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ANTHONY ROBERT GRASSO- Cover Story Continued from E.G.O. MAGAZINE: By Celeb Writer, Jules Lavallee

Q: You have been in the entertainment business for over 30-years, how do you sustain in the biz?

A: I’m surprised at that amount of years myself but, I guess it’s because I absolutely love what I do. I also can say there has never been an alternative career that I prefer more. I had many survival jobs and was particularly very good at them. Teaching acting classes has become my link to acting and directing, I find that I get extremely depressed if I’m not creating, whether it’s acting, directing or teaching. One of my acting teachers from the British Academy of Dramatic Arts in the UK, Jane Lapotaire, had said to our class, “if you are not sending your creative eye outward, it would turn around on you and get in the way of your happiness, joy and relationships.” I never forgot that advice. I couldn’t agree more.

Q: Tell us about the award-winning sci-fi film, Kill Al and the controversial drama The Blind Date where you won 5 Best Actors in total. 3 for Kill Al and 2 for the Blind Date?

A: The Sci-Fi thriller, Kill Al was a treat to work on. We rehearsed prior to shoot dates, which is rare for film, but was exactly what we needed. It felt like a play shot on film. I play Brandon, a complexed role (a powerful CEO who finds himself in a vulnerable state and then learns to abuse his power and becomes a sexual predator). I had to find my way into his predicament and justify his actions. The film was written and directed by the talented Walter Brandes and had done extremely well on the film festival circuit. I was accepted in over 50 festivals in the US and Europe and won a multitude of awards. I was blessed to win three Best Actors for Brandon. It can be viewed now on Amazon Prime.

The Blind Date was actually a play made into a film. It's a 2-character driven piece, has lots of twists and turns and has the audience wondering where it will go! The ending is quite controversial and shocking. Many of the takes were over 8 to10 minutes long, but exciting to film. It too can be viewed on Amazon Prime.

Q: You just completed the Sci-Fi Thriller, “SOOTHSAYER,” directed by Tom Ryan. What is it about Sci-Fi that you enjoy as an actor?

A: I love the extreme circumstances in most Sci-Fi genres. Soothsayer was a throwback to a Twilight Zone episode or a Hitchock film. It was shot in black and white and has all the twists and turns in the writing and language. I play a scientist. Dr. Robert Serling, who invents a time machine to go into the future 10 minutes. Unfortunately, lessons are learned, be careful what you wish for.

It was great fun and we got to shoot in a castle in Verona, NJ. Also, you have to see what the director, Tom Ryan did, making the time machine. It’s incredible.

Q: One of your teachers said to you, “You have the spirit of a soldier and the heart of a poet.” How has this come to life in your work?

A: Yes! When I was abroad studying in Oxford, one of my teachers said to me after class, “Anthony, you have the rare quality to be both the poet and the soldier.” “You have the spirit of a soldier and the heart of a poet.” She said many Brits are one or the other. I guess my life as a young teen having to navigate through a rough area of Brooklyn while maintaining a love of the arts and theatre, helped shape my essence today.

Q: You worked with the late Director, John Gallagher on the film, “WINK,” which won many awards. What was it like to work with Mr. Gallagher? What did you learn from the Iconic Director?

A: First let me express how heartbroken I am of his sudden passing. He was a great guy, a mentor, a friend and a brilliant filmmaker to everyone he worked with. I actually knew John for close to 25 years and was thrilled to finally collaborate with him; never did I imagine it would be in his last film. I’m so grateful I had the chance. He was an intuitive director and had a short hand with his actors and crew. What I learned on set from him is to stay relaxed, focused, and to enjoy the process. He never got temperamental and he just made it look easy. He will be greatly missed. We shot WINK in half a day, to John’s credit.

Q: Is there synergy between acting and directing?

Absolutely, there is. When I am acting, I must listen and tell the given story with the writer’s point of view. Directing is the same, but it is a puzzle you are creating and then piecing them together. Both are thrilling because you are a storyteller. A director just has more control of the finished product.

Q: In “The Long Commute,” there is a scene that is very vivid to you. Tell us about it and the film.

A: That is difficult as I am partial to them all, but there's one scene, while shooting it, our crew and make-up person was in tears. We felt something happening. It was when my character, Richard, is putting his father to bed (who is suffering from dementia) and the father begins to have a violent fit. In order to control him, my character starts to recite Shakespeare from King Lear, a part my father, who was an actor in the film, had become well known for. We began to recite it together. After I started, he joins in and slowly calms down and thanks me. Then, I end up holding and cradling him like a young boy. It is a beautifully powerful scene, especially if anyone has had that reversed moment with a parent. When they become “the child,” and you, the adult.

