On "Degrassi: The Next Generation," Craig Manning dreamed of the rocker life, but the actor who portrayed him, Toronto's Jake Epstein, is currently belting out tunes on Broadway. The 25-year-old is the newest Spider-Man in the big-budget show "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."
Epstein has already performed in national tours of "Spring Awakening" and Green Day's "American Idiot," but the former co-star of Aubrey Graham (better known today as Drake) made his Broadway debut earlier this month as the high-flying, web-spewing superhero.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Epstein suggested that the world is ready for a Canadian Spider-Man.
"I grew up in Canada and was a huge Spider-Man fan, and never thought of Spider-Man as an American hero. He was just the most badass superhero, period," Epstein said. "So, yeah, I think they're ready for a Canadian. I'm very careful about my 'abouts' and 'sorrys' on stage. But yes, besides that, very ready."
Epstein probably shouldn't put those "sorrys" away for good -- "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is infamous for accidents related to the show's special flying effects (though it's had a clean record for quite some time, knock on wood), as well as for its record-breaking $75 million cost. Nevertheless, Epstein puts on a brave face when it comes to the stunts.
"I love roller coasters, I love going upside down; there was never a fear of heights.... To learn how to be in a harness was probably the hardest thing for me to learn," he said, adding that his former high school self comes out in the nerdy Peter Parker. But on the streets of New York, Epstein admits that he doesn't get recognized as Peter, but as the not-nerdy Craig from "Degrassi."
"It happens more here in the States than it does in Canada," Epstein said. "Everyone [in Canada] knows someone who's on the show. Everyone's cousins with someone who's on the show. So they're like, eh, whatever... It's still got this hilarious cult following [in the U.S.]."
Now that Epstein is seeing some success south of the border, it's unclear about whether he'll return home any time soon. In the meantime, his nationality has been helpful in making friends.
"If you're from Canada, you're just like, 'Aww.' There's a bit of like, 'Oh, you're from Canada! Welcome.' There's a sympathy or something that I find really funny," he said. "People always let down their guard when they know that I'm from Canada."
Maybe if Epstein's run as Spider-Man goes really, really well, he can convince the costume designer to turn Spidey's signature red-and-blue suit to a more patriotic red and white, with a few maple leaves thrown in for good measure.