Michael Nardelli is a rising star. The versatile actor whose credits include Hart of Dixie, Nashville, Revenge and The Client List is not only one of Hollywood’s most sought after performers, but he recently has added producer to his long list of credits with his latest project “The Circle”. I talked to him recently about his career and about “The Circle.”
We’re hometown neighbors. I understand you grew up in Albany, New York. Tell everyone how you got the acting bug?
No way! I love Upstate New York (and miss it!). In terms of acting, I just grew up loving stories. Movies. TV. Books. My family moved six times while I was growing up so getting lost in film and fiction was my comfort food. That sort of pushed me into doing junior high and High School Theater. I would also always ask teachers if I could make short films with my friends instead of writing papers or essays. We would write them, act in them, edit them. I had to edit going back between two VCR’s, which was painstaking. But we got it done! I have always loved diving into characters. The weirder, the better!
Was there any particular role or film that made you say, “I want to do this? Or this is what I SHOULD be doing?”
I saw THE WIZARD OF OZ when I was two. It is actually my first memory. I think I was pretty much hooked from then on. I got exposed to a lot of cool movies growing up and always wound up recreating them with my friends on the playground, or wherever. STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES were huge for me. ET too. STAR TREK, all that stuff. My Mom let me watch a lot Hitchcock movies like REAR WINDOW and REBECCA. I wanted to be James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and EAST OF EDEN. I always wanted to do comedy too. I’d watch Nick at Nite when I was younger and fell in love with shows like Lucy, Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and Taxi.
You have an impressive slate of acting credits. I see that you’ve added writer and producer to that as well. Is there any one of those mediums that you like more than the other?
Acting is without a doubt my passion that guides me. It is the most challenging and rewarding job for me and I need it in my life. I look at it as a lifelong thing where I just keep learning, and hopefully my characters get a little better with each gig. Every single job is a blessing that I am grateful for. And It is an honor to be a working actor.
I do love writing as well. It feels so freeing; sitting in a room and creating characters and situations without a censor. It is great and you do not need “permission” to do it the way you sometimes feel you do with acting. The producing does not always feel creative enough for me, but it is great to work with your friends and make something happen. That can be rewarding and feel empowering.
One of the things you have produced is your latest project called “The Circle”. The trailer is AMAZING and it has an interesting premise. Could you tell us about “The Circle?”
CIRCLE is a psychological real-time thriller. It does have a sci-fi element, so we like to think of it as 12 ANGRY MEN with a TWILIGHT ZONE twist. 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious and dangerous chamber. Every two minutes one of them is killed by a device in the center of the room. At some point, the strangers realize they are actually voting for the next victim. A lot of new rules to the “game” are revealed throughout the story, but once the strangers know they have some say in their fate, it gets pretty intense. A lot of topical issues come up pertaining to race, class, gender as people basically fight for their lives and justify why they think they should survive. It is a fairly political movie.
When can we see “The Circle” and where?
We have a big screening at Comic Con this week that should be a lot of fun. Everyone should come and check it out if they are there! There is also some other festivals coming up soon where we will screen and that will be announced shortly. I am not allowed to talk about the distribution aspect yet, but we should have an announcement soon on our Facebook/instagram/twitter pages detailing where everyone in the world can see the film. So stay tuned please – I think you will all enjoy it!
Here’s the trailer for “The Circle”:
What’s next for you? Any projects lined up?
I play “Ryan” in a film called ALL IS VANITY that just finished post-production. I get to see it for the first time next week and I’m really excited. It is a different kind of character for me. Ryan is this mysterious, tortured, lost soul who finds a few other survivors after a plague has decimated the world. It is similar in tone to THE ROAD, which I loved.
I recently guest-starred on AMERICAN CRIME STORY, which will air in the winter. From what I saw, it looks pretty amazing. I am also in a film called CASSIDY WAY that should be out later this year. And I wrote and directed my first short film called DENNIS DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. It just played at LA Comedy Fest and Palm Springs Shortfest & Film Market. I will follow it around to a few more festivals. It is a pretty crazy, dark dark comedy.
You can see the trailer here:
I will be at COMIC CON this year, and I hope to attend most of the festival circuit that CIRCLE is travelling along. I am fairly active on twitter and instagram too, so you can always find me there.
Finally, I understand that you work with The Groundlings and with the Funny Or Die people. Do you have any stories that you’d like to share?
It has just been awesome to see all my former teachers and classmates pop up all over TV and film these days. I always gasp when I see my friends on stuff – it still shocks and excites me. I remember sitting in class hysterical whenever Fortune Feimster would get up and improv, and now she is everywhere. It is so cool. And I am glad I got to work with and learn from all those hysterically talented people.