Ten things Paul Gross can’t live without
He writes, directs, produces and stars in Hyena Road, a gritty war flick in theatres this month. Here, 10 things the king of CanCon can’t live without
1 | My buck knife
On my family’s ranch in Alberta, it’s important to always carry a knife. The one I have is indestructible—it can open cans and fix fences. I don’t have much use for it in the city, but I keep it around just in case.
2 | My Andean flute
Decades ago, my wife, Martha, and I climbed Huayna Picchu, a mountain overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. At the top, a man serenaded us with this traditional wooden flute, called a quena. Afterward, he gave it to me. It’s a beautiful instrument, though I can’t really play it.
3 | My sealskin dice
Martha brought them back from Iqaluit, where she’d been working. I use them to give myself excuses. I’ll say, “If I can throw a pair of sixes, I don’t have to write anything today.”
4 | My luchador
He’s powerful—just look at him. And he’s got smashing green tights. I got him (and a bunch more) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where friends took us to a hilariously fun wrestling match. They’re scattered all over the house.
5 | My Bedouin tents
I’ve got two: this one, which is about the size of a hat, and a matching room-size version in my basement, which is great for naps. They’re the real thing, handcrafted in Cairo’s tent-making district.
6 | My compass
To be honest, I’m not sure how to use it. But I love what it symbolizes: no matter what, I’ll always be able to find my way.
7 | My Shakespearean statue
Martha was playing Ophelia at the Citadel in Edmonton, and I happened across this woodcarving in a gallery there. The name of the piece was Ophelia, so I had to buy it.
8 | My Afghan souvenir
It’s the pass I wore during my trip to Kandahar in 2011, where I was part of a media embed with the Canadian Armed Forces. The footage we shot there became the inspiration for Hyena Road. It’s a wildly complex, chaotic place—beautiful in some ways, but harsh.
9 | My dad’s spurs
My father gave me this box years ago, but it was only after he died in 2014 that I discovered what was inside: his equestrian spurs, part of his regimental dress as a lieutenant colonel in Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a tank regiment in the Canadian Army. They make me think of him.
10 | My director’s tool
In the ’90s, a director named Patrick Hasburgh gave me a Mark V viewfinder—that’s the lens-type thing directors use to frame scenes. I’d never directed anything, but he said, “I think you might need this one day.” He was right.