Cailey Calisi: Path To The Podium

Cailey Calisi, Photo courtesy of
Cailey Calisi, Photo courtesy of

From the tranquil beaches of Cape Cod, comes fiery newcomer and gifted actor, Cailey Calisi. Although she hails as a native Cape Codder, Cailey has spent the past year acclimating to the Boston area and as a member of the Hollywood East Actor’s Group, she’s been privileged to meet and work with many of the great local talent that the area employs.

Cailey discovered her love of acting through theatre while on Cape Cod. Her first role as Ophelia/Laurie in Magic Time at Cape Cod Community College was like baptism by fire. It was her first opportunity to work in an ensemble cast of experienced actors that had great chemistry. “It was such a wonderful initiation and camaraderie that I continually seek that level of acting cohesion in each part I take.” The play received favorable reviews and Cailey’s performance was described as “the shining light of the show”. Following this, she quickly received roles in productions with the Wellfleet Actors Theatre as well as Cotuit Center for the Arts.

Her most challenging role was that of Desdemona in a same sex relationship casting of Othello. Taking the role a mere two weeks before opening, her performance won her rave reviews in the local theatre community and further fueled her acting desire.

Cailey describes her acting philosophy stemming from a deep spiritual belief best articulated by Leo Buscaglia “your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Cailey on the set of Norman Lang’s REVELATION. Photo courtesy of Richard Widmack Belot.
Cailey on the set of Norman Lang’s REVELATION. Photo courtesy of Richard Widmack Belot.

She goes on to say, “I feel everything so intensely. It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” She draws strength for each role after having experienced her own bout of serious depression in adolescence. “My mother and I moved somewhere new every few years and I was always the new kid. My father didn’t have anything to do with me either, so that, combined with having experienced bullying while in high school, contributed to me feeling isolated and depressed“.

She attributes her acting as a form of therapy. “It gave me a passion for life after years of being depressed and alone. I used to constantly worry, but now I hold the belief, ‘why blend in, when you can stand out. My passion for acting shines from the inside out, and when I’m in that zone, I radiate!” Her ultimate goal is to be a pioneering feature film actress.

She wants to use her acting to spread the message, especially to underprivileged youth, that you can do and be anything you want. It takes courage, hard work, perseverance and faith but ultimately, you become what you believe and envision yourself to be.

REVELATION shot of Cailey. You can see director Norman Lang in the background. Photo courtesy Richard Widmack Belot.
REVELATION shot of Cailey. You can see director Norman Lang in the background. Photo courtesy Richard Widmack Belot.

One tremendous influence on Cailey was meeting Academy Award nominated actress Jessica Chastain. Cailey had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Chastain and briefly told her what her dreams and goals were, and how inspired she was by Jessica herself. Ms. Chastain told her she hoped to work together one day and that she was looking forward to seeing her on the silver screen. On departing, she told Cailey to never give up and looked forward to the day they could work together.

Cailey also had the wonderful opportunity to flex her acting muscles when she played a possessed woman in a book trailer directed by Rhode Island cinematographer, Rajah Samaroo and author, Tara Mantel. Working with independent filmmaker Norman Lang on his production of REVELATION was a recent triumph of Cailey’s . In REVELATION, she plays an eager reporter searching the scientific reasons for the meaning of life after death.

One of her proudest achievements was being cast in Seth Chitwood’s web series, In the Bedroom. In the Bedroom was a huge collaborative effort from a talented team of filmmakers from all over New England. In her episode, Cailey portrays a woman who may or may not, be a figment of imagination in another character’s mind.

Ultimately, Cailey will continue to hone her craft here in Boston and acknowledges she has a long way to go, especially since she plans to eventually relocate to LA. She states “What matters most is looking back and being proud of what you overcame and accomplished to get where you want to be.” She states, “wait and see, when I’m on the Oscar podium, it’s you I’ll be talking to…. all of Boston and New England….this is no dress rehearsal.”

Cailey can be reached at

Read on

Bily V Vigeant: New England’s Friendliest Mean Guy

By Bily V Vigeant

Bily V. Vigeant: Photo by Erica Derrickson

As a youngster, I was heavily influenced by the legends of the Silver Screen, Bogart, Cagney, Robinson, Brando and DeNiro. After watching THE GODFATHER in 1977 as a teenager and awed and floored by Marlon Brando’s Oscar winning performance portraying Mafia Don Corleone, I found myself re-enacting scenes and dress rehearsing scenes from the movie. I would borrow my grandfather’s vintage tweed overcoat, his grey fedora hat, and leather driving gloves and stand in front of my mother’s bedroom bureau mirror and awkwardly recite lines and delegate family business from the movie. Never thinking that someday this could happen.

Hollywood movie-making seemed a world away. Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island provided me with a stage of a mob movie. I witnessed a daily cast of characters straight out of Central Casting and daily happenings of the underworld. I witnessed the good, the bad, the ugly. To this very day on my acting resume under special skills I list street smarts as my area of expertise.

Fast forwarding to 2008 I make my leap into the world of acting, but first I face a medical crisis that forces me to re-examine my purpose in life. One day at a routine doctor’s appointment the doctor finds a large mass on the left side of my thyroid. He then proceeds to tell me all his tests point a very aggressive form of cancer. He needs to operate and not sure what my outcome may be.

Dumbfounded for days of the possibility I may have my life end, I sat evaluating, pleading and praying to give me a second chance at life and what I would do differently. Acting was one of the wants I promised myself. Luckily, following surgery, after a six agonizing week wait for results, the mass came back benign, my journey as an actor starts and I never looked back.

Later in the summer of 2008, I enroll in an Intro to Acting class at the Perishable Theater in Providence studying under Mark Peckham. Shortly after I then enroll into a beginners acting class at LDI Casting in Providence studying with casting director Anne Mullhall. I proceed to have headshots done and submit for a Showtime television series “Brotherhood” being filmed in the Ocean State. I receive my first acting casting call to work background and featured background for Season three and work in three episodes.

It was exciting to work with actors Jason Clark and Jason Isaac. After this experience I knew I was hooked. I registered myself with the Boston Casting Agency Pro Talent site, took courses with casting director Angela Peri and proceeded to take an advance course of being in front of the camera with casting director Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting for an intense six week course.

I’m on my way! Between working television pilots I get a call for ABC’s “Body of Proof” prime time drama starring Dana Delaney. It’s coming to Rhode Island. This is a medical crime drama, based in Philadelphia. I submit for a Philadelphia Police Officer. I work background and get featured background in eight episodes. Then one day I get called from Boston Casting to come in and audition for a speaking role on the show. I was excited. I went, I booked I lived it and it was a new chapter in my career. Day player! Loved hearing those words! You’re booked!

I also get booked to work on ‘Royal Pains’ on the USA Network for an episode. I then receive a call from Director Michael Corrente and Producer Chad Verdi. They’re filming the movie LOOSIE’S and need a heavy for a violent scene to beat and collect money from the star of the film Peter Facinelli, They explained the scene and what they needed, I replied I’m your man for the job! It was intense and they needed violence. So much so I almost broke the pretty boy Peter Facinelli’s nose on the second take. Another story for another day.

My career and name is starting to circulate in the business. Next up I get a notice for an open casting call for the movie THE FIGHTER starring Mark Walberg and Christian Bale. Little did I know my acting life would be changed forever.

I became Union on this film. A member of SAG – AFTRA! I also refine my career aspirations. I was cast as a Boston Policeman, while working a scene at Top Donut, in between takes I was looking for a seat to sitdown, I notice a chair open at a table where Director David O. Russell is sitting. I swing my leg over the back of the chair and say “what do you need me to do now boss?” He smiles and says, “wow your a big guy and your arms are huge.” Then he offers me a piece of fruit from his lunch and says, “what do you want to do?

I reply, “I want to act.”

He says, “you want to act in this crazy business? I told him I’m crazy and I want to act! He then calls over his assistant and questions him about a scene on Thursday and if so and so is going to make it for it. The assistant responds unsure. David then turn back to me, grabs my face, turns it left, then right. He says, “get your hair trimmed and tight, shave your goatee and go to wardrobe. I’ll see you Thursday – you are now an Actor!”

I felt like I was hit by lightning form the acting gods above. I did as he asked, not knowing what David had in store for me. I show up on set at Billerica State Prison. I’ m dressed in a prison guard uniform. We first shoot exterior prison yard scenes with Christian Bale. Then we move inside for interior scenes. I then hear my name being called and report to inside a small prison cell with a film crew.


David O. Russell, the other guy who was suppose to play the part, Christian Bale and me. My scene is I escort him into the cell and then proceed to tell him to start to strip for a search. Unreal! The scene never made it to the final cut in the movie but it did make it to the featured deleted scenes on the Blu Ray disc. Also I could be seen in the Top Donut scene playing a Lowell police officer. Playing two roles in one movie and one was with an Oscar winning actor in the movie he won his Oscar for!

