Interview with Stunt Double Olga Wilhelmine (10 Cloverfield Lane)

Making her home in New Orleans, Olga Wilhelmine is a singer/songwriter turned actress turned stunt performer. Jumping out of planes brought her to her new career (see below). In the last year she has stunt doubled for actresses Haley Bennett and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in two of the most highly anticipated films of 2016.

For more info, go to her website: www.laolga.com

olgaMatthew Toffolo: Are you an actress who also does stunts, or a stunt performer who also acts?

Olga Wilhelmine: I am an actress who does stunts, or I’d say it started out that way for sure. A lot of times depending on where camera is, you have to do your own stunts and this is of course also depending on what the stunt is, but it is certainly a big factor.

MT: You were the stunt double for Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the upcoming film 10 Cloverfield Lane. Tell us about your experiences working on that film? From complicated to simple tasks, what was your role as stunt double on the film?

OW: I was Mary’s stand-in, photo double and stunt double on 10 Cloverfield Lane so I was there every day with her on set. We filmed about 7 weeks in New Orleans mainly on a sound stage bunker set which was kept dark and lots of smoke, dust and special effects that add to the bunker feel. Being in the dark all day was a bit harrowing especially in the beginning and we really felt like we were in a bunker. As with all films I’ve experienced, waiting is the hardest part. There are so many factors that go into each camera shot and set up and those factors add up in time. Once camera rolls it goes fairly quickly, the set up is the longest part and the re-set after a take can also take time. Mary is a really wonderful and natural actress and very gracious. I actually learned a lot from her and she was brave and did a lot of the physical work herself because the camera was on her face. After a few takes it can wear you down, so she put up with a lot. There is a camera close up of her face in a gas mask which was a heavy and awkward camera rig set up she had to wear. I tested it out for the camera people several times and at one point and it on for an hour! It was heavy awkward and difficult to move with and certainly hurt after a while and she wore this rig too to film those scenes. I have so much respect to her and I did my best to help her wherever I could, which is part of what you do as a double.

MT: You also worked on the upcoming film “The Magnificent Seven”. How was working on that set and what stunts did you perform?

OW: I was doubling the actress Haley Bennett and had a shooting scene (imagine that in a western!). There was a lot of sitting and waiting on this film as it was filmed on location and lots of factors went into it; weather, horses, actors, background actors, camera set ups and resets…although I did meet quite a few people and spent time with some of the other actors. One day several of us had other auditions for other projects, so we used the downtime to help tape each other. That was fun actually!

MT: You’ve also done a lot of stand in work. What exactly does that job entail?

OW: A stand-in takes the place of the actor doing the camera set up and lighting. As I mentioned above that can take a long time depending on the shot and how many components there are. For example, you might have to remove a wall or two, re-dress the set, lay track for the dolly, light the scene and then rehearse the action or blocking with camera movements. I did a lot of this on 10 Cloverfield Lane and they also used me as a photo double, so they would roll camera and I’d do the take in Mary’s place. She was carrying the film entirely, so they used me to help with that as it is a lot of work for one person to do alone—it’s actually not possible without wearing the actor out. In some cases you may have several people fill in, but in this case is was just her and I handling the bulk of it.

When I first started out in film in New Orleans, I was hired to stand-in for Melissa Leo on Treme which was in incredible experience for several seasons. I learned a lot from her and learned a lot about lighting and cameras. Following that I had a tremendous experience standing in for several male actors on Django Unchained. It’s unusual to have females stand in for males, usually not done, but Quentin decided to have fun with Bob Richardson and hired me after I played violin for a party the production had one night. I wore men’s clothing and high heels in some cases, and we had a lot of fun laughing about that. Some of those set ups would take quite a long time but we had a blast, listening to music and plenty of joking around.

MT: How did you get into the stunt game? Did you take an extensive course(s)? How much time do you spend weekly working on your craft?

