Michael Nardelli Talks Cerebral Sci-Fi and Upcoming Thriller ‘Circle’
In a FilmFad.com exclusive interview, Pooya shoots the breeze with actor/writer/producer/director/future superhero Michael Nardelli about the upcoming psychological thriller “Circle,” favorite properties in the vein of cerebral science fiction, his advice to aspiring actor/filmmakers and much more.
I always say, I can’t sing or dance that I know of, so I feel like I had to broaden my talents however I could.
So, without further ado… here is an exclusive peak into the busy life of Michael Nardelli.
FilmFad: In the very unique upcoming psychological thriller “Circle” you are starring alongside Julie Benz (“Dexter”) and Carter Jenkins (“Valentine’s Day”). In your own words, could you describe the film to me? Because It’s a very interesting and new concept.
Yeah, it’s definitely a new concept. That’s kinda why I liked it. So, In my own words, Which you may have to edit these words because I tend ramble about it [both chuckle] it’s a sci-fi psychological thriller about fifty strangers that wake up in a mysterious and dangerous chamber. They don’t know how they got there, they don’t know why they’re there. Some of them realize that they might have a history with one another, but most of ’em, they’re all new faces. And then very quickly they learn that every two minutes one of them will get killed by this device in the center of the room, this mysterious ominous device . So, they don’t know who’s watching them or who’s controlling it. But, you know, at a certain point they realize that it’s actually a voting process, so they’re voting for who goes next. New rules for the game reveal themselves throughout the story, but it definitely becomes a fight for survival. These fifty people kinda battling it out for why they want to live and why they deserve to be the sole survivor. It brings up a lot of political and social and gender issues that are actually pretty topical right now. So, it covers a lot of bases in 90 minutes.
FilmFad: It seems very interesting. I mean, I saw the trailer for it and that was, in and of itself, very attention grabbing because of the way everybody is situated, like you said, in that circle. And then every few minutes, all of sudden, that vote turns over and another person gets snatched away.
Yeah. There’s nowhere to run. There’s nowhere to hide. Just these fifty people battling it out. The directors were really influenced by “Twelve Angry Men,” so just a group of very different people being trapped in a room and personalities clashing. Then there’s sort of the sci-fi element, sort of “Twelve Angry Men” meets “Twilight Zone.”
FilmFad: So you said the unique concept of this film is one of the main things that pulled you towards the project. Can you tell me a little bit about your character… and what maybe drew you to that particular role?
Yeah, Eric. What little I can tell you, he’s just one of the more kind of quieter, more rational members of the circle. There’s a lot of histrionics and a lot of really aggressive people in the circle, because obviously you’re fighting for your life. People’s real personalities kind of come out or reveal themselves. But, I like the idea of playing someone that’s a little more cerebral that’s trying to take this game in an survive in a different way than a lot of the other people are. Everybody kind of has their own survival instincts that kick in, and I just kinda liked his and I related to them. So that was what kind of drew me to Eric and to the movie itself. Just from the producers side, I’m a huge sci-fi fan, but I like kinda more smart sci-fi that gives you a window into what’s really going on in the world we live in now. Sort of putting it’s own kind of science fiction twist on it, so it’s no so overbearing like, “Okay we’re going to talk about racism right now in this movie.” “Circle” is not like that at all. Although it does touch on a lot of the current topical things that are happening with racism, feminism, politics and class warfare and all that stuff.
FilmFad: As a Sci-Fi Buff yourself, and with “Circle” being #1, what is your 2nd favorite movie in the past 5 years that’s a Sci-Fi film that has that cerebral feel to it?
I’d say “Moon” and “Ex Machina.” Yeah, I love those. I thought they were awesome. I mean, I love “Star Trek” and all that stuff too, but within the last five I’m trying to think of sort of newer stories that aren’t sequels. I’d say “Moon” and “Ex Machina.”
FilmFad: What about “Ex Machina” did you like most?
I’m a huge fan of that writer, Alex Garland. I’ve read the beach when I was young and I’ve read all his stuff. I think he’s great. Again, I kinda like the cerebral aspect to it. Sort of how it analyzed them. It was almost like a three person play. Analyzed what it would really be like to have robots like that in the world. and what it would mean to us. What is says about our humanity that we’re creating those things. So the story line for sure and the visuals that I thought were beautiful. The robot, she looked amazing. I thought the location was great. I mean that, was the whole package that movie.
FilmFad: I believe “Ex Machina” was Alex Garland’s directorial Debut. You recently made your directorial debut with the short film “Dennis Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” Stepping from in-front of the camera to behind the camera, what kind of challenges did you face and was it easier or was it more difficult for you?
It was immensely more difficult. I mean Im trying to train myself to direct because there is stuff that I’m writing that I want to direct. So, I’m trying to take baby steps into that world. “Dennis [Doesn’t Live Here Anymore]” was supposed to be a baby step, but it was hard. It was hard to act, and write it, and produce it and direct it. I thought I could kinda do it all myself, but very quickly realized I needed help. So, I basically called in favors from my friends, or producers, or people I’ve worked with before. This one gal Autumn Fettoricci who helped me produce it, was awesome and stepped in when I realized “oh wow, I definitely need help.” I had directed smaller shorts in the past, but this was a bigger one with a bigger cast and location. It was a little bit more ambitious for a short than I thought it was gonna be. So, It was pretty insane, but actually once I got to day two or three I was like oh, this is really fun, I really like it. It’s hard work, but it does feel pretty satisfying.