Nothing is impossible at this point. My next project is I get cast to play a heavy underworld strong arm named Big V. My job is to enforce and control daily business on the streets of South Boston. This was written by Adriano Masciarelli and directed by Ben Proulx. In this film I get to kill for the first time on the screen. It was intense and took me two days to get out of character after the killing.

Next I get cast by CP Casting as a SWAT officer in the movie THE TOWN directed by Ben Affleck who also starred. This was a great thrill to work with Ben and to be directed by a great talent. This movie was a crime drama. I worked six scenes in this movie. I was featured and in one of them I work alongside Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver. I then get a call from a writer director Dana Howard. She’s writing an online web Mob series named “Fedoras.” She explains the outline and has a character that is tailored for me. Mafia Don Nino Ponticello. After review of the script I accept. This character brought me back to the days of being in full garb in my mother’s bedroom mirror giving orders to the mafia family I adopted. The series is set in the 1930’s and I’m the Mob boss of all bosses. Controlling and running the family business. Wow dreams do come true.

Next I get cast by CP Casting in the film GOD ONLY KNOWS written by Emilio Mauro , directed by James Mottern and Starring Harvey Keitel. I play a Mob Crime Boss, attending a swearing in of a new family member played by actor Ben Barnes.

I go undercover for my next film KILLING KHAN directed by JR Hepburn. I attend an open casting call in Boston. I audition for a role of a cab driver. I book the part. I was so intense that they offered me the role of Ivan a Russian spy. I’m treacherous in this role. I have a Russian accent and I am a cold hearted killer. It’s due out this Summer.

My career turns into a horror show. I receive a call from director/actor Tom DeNucci from WoodHaven Productions telling about a film their doing called SELF STORAGE starring Eric Roberts, Michael Berryman, Jonathan Silverman. He forwards me a script and the plot is my boss Jonathan Silverman buys body parts to sell on the secondary market. I would play a character named Mumbo. He’s the enforcer and heavy of the operation. This project goes VOD to 1,000,000 homes, Netflix, and DVD sales. I received great publicity and marketing on this project.

I follow this up with another WoodHaven Production named ARMY OF THE DAMNED, starring horror icon Tony Todd, and Michael Berryman, Joey Fatone and Sully Erna. I play SWAT officer Beefcakes turned Zombie. I act throughout the whole second half of the movie with Tony Todd. With this project I didn’t have a boat load of lines but I had an incredible amount of action. I die three times and each time I come back stronger and crazier than ever. This was a great challenge. Worldwide distribution with VOD, and DVD sales. It’s great seeing your work on store shelves!

I worked on AMERICAN HUSTLE directed again by David O. Russell and starring Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner. I was cast as a featured FBI Security Guard. I shoot the scene with Amy Adams where I escort her down the hall to a padded cell throw her in and she runs back to try to get out. I close the door on her. When the film comes out it shows the back of me throwing her in the cell and my hand closing the door. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Great fun to work this project with great talent.

Right after this film I was cast by Boston Casting as a featured Electric & Power worker in the film THE EQUALIZER starring Denzel Washington. It was a small scene with four of us Denzel, Chloe Grace, a counter worker and me. Great to see a legend at work. He’s a real pro.

2014 is going to be a great year. I’ve just been cast in my second lead role in the film BLUE SUEDE to be directed by JR Hepburn for Vendetta Motion Pictures. My role is Mafia Don Franco Pizzano. I’m avenging my fathers slaying by the Chinese Mob and daily trials and tribulations of them trying to take over my family’s territory in Chinatown. No War! No Peace! This film and my performance will be epic! Shooting begins in Boston late July 2014 I also was just cast a Mafia Don in a Wes Williams film DISTRICT C-11.

Stay tuned because I just finished auditioning for a movie THE WHOLE TRUTH starring Rene Zellwinger. I’ve been called back twice. I also just auditioned for CP Casting by Carolyn Pickman for a role in BLACK MASS, the Whitey Bulger story, directed by Scott Cooper starring Johnny Depp. I have a lot to bring to this film , living and knowing the chain of events and the first hand experiences are priceless to add to the realism of this film. Then I’m waiting for auditions for Chad Verdi’s passion piece BLEED FOR THIS. It’s the Vinny Paz story that is being produced by Verdi and Martin Scorsese. Vinny is my cousin. In this film I have a great advantage. I lived the whole story first hand.

The best is yet to come my friends and I want to take a moment to thank Carol Patton and Imagine Magazine for their undying efforts and energies for introducing and fighting for the film tax credit legislation and incentives. The efforts they put forward on our behalf have assisted and assured us the continuing progress of movie making being made here in Boston. I personally thank you Carol and IMAGINE Magazine for keeping me and so many others dream of acting alive here in Boston. All dreams come true, the difference is how bad you want them! Just Imagine!

You can follow Bily on facebook at Billy V Vigeant or IMDB.Me/BillyV or or contact my representation Andrew P. Wilson, Model Club Inc. 617 247-9020.



Read on

Robin Rapoport Likes the Intimacy of Film

By Robin Rapoport

clockwise from left:Robin Ann Rapoport Headshot. Photo by Lorenzo Vigil Photography. / Robin Ann Rapoport in a still from the short film THE ORGANIST. Photo courtesy of Bryan Sih and Boston University. / Robin Ann Rapoport as
Margaret Miller in JUSTICE IN MIND. Photo courtesy of Affidavit Productions./ Robin Ann Rapoport in costume as the Mom on the set of WORLDS WE CREATED. Photo courtesy of Alison Walter and BullMoose Pictures

I started acting at the age of six years old. I had a severe lisp as a child and my speech therapist suggested performing as a way of improving it. I joined a local theater group and as soon as I stepped onstage for the first time, playing the role of Jane in Peter Pan, I was hooked- I knew it was something I’d be doing for the rest of my life. I acted in plays through high school, college, and beyond, working with Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida and The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania before settling in Boston where I continued to perform onstage with many wonderful theater groups including the Devanaughn Theater, Theater Cooperative, and Molasses Tank Productions. I also created the role of Deb in the world premiere of Gail Phaneuf’s Breakfast with Mary in Harrison, Maine.

In 2010 I decided to take my acting life in a different direction and explore opportunities in film and television. In preparation, I studied Meisner technique for a year with Lyralen Kaye of Another Country Productions, which was incredibly helpful in making the transition from theater acting to film acting. After so many years onstage it was quite a challenge to act for a camera instead of a theater full of audience members, but I soon became comfortable with being on a film set rather than onstage. I am still passionately in love with the theater and hope to do more of it, but I also really appreciate the intimacy of film acting. I also took a number of other film acting classes, including three at CP Casting with Bates Wilder, Peter Kelly and Carolyn Pickman.

Since embarking on my film acting journey I’ve been lucky enough to be cast in many incredible projects, including the multiple-award-winning short film WORLDS WE CREATED (Bullmoose Pictures), written and directed by Nicholas Santos, which was shown at over 25 film festivals including the 2013 Cannes Short Film Corner. Another high point was playing a speech therapist in Talin Avakian’s beautiful film DEMI POINTE, winner of the Indie Soul Best Picture Award at the Boston International Film Festival, the Audience Award for Drama at the 2013 Online New England Film Festival, and a “Shifty Uplifty” Award at the Filmshift Festival. Probably the most thrilling moment of my career to date has been attending the world premiere at the Capital District Film festival in Albany, New York of Mark Lund’s feature film JUSTICE IS MIND (Affidavit Productions/ Ashton Times/Zone 5 Pictures) in which I played the lead role of Margaret Miller. JUSTICE IS MIND has had, to date, nine theatrical screenings with more to come, three university screenings, and has been shown at four science fiction conventions. It has been so exciting to watch its success and I am so proud to have been a part of it.

In addition to film, I have also had the opportunity to perform in a number of industrials and assorted video projects. Recently I have been exploring voice over work as well. I recorded five audio books for, which was a dream come true for me as I am a huge fan of them, and I hope to do more in the future.

It is such a fantastic time to be an actor in New England, with so many productions choosing to film here and with the New England Studios in Devens providing even more amazing possibilities! I am constantly awed and inspired by the talent, drive, and creativity of those who work in film in this area and I love the supportive and welcoming community. I look forward to continuing to develop my craft and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Robin Rapoport is a Boston based actor. You can reach her at

Read on

KIM GORDON: Mainer Makes Boston Work for Her

Kim Gordon
Kim Gordon

Growing up in the north Jersey suburbs meant regular bus trips into NYC for theater with my best friend. I loved it all: musicals, naturally, but also dark dramas, edgy comedies, elaborately costumed classics and even a few operas at the Met from top balcony seats. Theater tickets were the only gift I ever wanted. Friends and relatives complied.

