|Dominic Zamprogna GALACTICA.TV interview|
|Written by Marcel Damen|
|Monday, 18 August 2008|
Recently Marcel Damen talked to Dominic Zamprogna, better known as James "Jammer" Lyman on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. He talked about how he got into the business as a kid, his big break as Mark on Edgemont, his character and the death of his character on Battlestar Galactica and of course his future plans.
First, I would like to thank you for doing the interview. It's great that we can talk to you. You started pretty young, acting classes at 7. And at the age 11, you had your first movie role on FX2. How did you get this part, was there a lot of competition and were you nervous when you actually had to do it?
Well, you know what, when you are just a kid, there's not a lot of nerves; because you're just a kid. You kind of show up and go and do your thing. And, I was in grade 7 or 8 or something like that. And I don't know who else was in the room. I have vague memories of that. I remember it was an audition in the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto, because I was born in Hamilton, Ontario which is just outside of Toronto. I didn't even know I wanted to act. So, when you don't even know that you want to act, you're just kind of doing something. You don't even feel the pressure. There's no nerves yet, because you're not even aware of what you're doing and if it's what you want to do. There's probably a whole crap load of people I was up against. But all you got to do is walk in the room and be you at that age which is kind cool. It would have been hard if I had to go into a room and do what I have to do now, which is create a complete other character sometimes. And, you is not necessarily what they want to see. They want to see what you are bringing to the table. Whereas when you are an 11-year old kid, you walk in to the room. They see a cute kid, and you say some lines. They fall in love with you. What else was there in that question? Other kids, I don't remember who else I was up against. That was a long time ago though.
Did you know back then that this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
No, not at all. I got into it kind of by mistake. My parents... it's in the family. I didn't really have any other choice in a good way. My parents were dancers. My mom was a ballet dancer and stage dancer and actress over in London, England. My father was born in Hamilton and moved to England when he was in his early 20s. And started doing... he was in movies like Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha. So he got to work with some cool, high-profile actors, then met my mother in an Engelbert Humperdinck TV special. I don't know if you know who that is but it's pretty funny shit. They pulled my sister into it when they moved back to Hamilton, and they just asked me if I wanted to do it one day. Not do it for life, but just asked me if I wanted to go and meet an agent and then see if I could do some auditions. I said "Okay." I had no idea until I was 18 that that was truly what I wanted to do.
Is there a specific moment you can pinpoint that made you decide that this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
Yeah, because I was a bartender one summer. I was working as a bartender. I was also doing some odd jobs, landscaping and some truck loading stuff, just to pass the time. I was also enrolled to go to the University of Toronto for their film and theater course which I only chose to go there because I knew I didn't want to go to school. If I went to drama school, they sort of looked down on the fact if you were actually doing extracurricular, professional activities while you were in the programs. And they kick you out of their programs. So it was a waste of money for me. Because I knew I wanted to act. I just didn't know it was all I wanted to do. But it was when I was doing that stuff that summer. I knew I didn't want to bartend. I didn't want to landscape. I didn't want to truck load. I didn't want to go to school. And acting was something I knew I was good enough at that I could make a living doing. Unfortunately, you leave a lot to the stars aligning and that all that kind of stuff. But you deal with that. But that's when I decided when I was 18 and I was working behind a bar. I realized when I left to... I booked a series in Vancouver which is what we got here called Edgemont. My employer at the time, when I was leaving, he said "You are great with the customers and your great guy, but your math skills are terrible, buddy." I was like, "Okay." I guess I gave too much change (laughs). I was very excited. I moved down here, booked the series and stayed. I've been here six, seven years.
Your performance as Mark on Edgemont really put you on the map and even got you Leo award nomination and a Gemini award nomination. Looking back on it, how was your time on that show?
