Mark Gagliardi can currently be seen as Father Chuck on the new CBS show, Blood & Treasure. I got the chance to talk with Mark about how he originally got into acting, how he relates to his character on Blood & Treasure, what the process of narrating an episode of Drunk History is like, his podcast We Got This w/ Mark & Hal and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
I did my first play when I was five years old. It was a Christmas play called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and I had a tiny role. I played an angel in the play-within-a-play and got my first laugh. I was hooked. I started taking classes, did more plays, joined a showchoir, and never looked back.
Was there a specific person or experience that you would credit with helping you decide that acting is what you wanted to do for a living?
There was a TV show on Nickelodeon when I was a kid called Standby: Lights! Camera! Action! that was hosted by Leonard Nimoy and went behind the scenes of big blockbusters. I watched it as a kid and thought it looked like the world’s best job. That got me into it, but the people that kept me in it were all the mentors I had growing up: Frank Vavrin, a veteran local character actor; Tim Hanes, my choir director; Ric Murphy, my first improv teacher; there are too many to name.
Let’s talk about your new show, Blood & Treasure. What did you first think about the show when you read the script and what was your audition process like for the show?
The first thing I noticed about the script was the way Matt [Federman] and Stephen [Scaia] wrote their action sequences: lots of bold-type BOOMs and POWs! I thought, “Oh, these guys like comics and Indiana Jones and all the stuff I had on lunchboxes as a kid (and T-shirts now)”. The script was fun, exciting, playful, and like nothing I had ever done before. I came to this from the world of improv, so I was always most comfortable in a little theatre with two chairs on stage and here I was being asked to travel the world and chase treasure. Yes, please.
I auditioned for Liz Barnes, obviously the world’s greatest casting director, and it was great. Then I went in again and again. We worked the scenes (along with her associate Seth) until they were solid. Then, I recorded myself doing monologues from National Treasure and sent them to Liz. It was like, “Check it out – I am the nerd that’s perfect for this!”
On the show, you play Father Chuck. What is he like? How does he fit into the story?
Father Chuck is Danny’s [Matt Barr] best friend from childhood. Danny became an antiquities expert, Chuck became a priest. At their cores, however, they are still the kids that think all of this treasure stuff is cool and quote movies at each other. Chuck gives Danny what he thinks he needs, whether that’s a Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder or a pitching machine for a night of baseball at the Colosseum in Rome (my favorite scene to shoot, by the way).
When he is introduced to Lexi [Sofia Pernas], he is wary at first, having heard how she broke Danny’s heart. It doesn’t take long for him to see her goodness, though, and they become fast friends (even if he doesn’t always approve of her methods). One by one, the show’s characters enter Chuck’s life, and he becomes a shoulder, an ear, an extra pair of hands, and most definitely a mouth within this Treasure Squad (TM).
Would you say that you, Mark, are more different or similar to the person that Father Chuck is and why?
I am not a priest, but I’m just as mouthy, love the same pop culture, and hope that I would do as much for my friends as Chuck does. There is one difference though. I cheer for Dodgers and Cubs, not the Sox.
I have to ask you about Drunk History, since people best know you as the narrator on that show. How did you originally get involved with the show?
In March 2008, my friend Derek Waters called me about an idea he had: I would learn a story from history and recount it while drunk and he would shoot a re-enactment. I thought it was hilarious and he came over with director Jeremy Konner, a bottle of Johnny Walker, and a camera. What started that night on my couch in Silver Lake became a series that’s now in its sixth season. Crazy.
What’s the process like for narrating an episode of the show?
Derek gives me a list of stories and I pick the one that I like best. Then I am given a month to study. I gobble up books, documentaries, and articles. I have to know the story inside out, so I can still recall everything even when I’m toasted. The camera crew shows up at my apartment (or, during my brief stint in NYC, a much larger one that could accommodate a TV crew) and sets up all their gear, while I drink and take breathalyzer readings until I hit my magic number.
Were you a big history buff growing up and if not, have you become one since you’ve been involved with the show?
Oh, I have always been a big fan of history. I think it’s because I have always been a fan of stories. History and theatre are both versions of storytelling. Whether it’s a grand tale of the growth of civilization, or an intimate tale highlighting shared humanity, I have always loved a good story.
Is there a topic or story you would like to narrate for an episode of Drunk History in the future?
I’ve been keeping a list forever. There are so many great tales. The Matewan union battle, the yahoos who robbed Commodore Vanderbilt, anything that happened in 1848…(Seriously, that year was incredible; so much change around the world.)
You also have your podcast, We Got This w/ Mark & Hal. For our readers who might not be familiar with it, what’s it about and what made you want to start it?
My comedy partner, Hal and I, met at The Second City in Los Angeles. It’s an outpost of the legendary Chicago comedy theatre and we were students along with Ben Acker, who invited us to play in his Thrilling Adventure Hour. That old-time radio show turned out to be wildly popular and really changed my life both in terms of exposure via a great show and connection to a network of talented people. Once the show ended after its ten year run, Hal and I knew we wanted to keep making comedy together. Hal came up with the idea of settling pointless debates that people argue about online, like “Star Trek or Star Wars?” or “Who is the best breakfast cereal mascot?” Sometimes it’s just the two of us, sometimes we grab our celebrity buddies from Thrilling Adventure Hour. We’ve now done over 200 episodes and have no intention of stopping. The Internet has a lot of trolls and a lot of vicious fights, so we are proud to have created a safe space of friendly People Of The World (what we call our listeners) to argue passionately with a smile on their face and their tongue in their cheek.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I just saw the new Godzilla movie and it was my introduction to the franchise. I loved it and I am ready to go deep. They’ve made a couple of those, right?
Featured Photo Credit: Jenn KL