A busy drama schedule in my teen years and subsequent college theater courses covered acting basics. I sang with several classical music groups, studied dance, and played leads in standard musicals like “My Fair Lady” and the Neil Simon/Alan Ayckbourn favorites. But any skills I have were really forged through many summer seasons of genuine rolling repertory at The Theater at Monmouth in central Maine. Switching daily between Shakespeare, Shaw, Sheridan and Moliere required flexibility, clear choices, accurate memory and incredible teamwork – and let me work opposite talented actors like Boston’s Jeremiah Kissel. On-camera work began when a theater patron hired me to represent a drugstore chain in TV commercials. Soon my credits included a national Chitisol infomercial that matched ratings with the Ginzo Knife and the George Foreman Grill. I continued to do theater, commercials, voiceovers and occasional film work while teaching theater programs for young people as well as London-based theater classes for Colby College. (Being paid to attend theater productions in London and discuss them with students may be the best job anyone ever invented.) I was particularly proud to play a homophobic, closeted camp director in simultaneous film (Fawn Yacker, director) and stage productions of Carolyn Gage’s “Ugly Ducklings,” as part of a national campaign to support LGBTQ youth.

Among favorite medical projects was modeling best practices in dealing with suspected spousal and elder abuse in a series of teaching videos produced by Cathy Plourde (AddVerb Productions.) The series has been presented at the College of Medicine at the University of New England, the Maine Public Health Association and The Global Alliance for Arts and Health and is now open-source available on YouTube.

A few years ago, roles in Mark Lewis’ warmly reviewed (48 so far) comedy WILD GIRL WALTZ and Bill Miller’s drama COWBOY SPIRIT coincided with a more flexible life schedule and convinced me to make stronger professional connections in Massachusetts. Lucky choices in student film projects introduced me to additional vibrant actors. I was Marshall Berenson’s annoying neighbor in GOOD TASTE a quirky BU short that’s become a festival favorite. In John Bickford’s ADVENT, an Emerson thesis film that will be shown at Cannes in the Creative Minds Program, I worked with Kate Jurdi, Wayne Shore, Harry Aspinwall, and charming young Charlie Tacker, who seems to be the busiest actor in the Boston area.

My favorite film role to date was the juicy starring role of feisty DA Constance Smith in Mark Lund’s feature JUSTICE IS MIND, which the IMDB named the 8th most highly rated indie film of 2013. The large cast featured Paul Lussier, Robin Rapaport, Mary Wexler and Carlyne Fournier. Boston actors know how things can build from a few connections. Carlyne offered me a small role in THEORY OF CONFLICT, starring Eddie Frateschi. I didn’t meet Eddie on the set, but he cast me in the trailer for his intriguing series focusing on cultural and religious theories about what happens after death, BEYOND THIS. When I arrived to work on Mark Battle’s film THE CONVICT, Wayne Shore was also in the scene and Robin had already filmed. Through the Emerson grapevine I was offered a central role in Emily Deering’s thesis film PINE.

My Boston transition was also aided by sound advice from Becki Dennis Buchman, who brought me work with Butler Hospital in Providence, addressing addictions treatment patients in two sets of videos funded by the NIH. At one of her Talent Tools workshops I met Andrew Wilson and was happy to gain representation by Model Club Inc. Talent Tools also keeps my reels updated and linked me to Dina K for headshots

It’s a challenge to live in central Maine and work in the New England market. A three-minute audition at an agency in Boston is a gamble that means hours of driving and outlay for gas and tolls. A shoot in Providence may require crashing overnight with friends in Norwood. Luckily, I share the car and life with an understanding actor/ director husband, Richard Sewell. A joint project is both fun and an economic bonus.

Kim can be reached at


Read on

Actor Spotlight: Cate Carson, A Woman in the Lead

by Erica Derrickson

Cate Carson’s goal is to portray strong women in her roles on film. When not writing, producing or starring in film, Cate works as a detective for a private company.Photo by Erica Derrickson,
Cate Carson’s goal is to portray strong women in her roles on film. When not writing, producing or starring in film, Cate works as a detective for a private company.Photo by Erica Derrickson,

In her recent acceptance speech for Best Actress at the 2014 Academy Awards, Cate Blanchett staked the claim that films lead by women are in demand and that strong women can captivate an audience and hold a story. When it comes to such powerful and captivating women in the New England industry, Cate Carson is on the mark.

While she’s gorgeous she’s not just another pretty face; Cate is the kind of woman who changes the molecules of a room when she walks in. She’s an example of an actress who has the strength of character to hold and captivate an audience with her boldness, yet she’s diverse enough in her range to pluck your heart strings and bring you to tears.

“I’m going blind” Cate’s character utters in the first moment of her demo reel as a tear falls from her eye. An instant later we are tossed from this soft and vulnerable moment into a different world, a harsh place where we meet another side of this woman, a warrior, an enforcer of justice who knows how to kill. There is truth in both and the shift is palpable. How did she get such a dynamic character range? A life lived rich with human experience.

“Human experience” is exactly the on-the-job training Cate received through a fourteen year career in law enforcement. Her career spanned from positions as a patrolman, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victim Response Advocate, Police training officer, investigations officer, and even once as a snake wrangler. Yes, you read that correctly. And today? When she’s not balancing a busy production schedule she works as a detective for a private company.

Life experience like this will make anyone tough, yet also inevitably diverse. The work forced Cate to engage people with mental health issues, people with relationship issues, medical issues, people that just wanted something resolved, violent people, threatening people, people that appreciated her and people that hated her. Cate has seen how people work at their best and worst, and that wisdom shines through in her work.

It’s a good thing she has the work ethic of an Olympian because Cate is one of the busiest and most proactive movers-n-shakers in the New England independent film industry. She is currently involved in numerous projects including IN THE BEDROOM webseries (produced by Angelwood Pictures; her episode “War and Loyalty” was directed by Andrew Adler), DEAD BOUNTY (directed by Jordan Pacheco, produced by Dave Langill), BLOOD MARTINI (directed by Bill Jacques), JIM JONES JUICE (produced by Christopher Walters) and others.

However Cate’s powerful presence in the New England industry is not only limited to the beauty and honesty she exudes in front of the camera glass, rather Cate has also fallen in love with the production side of filmmaking. She and her partners, Justin Plasse and Alexander Gauthier, recently founded Sensorium Pictures as a way of staking claim to their own right to create. Since their inception in April of 2013 the group has produced MY PRETTY MAURA, MOON FLOWER and WATCHER, the latter being Cate’s proudest work to date, a post apocalyptic period piece that she wrote produced and starred in. The film is an original sci-fi short with heavy set design, original costuming, impressive stunts, fights, fire, and not to mention a fascinating futuristic storyline that begs for a full feature film.

Cate Carson in WATCHER. Photo BY Dan Rosario.
Cate Carson in WATCHER. Photo BY Dan Rosario.

Speaking of feature films, Cate is looking forward to directing one of Sensorium’s two upcoming features CHARLOTTE HAPPENING, currently in pre-production. The other is KINKY GRACE to be produced by Cate and Justin to be directed by Alexander Gauthier.

Our industry is full of women on the rise. In today’s rapidly developing digital and mobile environment it is ambitious content creators like Cate Carson who are leading the charge and helping shape the future standards of this industry.

For more on Cate visit, twitter: @catecarson, email:, Sensorium Pictures email:

Erica Derrickson is an award winning actress, professional headshot photographer and founder of Hollywood East Actors Group. See her work at and connect with Erica on Twitter at @ericadactress or via email at ericaderricka@gmail. com.

Read on

Meet The AMERICAN HUSTLE New England Cast & Boston Casting Director

By Becki Dennis

Filmed almost entirely in Massachusetts last spring, David O. Russell’s recent cinematic masterpiece American Hustle has already received three awards from the NY Critics Circle, including Best Picture, and has been nominated for seven Golden Globe and two SAG Awards. This is the second time David O. Russell has filmed in Massachusetts; he filmed the FIGHTER here four years ago, which also garnered rave reviews and award season success. It is always exciting for the Massachusetts film industry, and all of the local businesses who were involved, when a major motion picture produced in New England receives so much positive attention. But as the nationwide media focuses on the stars of the movie, and which actors may or may not win an Oscar for their performance, we’re taking a moment to draw attention to all of the local stars who worked on this film. It is an amazing feat in and of itself how many New England actors landed roles in AMERICAN HUSTLE – roles that could have otherwise gone to NY or LA actors – and it’s time to recognize them and the casting directors who gave them this opportunity. Here is IMAGINE’s spotlight on our regional talent: (Spoiler Alert)

“Publishers Note: Becki Dennis has brilliantly interviewed Casting Director Angela Peri and a host of actors who had significant roles in AMERICAN HUSTLE. Here is the full compendium of her work. These responses were contributed by the actors themselves by either phone or email. Please note that there are other Boston actors who had roles in “American Hustle” who did not contribute to this article.” -PUB”

Angela Peri

1. What was your experience like casting this film?

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love working with David O. Russell. He’s like Picasso. He is a cinematic genius. I knew that when I worked with him on “The Fighter.” He pushed us really hard (in a good way.) He always challenged us to bring him more options and to show him what else we have. Like with anything in life, you gel well working with some people and others you don’t. Him and I immediately gelled and have a kinship, where I can see his vision through his eyes. I knew what he wanted for this film. I’m from the 70’s and remember the time period completely. I knew the look, the feel, and the type of people he likes to cast. He loves shooting in Boston and he cast almost all of roles except the leads here. He’ll come back to Boston.

