On a Tuesday in mid-November when his classmates might have been in the lab or the library, David Alpay was walking down the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of the film Ararat. The 22-year-old biology major played the pivotal role of Raffi, a young Armenian-Canadian, in the movie that explores the 1915 Armenian genocide.
Alpay – who has been nominated for a Genie for his role – started dabbling in drama in his second year, picking up tiny parts in student productions. In early 2001 he heard about a casting call for extras in an Atom Egoyan film starring one of his favourite actors, Bruce Greenwood, so, just for fun, he auditioned. Alpay – who attends University College – can’t explain why Egoyan (BA 1982 Trinity) chose him, except to say that there was an almost instant ease between them, and some striking similarities: they are both of Armenian descent, both have attended U of T and both share a love of Bach and good literature.
Alpay clearly admires Egoyan and is quietly proud of the controversial film. He also recognizes that, unless an equally compelling script comes along and filming fits into his course schedule, this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime film experience. “This movie was so good, and it was so right,” he says. “It challenges you, and it’s really exhilarating to have something that disturbs you, and not just for the sake of disturbing.”