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Q: "Heartland" is such a refreshing series to watch. What else might the actor who plays the grandpa be seen in?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

"Heartland" is a Canadian series, but it's had a good deal of exposure in the U.S. That means its stars may all seem like new faces to the U.S. audience, even though they're not new faces at all. Shaun Johnston's is a very old face, in fact.

He's been knocking around the Canadian TV and film scene since the early '90s. His best-known role was as Jake in the heartwarming late-'90s TV drama "Jake and the Kid."

Like "Heartland," "Jake and the Kid" is a drama about life in the Canadian West and was also based on books. In "Heartland's" case, it's a series of novels by author Lauren Brooke, while "Jake and the Kid" was based on just two books -- a book of short stories and a sequel novel, both by beloved Canadian writer W.O. Mitchell.

Whichever side of the border you're on, you can also see Johnston currently in the fantasy western series "Wynonna Earp." He has a recurring role in that one as Juan Carlo, a mysterious and mystical figure whose backstory is too complicated to explain here (it involves the afterlife, angels and the Garden of Eden).

Outside those shows, Johnston gets harder to find. He appeared earlier this year in the indie Canadian thriller "In Plainview," and that's indicative of the rest of his resume -- if he's not in a TV western, he's in an indie thriller (see also 2009's "Screamers: The Hunting" and 2004's "Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed").

I described him earlier as having a very old face, but it actually isn't as old as it looks in the show. The actor just turned 60 years old and is still pretty dark-haired on his off time -- the gray in his beard is dyed, and his mane of gray hair is actually a wig.

However, he said in an interview with the website Horse Canada that "Heartland" has prepared him for going gray. When asked what he's learned from playing Grandpa Jack for more than a decade, he replied, "I've learned that I'm going to grow old gracefully."

 

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