The time on that show was invaluable. That was... Being number 1 on a call sheet is difficult. It's not an easy thing to do. I'm going to look back on that one day and be thankful. I think that the best, for me, is yet to come. That was sort of how I consider my career started - with that part. So it has a lot of significance to me, personally. Because like I said, the stuff before that is all kind of you just walking into a room and them thinking you're a cute kid; and you not being a complete knob. That was the first thing I had to go in and actually... They brought me in. They put a lot of faith in me, faith and trust in me. They hired me off of two demo tapes, two audition tapes from Toronto. When they were shooting a series in Vancouver, when there was a ton of talent that they could have chosen from, they gave me a shot and it was cool. I admit near the end of it, you get tired of the same stuff. It was a low budget production, and we didn't have a lot of sets. We didn't have a lot... Things get recycled. Storylines get recycled. Sets you do for the umpteenth time, walking and talking down the school hall, that kind of stuff. That was probably the only negative I could say that by the fifth season it began to feel like real high school. It was like, "I'm ready to go, ready to move on." I think that's just a natural progression that any actor hits, which is why I think most actors want to do, me anyway. I want to do feature films. In this day and age, with the industry kind of changing; and it's becoming something different now. You want stability. Everyone wants stability in their life, especially as you get older. Really one of the easiest ways to get stability, well not easiest, but one of the most straight-forward ways of stability in this business is to be on a long running series. So that's kind of what everyone wants. But it's sort of a double-edged sword, because you are on this show; and you're contracted; and you're in it for a long time. And you want to, as an actor, go and grow and do other things and change and prove that you can do, to yourself especially, that you can do things other than what you're doing on that one show. That's how I felt playing Mark. I was ready to move on. I was ready to go and do other things. But overall it was it was a huge growing and learning [experience]. I did love every minute of it.
Dominic Zamprogna as Mark on Edgemont
What are your most memorable moments working on that?
Memorable moments? Probably the people. I still keep in touch with almost everybody on that show. I don't know if you know, me and Grace Park met on that show. It's amazing to meet people like that who start off together and see where life takes you. She's done really well. It's awesome to see people like her totally blossom. There are no real moments that stick out, just an overall good feeling of being around people who are in something, to make something good. Yeah, we didn't have a lot of money. We were all pretty new, and I think we came together to make a pretty cool show.
You once said Mark was far removed from who you really are. So you hate making out with hot chicks?
No, no, I love doing that. Actually, it's funny when you do a part like that. Well, not a part like that, just a lead role, just a straight guy, just the medium straight man, there's no quirkiness to him. There's no anything. And that's what I mean. In life, you realize... I think when I said that, I don't really remember what I meant. But looking at it now I can say, because I don't remember when I said it. I can say that I'm far removed. I'm a much more outgoing person, I think, than that character was. I haven't even seen that show in so long. It was a more reserved character. It was just different. But I look at every character like that. I want to bring parts of me to roles. I don't actually ever want to be me on screen though. That's maybe more of a wish than maybe an actuality. I don't know if that makes any sense.
How does acting as child or teenager differ from acting as an adult?
Night and day, there's no comparison. As an adult, it's way more difficult. You walk into a room, and you have to bring your A game almost every time. Even when you bring your A game, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to beat other people out. There are so many things that have to be... I guess what is different for me is the realization of it all. When you're a kid you don't realize the magnitude or just how much is left to chance when you get a part. How many people have to people have to be on your side, how many things have to go exactly right, how timing all factor into everything you do. No matter how good you are, or how good looking you are, or what, it's not just up to you. But you can make your best effort by being prepared and going in. I thinks that the difference. You go far more prepared these days because you know the magnitude of the situation. And that's your paycheck; that's your livelihood. That's all I do. So every time you go in, you want to do your best; and you want to make it that much easier for them to make the decision on hiring you.
How were you approached for Battlestar Galactica? Had you seen the Mini Series? Did you just read for this part or also for other parts on the series?
No, I only read for this part. I saw the Mini Series, but a long time ago. For that, I really had to prepare. Besides, there wasn't a lot of material when I first went in for that first audition. There was just those couple, three scenes I did in that first episode. That one was totally... you didn't know what they were looking for. Half the time you go to one of those things, you have no idea what to expect. You don't know the show all that well, because it wasn't even... I don't even know if it had started airing when I went in for it. So you hear stories about it - this great, new show and blah, blah, blah. And just you go in like anything else. No real different preparation. It's just... there are so many things you go up for. It's just another audition sort of thing. Then you book it and you realize what it is. Then, you're like "Wow, this is pretty cool."
Have you ever seen the original Battlestar Galactica series?