OW: This is something I recently wrote about for an article for Parachutist Magazine link here: http://parachutistonline.com/columns/how_skydiving_changed_my_life/olga-munding

Through skydiving I got into stunt work as not many actresses jump out of planes, so it illustrates the ability to focus and perform under extreme pressure and that is impressive to people. There is of course a physical element to skydiving and you learn how to maneuver your body in the air and control your terminal speed, along with canopy piloting to reach the ground. Most people don’t know, is that skydiving is immensely psychological in that it all comes down to your mental headspace. The calmer you are, the better the dive, the more successful you are. One minute can become a very long time by slowing down your thoughts and streamlining your focus.

I met some stunt guys who upon discovering I was a skydiver, encouraged me to get into stunt work. Both stunts and jumping are continuous learning experience and I have gotten comfortable in the space of “not knowing what’s next” just going with it and trusting myself, that I will know what to do and I will be able to perform.

MT: What’s it like being a female in the “boys” club of the stunt performers on set?

OW: I grew up sort of a tom boy, so I was always around boys. I played plenty of sports and was on a ski team, but I was also a musician, composer, singer and writer and actress so I had a lot of other areas of talent and skill. I am quite comfortable around the guys, although now I’m all grown up and a bit more girlie, but I find they are easy going for the most part an easy to get a long with. I suppose one of the challenges is that is is hard to break into stunts and “the club” if you will, and so that can be difficult for women. But that seems to be the case in whatever business you get into, honestly. Don’t even get me started on the music business!!

MT: Have you had any minor or major injuries working as a stunt performer?

OW: Thankfully not (knock on wood). Bruises and scrapes and sore muscles though…

MT: What’s the biggest high risk stunt you’ve performed to date?

OW: I’d say jumping out of planes is my biggest high risk and I do that for fun! There are different kinds of stunts at different risk levels. Certain people are better at certain things than others and I very much respect people who do the things I cannot. For example, I know nothing about car crashes and car stunts. There are experts in that area and I would defer to them as it is a special skill.

MT: Do you have a stunt that you love to perform in a movie that you haven’t performed yet?

OW: I’d like to skydive in a movie!!

MT: What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most in your life?

OW: Star Wars – A New Hope is my favorite and I’ve seen it a million times, it never gets old.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.
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Interview with Stunt Performer/Actress Kayla Adams (Deadpool, Oblivion)

It was fun to chat with Kayla Adams, a definite artist on the rise. She gives us the insight on being a female stunt performer on Hollywood productions and moving to working as an actress (who can also do her own stunts!)

Go to www.kaylaadams.co and follow her on twitter @sugarKAYne

kayla_photo.jpgMatthew Toffolo: Oblivion was your first credited film? Quite the introduction: working on a large budget Hollywood film. How did you get initially hired to work on that film? How was the Tom Cruise experience?

Kayla Adams: Oblivion was my first experience on a feature film. I had booked commercials prior to Oblivion, but this was my first time working on a feature for the run of the show. I was like a sponge, soaking everything up. Initially I was hired as the Stunt Department Assistant which provided me with so much inside knowledge of the filmmaking process. As the project went on, the Stunt Coordinators, Robert Alonzo and Joe Box, knew I was very athletic and trained in acting so they threw me into a stunt performing spot that I was physically capable doing. It was a week in New Orleans in an old, leaky, basically condemned power plant. We had to shut down one day due to flooding! And that’s how I got my SAG card! Working with Tom is like being greatly inspired and challenged all at once. His level of dedication, professionalism and creativity is infectious and can only drive you to be the same. The film sets are some of the tightest run sets I’ve worked on, simply because efficiency is the only option when working with Tom. Outside of all the work, he’s truly a kind, welcoming man. Each time I’ve seen him since Oblivion he always welcomes me with a big hug and expresses genuine interest in you. I hope for the day to work on set as an actor with Tom.

PHOTO: Kayla with Tom Cruise, and Stunt Coordinator Robert Alonzo:

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Matthew: How did you get into the stunt game? Did you take an extensive course(s)? How much time do you spend weekly working on your craft?

