Your new movie Motivational
Growth - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us
about your character in it?
The movie is about my character, Ian B. Folivor, who is a recluse holed
up in his apartment for over a year. He develops a close personal
relationship with his TV whom he names Kent. At the opening of the film,
Kent dies so Ian decides to kill himself. It doesn't go well, and when he
wakes up on the bathroom floor, the mold starts talking to him. After that
it gets weird. Ian is a smart and capable man who happens to be terrified
of the outside world. He was a late 80's computer programmer before he
descended into this hole of fear and despair.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to live, and
how much Adrian DiGiovanni can we find in Ian?
I was an
indoor kid for the first 10 to 12 years of my life. Around 7th grade I
started to get into sports and such, but before that it was all Nintendo
and comic books. That, coupled with my over sized glasses and silly
haircut, was the perfect combination of personality traits to brand me the
geek of my class. I was made fun of pretty bad, mostly by the kids a grade
ahead of us, but my classmates hit me up pretty good from time to time. It
forced me to live in my head alot and made me afraid to interact with
people. By high school I was able to make more friends and find my niche,
but grade school was tough. So, in a way, my seclusion and torment at the
hands of middle school d-bags really helped me prepare to play a man who
wanted nothing to do with people. All the times that Ian is really smart
and charming are pretty much the bits from the actual me.
it like to for the most part act off of a grotesque puppet that's actually
... nothing more than mold?
This is the coolest part of the
movie. The puppetry team was able to mix it up physically even though the
line deliveries were the same. Here's what I mean: Director Don Thacker and I went to LA to
record with Jeffrey Combs (voice of "The Mold"). We worked the scenes together as you would on set. Don
picked the best of the best takes to use on the day. So every take of
every line delivery was audibly the same, but the puppeteers always gave
me something to react to. They were truly one half of the performance and
they killed it. It was a three person team who deserve a shout out. Steve
Tolin, Midian Crosby and Jeff Waltrowski all had different parts of the
Mold's face to operate and they were so in tune that they were able to
talk to Don as the Mold and work the face in regular conversation.
Watching Don direct the puppet was like watching him talk to an actor.
Those guys were tight.
How did you get involved
with the movie in the first place, and how could you identify with the
film's rather bizarre horror theme?
I was looking to find my self a grown folks job. I was done with
acting. Well, more so done with being poor. So I was interviewing for jobs
and was actually offered a job selling supplemental life insurance when I
got an email from Imagos Films inviting me to audition. I read the sides
and they were so twisted and weird that I thought I should at least go.
These seem like people I'd like to know. And it was a paid gig, which
doesn't happen much in the Chicago indie film scene, so I thought I'd give
it a shot. I truly had nothing to lose because I had made up my mind to
walk away, so I went into the audition looking to have a good time. And I
did. I did the toilet monologue first and the exchange between Don and I
went as such:
Don: You can use a chair as your toilet.
Me: Should I drop my pants?
Odd glances between Don and his producer, complete with slight
amusement and a sly smile.
Don: No, that's fine. We get it.
It was so fun. Don had me come in for callbacks to read with everybody
reading for every character. After a couple weeks I asked when he thought
he would make a decision and he said, " oh, you have the part. I gave
it to you on day one. I just wanted you to bring it for callbacks."
As far as relating to the bizarre themes, I thrive on bizarre themes.
The stranger the better. It's like they wrote a movie just for me.
Do talk about your
director Don Thacker for a bit, and what was it like working with him? And
how did the two of you meet even, and what can you tell us about your
Well, I think i just answered the first part of your question in the
previous one. That audition was the first time I met Don. I will say, on
our first meeting to go over the script and character, we met at the
Eleven City Diner in Chicago and Don was raving about the Eleven City
french toast. You gotta try it. It's awesome. And I did. And it was. It
was also huge and decadent and not for those people who would like to stay
slim and fit. While I was eating he looked me in the eye and said ,
"how much weight can you lose before the shoot?" He didn't do
this on purpose, but it was a silly thing - eat this stuff, now lose
weight! Oh, Don. I did work on a secret project with Imagos
that I can
give details about but when I got to where we were shooting I discovered
that all of the other actors were on an intense weight loss program to
show the effects of the situation we were in. Now, I'm not a fat guy, I'm
actually in pretty good shape at this point, but everyone was trying to
get to super thin. No one bothered to tell me this was happening so I
said, "screw it. My character was fat when this all started and I
lost more weight than all of you." That's what you call creative
problem solving. But keep an eye on Imagos Films
on social media. When
this project is revealed you're gonna want to see it. It looks amazing.
