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Romaine Waite explores addiction and homelessness in anticipated new film Salvage
For Romaine Waite, acting feels like being a messenger on a physical, emotional, and even sometimes spiritual level. He encourages audiences to feel, and in turn, that is exactly what he does. It is a release. Becoming someone else allows him to learn something about himself, and communicating that with his audiences, in turn, allows them to learn something about themselves. Like most art, it encourages conversation and emotion, and that is why Waite loves it. He is a true artist.

Having starred in several acclaimed films and prolific television shows, Waite is a sought-after actor both in Canada and abroad. His work in films like Antisocial and series such as Star Trek: Discovery and The Mist enchanted viewers around the globe, and Canadians were vastly entertained with his ongoing appearance in Frankie Drake Mysteries. This Christmas, his holiday feature Christmas Calendar appears on Netflix, and soon he will be appearing in the streaming service's popular show Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments. He is at the top of his game, with no plans on slowing down.

Later this year, Waite's latest movie is set to release. Salvageis an independent feature film produced by Pisgarie Entertainment. It tells the story of The Driver, a homeless man living in his car, who spends his days cruising the city, surviving on scraps and charity. Haunted by guilt, he pays no attention to the missing girl all the radio pundits are talking about. Instead he focuses on making money. 

An ad in a stolen newspaper leads him to a desolate location in a forgotten part of town. There he receives an envelope, along with a time and location to drop it off. The only rule? Do not open the envelope under any circumstances. Easy money with plenty of repeat opportunities. Until The Driver misses a deadline and the little girl everyone is looking for suddenly shows up dead. 

The Driver can't be sure the two events are related. But he's spooked enough to stop playing the delivery boy for his faceless employer. Short a job opportunity he's back to cruising by day and scraping by at night. Then another girl goes missing. And all evidence of his former employer disappears. Feeling responsible for the lost children he's forced in to a seedy world of kidnapping and ransom. It's his shot at redemption. And it could cost him his life.

"This film provided an opportunity to answer a question that I often ask, which is how does one become homeless? In a way the project was looking beyond statistics and the general stigma that surrounds homelessness and focused on an individual story. I thought this was important, I think putting a story behind an issue would hopefully provide insight and perhaps a new outlook on a situation that you didn't previously understand," said Waite.

Waite plays The Driver, who is referred to as "Homeless Man" in the script. Audiences never get his name, age, or any information that pertains to him, which is part of the story's allure. In real life, we don't know the names or any personal information about those that we see on the street, so for that to be in the script already keeps us disconnected from the character. 

The Driver is very disconnected in his thoughts and how he lives his life on the street. However, through the course of the film, audiences realize that he is struggling with something and we see a sincere and hopeful side of him. 

Waite's character is the catalyst for the story and the driving force of the plot. His work was essential in order to capture the sincerity of the character and give humanity to people that are often overlooked. 

"There were many things in the script that my character does that I didn't understand. I couldn't imagine making the choices that he made. Going through my process I had to find a way to love and understand this character. I think the film asks that of the audience. The truth is, people aren't as simple as we want to make them. We all do things that are contradictory, and we tend to judge one another and ourselves so harshly sometimes. I think the value in this film is, learning to forgive --- especially ourselves. Mistakes will be made in life, how we deal with them is what makes the difference," he said.

The film was an eye-opening experience for Waite, who learned in his research that there are more than 16,000 homeless people using the shelter systems in Toronto, his city. That number includes youth and children under the age of 16. This information fueled Waites inspiration to play an authentic character and really educate his audience. 

One night after Waite finished filming, it was really late. They had an early start time the next day and he lived far from the location. He decided to stay in a hotel close to the location, so he could sleep in and still be able to make it to set on time. However, when he arrived at the hotel, the front desk attendee told him they were at capacity. To this day, he doesn't know if they were telling the truth or they didn't want him in the hotel because of the way he was dressed, still in costume and appearing homeless and run down. He experienced first-hand the mistreatment and judgement that the homeless often face, and this fueled his performance.

"That night I decided to sleep in my car. It turned out to be a very informative experience for my character," he concluded.

Salvage sounds like a can't miss, and Waite is expected to once again captivate audiences with his work. Be sure to check it out.

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