Kayla: I got into stunts through Oblivion. I grew up doing gymnastics, so strength and flexibility has been in my body since I was a kid. I didn’t pursue stunts as much as I pursued acting; However sometimes the universe gives you a path that you don’t plan for. I train in Martial Arts with Richard Alonzo who is a 3rd degree black belt and is an amazing teacher. Since my last stunt performing gig on Deadpool I have decided to pour my energies back into acting. Trying to excel in stunts and acting is nearly impossible as both crafts require a large amount time. That’s not to say I don’t stay physically fit and prepared for stunt roles, I just don’t actively pursue it as much anymore.

Matthew: As of this interview, the film “Deadpool” is out in theaters. The first blockbuster of 2016. How was that experience? Was it a hush-hush set?

Kayla: Deadpool. That was one heck of an experience. I am so grateful to be apart of that project. There was so many moments when I had to hold back laughter between the banter with TJ Miller and Ryan Reynolds characters. The bar fight scene where I played the waitress, Kelly, was one of those moments. TJ kept improving new lines and I was trying my hardest not to crack up each time. Working with the director, Tim Miller, and the writers, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, was an honour. They are so talented and dedicated to their work, yet stay so humble and make coming to work each day a pleasure.

Again, I worked on it for the run of the show so the amount of time and passion put into this film was huge. Being apart of the cast and crew for that many months developments a bond and comfortability that you just don’t get when you walk on as a day player. The set etiquette with privacy and keeping things quiet was similar to many big budget films I’ve worked on. However there was one particular paparazzi that continually followed us around snapping photos of Ryan in the red suit. But I hate to break it to the paps, it was most likely our stunt double in the same suit!

PHOTO: Kayla on set on Deadpool:

kayla_deadpool.jpg

Matthew: You are also an actor (without the stunts). Is acting where you see your future in Hollywood?

Kayla:  I can say a line or two 😉 Yes acting is definitely where my future is. I just finished shooting a feature film called HEX where I play a character who is a super talented skydiver about to stumble into a stream of bad luck. Keep your eyes open for that project! Over the past few years, my passion and love for the craft and the business has really developed and become my main focus.

Matthew: What’s it like being a female in the “boys” club of the stunt performers on set?

Kayla: Haha…well… Speaking only for myself, I love it! I’m a bit of a tomboy myself so it can be fun hanging out with a bunch of guys all day. I think sometimes they are shocked when they hear me crack jokes with them, but in reality I’ve been very lucky to work with some of the best stunt performers in the business and they are all very respectful and kind hearted people. I am lucky to be apart of the boys club 🙂

Matthew: We are seeing a lot more female driven action/thriller films being produced in Hollywood. One would assume that is good for you because they obviously need female stunt performers. Is the future bright for female stunt performers like yourself?

Kayla: There’s a bright future for myself being the Female lead in these action thriller films! That would be my dream role. I love strong, badass female characters with heart. And the bonus is I could do most of my own stunts. Thats if the studio lets me 😉

Matthew: What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most in your life?

Kayla: It tends to vary depending on what I’m feeling at that time in my life. The movies I gravitate towards generally mirror something I’m going through or needing to see. Generally speaking, I love the film “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.

Matthew: “The Woods” is another film you worked on that is also coming out in 2016. Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect? What was your role on that film?

Kayla: The Woods was a super creepy set! They built the cabin inside a sound stage and it felt so real. The stunt coordinator, Loyd Bateman, called me in to double the lead actress. It was a sequence in the cabin and involved a lot of blood! I don’t think I can say much else, other than IT’S GOING TO BE SCARY!!

Matthew: Have you had any minor or major injuries working as a stunt performer?

Kayla: Thankfully no.

Matthew: What’s the biggest high risk stunt you’ve performed to date?

Kayla: Oddly enough, some of the smallest stunts can become high risk. Not to minimize the risk of any stunt at any level, but there is always a large amount of risk involved. I haven’t had to perform something where I felt it was out of my ability that could be deemed as “high risk.” I’ve been selective with that as acting is my main focus now and that plays a huge part when taking stunt jobs.