2. How many principal (speaking) roles did you cast at Boston Casting?

Approximately forty speaking roles.

3. Have you seen a trend of the numbers increasing for local principal casting, versus them casting all in NY and LA for the big budget motion pictures?

Absolutely. The SAG-AFTRA membership went from around 700-800 members in 2007 and now we are at over 3000 members (including film, television and broadcasting) because of the Massachusetts Film Tax Incentive. Everyone has stepped up their game. Everyone knows the stakes are really high. They’re taking classes and taking it seriously. Everyone preps for auditions. There was no difference between the Boston and NY/LA actors for the AMERICAN HUSTLE auditions. The only thing they have that we don’t is more options. I have complete confidence in every Boston actor to come out and do a good job. Before 2007, the films only came here to shoot exteriors for about two days and hired the local actors as extras only. It wasn’t until the movie PINK PANTHER 2 in 2007 that things changed for us.

4. A good number of background actors were upgraded to speaking roles in this film. What are your thoughts on that?

It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Don’t shun extra work. You never know what could happen, plus it’s a great way to fill your acting resume.

5. How many actors did you audition for this film, and what is the average number of actors that auditioned for each role?

Over 1000 actors auditioned in total for the film. It depends on the role, but we auditioned around 20-30 actors for each part.

6. What made you and/or David want to call in an actor for an audition, callback an actor, and cast them?

I would call in actors that look the part and put them on tape. David O. Russell and the LA Casting Director, Mary Vernieu, would make a decision as to whom to callback. I made suggestions, but David O. Russell had the final casting say.

7. What did the auditions consist of?

All improv.

8. How does it feel to give Boston actors roles in a big movie like this?

It feels tremendous.

9. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m so fortunate to be chosen to work with David O. Russell and Mary Vernieu. The LA producers were shocked that they didn’t have to fly in talent (besides the starring roles) and that we had what they needed here. It took me a while to beat them over the head to realize that, but now they’re getting it; largely due to David O. Russell. We have cast tons of locals in all of the recent films we worked on: TED, THE JUDGE, etc. We are now on the map.

Aaron Flanders

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

Arthur, Carl Elway’s Friend.

2. What scenes did you act in?

Three scenes in the museum chasing Irving (Bale,) Richie (Cooper,) Edith (Adams,) and the Sheik Plant (Taghmaoui) as they enter the museum, then following them as they head up the stairs; confronting the group and Irving, and being blown off by them, and then concluding with the scene in front of the Rembrandt painting, where I accost Irving (Bale,) and am interrupted by Edith (Adams,) introduced to Richie (Cooper,) and then again blown off rudely by the whole group.

3. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

According to my friend, who saw the Coolidge Corner pre-screening, I think all my scenes might actually have made it! I haven’t seen it yet!

4. What other actors did you work with?

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Said Taghmaoui.

5. What was your experience like working on this film?

Singularly unique and amazing experience, walking into such a talented group of actors, and immediately being thrown into three intense, improvised, in-your-face scenes with them!

6. How did you get your role?

Auditioned at Boston Casting.

7. What are your upcoming projects?

I’m primarily a musician and have just released a brand new album, body of original music, and band, “Aaron Flanders – The Third Floor.” Our CD Release concert is going to be on March 7, 2014, at 7:30 pm, at Johnny D’s in Somerville! For more info., please visit:

8. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I live in Cambridge (Boston) because I went to music school here, and because I’m mainly a musician, and Boston is a great music town!

9. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Just to be honest and project an inner glimpse of yourself in every character that you portray.

Alura Carbrey

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

Elizabeth (Betty) Polito. Carmine Polito’s daughter.

2. What scenes did you act in?

I acted in the casino scene, the arrest of Carmine Polito scene, and a family breakfast scene.

3. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I had the opportunity to work closely with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Rohm. I also had the chance to meet Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. As an aspiring actress, it was an exciting opportunity to work with such a talented and experience cast.

4. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was an unforgettable experience that will stay with me my entire life. I became very close with the cast and crew, and it was an emotional goodbye. Working with the talented David O. Russell was inspirational to me as a young actress.

5. How did you get your role?

I got my role through the casting agency, Boston Casting.

6. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I’m currently studying business and theatre at Endicott College. I hope to continue my acting career in the future!

Ayana Brown

My role was Cosmopolitan Girl #1. Mr. David O. Russell cast me on set, and it was truly an amazing experience. DOR is a masterful visionary, intense, and knows exactly what he wants. Some would quip that his style of directing may be a bit unorthodox, however without a doubt there is a method to his madness. I am convinced he is one of the best in the business and it was truly an honor to work with him and the beautiful Ms. Amy Adams. I learned so much in that one day of shooting. The tools that I came away with under his direction are priceless. The biggest lesson: Be ready all the time. You never know when an opportunity will knock at your door….when it does you better be prepared to answer it!

I was raised in Amherst, MA where I started my acting career in the local theater circuit. I began working on films in 2007 in the Boston area. THE GREAT DEBATERS was my first film. I joined SAG in 2008; continued working in film and TV to date. I have had roles on Law & Order, Law and Order SVU, and Unforgettable. This was my first role in a feature film. I travel between NYC and Boston for auditions, television & feature film work, and am represented by Shirley Faison with Carson Adler Agency, NYC. Recently, I signed with Maggie Inc. for print modeling. Shortly after, I landed my first print ad with Keurig Coffee. Most recently, I auditioned for principal in a TV pilot. Other projects I worked on this year in the Boston area: THE FORGER, BASIC MATH, THE JUDGE, BUSINESS TRIP, Olive Kitteridge, Chasing Life, MA Lottery, Geico, & Bank of America Commercials. Currently I reside in Western, MA.

Becki Dennis

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

I play Rebecca, who is a friend of Amy Adams’ character. I am a nanny for the son of the Suburban Businessman, played by Jay Giannone.

2. What scenes did you act in?

I filmed five scenes and one made the final cut. I am walking with Amy Adams (Edith) and pushing the child, who I am the nanny for, in a stroller when Jay Giannone approaches us and asks Amy for a line of credit. Amy gets upset with me for sharing information with him that I shouldn’t have about her banking connections. I apologize and we walk away, with Jay calling after me “Rebecca, tell her I never missed a check… Rebecca.” (Rebecca was my name in the script, which just so happens to be my birth name.)

3. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

My apology to Amy was cut, but the rest of the scene remains. If you listen carefully you can hear my voice at the top of the scene. Amy, Jay, and I also filmed a second similar scene, which was omitted from the finished film. I am still so grateful to have made it into the film, period. Additionally, in the original script Amy Adams’ character was from England (not New Mexico as it says now in the completed film.) I and two other female actors were playing her friends and we were all nannies. They filmed us all getting our passports stamped together at customs, traveling in a taxi together, and arriving in New York City with our luggage. We also enter the pool party scene together arm and arm. All of these scenes were cut; the pool party is in the film, but it doesn’t show us walking in with Adams. Because we were supposed to be from England, I delivered my lines with a British accent, which I luckily felt pretty confident with since I had taken a dialect course when I was a Theatre major in college. Interestingly, David O. Russell didn’t hear me speak with a British accent until the day I was to film the scene with it, so he must have just trusted that I could pull it off and I received no dialect coaching on set. Another interesting tidbit: Amy had originally filmed all of the opening scenes with a British accent, but they did ADR work in post to change her to have an American accent in this first few scenes because of the script re-write. She now only has a British accent in the film when she is conning as Edith Greensly.

4. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I worked mostly with Amy Adams and she was so awesome to be around. She was so surprisingly normal and easy to talk to and super funny. My nanny friends were played by Hannah Yun and Rachel Bartolomei, who were also great. We became close working long days together. And, of course, the day I worked with Jay Giannone was unforgettable. It went so smoothly and was of one of the best days of my life. I also had my make-up done sitting next to Christian Bale while he was getting into hair and make-up. I didn’t really get to know him, though, as he is quiet and likes to focus on getting into character, which obviously seems to be working for him given his track record of outstanding performances.

5. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was truly a dream come true and life-altering. This opportunity came at a time when I least expected it, which was the ironic part about it. Having a principal role in a major motion picture had long been a dream of mine and having it come true really rekindled my faith in my acting career. I was very nervous before it was time to film my big scene, but found myself feeling really prepared, relaxed, and in the moment once the cameras were rolling, which I surprised even myself with. On the day I was given lines, I was not given a script, and David O. Russell just fed me the lines during a rehearsal right before shooting. He is very hands-on and walked through the scene with me as if he was in it. I think my experience with improv and interactive theatre prepared me well for this type of directing, as it didn’t scare me at all. When I was done for the day, I couldn’t wait to come back for more. It really left me yearning to experience more on a film set like this with the world’s best actors and crew.

