Australian actor Aden Young, who plays the lead role in the searing Netflix-via-SundanceTV drama Rectify, spent the first nine years of his life living in Toronto, and he says he’ll be back one day.
“I miss it immensely, it’s in my marrow,” he says over the phone from Los Angeles. “I have great, fond memories of Canada. I feel that one day my bones will more than likely end up there.”
Young, 42, still considers himself a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, partially because of the meaning that hockey had to his childhood. His father, Chip, worked at the CBC, and would invite Leafs star Darryl Sittler over for dinner, with the hockey player bringing along sticks that he grabbed from the Leafs dressing room. At one point, Young says he was using Borje Salming’s stick while skating on his frozen backyard pond.
After his family moved Down Under, Young immersed himself in Australian culture, but hockey kept creeping back. The actor, who speaks with an Australian accent with a hint of Canadian in it, signed up for a roller hockey league at the age of 24. But he missed the ice. So he came back to it.
“It wasn’t until I was at 39 that I joined my first real hockey team,” he says with a laugh. “Which was great. I scored a couple of goals here and there, but I wasn’t the most graceful thing you’ve ever seen.”
These days, Young doesn’t have much time to play hockey. His nuanced performance as Daniel Holden in Rectify has been earning him kudos, essentially giving him a second life in Hollywood. After making his big-screen debut in the 1991 film Black Robe, Young avoided big-budget projects and spent many years playing roles in smaller Australian films.
This has changed in recent years, as he’s made appearances in the action thriller Killer Elite and the film version of the graphic novel I, Frankenstein.
At one point, Young says he wanted to take a break from acting and focus on writing and directing, until the character of Daniel Holden “came along and nudged his way into my psyche,” convincing the actor to pursue Rectify.
“Acting had become something that didn’t hold much magic anymore,” he says. “But occasionally, along comes a role which you identify with, and you feel very deeply within you, and Daniel was one of those roles.”
Rectify, written and created by actor Ray McKinnon (Deadwood), traces what happens when Daniel Holden gets released from death row after spending 19 years locked up for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend Hanna. New DNA evidence casts doubt on his guilt, but many of the citizens of the small town of Paulie, Georgia, still think he did it.
Young claims that he doesn’t actually know whether his character committed the crime or not.
“I have to discover those answers with Daniel, so I can’t say that I know the answer to that,” he says. “Is it possible that he did it? That answer is absolutely. I think it’s possible that it’s hidden within all of us, to let that monster out.”
Rectify’s Season 2 debuted on June 19, with new episodes airing weekly on SundanceTV in the U.S., and then becoming available on Netflix Canada within 24 hours. This is different than Netflix’s usual binge-ready model, where all the episodes of a season are available at once. We saw this arrangement before with the From Dusk Till Dawn series, where episodes would air on the El Rey network in the U.S. before reaching Netflix Canada.
Rectify, the first scripted drama from SundanceTV, carries a Southern Gothic feel, with the six episodes from Season 1 simultaneously earning raves and criticism for their slow, haunting, dream-like pace.
When McKinnon sat down with the cast before starting Season 2, he offered to show them their full character arcs for the rest of the season. Young decided to turn that down, preferring to experience things fresh with his character — which was exciting and frightening at the same time.
“It was like trying to look forward with a single coal lamp on my head, trying to find my way through the black,” he says. “Often, the road was not clear at all. And to be that vulnerable, it’s a great thing.”