor to create a credible human being out of the writing of the author, so it’s hard to make great theatre out of bad writing.”

After high school, Soles went off to university but says all he wanted to do was perform. So he did. 

After a few years of performing plays and musicals at the London Little Theatre, London, Ont., Soles got into radio at CFPL where he hosted a daytime current affairs show called Take 30 for 16 years. 

There he interviewed Sir Robert Watson Watt, the man who invented radar, and Shorty Bauers, the voice of the American space station in the 1960s.

Finally in 2001 he was able to put the Stratford Festival on his resumé when he landed the iconic role of Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

In part, he credits his eventual acceptance to Stratford to his performance in a remount of Macbeth, with Christopher Plummer in its title role. 

Soles is now trying his hand at a very interesting web series, with an oddball premise and an equally unpredictable process. 

My 90-Year-Old Roommate, features Soles, playing a 90-year-old widower, who takes in his wayward 31-year-old grandson Ethan, played by Ethan Cole. 

The show is entirely improvised and navigates modern issues with some very compelling multi-generational viewpoints. 

For instance, what would your grandparents think of Tinder, or “ghosting”? And how would mall walking with the elderly be augmented by the presence of a cocky thirtysomething? Needless to say, it’s silly, yet poignant stuff. The binge-worthy second season started streaming on April 26.

Soles has acted in many great roles on the big and small screen, and he’s a noted voice actor and personality, but through it all he sees a thread of continuity. 

Regardless of the medium, the method or the particulars, it’s still just telling stories. 

“First it was film, then videotape, then digital. Other than that, not much has changed. We’re still trying to prove the honesty of the character, still trying to compel the audience. Regardless of the medium, the stories are the same,” he says.

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