6. How did you get your role?

While I have had hundreds of auditions over the years, the amazing thing about this is that I didn’t have to audition for the role. I had first been selected and narrowed down from a bunch of pictures. I was then asked if I’d be willing to wear a bathing suit for the pool party scene, and initially hesitated, but then said I would do it if I could wear a one-piece suit since I don’t have what you would exactly call a bikini body. They agreed and I was given the role of one of the nanny friends of Amy Adams. The costume department even ended up making me a whole new bathing suit cover-up specifically for me. I was told I would be featured background with the possibility of an upgrade. The awesome casting associate, Ashley Skomurski, of Boston Casting recommended me to David O. Russell as being an actor good at improv, who could handle an upgrade. The upgrade to principal did happen and I am forever thankful to her and Boston Casting for putting in a good word for me.

7. What other work have you done recently?

I recently had a principal role in a MA Health Connector commercial, which is still airing frequently on several channels. I produced and assistant directed the short film MILDRED’S MILLIONS, which is now starting to play at film festivals. And, I am always busy running my company, Talent Tools, as well.

8. What are your upcoming projects?

I have the lead role in an indie feature film, which begins filming in March (title TBA,) which I am really looking forward to. I am also keeping my fingers crossed about other projects I am currently being considered for… Stay tuned!

9. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I grew up here, my family is here, and I love the acting community in New England. I’ve been a part of the film scene in Massachusetts since the tax incentives were first put into place and I’m invested in helping to build the industry here. I have tried my hand at the New York scene and it’s not for me, nor is LA, which I’ve visited. Boston is my home and I’m here to stay. Plus, the opportunities that I have received here would have been harder to achieve in a larger, more competitive market.

10. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Persistence, preparation, and positivity. When I decided to pursue acting as a career I had people tell me to get my head out of the clouds and to stop dreaming. I’ve also had people tell me I was too big (physically) to act for a living. If I had listened to them, I would have never had the success I have had. I have worked hard for over ten years at this. I have taken dozens of acting classes. I have auditioned for countless jobs that I didn’t get. But it doesn’t go unnoticed. Remember that when you audition, you are auditioning not just for that role; you are auditioning for all future work. If you do a good job you will be remembered, and some day, if you don’t give up, a role will come around that will be right for you and it will make it all worth it. Also, this may be obvious, but – be nice. Being nice to people goes a long way and makes you likeable. And be professional – show up on time, prepared, and ready to work at every audition and job. Likeable, professional people get hired.

11. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

The last day I worked on AMERICAN HUSTLE was the same day the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. Luckily, we were filming in Worcester that day and were not in any real danger. It was a very bittersweet day, with this tragedy that occurred. Boston has had a tough year, but we have also had a great year. When the Red Sox won the World Series it was a moment for us to feel pride in Massachusetts. I feel “AMERICAN HUSTLE is another “Boston Strong” moment for our state. This is a movie for us all to feel proud of.

Billy “V” Vigeant

I did a scene with Amy Adams. I play an FBI Security officer. I escort her to a cell and toss her into a padded room. The scene was cut shorter than originally shot. I was filmed walking with her by the arm and I then approach the cell door and open it and fling her into the room. She then runs back towards the door and I close it on her. They filmed me closing the door and then just standing in the hallway after all that. The final cut shows the back of me walking with her and then throwing her in the cell, but closing the door and me standing there were excluded.

Amy Adams was a treat to work with. Very personable and very friendly. I was surprised how small she is. David O. Russell is a blast to be directed by. His non methodical thinking and creating on the fly is a treat to watch and be a part of. I was amazed how he remembered me from working on THE FIGHTER. He’s very kind and very flexible with his on set creation of scenes on the fly approach. Sadly enough I was to film a scene with Robert DeNiro and the following day, after being fitted for the scene, I was called to be told David O. Russell canceled the featured background for that day.

I’m from Rhode Island, but work mostly in the Boston Market. I have worked in New York and Connecticut, as well, but consider Boston my home base. The Boston film market is incredible and quickly becoming a Tour de force in the filmmaking industry. It has it all and I’m very proud to be a part of it and to be considered an adopted son to it.

This year I’ve worked on eleven film projects and most recently “Self Storage” and “Army of the Damned” were released to over 100,000,00 million homes, with VOD and nationwide releases in January. Also, I just finished the film KILLING KHAN, a Vendetta Motion Picture, in which I co-star as Ivan. It was filmed in Boston and surrounding towns. Next up is BLUE SUEDE, in which I graduate to a lead role as Mafia Don Franco Pizzan alongside Robert Miano, who starred in DONNY BRASCO with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. This is an epic crime drama that is scheduled to start filming in February 2014. All in all, I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Boston film community and look forward to working on the projects to come. It’s going to be a great 2014 and thank Angela Peri for the opportunities to be a part of such legendary films as AMERICAN HUSTLE.

Erica McDermott

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

I am a con artist/ the girlfriend of character Carl Elway.

2. What scenes did you act in?

I am in the scene when Irving is first meeting with Carl Elway to discuss plans. I burst into the meeting with Edith and Ritchie. I am also in the scene when Carl is getting arrested; I am wearing an old school slip and freaking out.

3. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I worked with Shae Whigham, Bradly Cooper, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. It was great to work with Christian and Amy again. I had a blast getting to know Shae and Bradley.

4. What was your experience like working on this film?

I work well with David O. Russell. He is smart, funny, and is able to get the best out of me. It’s exciting to be part of his films; the stories he tells are always so captivating. The people that I’ve gotten to know and had the privilege to work with have been the best teachers.

5. How did you get your role?

Although you may not see it from the few moments I have in the film, there really was a ton of work that went into this for me from the first audition in January to the last day of filming in May. I auditioned over the course of three months. Lots of improv, character development, and taping in between. Wigs, authentic retro outfits, dialect coaches to perfect my accent, and a day of screen testing were all part of it. I was officially cast at the end of March, and I was beyond excited.

6. What are your upcoming projects?

I will be doing quite a bit of theater over the next few months, we are in early discussions with producers about a feature comedy, and I’m looking forward to a busy pilot season.

7. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

With the Mass Tax Film Credits – opportunity is here for me. Boston is my home and this incentive makes it possible for me to live here and work.

8. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Practice, take classes, stay focused, and be in the moment during auditions. My friend, Kevin Lasit, gave me the best advice and I believe it’s true: “Ask for work, not fame.”

Jay Giannone

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

Jim, the Suburban Businessman.

2. What scenes did you act in?

I acted in three scenes. One with was with Amy Adams and Christian Bale; I was one of the businessmen. Two were with Amy Adams and Becki Dennis.

3. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

One of the scenes made it in, where I’m trying to get a line of credit from Amy Adams character.

4. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was wonderful. David O. Russell treats me like family and makes it an interesting, fun experience. David and I have been close since 1999, when I first met him working on WE THREE KINGS and we have stayed in touch since… He believes in me. We have a natural, organic relationship. I thank Mark Wahlberg for putting us in contact with each other.

5. How did you get your role?

I auditioned for Mary Vernieu, the LA Casting Director, in LA. I was booked off my first audition. David was familiar with my work and liked what I did.

6. What other acting work have you done recently and what are your upcoming projects?

I recently played Joe in GOD ONLY KNOWS with Toby Jones and Harvey Keitel, written by Emilio Mauro of Boston. I have a lead role in THE WITCHING HOUR filmed in Boston, and also have acted in THE LIFE and UNTOLD. I believe you shouldn’t wait for roles and should always be creating your own work, which is why I write, produce, and direct my own films, too. I am directing a movie about Alzeimers in April with Taryn Manning and a TV show I wrote, Diesel, is currently in development.

7. Where are you based and are your reasons for pursuing your career there?

I am originally from Boston, but am now LA-based and have been for eighteen years. I come to Boston a lot because it is where my heart is. Thank god for the wonderful casting directors back home. I have been blessed that Angela Peri and Carolyn Pickman call me in for projects. Because of them I have got parts in films such as THE GAME PLAN, GOD ONLY KNOW, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, and now AMERICAN HUSTLE. I have now done eight movies in Boston and many have been Blockbuster hits. For me to be able to go home and work is the best thing, so I can be with my family.

8. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Don’t give up. You’re going to get discouraged and get the door slammed in your face. Keep your chin up and don’t get down. Your performance can be great in an audition, but the director may not see you in the role. Just keep on moving forward and your time will come. Create your own projects. Do what you love. Don’t compete with anyone except yourself.

Melissa McMeekin

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

I play Alfonse Simone’s assistant. Simone is played by Paul Herman from GOODFELLAS and SILVER LININGS PLAYBACK.

2. What scenes did you act in?

I filmed a few scenes, but not all made the final cut.

3. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

The pool party scene and a key scene that I can’t get into or it would be a spoiler. However, my lines were cut from both scenes and they were a bit whittled down. But I’m certainly not complaining! That my face just pops up at all in this movie is pretty cool.

4. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I worked with Christian, Amy, and Bradley. It was great. This was my first time working with Bradley, although I had met him before at a visit to the editing room of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. It was really fun to reunite with Christian and Amy (who I worked with on THE FIGHTER.) Christian is incredibly funny and charming and I really enjoy being around him and joking with him.

