The following is an interview with actor Gino Pesi, who co-stars in the upcoming film, Battle: Los Angeles, with stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, and Bridget Moynahan. A few of Pesi’s recent credits include the films Takers and SWAT: Fire Fight, as well as TV appearances in NCIS, CSI: NY, Chuck, Cold Case, and What I like About You. Pesi shared his thoughts with Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon on his Battle: Los Angeles character, acting with CGI, and how Battle: Los Angeles’ aliens compare with other movie extraterrestrials.
This interview was conducted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics: Thanks for answering a few questions for us, Gino! The Fanboy Comics Staff is very excited about your upcoming film, Battle: Los Angeles. What do you think that audiences will love most about the film?
GP: I think it depends on which audiences you’re talking about. If it’s my mom, I’d say me. (laughs) She’s kind of excited too. (laughs again) No look, it’s more of a general question, so I’ll give you the most specifically general answer that I can. They test these movies, as you know, and the coolest thing I found out about our results was that it was testing really well, and really well among so many of the demographics. So, I think it will be different from person to person. But, whether you’re a teenager, a young adult, a Mom, Dad, or someone’s grandparent going to see this film, one thing most people can relate to is the fear of the unknown. It’s relevant everyday in our society and when movies exploit that part of the human condition, it sparks our imagination, gets us thinking, and it’s exciting. And life is a battle, you know? Whether it’s with ourselves, or for a cause, or against an unknown enemy, we’re all battling something. So, at the end of the day, I think they’ll relate to that. Like life, I think people will love the adventure. The journey.
BD: What can you tell us about your character?
GP: I play Corporal Nick Stavrou. Greek, by way of New Jersey. Likes girls, jokes, cars, and food. Little rough around the edges, but contrasts that with a big heart. Bertolini wrote a great script, and Stavrou was definitely the role I wanted to play. NeYo’s character (Corporal Kevin Harris) plays my best friend in the film. He was fun to work with, humble, and open-minded. The director, Jonathan Liebesman, was definitely all about bringing the most truth out of the characters as he possibly could. So, throughout boot camp, he’d send us off to talk about our characters, create even more of a back story, write bios, and ultimately get more specific. So when we got to principal photography and the cameras start rolling, it’s all there. Jonathan moves fast. He gets shit done. So you better be ready to go. The cast, Ramon Rodriguez, James Liaou, Will Rothaar, Noel Fisher, Jim Parrack, Ade M’Cormack, all of them came ready to work. Every day.
BD: What did you find more challenging: boot camp or acting with CGI?
GP: Acting with CGI, definitely. Because CGI doesn’t act back. (Laughs). It’s true. Some people say acting is reacting. I’d, actually, say that’s a big part of acting, and well, assuming that that’s accurate, it’s challenging to react to nothing. Basically, it’s all your imagination, that’s your acting partner. Children are better at this than anyone else. Because they play make believe everyday, and most importantly, they commit to it. And really, that’s all it is. I mean, it’s much easier to act in a scene with a good actor. The better the actor you’re working with, the less work you have to do, because they give you so much to play off. But if there’s no one there… you’re on your own… Not saying boot camp was easy. (Laughs) Because it wasn’t. But it was a great experience that I was excited to do and would gladly do again. We just scratched the surface.
BD: Inquiring minds want to know: do you get to kill an alien? If so, how was it?
GP: I better have. I shot enough bullets at those things. (laughs) They aren’t that easy to kill. I’ll tell you that much, and then I’m gonna shut up.
BD: Most fanboys grow up playing G.I. Joe and dream of being an action hero out of the movies. Did this role fulfill any childhood dreams for you?
GP: Hmmm… That’s a good question… Yes… Maybe not the dreams one would expect it to fulfill. But, yes. For me, it wasn’t about being a hero, because my idea about what defines that changed a long time ago. But yes, I got to live a dream of mine by working on this film and I am forever grateful for that.
BD: Battle: Los Angeles aliens, Aliens aliens, and Independence Day aliens walk into a bar. Who walks out?
GP: (Laughs) Shit, I hope none of them do if I’m standing outside! (laughs) I hope they wipe each other out. Then we can all go in and drink. (Laughs again) That sounds like something my Dad would ask me. I should actually refer to him on that one after he sees the movie and get back to you.
BD: Fans will be able to see you next as a recurring character on The Vampire Diaries. Will you be giving Edward Cullen a run for his money?
GP: Here’s what’s sad about that… I don’t watch Twilight but I know that that’s a Twilight reference. (laughs) I couldn’t tell you who Edward Cullen is or whether or not he’s a Vampire, a Werewolf, or a Politician. I’m more of a True Blood advocate, myself. But here is what I can tell you. No matter which realm you put my character in, or what he’s up against, he’ll definitely be stirring the pot. I have some wicked powers and I’m part of introducing a new addition to the show that their fans have been anticipating for quite some time. So, I’m grateful for the opportunity and happy to have a hand in creating that havoc.
BD: Other than The Vampire Diaries, are there any other projects in which we will see you soon?
GP: I’m in a movie called Swat: Fire Fight directed by Benny Boom. It’ll be available on March 1st. Also, I’ll be performing on-stage in late March with a company I co-founded called MATADOR. It’s an energetic group of talented actors, writers, and directors that come together to create without restriction. The show is entirely, company inclusive, original works. Short plays intertwined with visual media including a screening of the company’s first film, Seeing Other People. So, if you’re in LA, check out www.houseofmatador.com for information and details about the show. There might even be a vampire present…
BD: Now that you have survived alien invasions and vampire attacks, are there any other genres in which you hope to work?
GP: I’m open to any genre. It’s about the story first and foremost, not the genre. If you got a compelling story with complex characters, well… then it’s, where do I sign.
BD: Your career is really taking off at this point. Looking forward, what do you hope to accomplish as an actor?
GP: You mean other than competing on Dancing with the Stars? (Laughs) You know… I just want to do my best. Seriously. Asking myself not to put so many expectations on the result, and just having the experience would be a damn good start. And ultimately — working on projects that I love, with people that I love, and getting paid to do that — I can’t ask for much more than that. If that keeps happening, I’m all good. (Smiles)
Barbra Dillon is the Managing Editor of Fanboy Comics, an independent comic book publishing company based in Los Angeles, CA. She has produced numerous short films including Something Animal and Batman of Suburbia, and served as Legal Advisor for the film Walken on Sunshine. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Barbra and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at www.fanboycomics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing email@example.com.