Sidenote: Check out Pooya’s review of “Ex Machina” here.
FilmFad: You are an actor, you’re a writer, you’re a director and a few years back you actually stepped into the role of producer. Could you tell me a little about what you might currently have in the pipeline starting with “The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League?”
It’s true story that we developed. It’s a lot like “Catch Me if You Can.” If you’ve read the Rolling Stone article that we adapted it from, it’s this really cool, again it’s very Psychological cerebral story about this girl who kinda came from nothing, suffered some setbacks and then ran away from home and realized she’s actually a really smart girl she just needed a new identity to figure that out. So that one, we’re trying to a director on and get that made.
FilmFad: Hopping back to “Circle,” you got to work with some really amazing actors, Julie Benz and Carter Jenkins, tell me what it’s like working with people like this. Especially Julie Benz, she’s been on so many hit shows and things like that. Is it a challenge when you’re working with somebody? Is there an intimidation factor or is it more so that “Wow I’m really comfortable because there is somebody comfortable on screen,” so it gives you an extra sense of fluidity?
Yeah, it can be both. Carter and I have known since he was probably 13 because we had an acting class together. So, he’s a good friend and I felt pretty comfortable just having him. I was actually really grateful that he did it because he’s a busy guy too. He’s awesome in the movie and got to play this sociopath kinda guy that’s totally different than I’ve ever seen him do. But that was awesome. And then Julie… Yeah I guess I was probably a little more intimated just because I grew up watching “Buffy” and “Angel” and then when I was older “Dexter.” I think I even remember seeing “Jawbreaker” when I was young too. So, it was kinda like “Woah, working with Darla. This is cool.”
FilmFad: Yeah! Alright, you threw Darla out there. You’re really a true Sci-Fi fan.
Totally, I’m all up in it. So it was kinda nerve-wracking to work with Julie a.k.a. Darla, but eventually you just kind of settle into it. It was awesome that she was willing to do the movie too because it was such a quick shoot and she’s so busy as well. It was awesome. Everybody in the cast was great. It’s was just a really weird, different, unique filming experience. We were all in a circle, everyday.
FilmFad: The set looks awesome. From the trailer, from what I saw of it, it looked very cool. It was almost game show meets life or death scenario.
It’s got this weird, retro, “Star Trek,” game show, house of horror look to it. It was pretty intense. It was hot in there. I mean there was 50 people plus all the crew and everything. You’re standing all day. So, it was a quick shoot, but it was pretty grueling I would say.
FilmFad: If you could be any superhero, and it doesn’t have to be one on-screen right now, which property would you be most drawn to?
I think I would go with Iron Man. Yeah, I would kinda love to be Iron Man.
FilmFad: What are favorite qualities that draw you to iron man
What’s there not to love? I mean he’s got it. Aside from, well he doesn’t have it anymore, but aside from having a giant implant in his heart, what’s not to love? I just think that he’s got a great sense of humor, he’s got a huge brain that we often forget about. I mean Iron Man is brilliant. He’s a human guy so it’s not like he was born with super powers or anything. He had to kinda work his way up and figure things out and deal with his issues. I respect that and I think that makes his character more dynamic from an actors point of view. He’s got all those cool toys and he’s got Pepper [Potts]. I mean come on. Who would you pick?
FilmFad: That’s tough. I mean I’ve always been really into DC comics, so I’d probably lean towards DC. It’s tough not to say Batman, because [Laughs] I mean who doesn’t want to be Batman, but I’d probably say Nightwing.
FilmFad: Since it’s not full-on Batman, but he’s kinda close to Batman. Not quite as boyish as Robin anymore, he’s mature, he’s the original Robin.
Yeah. Maybe not as many demons as Batman, Right?
FilmFad: Exactly. He definitely has a light-heartedness to himself versus the Dark Knight himself.
I hear ya. That makes sense. Okay, well let’s make this happen then.
FilmFad: Yeah. Let’s do it. [laughs]
Let’s make Nightwing with Iron Man, Let’s go.
FilmFad: I will embarrass you. No, you don’t want me on screen.
Oh, come on.
FilmFad: You’ve done so many different things. You’ve done acting, writing, producing directing, future superhero. What is your advices to an aspiring actor, producer, director… let’s just say filmmaker… What would be your advice to them?
I feel like we’re in a really weird moment with film and TV and acting. It’s scary in some ways because everything is changing. But, I think it’s really cool. There is definitely this do-it-yourself movement out there that’s happening that young actors and filmmakers are a part of. Hopefully I can be a part of that and continue to be a part of that. I guess, knowing that that’s going on, the advice is just whatever it is… don’t wait on people to call you. If they do that’s awesome. Sometimes that does happen, but then you know… As a creative artist type, create your own stuff. whether that’s a short, or a play your putting up, a short story or whatever it is keep your artistic creative mojo flowing. Feel good about yourself and not feel like your kinda beholden to an agent or casting director or whoever giving you the chance to do what you want to do. Just start doing it. I feel like in my experience, not that I’ve had all that much, but anytime I’ve taken the time to do something on my own, even if not something I share, even if it’s some dumb short my friends and I make, usually something comes from that. I have confidence the next week at an audition and book it. It gets seen by someone and something happens, you know. Nothing really bad happens from that stuff. That would be my little tidbit.
You can listen to the ENTIRE fun filled interview below and find Michael Nardelli on Facebook.com/Michael-Nardelli and on Twitter @thenardelli. Make sure to also check out the trailer for upcoming thriller “Circle” below.