Matthew: Do you have a stunt that you love to perform in a movie that you haven’t performed yet?

Kayla: DRIVING/CAR CHASE SEQUENCE!

PHOTO: Kayla performing Stunts on set:

kayla_stunts

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Actor James Wallis (Shakespeare BASH’d)

I first met James Wallis 5 years ago when he performed at one of our Screenplay Festival events when we were working at the National Film Board of Canada. Right away you could tell he was an actor on the rise as he always served the story he was performing in while also bringing an original and unique take. That is something that is very rare to see in an actor.

I was happy to sit down with James as he’s preparing to play Hamlet at the Monarch Tavern in downtown Toronto, Canada from February 2-7 2016. Go to http://www.shakespearebashd.com/hamlet.html for more information.

James also serves as the Artistic Director for the successful theatre company Shakespeare BASH’d.

shakespeare_basdh Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you and your team to start the Shakespeare BASH’d company?

James Wallis: For me I was interested in doing Shakespeare’s plays very simply, with a bare bones approach to the work and making sure that the plays are accessible, fun, and clear. I also felt that I knew a ton of great actors who were not getting the opportunity to do great work with Shakespeare and I wanted to give them that chance.

It’s grown over the years, of course, but it’s always been about the work. The plays and the text and the actor. It’s a simple relationship that the stage highlights very well.

Matthew: You’re set to play HAMLET in your upcoming production. The who’s who of actors have performed the role. The list is too long to name. What makes you want to tackle this iconic role?

James: It’s a great chance, especially with the company that I have with me on this Hamlet. It’s a generous part, by that I mean it gives you a lot of text to experience and play with. He’s a hard character, of course, because of the depth of his emotional life but also because Shakespeare has made the character very ambiguous. He doesn’t give you a clear answer to any question, which is lovely and an amazing opportunity for any actor.

Matthew: How do you make your performance of HAMLET unique?

James: I’m striving for clarity. What is Hamlet saying? And what is he trying to do to the other characters in the play and/or the audience?

Also I don’t think that many short, stout, funny men have played Hamlet and I wonder why. At times, he’s very funny and at times he’s very emotional. Regardless, he’s working through everything. Trying to decide what to do. I don’t think he wants to hurt anyone but circumstances don’t allow him to be passive.

Matthew: What actor(s) would you love to perform with as you move forward in your career?

I would love to work with Graham Abbey or Jonathan Goad. I have admired their work for many years. They are fantastic Shakespeare actors. Also, I would love to work with Maev Beatty again, she’s amazing.

In a dream world, probably somebody like Gary Oldman or Ian McKellen.

Matthew: You’ve performed at our screenplay festival a few times and there was an exchange between the two of us way back in 2011 that I’ll always remember. You performed in a supporting role in a TV Pilot reading and the actor assigned to the lead role had a lot of trouble. It was a tough role and I was chatting with you, your agent, and the rest of the cast afterwards about it. I was in mid-sentence and all of a sudden you interrupted me and stated “I would of nailed that role without an issue!” I was taken aback because you weren’t arrogant or cocky about it, but just confident and so assured of your ability. I believed you right away. I told myself that I should keep an eye on this guy James Wallis. Do you remember this exchange? And as an actor what’s the difference between confidence and arrogance?

James: I don’t remember that specifically, but I wouldn’t put that past me ever to do that. I always say that as artists (whatever your discipline) you need a thick skin. As an actor, you are constantly rejected and that’s part of the business. You need that thick skin to know that you have the ability to do whatever is asked of you. That’s very important, emotionally, it will keep you rolling.

To me, confidence is knowing that you can do it. Arrogance is thinking you’re entitled to it. There’s a difference and it’s about what you bring to the table. You can be confident and collaborative. Arrogance is something about you and only you.

Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

James: That’s a tough one. Shawshank Redemption probably. Or Father of the Bride, the Steve Martin version. I love that freakin’ movie.

Matthew: What’s the key difference between working on stage to working on film/TV?

James: Theatre is more about the rehearsal period. Your building something very specific that needs to be alive every night. Film is more immediate and you need to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Film is also more technical. Eye line, movement of head and such.

Of course, film is much smaller but with that comes a determined specificity.

Both are fun. I’ve done more theatre but film is always a treat.

Matthew: Do you have an acting mentor?

James: I love working with Ian Watson, he’s a Shakespeare teacher. He’s taught me a lot about everything to do with Shakespeare.

Matthew: Where did you grow up and why did you decide to become an actor?

James: I grew up in Newmarket. It started simply: I liked this girl who was in the musical, so I decided to join up to spend more time with her. From there I just fell in love with the theatre. I liked the people, I liked how hard the work was and I liked what theatre could accomplish.

Matthew: Besides acting, what else are you passionate about?

James: Theatre in general. I also am very interested in reading and non fiction books. Plus documentaries. I would love to do one one day. I also love and am very passionate about beer.

Matthew: What is the next Shakespeare role/play that you will tackle?

James: I’m going to be assistant directing Macbeth at the Stratford Festival this coming season, so that’s where I’m off to after Hamlet. Shakespeare BASH’d is also beginning our next season with our final production at the Toronto Fringe Festival at the Victory Café. We are doing The Comedy of Errors, which will be in July. I will have a small role in that but from there we have a lot of thoughts about what is next. I would say that I want to play Richard III at some point.

Matthew: What have you learned the most being an Artistic Director for your Theatre company?

James: It takes hard work and endless patience. You need to love what you do and know why you are doing it. Plus, you need people who will work hard with you. I have an amazing group of people who help me, especially my wife Julia, who works harder than I do.

Matthew: Where do you see your company growing in the next 5 years?

James: I hope to start doing plays from Shakespeare’s contemporaries. I would love to do repertory, with two plays by Shakespeare at once. I would also like to be doing Shakespeare in schools, teaching kids the possibilities of Shakespeare on stage..

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you and your team to start the Shakespeare BASH’d company?

James Wallis: For me I was interested in doing Shakespeare’s plays very simply, with a bare bones approach to the work and making sure that the plays are accessible, fun, and clear. I also felt that I knew a ton of great actors who were not getting the opportunity to do great work with Shakespeare and I wanted to give them that chance.

It’s grown over the years, of course, but it’s always been about the work. The plays and the text and the actor. It’s a simple relationship that the stage highlights very well.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with actor Charley Scalies (The Wire, The Sopranos)

TheWire15

I recently chatted with veteran actor Charley Scalies on his career and where he’s headed next. Trivia question: How many actors have appeared in both The Wire and The Sopranos? (answer at bottom of interview)

Matthew Toffolo: You have acted on two iconic shows – The Wire and The Sopranos. How does it feel to know that your performances will be watched for generations to come?

Charlie Scalies: Humbling, very humbling. But the thing that really makes me smile is knowing my great grandkids, and beyond, will get to see what Poppi looked and sounded like.

Matthew: You worked on Season 2 of The Wire. A terrific season about the world of Unions and the decline of the middle-class in our society. It’s personally my favorite season. Did you expect The Wire to be so iconic even 13 years after you filmed your season?

Charlie: During filming, we hoped it would be nominated for an Emmy, especially when one reviewer said he couldn’t catch any of us acting. Highest praise. As for the “stevedores”, we had no doubt since we all hung out together just like a brotherhood on the docks. But David Simon, the show’s creator, felt its ratings were not high enough to even be considered. Of course, he was right.

Not until later, when the show was called out as being one of the ten best written TV shows of all time, did we came to realize that we might have been a part of a show that would not only be watched, over and over, but studied.

In 2014, I received an invitation from my alma mater, St. Joseph’s University, to speak to members of the Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence about my experiences on the series. I was gob-smacked to learn they were studying “The Wire” for its sociological implications!