As far as working with Don, I've never met a more determined
person in my life. The guy will sacrifice any and everything to get the
job done right. He won't sleep sometimes because the project is more
important. It's the most important. He has a very clear vision in his mind
and he will do whatever it takes to nail it. And he knows how to read
people and communicate with them, the way they need to be communicated
with, for them to get it. His brain is powerful and efficient. We have a
very good working relationship. We developed a kind of short hand early on
in the process and now it's just smooth. No matter what we're doing we
slide right into it and I give him what he needs. He's a very talented
dude. Expect big things. Big things are coming from Don.
What can you tell us about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
We shot over
nights. It was a 3pm to 3am schedule. And it was awesome! I love film
acting. It's all I ever want to be doing. When we shot this movie, I was
kind of disconnected from the real world because of the schedule. Don put
it best when he said, " We have a bunch of talented budding film
makers kicking ass for no money." Of course there was money, just not
a lot of it. The film looks expensive, but the budget was low. Everyone
brought it. There was no one there who wasn't 100% wrapped up in the job.
And we all loved what we were doing. It was the happiest work environment
I'd ever experienced. Then again, I worked in the shit world of serving
and bartending for 10 years so the bar wasn't that high. But I made a lot
of good friends and never wanted to leave. This shoot was the happiest
I've ever been to that point.
projects you'd like to share?
It's a secret. Once again,
on social media. Or me, I share things too. It shouldn't be
long, but I'm under wraps for now.
What got you into acting
in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the
I was an art major in college and I took an acting
class as an elective because I figured it would be easy. It was not. But
I fell in love with it. It was really all very new to me and I wanted to
soak it all up and know everything about it. I hadn't had a new obsession
in a long time. When I get interested in something, I devour it. I want to
know and do everything that is involved with that thing. I changed my
major to Theatre in my senior year. Stayed an extra year in college to
finish my degree, then moved to Chicago to study at Second City. By the
time I graduated I was cast in an indie film called Treadmill, and then
just went from there. I did corporate events, plays, sketch and improv
shows. I was all over the place. I was performing on a very regular basis
but still had to work full time at a crap job. That's when I thought it
was time to give up and that's when Don found me. I'll never leave acting
Before moving into film, you have done quite
some theatre - so what can you tell us about that part of your career, and
how does performing on stage compare to acting in front of a camera?
and screen are very different in practice but the same in theory. You have
to develop your character, break down your script and know who this person
is. The moment craft is the same. And I love doing all of that work. And
you do all of that work beforehand. When the curtain goes up or you get
called to places on set, the work is done. It is now playtime. The trade
craft is very different. The nuts and bolts of it are two different
worlds. In film you're shooting out of context, you can be delivering a
heart wrenching monologue to what is supposed to be another actor but
because of camera placement you're pouring your heart out to a wall or a
room full of crew members. In theatre you memorize the whole play at once,
in film I always come prepared and off book for the scenes of the day. I
prefer film acting. The main reason is I have a short attention span.
Eight shows a week, two on Sunday, I will get bored with the material. I'd
much rather spend a day working a scene or a few scenes, wrap those pages
and move on. Then, when the shoot is over, move on the next project. I
have so much in me, I don't want to get trapped in the same world for
months on end. And that's just my preference. I know plenty of theatre
actors who hate film. I do enjoy the immediacy of response in a theatre,
but I don't need it. I like to create and move on.
what got you acting in movies eventually, and can you still remember your
first time in front of a movie or TV camera?
The very first
film I did was a short called Degenerates. I played a video store clerk
who gets robbed. It was a tiny film made in Lehigh Valley, PA. No money,
just fun. I remember having the best time. My girlfriend at the time was
in it. A really good friend of mine who I was in a band with was in it.
He's actually acting in New York right now but I don't know if he'd want
to be mentioned by name so I'll leave him out of it. But, again, it was a
new process and I wanted to learn it and do it well. It was bad. I was
bad. But it started something.
Growth, your first venture into horror was I believe The
Nest - you just have to talk about that one for a bit!
