Being in Mike Ward‘s presence would make most guys feel a little conflicted. On one hand, he’s one of the most hilarious, down-to-earth and insightful people we’ve ever had a beer with. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a bit of a Renaissance man – a director, producer, writer, ex-chef and industry expert and commentator for media outlets like Global News in Canada and RYOT in the US – so he always has his finger on the pulse and has interesting things to talk about. We only start running into issues while hanging out with Ward when we realize that we’re not the only ones in the room who happen to be giving our full attention to the Make It Right director. Maybe it’s his impossibly full head of dark brown hair, his 6’3″ stature, Australian accent, or just his Hollywood good looks in general that make him captivating to pretty much everyone with 20/20 vision and a clear view of him. To make it worse, the onlookers close to the bar can hear enough of the conversation to see that Ward’s character actually surpasses the package. Because of that, we’ve had to start a really nasty rumour on Twitter that he hates kittens…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
Well, I recently gave up coffee so I’m sleeping better! I have two young girls and there’s no limit to the foolishness I won’t go to to make them giggle. I constantly crave interesting conversation, which seems to get more and more interesting with every bottle of wine. My friends tell me hanging out with me is like they’re constantly being interviewed; I can’t tell if that’s a compliment or not…? I’m currently directing the series Holmes Make it Right for HGTV Canada and US. Whether I’m directing, writing articles or involved in other projects, work is fun for me so the lines between professional and social time often get blurry. As I get older I’m also finding more satisfaction in doing laundry.
Finish this sentence: The thing that brings me the most joy in the world is…
…doing whatever I can to bring happiness, joy, and heavy doses of stupid fun to those around me. Particularly my kids. Whoops, that was an additional sentence at the end there, my bad.
What are three things you simply cannot live without?
Semi-regular bathing, food and water. Ah, swap semi-regular bathing for any herbal tea. This no-coffee thing is driving me nuts.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
Yeesh, that’s a tricky question for me. Being an ex-chef who likes his own cooking it’s easier for me to tell you what I don’t like. I can’t stand crammed tables, and frankly I’m not a fan of communal tables. I wanna talk to the person I’m with at dinner not the couple on their second date across from me. Do I sound like a cranky old man? When I eat out I love sitting at the bar. And I’m all about sharsies, too. Whatever’s on your plate is fair game and vice versa. Germophobes tend to not enjoy eating with me so much, but that may also be because of my irregular bathing…?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Wow, lots of things. I don’t like using the A word on myself – “artist.” But I ultimately really enjoy telling stories with pictures and sound. That’s television in its basic form. If I can move someone, make him or her think, see a perspective they hadn’t considered then what I do has some small amount of value. Oh and we’re the only industry that gets catered for… so lovely free food is nice.
How did you make the shift from being a chef to a director?
That’s a long story for another time. I will tell you though I love it whenever I have a chance to combine those two passions. I co-produced and directed a cooking lifestyle series a few years ago for OWN. That was a lot of fun. I’m also working on a few projects right now that bring TV and cooking together. Stay tuned, I’m super excited about them.
You still have an Australian accent, how does Toronto compare to Sydney?
They’re both amazing in different ways. Dare I sheepishly say I think the food scene is perhaps a little more evolved back home. The climate allows us to have almost any ingredient imaginable all year-round. Sydney’s more like Vancouver and California; outdoorsy. Toronto though has a New York kinda grit to it that’s very cool and can’t be manufactured. Sydney is a beautiful daytime city; Toronto is a sexy nighttime town.