Matthew: The Sopranos was already established as one of the greatest TV shows of all-time when you appeared in Tony’s dream in season 5 as Coach Molinaro. I’ve talked to a few actors who’ve appeared on the show and all of them have said how intense the set was, albeit in a good way. How many days did you work on the show and what do you remember most about those days?

Charlie: I appeared in only one scene in the “Test Dream” episode. It was just James (Jim) Gandolfini and me. The finished version lasts about 3 ½ minutes. We began at noon and wrapped at midnight. I believe there were around 8 to 10 different set-ups which, alone, would account for 5 to 6 hours. (Acting for film/TV is about 85% waiting, 14% eating and 1% working.) I wouldn’t describe the set as intense but it was very business-like, as is the norm based on my experience.

When Jim arrived on set, we ran lines. Usually, actors simply recite them; they don’t act them. I do not. I try to give it the same read as I do when cameras are rolling. Since I had the first line, I bellowed “I know you’re there Soprano! Well come on! You’re gonna do it, do it!” Jim was a bit startled but then smiled. If there was any tension or doubt in his mind, it must have been dispelled.

We didn’t read the whole scene. I don’t recall why. I approached him privately and asked if he had the opportunity to read all of it. He had not. Without comment, I pointed to his final line which, in my opinion, was beyond lame. He thanked me and had it changed. (I don’t think I am permitted to tell you what it was.)
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When we were finished, I asked for a photo and he graciously consented.

That smile is the real guy. I like to believe that his last thought was one of sadness that his young son had to witness his father’s death.

Matthew: What is your best memory of working with James Gandolfini?

Charlie: First a little background. The Coach was Tony’s high school football coach: the only man, beside his father, that Tony both feared and respected. In the dream, the Coach represents Tony’s conscience and he is coming to silence it.

Though this may be trite, I don’t know how to put it any better. He gave me everything I needed and I tried to do the same. When he first appeared in my doorway, it was Tony Soprano, not Jim Gandolfini. And I wasn’t Charley Scalies, I was Coach Molinaro. I spoke to him as I would my own son and he answered accordingly. At no time did I feel either of us was acting. It was that easy. He was a pro and I like to think I am, too.

As an aside, I did learn a valuable lesson, much to my embarrassment.

I had a line “You had all the perquisites to be a leader on the field of sport.” What I should have done –other than keep my trap shut – was to point to the word “perquisites” and asked “Is that right?” No. Mr. English Major had to show off his language acumen with, “That’s not the right word. It should be “prerequisites”. The response came back, “The word is correct. Remember whose dream this is.”

Tail between the legs moments are quite effective at bowing one’s head.

Matthew: You jumped back into the acting world 20 years after working a “regular job”. What regular job did you work?

Charlie: I was Director of Sales and Contracts Management covering several divisions of a conglomerate and left to form my own consulting firm.

Matthew: What motivated you to get back into the acting world after so long?

Charlie: During my high school and college years, while South Philly was producing the likes of Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker and Fabian, a friend and I formed the stand-up comedy act and played every Beef and Beer we could find. Like every other comedy duo of the time, we patterned our act after Martin and Lewis. Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People”, would call that “Benchmarking Best Practices”. Einstein would call it research. We called it stealing.

I also got involved in some high school and college productions until, between sophomore and junior years at St. Joes, I was struck by lightning.

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I met Angeline, a dark haired beauty from North Philly and, within a matter of weeks, the nesting instinct kicked in. Shortly after graduation, I took a “real job”, married my Angeline, and together we set out to happily create and raise five children. In the meantime, the spot went out and the curtain came down on my acting “career”. At the time, I didn’t know it was only Act One.

