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A star who doesn't forget his city roots

Former hyacks football player had career launched by a concussion

Hard to believe, but it was a concussion that started Graham Wardle on his way to television stardom.

Wardle was on the inaugural New Westminster Hyacks football team in 2003, playing defensive back and backup quarterback when a concussion sidelined him from the sport.

Wardle realized that sports might not be his way to fame and fortune, so he enrolled in a video class and liked it so much that he ended up going to film school. At one of his first auditions, for a new CBC show, Wardle was successful in winning the lead role of Ty Borden.

Well, as Heartland fans know, the CBC show is now in its sixth season and with more than 100 shows under his belt, Wardle is a certified star all over the world.

Wardle lives in Calgary during shooting for Heartland, but he's never forgotten his Royal City roots. He was back late last year for Homecoming celebrations and the 10th anniversary of the football program that he was a part of.

We caught up with Wardle and had him answer a couple of questions. He's an interesting fellow and his answers are both enlightening and funny (and we're sure there are some local ladies who will love his answer to question six).

Introduce yourself - Who you are and how long have you been doing this particular job?

My mother named me Graham Dominic Wardle and I have been on this earth for 26 years. I've been acting since I was six and have been working on CBC's Heartland for six years playing the character Ty Borden.

What's the best part of your job?

Meeting people from all over the world that enjoy the show. I've had open Google video chats with people from India, Wales, Utah, Lebanon and many other places. I love meeting people and chatting with them about life. Oh and free food on set is always awesome.

What's the worst part of your job?

Minus-30 degree weather with a 6 a.m. start time.

What's the most interesting thing to hap-pen to you on the job?

I got to meet General David Petraeus, who is now the director of the CIA. I sat beside him and his wife at the Calgary Stampede. I mean this guy knows all the inside scoops. All I wanted to do was ask him about every conspiracy I had ever heard. Instead, I just got a picture with him. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Here is a man who has probably made some of the toughest decisions ever. I thought, "If I was this guy, would I really want to talk about my work right now?" Probably not. So I just shook his hand and enjoyed the show. At the end of the day we are all just people living life the best we can.

(Editor's note: This question-and-answer was conducted before David Petraeus' resignation on Nov. 9)

What activities and/or interests are you involved in outside of the job?

Reading - I read a lot. So many books, I have now put myself on a book diet. I won't buy a new book until I finish one that I'm reading currently. It's my reward for finishing what I started. I'm a bit of a kid in a candy store when it comes to books. I love to cruise around the city on my bicycle. I just found out Vancouver has a brand new parkour gym on Main Street called Origins. I checked that out the other day and loved it. Running, jumping, diving and swinging off stuff is awesome. I guess I like being like a monkey. I'm also taking DJ classes, which is a ton of fun. Learning about music and how to count beats. I'm also working on some of my own projects, which I won't reveal until they are ready, but I'm excited about them both.

If you're stuck on a desert island, what three items do you take and why?

Desert island . three items . hmm. A. Knife - because making my own would be very time-consuming and I could get cracking on building my shelter much quicker if I had this basic tool.

B. An African drum - Again because it would take awhile for me to make one myself, and music is essential for me.

C. A beautiful woman - because you got to have someone to share and laugh with. Plus a little loving ain't never killed anybody.

What's your favourite place in New Westminster that isn't work-related?

I just visited the Westminster Pier Park the other day and loved it. It's my new favorite hang out.

What's the most interesting thing about you that your friends might not even know?

I wanted to design cars when I was a kid. I love the balance between functionality and design.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Peru and Brazil. I just really want to go to the Amazon rainforest.

What do you see yourself doing in a year, five years, 10 years (both on job and/or personally?)

I can't honestly say. I know I will continue to push myself and move towards anything that interests me. I feel as though I'll be doing much more travelling. I'm 26 now and if you had came up to me 10 years ago and told me where I would be today, I would have laughed at you. There are so many defining factors that come along the way, it's impossible to know where you'll end up. I try my very best to stay on target with what's on my plate here and now and remain open to new and exciting things on the horizon. The past is gone and the future will take care of itself, so be all you can today and the rest is a bonus.

Who are your mentors or people you look up to?

Tony Robbins, Muhammad Ali, Farhan Lalji, Sean Penn and Johnny Depp.