It was so great to work with Amy again, especially since our characters weren’t supposed to hate each other this time… she’s so warm and down to earth, and I enjoy being around her. Not only were they a lot of fun, but they were all so incredibly talented and focused. I learned a lot; it was really like a master-class. I’m so impressed and amazed by Amy and the way she immersed herself completely and the places she let herself go to. She really showed me how to be fearless and brave, and I’m very proud of her and really rooting for her. And Christian is like some kind of freak of nature in the way he transforms completely, and is without question one of the best actors of our generation. To have been given the gift to learn from him up close and just being around him is priceless.

5. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was nothing short of amazing. This movie is definitely going to be a loved and well respected part of cinematic history, and to be even the teensiest part of that is unreal, and the fact that I was with people that I have a rapport with just made it so great. I love working with David. I love the way he works and I love watching him work; he gets so in to it and it’s really inspiring to witness his passion and creativity in full force. And he has become one of my very favorite people, he’s very fun to be around, he shares my affinity for jokes second graders enjoy, and I love laughing with him.

6. How did you get your role?

I had an initial audition with Boston Casting, but all of the larger roles went to established actors out of LA as everyone wanted to work with David. He very graciously called me and told me he created a place for me and asked if I’d like to make a cameo appearance in the film. I was incredibly humbled and honored.

7. What other acting work have you done recently?

I just finished working on BUSINESS TRIP with Vince Vaughn and have been working down in NYC trying to build my TV credits. My goal is to get a series regular role on a show.

8. What are your upcoming projects?

I’m currently working in NYC on Steven Soderbergh’s new series, “The Knick”. It will air on Cinemax in 2014. I have a recurring role playing the real Typhoid Mary. I also am in the early development stages of a script that I wrote and am currently working on writing a TV pitch for a one hour drama.

9. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I love living in Boston. I am not from the area originally, I’m from Washington state. I moved here seven and a half years ago for no reason other than I wanted to live here. I had no family, friend, or ties of any kind to the area and had, in fact, never even visited the area before I stepped foot off an airplane to live here. The best way I can describe it is that when I would look at pictures of New England I felt homesick. And, indeed, it truly feels like home to me.

So it is very important to me to find a way to do what I love and still get to live where I love. It has certain challenges, sure, and I have to travel to NY a lot and have gotten very used to putting myself on tape, but it is all worth it to me when I walk around Rockport or meet a friend for lunch on Newbury St. And I believe there is just so much talent here in New England, so it has also become very important to me to write and do what I can to bring work here.

10. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Work on your craft. Train. Take classes. Both Boston Casting and C.P. Casting have one day workshops where you can meet the casting directors, and that is great and I strongly advise that, however, I am a believer in the adage that “success happens when preparation and opportunity meet.” So while it’s great to get on the CD’s radar, you need to be prepared for when that opportunity does come along, so you should look in to their other more in-depth classes, as well. I did stage for years, and worked on my craft taking classes and working with a private coach.

I also recommend to new actors to work as much as you can; do plays, short films, student films, etc. Work creates work and you will get better and more confident. This also helps you build a resume and have something for a reel. Outside of Boston you really need to have a reel to compete as a lot of submissions won’t even be looked at if a reel is not attached. This doesn’t have to be major films with major stars.

And we are so blessed here in Boston in terms of the colleges and universities that are here and the superb film programs. If you are willing to go to NY for work, NYU has an amazing film school and they are constantly doing student films of really great quality.

11. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I’m just really proud to be a part of this dynamic and talented community and was so thrilled to see so many familiar faces on the screen in AMERICAN HUSTLE. I felt true and sincere pride and can’t wait to see the local industry grow.

Rob DiNinni

1. What was your role in American Hustle?

Desperate Businessman. I’m humbled and grateful to play a small role in a widely acclaimed film.

2. What scenes did you act in?

An office scene where I’m desperately asking for money; a loan. It was mostly improv and additional direction from DOR… I embezzled money from my own parents clothing manufacturing business located in the garment district NYC, and traveled to France numerous times and bought cars and boats on my parents company money for love. Or was it lust? Either way I’m in big trouble and my parents will disown me.

3. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

Most of my scene was on the cutting room floor except a small part used in a montage. I’m one of three of the business types begging for money.

4. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

Amy Adams and Christian Bale: It was very rewarding to work with such generous actors fully committed to their characters.

5. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was an invigorating and inspiring process, which left me begging for more time on set with the desire to perform more with actors of their stature and a director/writer hitting his stride, enabling incredible acting performances and filmmaking.

6. How did you get your role?

Model Club, Inc. got me an audition with Boston Casting’s, Angela Peri. Angela put me on tape for an audition and after three callbacks I auditioned for a final callback directly with David O. Russell.

7. What other acting work have you done recently?

I played the lead, Cause, for a new comedy play, “The Break-Up of Cause and Effect,” which premiered at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland and then performed in London – thirty shows from August through Sept 2013.

8. What are your upcoming projects?

As Principal of StageCoach Improv, I have a few holiday improv and sketch comedy shows and I’m also involved in writing a new comedy short film for a web series on dating and relationship traps.

9. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I moved to Boston for a sales job and was wishing to do stand-up and theatre, which I did to kick off my acting career on stage and film throughout New England, coming from Rotterdam in Upstate NY. I’ve been acting and performing since 2003 and am looking to go bi-coastal LA and Boston.

10. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

My advice for actors looking to land roles in a major picture is to keep working your chops on independent films and industrial videos to increase you comfort and confidence on a film set. Audition a lot and take classes for auditioning and improv so you focus on the role, the character, and the choices you make to emotionally commit to the scene and the moment so you can let go that it’s a major motion picture… it’s just another film. And, make sure you are visible to all casting directors by making them aware of your performances in fun and creative ways. And, keep an eye on who is casting for major motion picture films and find ways to get an audition, get yourself seen, and of course, an agent can also help.

11. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

You must love, love auditioning and prepare like you’re shooting that day and that mindset will hopefully translate into a more relaxed state to give you more impact and presence on film. Be true to you, showcase your personality, and take risk to heighten, not sabotage a scene.

Sean Eklund

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

I played a street punk.

2. What scenes did you act in?

My scene was to get into a fight with Bradley Cooper on the street.

3. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I worked with Bradley Cooper in that scene, but was able to be around the set and entire cast for days. They were amazing!!

4. What was your experience like working on this film?

It was a phenomenal experience, as is working on any David O. Russell film.

5. How did you get your role?

Through Boston Casting and David O. Russell.

6. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I live in Lowell and over the past few years there has been a major increase in major motion pictures being filmed in the Boston area.

7. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Just to audition as often as possible and never give up!

8. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just how amazing everyone on the set was. From the entire cast and crew, nothing but true professionals and top tier talent!!

Steve Gagliastro

1. What was your role in AMERICAN HUSTLE?

Agent Schmidt

2. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

I was fortunate to work with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Louis C.K., Jeremy Renner, Shea Whigham, Liz Rohm, Erica McDermott, and most importantly, my partner, Chris Tarjan (Agent Stock.) It was inspiring to watch such accomplished actors find the right tone and perfect their timing. I realized the experimentation and methods they executed in front of the camera were universal. All actors use them in some form or another. What was clear to me was the preparation before they got to set. This is what separated these actors from their peers.

3. What was your experience like working on this film?

I was very fortunate to spend a good deal of time on set. Together with my partner, Chris Tarjan, we became very familiar with everyone who was there on a daily basis. From hair and makeup, to props, to AD’s and PA’s, they all got to know and trust us. This trust is important when it comes to the delicate issues of privacy and respect that surround high profile sets.

4. How did you get your role?

I auditioned through Boston Casting, had a callback for David and got it!

5. What other acting work have you done recently?

Most recently I was on the US National/North American Tour of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and I am performing in the Hanover Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” in Worcester through December.

6. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

I am from Worcester originally and have settled here. My family and side work are here, as well. I am on the road so often that it makes sense for me not to have an expensive apartment in NYC or Boston when they are so accessible to me (one hour to Boston, three and half to NYC.)

7. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

Be yourself. Casting directors are seeking interesting, talented people, not cookie-cutter actors. And, of course, prepare.

8. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

As a full time performer, it is heartening to see the high level of work created here in New England. We are an excellent community filmmakers should utilize. Whether it is the exceptional talent base or the diversity/proximity of locations, Boston and its’ surrounding communities are ideal for shooting. Except desert locations, those we don’t have.

Steven Barkhimer

I survived the cut. I’m one of the guys begging Christian Bale for a loan as Amy Adams looks regally on. David had me play the HBO producer in THE FIGHTER, the one making a documentary about crack addiction, so I had a working knowledge of his singular directorial style – not for the faint of heart, by the way. So when I was called in for AMERICAN HUSTLE he gave me a tremendously warm welcome at the audition and afterwards said there should definitely be a spot for me in the film (even if not as large a role as in THE FIGHTER.) They were keeping a pretty tight lid on information about the project, so I didn’t even know Christian Bale and Amy Adams were in it until I got to the shoot that day. Not surprisingly, I had to do a double-take before realizing it was actually Christian walking right by me onto the set, looking well-fed and skeezy in his purple velour jacket, with a hilariously pathetic comb-over.