Act Two. Fast forward to 1991. Because I purposefully limited the range of my consulting to my immediate area, I was no longer required to travel so I was home every night: not a long trip – my office was adjacent to the family room. The extra time allowed me to go back to some theater work. It ranged from parish shows to community theater to dinner theater. I was Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, Billy Flynn in Chicago and my favorite, The Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz, where we got to perform the original movie score before 400 Hispanic children, between the ages of 5 and 9, none of whom could speak English. It was the greatest, most responsive audience of my life. After the show, we went among them – in costume – and they squealed and climbed all over us. The Tin Man said, “If I die now, I’d be fulfilled” I said, “Me too, but I hope God isn’t listening.”

I also got to bring my Angeline on stage where we performed a two person, one act play called, “American Coffee” by Victor Bumbalo. She was petrified but did a marvelous job!

How did I get her to consent? Simple, I said “I have changed hundreds of diapers, the least you can do is act with me.” I learned guilt from my mother.

Act Three. Tony Scipione was a high school and college classmate and a groom at our wedding. Tony was an even bigger Broadway “freak” than I. Shortly after Tony married Dianne, they decided to move to New York so he could pursue an acting career. Almost thirty years later they returned to Philly where Tony and a partner, Rodney Robb, founded “The Actor’s Center”. When I visited, I told him about my community theater dalliances. What followed was pretty much like this.

“Why don’t you turn pro?”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

”I’ll cast you in a few of our shows. Rodney’s wife, Edie, is a Talent Manager. She’ll see you, she’ll love you, she’ll send you on additions.”

And that is how it began.

Matthew: You have 5 kids. What’s the secret to being a good father?

Charlie: 1. Love their mother.

2. Spend as much time with them as you possibly can. Your work may come first but your hobbies come last.

3. Teach them to respect themselves and others and to work hard for what they want.

4. Listen to them. Don’t be their judge or their critic, be their teacher. Loudly applaud every success. Correct them quietly and privately. Hug them – a lot.

5. Your job as a father is to ultimately make them self-sufficient, i.e. not need you. When you hear, “Don’t worry about this Pop, I got it” and you believe them, you can be pretty sure your job is over.

Matthew: What haven’t you accomplished yet that you need to accomplish in the TV/movie world?

Charlie: I have written the story that I wanted to write. When I read it, and I often do, it makes me remember, smile and laugh – yes at my own jokes. That one is for me, my soul. If it doesn’t get produced, that’s OK. Joe Stefano knows I did it.

From a business perspective, I would like someone with expertise in the business and with adequate funds to turn it into a producible film. One of those folks might spark to the story and decide it needs wholesale changes. I am a business person at heart and I always bow to the one who puts his/her money on the line.

Matthew: If you could work with one director that you haven’t worked with yet, who would that be?

Charlie: That’s tough. I had the privilege of working with Terry Gilliam, who gave me the best direction I ever received. “I want you to act strange, but I don’t know that that means.”

And working with Barry Levinson was akin to getting a PhD in comedic acting.

Since you probably guessed I love comedy and larger than life characters who get to say outrageous things, I’d have to go with Danny DeVito (or Penny Marshall as a very close second)

Matthew: Who is your personal favorite actor of all-time?

Charlie: That’s like asking, “Who is your favorite child?” While I tell each of my five children that he/she is my favorite, you’re probably not going to let me get away with that here.

As a movie/TV fan I have many. But as an actor, there is only one: an actor who can read a line in ways I could never imagine. Christopher Walken. And I never caught him acting.

Matthew: What advice do you have for actors trying to make it in the industry?

Don’t expect that what happened to me will also happen to you.

Charlie: Treat it like your job, your business. Full time. No screwing around. Otherwise, it’s just a hobby.

Plan. Do. Check, Adjust.

· Make a plan with financial needs, goals and a timetable (with the help of your manager or agent).

· Follow the plan (Do it)- Toughen your skin. You are going to hear NO a lot more than YES

· Check/measure your progress against your timetable

· Adjust your Plan if you are not on target to achieve your goals

Break a leg

Trivia question answer: 6 (actors John Doman, Michael K. Williams, J.D. Williams, Brian Anthony Wilson, Joey Perillo, and CHARLEY SCALIES)