Interview with Actor Daniel D’Amico

ED- From time to time The Eerie Digest magazine introduces a new wave of actors to all our readers. Not only delving in experience is vital to those who read our magazine and hope to make a career in acting, but the comradeship of new actors is extremely important too. Thus is the case with actor Daniel D’Amico. Daniel, tell us what influenced you most to take up this career?

DD- All my life I’ve entertained family and friends with improvised skits, using my imagination, always trying to come up with something new or different.  The reactions to the things I was doing by my audiences (at that time Family) really fueled my need to perform and do things out of the “norm”. I love making people laugh and have always had a cast of characters inside of me just waiting to perform. I consider myself to be a “performer looking for a stage”.  I found that stage in my late 30’s, when I played 4 different characters in the Rockville Theater’s version of “We won’t pay, we won’t pay” by Dario Fo.  I never stop performing in my everyday life, but what re-ignited my passion for acting as a “real” actor came when I landed the part of FBI Special Agent “David Bronson” in “Signals II”.

ED- You were born in Italy and came to America to reach for your dream. Please tell our readers about your early beginnings.

DD- Performing must have been in my blood, because even at 5 years old in Italy, I remember taking my Father’s accordion, which was almost bigger than I was and playing it outside. I’m sure the neighbors loved hearing the racket I was making, but in my mind even then I was performing.  At age seven I had no clue that my life was about to change when my Family moved to the United States, I spoke no English, wore “funny” clothes and had interesting images of what America would look like, picturing real long stretched out cars and things like that.  Initially our family lived in a small apartment with my Uncle’s family. School was tough, I was that “foreign” kid, ridiculed by my classmates, always getting picked on, but through it all I held my own and used my gift of humor to get me through many difficult situations. They just seemed to stop in their tracks, mezmerized by this crazy little Italian boy acting like a fool.  They laughed, it was funny to them, I think they got a kick out of some of the things I did and they stopped picking on me , if only for a minute.   I got pretty good at dodging that big red rubber ball they kept throwing at me too, for some reason I was always picked to be the one against the wall and learned real fast to avoid that ball, before it wrapped around my head and drove it back into the concrete wall. Throughout my childhood I was a very creative person and loved to draw and build things, I just kept to myself and had no problem keeping myself and others entertained.

ED- One of your first projects was HBO’s ‘The Wire’. Please tell us about the show and the role that you played on it.

DD- The show was a police drama set in Baltimore and I played the role of a Detective, it was a non speaking role as an “extra” but I got some brief screen time in the bar scene, I was positioned behind one of the principal actors. It’s funny how excited I was to see myself for that brief instant when he raised his arm to toast a fallen officer and I’m right under that elbow. Just a few seconds in several different shots but I wore out the VCR rewinding and pausing the scene to show my friends and Family.

ED- Tell us something about the other cast members that you worked with.

DD- It was very cool sitting across some of the principal actors who I had seen in other movies, especially Dominic West. I was surprised to be able to talk with an established actor I had seen in so many movies.  But I was more impressed with the time he took to answer some of my questions, I learned right there that he was a real person with character, talking to me about some of his roles and how for this role he had to turn off his British accent to sound more “American”. He might not have known it, but for him to take those few minutes with me, meant a lot to me and if he were here right now I would thank him for entertaining my questions.

ED- You also had a role with Chris Rock’s ‘Head of State’. Tell us all about this.

DD- This was an interesting four days of shooting and playing various background “extra” roles, but a very good learning experience, on how “big studio” movie shoots work. Unfortunately, every scene I was in was cut out, so I didn’t have anything to showcase for this, as they say “that’s show biz”.  I was a bit star struck to be able to walk around and interact with some of the principal actors and Chris Rock.  Briefly congratulating him on the birth of his child at the time, he seemed surprised that I was talking to him, but as busy as he was directing and acting, he took a few seconds to smile and throw out a polite “why, thank you”. Watching the late Bernie Mac being as funny off screen as he was on screen was a real treat, some of the pranks he pulled on the crew were outrageously funny.

ED- Please give our readers your view of the set and how you were directed to perform you part and describing the set in detail.

DD- There were several different sets, but the one that sticks with me is inside the “campaign headquarters” where there were over a hundred actors and crew in a very expansive office space, with tall ceilings housed within an older historic building, adorned with intricate architectural detail and ornate lighting fixtures. The scene was shot in the summer for a fall scene, so everyone was dressed for colder temps.  Everyone was positioned and given a start point, the action to be taken and an end point. Once that was established when the director called for action everyone did their part, then they would re-set and do it multiple times for different camera angles. With the crowd of people, lights and outside temperature in the 90’s the room would really heat up.  After a few takes they would roll in these huge portable A/C units to cool things down. One actor had to endure these temperatures wearing an Eskimo coat with the hood up for hours. At the end of shooting this scene, the poor actor was soaked head to toe in sweat, but still managed to keep a smile on his face as he got a standing ovation from cast and crew.

ED- You also were involved in commercials. Please tell us about this aspect of your career and how commercials sets differ from TV or film sets.

DD- The set was in an actual furniture store in Richmond, shooting was done while customers walked around staring at the actors and crew, it was a more laid back atmosphere to act in and sitting on very comfortable leather furniture didn’t hurt either.  The only drawback was having to stop in the middle of a take because the customers sometimes made too much noise. The day made longer because of it. There were script alterations during the shoot if the producer didn’t quite like something, but an overall pleasant experience. It ran for over a month and my Parents got to see me on their Television on almost a daily basis.

ED-You recently took up with Roman Pictures in several of their films. Please tell us about them and the roles that you portrayed.

DD- By far my best opportunity yet as an actor is in “Signals II”, the second installment of the Sci-Fi saga which is full of drama, action and comedy. Of course it doesn’t hurt that it has a hero “Nick Marconi”, played by Carlos Roman himself with some spectacular special powers and an excellent script.  I play FBI Special Agent “David Bronson” opposite the talented Kevin Troy, who plays my partner Agent “Kaplan”.  The chemistry we share on and off set really helps to bring these two characters to life and makes them very believable.  The other film I was chosen to be a part of, is “Second Time Around” where I play “Danny Battaglia, PI” this film is in its final writing and beginning developing stage, but am looking forward to being part of another project with Roman Pictures.

ED- What other types of films are you looking to act in and what are your hopes for the future?

DD- I would love to continue doing action, drama, but making people laugh is what I have done all my life and hope that with more exposure with current and future roles, I can be cast in a comedic film role. Is the dream of making it big in Hollywood there?  Of course, I think I’m going in the right direction to make that a reality, but I will be happy to act in anything that is well written, that also carries with it a good story and characters that I can relate to. I do have another advantage, in that I have a background on the technical side, working for years in Broadcast news and with that I would like to eventually write and/or produce various documentary projects that I’ve had in my head.  It’s all very exciting and I look forward to many amazing things to happen for me in the coming years.

ED- Daniel, it has been a pleasure having this interview with you and I want to thank you for the time that you spent with us. We wish you all the best and hope to hear more good `things about you in the future.