My prior experience with David O. Russell served me very well on this day because time was getting very limited and the pressure became pretty intense to get it done. Several of the “businessmen” were lined up and one by one, and we were to go beg Bale for money. This is also when I found out Amy Adams would be in the scene as well. Okay. We were to be fired one after the other out of the torpedo chute into the room, do our scene, and get the hell out. Next! A revolving door, bam, bam, bam. Well, David’s films do have scripts; however, what he likes to do is prompt the actor as the camera is rolling. He suggests things that you aren’t expecting, and you just have to go with the flow and be ready to improvise. Or often he will just suddenly order you: “Do This. Now! Faster. Again. To the left? The left!!” It does give a wonderful immediacy and improvisatory sense to scenes, but it can be unnerving for the unsuspecting or the uninitiated. I’m sure it makes editing very interesting, too!

On other scores, a play of my own called “Windowmen” just finished a gratifyingly successful and well-received production at Boston Playwrights Theatre and is now in consideration by several theatres around the country.

Before I came to Boston back in 1998, I’d taken a couple years off the circuit to pursue a Master’s degree among other things, but I’m glad I didn’t run right back to New York as a sort of default. There are marvelously talented actors, directors, playwrights, producers, designers, etc., right here in Boston, and it is an extraordinary honor and pleasure to have worked almost non-stop here for most of the last fifteen years.

In January, I head back to the theatre with the Actors Shakespeare Project (now in our tenth season) in a production of “The Cherry Orchard” before I perform in Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” in March and April.

*These responses were contributed by the actors themselves, except for Angela Peri and Jay Giannone, who were interviewed by Becki Dennis. Please note that there are other Boston actors who had roles in “American Hustle” who did not contribute to this article.

Read on

Getting to Know: Erica McDermott

By Carol Patton

Erica burst on the scene a little over four years ago and before she herself knew it she was shooting her mouth off at esteemed casting director Angela Peri at Boston Casting while fighting for the role of Tar Eklund in the Micky Ward story brought to the screen by Dorothy Aufiero.

“I stepped out of line,” Erica told IMAGINE, “got in her face, swore at her, gave her a look and demanded a part in the movie! I had my first call back!”

Sweet, funny, beautiful Erica McDermott said what? “Looking back,” she says, “and having more insight on how this business works, I’m not sure I would ‘mouth off’ to a respected casting director if I were put in the same situation today, but it paid off for me that day. After what seemed like a hundred long auditions, I was offered the supporting role of Tar Eklund in the Academy Award winning movie THE FIGHTER, and she will forever be known as the ‘fighter sister with the big hair’.”

Where did she come from? How did she get here? I asked her to tell me her story

The McDermott Ladies have a photo shoot, in Scituate Harbor, with Michelle Feehily Photography. Maisy on the left 11 years old—Katie on the right 10 years old.
The McDermott Ladies have a photo shoot, in Scituate Harbor, with Michelle Feehily Photography. Maisy on the left 11 years old—Katie on the right 10 years old.

“I was born in Cambridge and I lived there and Somerville through grade school. In the 6th grade I moved to Merrymount, a neighborhood in Quincy Massachusetts. My parents married at a very young age, had me at a very young age and are still happily married today. I am an only child and I love it! My Mom and Dad sacrificed quite a bit to give me the best opportunities growing up. I watched my mother go to night school for years to become a nurse, and after graduating from Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree I decided to follow in her footsteps. I graduated with a baccalaureate degree in nursing from Salem State University in 1995.

“My first job was at Pembroke Hospital where I worked in the Pediatric Psychiatric Inpatient Unit. A couple of years later I transitioned into the specialty of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury and became the Director of Medical Services at a residential facility in Boston. During this period, I was responsible for the overall healthcare of children that had suffered traumatic brain injuries. Needless to say I gained some serious perspective on life during this time.

“Shortly after marrying my husband, Bob (who works in the investment management industry) we moved to Nashville Tennessee. We lived there for nearly four years. I worked as a float nurse in several of the big hospitals in the city. What a cool place to live, and as newlyweds it was a great to be in place where we knew no one because it forced us to learn to count on each other – I think this is one of the reasons we are so happy after almost fifteen years!

In the dressing room at The Company Theatre Centre for the Performing Arts in Norwell, Erica prepares to go on stage for the comedic stage performance “The Final Push.”
In the dressing room at The Company Theatre Centre for the Performing Arts in Norwell, Erica prepares to go on stage for the comedic stage performance “The Final Push.”

Right after 9/11, Bob accepted a position in NYC, and we moved to southern Connecticut. I had both of our girls, 13 months apart to the day, at Greenwich Hospital. My new career was ‘stay at home Mom’ and I absolutely loved it! We moved ‘home’ in 2003, and settled on the South Shore. We’ve been here ever since.

The sisters from the Oscar Nominated film THE FIGHTER strike a pose and talk to Hikari Takano about the making of the movie. Sisters from the left: Dendrie Taylor, Melissa McMeekin, Erica McDermott, Jenna Lamia & Kate O’Brien.
The sisters from the Oscar Nominated film THE FIGHTER strike a pose and talk to Hikari Takano about the making of the movie. Sisters from the left: Dendrie Taylor,Melissa McMeekin, Erica McDermott, Jenna Lamia & Kate O’Brien.

“When it came time for both kids to be in school full day, I decided it was time to go back to work and started interviewing at local Pediatric Medical offices. It was right around that time that I received a call from my friend Barbara who told me about a stage show that she was pulling together to benefit a local charity. She insisted I come talk to her and the others . This is when everything started to change. I mean, I love to make people laugh, public speaking has never bothered me, and I did take part in exactly one school play in Middle School…. but acting as an adult?

“I decided to go try it out, why not, right? This is when I met Lisa Rafferty, an accomplished Director, and writer of a successful show called MOMologues. She wanted some ‘funny moms’ from around town to take part in a one night only performance of her show to benefit our schools. Lisa and I hit it off – and that was the beginning.

Erica snaps her own photo in her trailer while filming THE FIGHTER.
Erica snaps her own photo in her trailer while filming THE FIGHTER.

“After my first stage performance in MOMologues in 2008, I was offered free acting classes at Plymouth Rock Studios. Lisa had believed in me and encouraged me to give it a shot. When I got to Plymouth I met acting coach Kevin Lasit and at the end of the six weeks of classes he echoed Lisa’s encouragement. Kevin suggested that I reach out to all of the big casting agencies in Boston. I didn’t tell my friends just my husband and parents, and they were also very positive and encouraging, so I did it. It was three or four weeks later I found myself at an open casting call at Boston Casting for a movie called THE FIGHTER. I showed up not knowing what to expect, and when I arrived it seemed there were a million people there! I was there to audition to be a tough girl, for background work. It was then casting director Angela Peri told me I was too pretty to pull off a tough girl.

“I think my introduction to the Ellie Fund was coming into the 2010 OSCAR Night America show, whatever year Avatar was nominated – because I remember the ‘spoof’ IMAGINE produced starring Ernie Boch that year. So funny!

Erica McDermott performs MOMologues “Pink Ribbon Overdose” to a sold out house at Boston ‘s Hard Rock Cafe. The first comedy about Breast Cancer. Photo by Howie Hecht Photography
Erica McDermott performs MOMologues “Pink Ribbon Overdose” to a sold out house at Boston ‘s Hard Rock Cafe. The first comedy about Breast Cancer. Photo by Howie Hecht Photography

“The Ellie Fund’s then Executive Director, Julie Nation, had reached out to me and some other local actors and invited us to be guests at the only sanctioned Oscar party in Boston, which was a benefit for the Ellie Fund. As fate would have it, Julie and I hit it off, my mum had just won a battle with breast cancer months earlier and my other new friend, Lisa Rafferty, a breast cancer survivor herself, had just finished writing a new “MOMologues” comedy about Breast Cancer called “The Pink Ribbon Overdose”. It seemed like a match made in heaven.

“Julie and Lisa were able to pull together a very cool production of P.R.O. held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston. The cast featured Julie and me along with the very generous ladies for Channel 5 Boston; Karen Ward, Biancia Delagarza and Susan Warnick. The show sold out quickly, was so much fun to do and raised some money for a great cause – I was so thrilled to be a part of it.

“Each Holiday Season I take my daughters out of school and the three of us participate in a gingerbread house making event at the Home for Little Wanderers. It’s great to see all of the children interact and spend time together, and it’s also a wonderful opportunity to have my girls experience the rewards of giving their time to others.

Erica McDermott walks the Red Carpet at The SAG Awards – THE FIGHTER was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Erica McDermott walks the Red Carpet at The SAG Awards – THE FIGHTER was
nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

“This coming Spring I will be performing in The Vagina Monologues to benefit The Victim Rights Law Center; which is an effort being lead by my friend and fellow ‘Fighter Sister’ Melissa McMeekin (see October 2013 cover story).

