Your new movie War Path
- in a few words, what's it about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
in a few words... it's got a lot of heart to start with, but it's a
really fun indie crime thriller that takes you through some twists,
turns and action with some lighter moments that let you breathe a bit. I
was cast as the lead hero or antihero Joel and, I really enjoyed his run.
He's got a lot of tough decisions to make and that's something you always
enjoy as an actor. Joel himself is struggling to make his way in the
world and fell into this line of work of murder for hire, but he's grown
and seen more. He comes to terms that this life isn't what he wants. The
audience will get to see that pretty early on and then watch how that
ultimately unfolds for everyone. In the end that's what makes him
relatable - yes he's been involved in his fair share of Frank's business,
but we watch Joel be conflicted where he's always fighting that internal
right-and-wrong feeling. He's got dignity, which is important, but we also
watch Joel flirt with that line a bit.
What did you draw upon to bring your
character to life, and how much Gary Nohealii can we find in Joel?
was my first lead for a feature, so I really tried to put in as much work
as I possibly could. I knew every one of my scenes in and out, but also
every other character in the entire script. I kept a journal for Joel to
give myself a full story and life leading up to the events in the film.
Who I was, how I got into this line of work, and it really helped to
establish the relationships I had with the other characters in the film,
especially Eric who was played by a friend of mine, Erik
Sundquist (he's amazing hire him). I got involved in some of the pre-production as well. I met our director Casey de Fremery [Casey
de Fremery interview - click here] 11 years ago at a small movie
premiere, and we worked together several times before he even wrote this
script. Two of the projects featured the character Joel and basically gave
birth to the feature concept. So having been around that long and knowing
Casey so well we'd communicate and scheme things up of how were gonna get
stuff done (mainly me being nosey and asking) - he'd mention locations he's
trying to find and whatnot, so I'd strike out and try to match the script
to my resources and pulled every little hook up I had in San Jose at the
time. It really helped us down the stretch but it also helped me shape the
world and get even more comfortable with the surroundings of the
character. Huge thank you to my friend and actor Ranbir Sanghera. He set
us up with our gym, junkyard, Frank's office, my apartment, exteriors, and
final fight scene location for just a high five and a hug. Also referred some
great actors, Erik being one of them, so that made it a really comfortable
feeling to come to set cause you're friends with everyone already
from director to crew to cast, and this is what you've dreamt to do, shoot
a good movie with your friends.
did you get involved with the project in the first place?
I kinda answered that in the above but a little more detail. When Casey
and I met it was a little awkward, he was there at a screening for a
project I had done with a friend but he didn't know anyone else and I'm
pretty shy/awkward when I meet people, so it was kind of a ships-passing
situation. We just smiled, we all laughed at a mutual joke and went home.
A while later however I submitted for a film project he was casting or he
may have just reached out. I'm not quite sure but we ended up working
together. That's also where I first met our DP Ferg. It was a really
interesting script and we absolutely hit it off, and I can say he's a
really good friend of mine today. But from there we filmed the epilogue
short film, which was the first version of Joel "unofficialy",
which is a really cool short. Then we filmed a music video for a Linkin Park contest, and that's really where things took off. It had a similar
narrative and we damn near won the contest, but from that it gave birth to
the War Path script.
Casey told me about the script I was like uhhhh how are we gonna do
this... he said he had a plan and wanted me to audition first so we met
up, I gave a reading... In my recollection I absolutely tanked it. To
this day though Casey is kind enough to say I was great and wouldn't have
moved forward if I did in fact tank. But from there it was on, Casey had
some dough saved and then we fundraised for the rest, called in all of our
favors and went to work.
can you tell us about War
Path's director Casey de Fremery [Casey
de Fremery interview - click here], and what was your collaboration
fluff, I really love working with Casey. He comes to work with a very
clear idea of what he's going for but he is completely unafraid to
pivot if things aren't working or aren't flowing the right way. Takes a
lot of humility and trust to open up his vision and change things with the
cast/crew, but he did so we could all collaborate when we needed to solve
little issues. He's got his stressed days too, but for the most part he
kept things light and if there was ever any real problems going on it
never got back to the group, we always felt like everything was perfect,
even though I know he was putting out some fires from time to time. Aside
from that he's great with working with the actors and helping us get
the best out of a scene, and was really cool with us making things our own.