I did an adaptation of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart for a guy at Columbia
College. It was his thesis film and I played the caretaker. That was my
first horror and it was awesome. It looks great. Our DP on the project,
the super talented Josh Tallo of Tallo Film Works, became one of my
closest friends and we did a bunch of projects together since. Our dream
is to make movies together for a living. We have a lot of ridiculous
ideas. I like ridiculous. But I got my job on The
Nest because the lead
actress in the film, Jamie Newell, and I played mother and son in my first
feature called Treadmill, which is available to stream on amazon -
saying. The director Tim Zwica [Tim
Zwica interview - click here] was looking to fill the role of Dizzy and Jamie gave
him my number. We talked on the phone, he watched Treadmill and said,
"you got it. Come on down." That was really easy. I wish getting
all jobs was that easy. That was another set where it was a labor of love.
Everyone was pumped to be making a movie. Indie film is the way to go,
man. You won't get rich, but you'll be fulfilled.
other films of yours you'd like to talk about?
I wrote a
couple of screenplays that I'd love to produce. So if any producers are
reading this, hit me up at
My dream film is a horror/comedy called My Friend Frankenstein
which is actually mostly a werewolf film. Josh and I really want to make
this one. It's like if Tarantino did Monster Squad, I suppose. It's harsh,
funny, sexual and violent. All my favorite things. The bad guy does eat a
baby. So, there's that.
you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring
your characters to life?
I act because I love acting. I
take it very seriously but I do not, in any way, shape or form, deify the
craft of acting. I don't aspire to be like anyone, I'm not looking to be
treated like I'm special, I just like acting. If I could spend all of my
time on set and my downtime at home with my family and dogs, that'd be
great. Dogs are awesome. You can't make it out to be something it's not.
It's a job. It's a super fun job, but if you treat it like a sacred art
and be all pretentious about it, you'll lose sight of the point. The point
is to fill your days with something you enjoy. Sure I'd like to leave
something behind when I'm dead and gone. And I've done that. Now I will
make more movies and play with my dogs. As for techniques, I stay out of
my head. It's really hard to explain. It's more complicated than this,
but, basically, I just be the guy. I believe my improv training is the
best training I ever had. Acting is reacting and the most important thing
to do is stay in the moment and be aware. Again, I do all of the work
before the shoot. I break down the script and build up the character. Know
your character, know your lines, pay attention to the actors in the scene
and bring it.
Actors who inspire you?
more inspired by thinkers and comedians than by actors. George Carlin,
Louis CK and Bo Burnham are a few of the guys who make me think and laugh.
Thinking and laughing are two of the most important things you can do on a
daily basis. My favorite actor is Dennis Quaid. I can't really explain
why. But all celebrities have that "IT" factor. You see them on
screen and you get pulled in. I just relate to his "IT" more
than anyone else. Now, he is a great actor. Enemy Mine is killer.
Everybody's All-American. He was great in Horsemen, if you haven't seen
it, go watch it. I think there's a plateau where great actors live. Talent
and skill-wise they're basically equal and from that point it's a matter
of hard work, networking and picking the right project. The biggest stars
do the best business. Tom Hanks is a great producer and business man as
well as a great actor. That's why he's an icon. But is he a better actor
than, say, Marlon Brando was? It truly depends on who you ask.
This is a hard question. I love so many
movies for so many different reasons. One movie that always makes me laugh
and is my go to if I need a pick me up is Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. I
don't care what anyone says, that movie is brilliant. I'm a big fan of
Charlie Chaplin. His film The Great Dictator is amazing. Also, The Circus is a film that made me want to transition from theatre to film.
There is an Italian film called The Tiger and the Snow by
Roberto Benigni that will blow you away. Let's see, I also love werewolf
movies. All of them. Except one. See next question.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Any werewolf movie can be saved be two things:
creature design and transformation scenes. Even if the story or acting is
shit, you can at least give us something neat to watch. Enter Wolves
of Wallstreet. I don't hate movies. Even with bad movies I'll find
some redeeming quality. Except here. Script: bad. Acting: worse. Werewolf
design and transformation: Non-existant! They get kind of grey and veiny
and hiss a bunch. No werewolves, no transformation. I was pissed. Only
movie ever that I hated.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
This also has links to my Facebook, Twitter and IMDb.
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that's a pretty thorough interview you got there. Thanks for asking me to
do it. This was fun.
for the interview!