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Up Close with Actor Tom DeNucci

Monday, November 21, 2011


From horror to Hamlet: up-and-comer Tom DeNucci

Although the “Rocky” metaphor is often over-used, Rhode Island actor/writer Tom DeNucci is currently poised to transition from a local Cranston actor to movie star. DeNucci, 27, has gone from performing small roles in shows like Brotherhood to starring in films alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs). With the recently released Inkubus under his belt, as well as his current role in the Gamm Theatre’s production of Hamlet, DeNucci has his sights set on conquering film, stage and whatever else he sets his mind to.

GoLocal decided to catch up with DeNucci to discuss Hamlet, Inkubus and to get the scoop on his upcoming projects.

First off, can you tell me a little bit about your experience working on Hamlet?

It was a whole new world, because I have never done theater. I was unfamiliar with the inner workings of the theater and the terminology. It was just all so different from filmmaking. It was a lot of work in terms of breaking down the language of Shakespeare. For me, it was almost like reading a different language initially. Although it's in English, it was difficult to grasp, because the play is over 400 years old. It took me about 4 weeks before I could fully comprehend it. Once I got it, I realized how brilliant it is. The play just moves from start to finish, without a stale moment. It’s exciting to be a part of.

How did you become involved with the production?

I had previously worked with Hamlet director Fred Sullivan at the Gamm Theatre, which is a very great program for actors. I started taking classes with Fred in 2006, who was the resident teacher at the time. These classes included basic and comedic scene study. I felt very strong and confident about my performances whenever Fred was coaching me; he taught me the basic principles of acting, simple mechanics and how to control your voice.

Afterward, Fred and I got disconnected for a while as I got into movies and he continued directed plays. It wasn’t until I was starring in Infected that I contacted Fred to coach me and help me prepare for the role. Fred agreed and was extremely supportive in my preparation; coaching me once a week for six weeks prior to filming.

About a year after Infected, Fred approached me with the opportunity to be in Hamlet. Although I hadn’t done theater before, it was something I wanted to do and would have been foolish to pass up. Not only was it an opportunity to act live on stage, but also it was a chance to perform some of the best dialogue ever written. I thought, "Why not begin my theater career with one of the most famous plays of all time?" I knew I had to go for it.

Can you tell me about the roles you play in Hamlet?

I play Bernardo, a watchman at the beginning of the play. He is basically the first person to spot the ghost of King Hamlet. Bernardo is great character because he is introduced into a tense situation that he must deal with right from the outset. Bernardo, along with Horatio, then have the dubious task of telling Hamlet that they saw his father’s ghost, which directly impacts Hamlet’s behavior the remainder of the story.

In addition to Bernardo, I also play Prince Fortinbras, who is out to avenge his father’s death at the hand of King Hamlet. Fortinbras’ mission is to reclaim all of the territories his father once controlled. It’s an added foil to the story, because not only does Hamlet have to deal with his uncle, who has just assumed his father’s thrown, but also Fortinbras trying to topple Denmark.

Is it difficult transitioning into the character of Fortinbras after being in Bernardo mode?

I am very fortunate in the sense that when Bernardo is finished, he doesn’t come back. This makes it easy to get into Fortinbras mode. The cool thing is they are both militaristic characters, which means that their movements and physicality is comparable. Fortinbras is fun character to play, because he parallels Hamlet in such an interesting way. Fortinbras doesn’t think twice about hurting people, whereas Hamlet has a moral compass. Fortinbras sees what he wants and takes it.

Being a film actor, what are some of the difficulties performing in front of a live audience?

Flat out, it’s one take every time. There’s no “can I get another try?” or second chances. If you do make a mistake, it gives you the opportunity to try and do it better the next time. Performing in front of live audiences is interesting because they differ each night. Some audiences may laugh at one joke, while another crowd may barely crack a smile. Although all performers may desire a certain response, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it. The trick is to not let the audience control your performance, because it can hinder your effectiveness.

With that said, the spontaneity of a live crowd is a truly amazing sight to behold. It’s difficult to describe, as a performer, how unique a feeling it is to get a natural reaction from an audience.

As most New Englanders already know, Inkubus premiered last month in Rhode Island and over a dozen other states. Can you discuss what that experience was like and when people can expect to see Inkubus on DVD or Demand?

The Inkubus premiere was a great celebration of everyone’s work. I can’t remember the last time a film shot entirely in Rhode Island; by a local production company, received a theatrical release. It was great, especially because we had an excellent turn out at the premieres. Not to mention, Joey Fatone and William Forsythe were nice enough to come back to Rhode Island and tour movie theaters promoting the film. It was a nice tribute to those who worked on the movie and a nice chance to show our appreciation to the fans that supported the film.  

As far as the release goes, Inkubus should be available this winter on Demand in over 80 million homes worldwide, which is the same as a major blockbuster movie. This massive distribution is a real testament to the hard work the film’s producer Chad Verdi. He is the one who took this small local film and brought it to a massive audience.

Lastly, what are you currently working on?

My passion project has been a horror movie called Self Storage, which I wrote when I was 22. I’m looking to pull it all together in 6 to 8 months. I’m trying really hard, as a producer to get the movie rolling. I’m spending every ounce of my energy to push this movie.

Aside from Self Storage, Infected, a zombie film that I starred in along with Michael Madsen and William Forsythe, is in the final stages post-production. Horror fans can look for it sometime in 2012.  

Tom is currently appearing in the Gamm Theatre production of Hamlet from now until December 11th. You can also follow Tom on Twitter @TomDeNucci.

For Lauren Marchetti's interview with Inkubus producer Chad Verdi as well as The Gamm's Tony Estrella, check out GoLocalTV on demand 24/7, here.


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