Q: Where do you get your strong work ethic from? What advice do you have to aspiring Actors?

A: My mother had an incredible work ethic. She worked 6 days a week, but loved every minute of it. I knew watching her, if you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life. Also, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I say to myself, “ imagine if I am busy, what is it like for Oprah or Spielberg?” Lol!

The advice I would give young actors is to work passionately and have a plan. Set a plan of action, model and surround yourself with like-minded actors. Also to have a life aside from acting, find love, eat good foods, travel often, experience all that life has to offer. Keep your artist “well” full, and love what you do!

Q: You have had over a dozen films circulate in over 50 film festivals here in the US and in Europe and Asia? Can you tell us about that?

A: It has been a good year on the festival circuit. I am very proud of the 12 films I shot in the last 2 years. Each of them won Best Short or Best pilot and have screened the US, Europe and Asia. The award-winning romantic comedy, Wink, directed by John Gallagher, has been selected in over 15 festivals. I was honored to have won Best Supporting Actor while the film and the female lead- writer also won multiple awards. Kill Al, directed by Walter Brandes and Renee Stork, just won another award for Best Sci in the South Dakota Film Fest! That's over 15 for Best Sci-fi short. The Pilot I directed, My Life as a Doormat, just won its 6th award for best web or pilot series. The award-winning How am I Doing, directed by Colleen Davie Janes, has been recently selected in the Oscar qualifying Holly Shorts Film Festival. Also, The Long Commute, directed by Miguel Garzon Martinez, and co-written with me and Miguel, has screened virtually in three festivals through the US. Another award-winning short, Extradition, that I directed, just had its 15th award for best pilot.

Q: What is the hardest role you ever played?

A: The most difficult was Brandon from KILL AL, from a moral point of view.

He is very different from me, a dark character. But the most challenging, was probably Soothsayer, playing a scientist, Dr. Robert Serling. The heightened language, it being a period piece, and the long scientific dialogue, made it more difficult to memorize.

Q: What is your secret to success?

A: Just keep showing up! Stay fresh, and do everything that comes your way, within reason. As Tom Hanks said at the 2020 Oscars, “Show up, be prepared to work, and bring your ideas.”

Q: Share your upcoming projects

A: The film, Soothsayer Part 1 of an Anthology feature film, where I'm the male lead, is waiting on an official premiere, but will also likely go to the festival circuit next year in 2021. Award-winning director, Tom Ryan, is waiting on Covid-19 restrictions to lift.

In April 2021, I am slated to direct a short film called CRUMB CAKE that my wife, Diane Harrington wrote. It was derived from a one act play she wrote as well. It is a great drama about three sisters who are brought home because of their mother’s sudden passing.

I’ve also been cast in the short film, Aarons with 2 A’s. It is scheduled to shoot in May and I am playing a renowned acting teacher. Another film I was cast in that has been pushed back because of Covid-19, is slated to shoot in the Spring, What If I were you, a screwball comedy. I am attached to two feature films that are in early pre- production, in lead roles, (both direct offers). One is LOVE BIG, a romantic comedy by Lydia Fiore, and The Sphere Of Light by Alexander Haythen. Last year I was reunited with the cast of the feature, Pigeon Egg Strategy, from Sundance 98 and we were brought back to shoot the indie pilot, Rabbit Most Likely, with writer and director, Max Makowski.

You can catch me in a small but memorable role on Netflix in the Charlie Kaufman brilliant film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, with Toni Collete. I would have washed dishes to be on the set, so I was excited to book a small part in this film. It's so good!

Q: ARG Studios virtual classes have a tremendous success rate for your students. Tell us about your classes and successes.

A: My classes are now all online via ZOOM due to Covid-19, but have transitioned really well. I teach a predominantly audition technique class for film and Tv. So, even when the class is in person, we look at a monitor more than the live action. Plus, many of my students are no longer just in Manhattan. I have students in Boston, Philly, LA, New Jersey, Ohio, and even in Ireland and Italy.

Many of my students have gone on to book many TV co-stars, guest stars and series regulars on all major networks.

Currently, I teach 6 classes and have a current waitlist. I do have a free audit policy so actors can get a feel for how I teach and for what's going to be covered. I am aiming to have a larger outreach online, Chicago, Atlanta, and more in LA.


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