It amazes me how much work is here in New England for anyone in the industry. It seems there are constantly big movies with big budgets coming our way. The folks who work hard every day to continue the MA Film Tax credit deserve a huge amount of credit for getting and keeping the momentum going. Thanks to them most of my auditions and reads are right here in Boston, although I do go to LA on tape auditions also. I would love to see successful television series come and stay in New England, which could be a catalyst to bring us to the next level. I expect that New England Studios and their Operations Director Chris Byers and the work he is doing will go a long way to making that a reality.

Angela Peri (Boston Casting), with actors Melissa McMeekin and Erica McDermott (sisters in THE FIGHTER) flanking Writer/Director David O. Russell at the Nantucket Film Festival Screenwriters Tribute. David was the honoree; Angela, Erica and Melissa worked with him on the Academy Award winning film THE FIGHTER. Photo by Gene Mahon.
Angela Peri (Boston Casting), with actors Melissa McMeekin and Erica McDermott (sisters
in THE FIGHTER) flanking Writer/Director David O. Russell at the Nantucket Film Festival
Screenwriters Tribute. David was the honoree; Angela, Erica and Melissa worked with
him on the Academy Award winning film THE FIGHTER. Photo by Gene Mahon.
Erica McDermott sits in rollers at Patrice Vinci’s salon on Newbury Street, as Noel McKinnon does her make up for Boston‘s Fashion Night Out. Photo by Sara Whitney.

I love the whole (acting) process. Changing the way I talk, creating character quirks and living my entire day as someone else is such a rush for me. My poor husband has lived with so many different women; he’s really supportive, but sometimes I wonder if it drives him nuts! Sometimes I can stay in character for weeks. It truly is what I love about acting the most. .. it’s not acting… it’s becoming. I suppose what I like least is spending time away from my family, and generally having to keep a very flexible calendar. I always have to reschedule stuff. Just this Spring I had to reschedule a trip to Disney World and Universal with my family. They are so understanding and supportive, I am so grateful. By the way, we just made that trip to Orlando in November.

“Typically, not more than a week or two will go by without me ‘practicing’. Each audition I prepare for, regardless of the size of the role is an opportunity to learn and get better. I don’t think of it a practice but I do look at each role I don’t get as exactly that, an opportunity to get better. It’s often a chance to create a new character in my mind, and contemplate the possibilities and different directions the character can deliver a writers lines. That’s what a I really enjoy about acting – the innumerable choices I get to make.

“More formally, I do participate in many classes and workshops whenever I have the opportunity, be it in LA, NY or Boston – it’s a great way to keep sharp, challenge myself and meet new people – which is something else I really enjoy.

IMAGINE Magazine Publisher, Carol Patton (center) with THE FIGHTER actresses Melissa McMeekin (left) and Erica McDermott. Photo by Globe Photographer Bill Brett.
IMAGINE Magazine Publisher, Carol Patton (center) with THE FIGHTER actresses Melissa McMeekin (left) and Erica McDermott. Photo by Globe Photographer Bill Brett.

“Something that is really fun, exciting and rewarding – which I’ve had the opportunity to do a few times – is to do an informal table read with other actors. In 2012 I was living in LA during pilot season (Feb-April) and I participated in a table read of STEEL MAGNOLIAS that was pulled together by and included more than a few names and faces we would all recognize, and that was really cool.

I’ll let Engine Room Edits Don Packer sum it up, “I love Erica. What can I say. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s beautiful…. goes without saying, and she’s a pleasure to work with. Someday I’ll look back and thank the gods that I had the chance to work with her because she’s going to go big time.”



Read on

BEREAVE: From Evangelos and George Giovanis

Brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis flank Malcolm McDowell during the taping of a pitch piece for BEREAVE, which McDowell will star in and executive produce. Photo courtesy of Vago Productions.
Brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis flank Malcolm McDowell during the taping of a pitch piece for BEREAVE, which McDowell will star in and executive produce. Photo courtesy of Vago Productions.

Fatally ill and unable to reveal his secret to his family, Garvey thinks he has figured out how to die alone. Suffering mortality fears and unable to tell his family, Garvey’s behavior becomes erratic. But when his beloved wife Evelyn goes missing on their anniversary, he must live to save her! In that short time, Garvey realizes what life still has to offer and in following his journey; we do too.

Attached are Malcolm McDowell as Garvey and Jane Seymour as Evelyn. McDowell found the story so compelling he signed on as an executive producer.

Brothers George and Evangelos Giovanis. Photo courtesy of Evangelos Giovanis.
Brothers George and Evangelos Giovanis. Photo courtesy of Evangelos Giovanis.

Half of a two brother filmmaking team, Evangelos Giovanis wrote BEREAVE in 2007 inspired by the death of a family friend. He started writing to deal with the thoughts that were on his mind at the time. He says, “The movie is not about that family friend but rather about how we deal with the last few years, months, hours and minutes as we near death.” It’s a subject that Western civilizations don’t deal with so well. Evangelos began his questions to himself with, “how do we let go?”

His hope was to tell a touching story about an older, married man struggling with his mortality. It took him about fifty days to write it, but he has been revising it for six years now. In emails, in telephone calls and in face to face conversations, people that have read the script have told him that it touched them so deeply that they could only describe it as cathartic. “They have all wished me to get it on the screen. Financing is difficult for such a character driven piece, so we (he and his brother George) decided to go looking to the crowd on Kickstarter to become the producers. It worked!” he told IMAGINE.

Evangelos Giovanis holding the plaque at the 2006 Thessaloniki International Film Festival where George and Evangelos Giovanis won the Digital Alexander Award for best feature with their film LAND OF NOD. Photo courtesy of Vago Productions.
Evangelos Giovanis holding the plaque at the 2006 Thessaloniki International Film Festival where George and Evangelos Giovanis won the Digital Alexander Award for best feature with their film LAND OF NOD. Photo courtesy of Vago Productions.

George and Evangelos met Malcolm McDowell through a mutual friend who had worked with him before. Malcolm read the script and not only wanted to do it, but completely understood the material. You need your lead actor to know what the story is trying to say. You need him to understand the writing. Evangelos sings his praises, “Malcolm is incredibly intelligent and has a huge sense of humor as well. We have become great friends ever since and can’t wait to work together.”’

Malcolm worked with the Giovanis brothers to produce a humorous and heartwarming pitch piece for their Kickstarter effort. According to Evangelos, “Without Malcolm’s involvement, we are certain we would not have reached our $100,000 goal. He is a legendary actor and I’d say even more importantly; a very unique man.

Also attached to BEAREAVE is Neve Campbell (WILD THINGS, SCREAM), a brilliant actress and winner of the Prism and Saturn Awards with over fifty credits to her name and the charismatic JJ Feild (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, CENTURION).

JJ Field is attached to BEREAVE. Photo by Ryan McGoverne
JJ Field is attached to BEREAVE. Photo by Ryan McGoverne

Malcolm gave the script to Jane Seymour. “We have always been huge fans of hers,” says, Evangelos. “But that’s easy to do! Her radiant beauty is only surpassed by her acting prowess. Jane is one of those rare actors who can play a sex bomb in a James Bond movie, but also play the ill-fated queen in a political thriller. How else do you win two Golden Globes, one Emmy and a Saturn award? She is a blessing on the set and my brother and I are enamored to be working with her.

According to Evangelos, “My brother is my best friend and greatest ally. We make all our films together. We compliment and support each otherverywell.Thereisnothingwehaven’tdone together from the cradle till now and I hope it stays that way till we hit the dirt.

“In 2006, we sold our pizza restaurant in Sedona, Arizona in order to make our next movie – not averse to risking it all for the dream so to speak. We work well together on set. My brother is more patient with setting up lights and the geometry of it all, knows way more buttons on the camera than I do! I’m more in tune with the writing and trying to communicate to the actors what I need from them. Oh sure, we’ll make outtakes where we could be swearing up a storm, but later that night, we’ll go out, grab a drink, hug each other and say, ‘what a day, our movie will be beautiful’.”

In 2008, the Giovanis brothers used their pizza earnings to self finance their third feature film RUN IT. The budget was a modest $50,000. Starring Louis Zorich (DETACHMENT), Sam Coppola (SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER) and Armen Garo (THE DEPARTED), the action-drama focuses on the tale of two thugs, a substitute teacher, and a young student who get tangled up in a day of violent crimes. RUN IT premiered at Philafilm and picked up the Gold Award for best feature. It continued its festival run and accolades with an honorable mention at the Canada International Film Festival, a Gold Kahuna Award at the Honolulu International film Festival and a Bronze Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival. The film had a theatrical run in NYC at Cinema Village for a week in May 2013.

For BEREAVE the Geovanis brothers are seeking additional funding and production prowess,foreign sales and domestic and foreign distribution. You can contact them at vagoproductions@yahoo. com or call 951 526-5539. Both brothers are available during AFM.


Read on