Usually we'd get in early with just the actors in the scene, Casey, Ferg,
Tyler (cam 2) and Daniel (lighting), and he'd have us rehearse at a half
clip and see how we naturally block things. Then we would work out the
performance kinks and build from there. He steers the ship and we all work
with him. If you got too far off the creative rails though he'll let you
know. Also helps that he's the writer and editor as well, so he sees everything
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
was a little traveling family man. I loved every damn second of it. We all
got really close and I'm great friends with most everyone from the cast
and crew still; War Path created a solid bond. I was on set for 90% of the
shooting days and even when I wasn't scheduled to act I would come
in and PA for the day just cause I wanted to be there. From beginning to
end it was just good times, it was the best experience I could have hoped
for. Everyone was kind of spread out too, so sometimes we'd all have
to crash in the same place for an early call the next day, so we'd
stay up, talk, have a couple drinks and game plan in whoever's pad we
were at. We had numerous dance parties erupt between scenes so that was a
constant theme. I spent a lot of time doing things that made Casey
nervous, especially some of my driving for takes or me hitting the deck
when not planned, and I tore up an office but wanted to make it spontaneous
so I just told Ferg to catch everything and went to town on the set. Best
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
got a supporting role in The Forever Purge hitting theaters
this July, so that's exciting, hopefully the theaters are open by then.
What got you into acting in the first
place, and did you recieve any formal training on the subject?
was an art kid in high school and would just paint and draw all day long, and I
wanted to get into the theater program at school but I was kinda shy and
they had a bit of a close circle, so I shied away from it. Later on I found
my way to a set by chance, not working just kinda hangin around. But an
author approached me and said I looked like the character she had been
writing in her novel Kahala Sun. She asked if I'd like to act
in the movie adaptation. I told her I didn't know how to act and she
encouraged me to get into a class. So I did. The movie never happened but
I completely fell in love with acting that I kinda stopped focusing at
work and eventually filed bankruptcy and short-sold my house. From
there it's been a big adventure and I've been training ever since. Started
with First Take Acting in the Bay Area, started studying with Matthew Barry
in LA, who's become a great friend/supporter. If not for him I may have
packed it up a long time ago (thank you buddy), and for that class I'd
actually commute from San Jose to LA in a single day. Get to class in LA
7pm get out 10:30pm grab a coffee, drive home and sometimes get fogged in
so I'd sleep at gas stations on I5 eating frozen hotdogs wondering why my
life is like this, haha! I moved to LA finally, then trained at UCB,
and that's where I picked up Meisner training which I love. It is an
amazing foundation on the fundamentals of acting to say it crudely. Got
the opportunity to study with James Caan and Scott Caan as well, who are
both phenomenal and kind guys. But I met a teacher and actor named Val
Lauren at Studio 4 as well and I've stuck with him, he's really got an eye
for breaking things down and helping you find yourself, we work in a small
group and it's really amazing. He's also monstrously talented in his own
right, watch the movie Sal about Sal Mineo. So yea, lots of
training, most of it coming after we filmed War Path.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to War
to War Path I worked the local indie scene
in the Bay Area and it was alot of
the fun. The most substantial thing I was cast in and I still enjoy
watching is a series by Brandon Rogers, Theater Class Season 2,
that was an absolute blast to work on as well and I really miss those
early days. Brandon has gone on to a super successful career as well, sky's
the limit for that guy and I'm really happy for him, he worked his ass off.
How would you describe yourself as an
actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
to describe myself, I usually try not to. Lately in my work I see
everything and every character is different, but something I always look
for in the person is humanity, just the simplicity of what they really
want and why, then I filter that through every other aspect of their life
and relationships to color interactions. This conversation can go on
forever by the way... but something I really enjoy is when bad guys or
antagonists are played with dignity. Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New
York and Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones being some that come to
(and indeed actresses) who inspire you?
man how much time ya got... Daniel
Day Lewis - I'll watch anything the man's in -, Denzel
Galdolfini, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni
Hahn - she blows me away, she is in everything and has been for years. The
body of work she's put together is inspiring and I have never seen a false
moment from her.
are people I love to watch, but the ones who I'm inspired by these
days are the blue collar working class actors. You see them in everything
from film, TV, commercial and theater, and you may not know their names but
they are familiar. It takes a lot to live like this going from room to
room, auditioning, being rejected, and still grinding on. For the actors who
make it work and earn a living role to role or attempting to like myself,
that's inspiring for me to wake up and go.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Blues Brothers, Lord
of War, Gangs
of New York, Fallen, Boiler
Big Year, Fight Club, Ray, Blue
for a Dream (when I'm in that mood), BioDome
(it is a childhood guilty pleasure), Joker,
Troopers (guilty pleasure!), Gladiator, Jaws
(watched this with my dad a million times), The Waterboy, Happy
Gilmore - this
can go on for a very long time, I try to watch everything out there for
entertainment and to study.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
I truly deplore anything you'll never hear me speak of it.
Your website, social media, whatever else?
don't post a lot, but my Instagram handle is @Nohealii
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you read through to this point, thank you and I really hope you all enjoy
for the interview!