CORNWALL, Ontario – When Cornwall native John Robinson first set foot in a courtroom to take part in a case he fell back on the one thing he knew intimately – acting.
Robinson has been cast in several roles on the stage, TV and the silver screen, so when he made the transition to a career as a paralegal, performing before a judge seemed almost second nature.
“I didn’t know what I was doing. I’m not kidding,” said Robinson, who has actually become quite successful in the courtroom despite his modest beginning. “You have to make (the judge) feel like you do know.
“Imagine being on the stage in front of 2,000 people and you forget your lines. Your mind is racing so fast.
“You develop a skill at being able to still convey an idea through the silence.”
Robinson has parlayed his acting experience into a law career that now has its home base in Cornwall after years spent practicing in Toronto. A CCVS graduate who was bitten by the acting bug while studying at the University of Toronto, Robinson has rubbed shoulders with industry leaders in the same circles as some of Hollywood’s elite.
He had one of the few speaking roles in Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé, which starred Al Pacino. He played Federal Agent Patterson in the movie ‘Casino Jack’ which starred Kevin Spacey and most recently was cast as a detective in the Discovery Channel’s new series ‘Real Detectives.’
“They went through 127 criminal cases and chose eight to run stories around,” said Robinson, adding the actual detectives who investigated the crimes narrate the show while actors perform scenes.
Robinson said his particular episode is slated to run on the Discovery Channel on Feb. 18.
And that’s not all.
“I just read for a part on Quantico yesterday,” he said matter-of-factly, referring to the hit ABC thriller that is shot mainly in Montreal. “I’ve read for it seven times.”
He’s hoping to get a call back.
Making the trip to places like Montreal for auditions will be easier now. While he lived in Toronto for years, Robinson made the decision to move back to Cornwall when a family illness resulted in a search for a support system with deep roots. He moved to the Seaway City last summer.
He lives here now with his wife Paula and daughter Anne. Two of his stepsons still live in the provincial capital. Robinson lives on Adolphus Street, a stone’s throw from where he grew up on First Street.
“I wanted to be an NHL guy,” he said of growing up in Cornwall. “I thought they were watching me in the backyard…shooting pucks at the tree.
“That’s what I wanted for my daughter. I wanted to get back to the life that I had as a kid.”
While the plan is to remain in Cornwall, acting work will continue – but so will his work in the courtroom.
“Small claims court is a court of good conscience,” he said. “The law is what is reasonable and logical.”