I haven't. I can't say I'm a big sci fi fan. I know that's probably not what people want to hear which is funny because Vancouver is all about sci fi. We're a big sci fi community, and we do a lot of sci fi shooting here. But, no, I never watched the original. I get it on my satellite dish. I see it once in a while. I flip through, but I don't really.... I don't watch a lot of TV shows, to tell you the truth. I never have. I watch a lot of movies. That's kind of what I spend my time doing - movies and sports.
I'm asking since I saw there's a strange connection. The boy who played Boxey in the original series, Noah Hathaway, was a child actor that later became very famous for his portrayal of Atreyu in the NeverEnding Story movie, a part you also did as a child in the 1995 television series.
That's hilarious. I didn't even know that. He played Atreyu in the movie?
He played Atreyu in the movie, but he also played Boxey in the original Battlestar Galactica series. He was also a child actor. He was six.
You're kidding. I just saw that. I was home with my family and my niece and nephew were watching NeverEnding Story. Did you watch that movie? I don't know how old you are. That's the first time I've seen that movie since I was probably ten or eleven years old. It was insane watching that again. No way. So that kid was on the original Battlestar, that's amazing. That thing I did was just a cartoon, animation. I did a voice over for a few episodes of NeverEnding Story.
Dominic Zamprogna as James 'Jammer' Lyman on the Battlestar Galactica 2003
You only appeared in one episode at the beginning of the first season of Battlestar Galactica and returned in the second season. Was this because you suddenly had to work on Edgemont again?
No, I think I was done with Edgemont at that time. I think I had just finished Edgemont. That's just the way they wrote it. There was no... to my knowledge anyway. I was working, doing other things. And who knows, maybe they approached about availability and it wasn't there. I have no idea. But that's not anything I'm aware of. But I just did that first episode. And like I said, they didn't sign me to a contract or anything when I did that. They just said it's a guest star, possible reoccurring; and we'll see what happens. A lot of shows do that and sometimes they never pan out, like you could never come back. It was kind of nice that they brought me back in that second season. Again after the second season, I didn't know what was going to happen with my character either. So they didn't really tell me anything until the third season and they brought me back on. I was supposed to die sooner than I did. And I think Aaron Douglas put in a word for me and said, "Jammer shouldn't die yet." So they let me live a few episodes longer which is kind of cool because it was fun.
You have a couple of lucky survivals. In "Valley of Darkness," you were the only crewman to escape the Cylon boarding. Did you ever thank the writers for that, because it meant they at least liked you enough to keep you for a couple more episodes?
Well, that was cool. I always said that to people. Because everyone was like "Oh, you got killed off. That means they didn't like you. Did you do something bad?" And I was like, "No, you know what. I think it means they liked me enough, that I was important enough to die." But I wasn't important enough to make it this huge thing. But they could have easily had me die then. They could have easily made me just disappear, like I think they would if I was a character they didn't like. The funny thing about that was everyone just kept saying, "Oh, I bet you're a Cylon. I bet you're a Cylon, because you'd be the only person living in that arms locker." and all that kind of stuff. It's a crazy show. I've never been a show like that where there's so much speculation and sketchiness on whether or not you're going to live and who you are and all that kind of stuff. It's a pretty fun show to be on.
I got one for you. Lyman is somewhat distinct amongst the deck crew of Galactica in that while other deckhands wear orange jumpsuits, Lyman's jumpsuit is yellow. Also, your nickname "Jammer," as well as the yellow uniform, may indicate that he is an ordnance loading specialist. On real world aircraft carriers these crewmen are often called "jammers" and their job is loading machine guns and rocket launchers. Did you know that?
Did I know that? Yes, there was some talk about that because we all wondered why my suit was yellow. But it's kind of funny, because I never actually did any of that stuff. But it was brought up. I do remember having that discussion, I think with [director] Michael Rymer maybe. We were trying to figure out why the hell I was in that yellow jumpsuit. But it was cool. I liked it, because it set me apart from everyone else. Whether or not I was actually doing what I was doing or what I was supposed to be doing, that's another thing. But I did know that because it was discussed at one point. Everyone would come to me and say, "Why are you wearing a yellow jumpsuit?" And I was like, "I have no idea." So I brought it up to Michael [Rymer] one time and we had the discussion.
In "Flight of the Phoenix," Jammer makes fun of Chief for wasting time to put together the Blackbird ship. Later on, he helps Chief work on it. Did he come to realize the importance of building the ship in that it allowed the crew to succeed at something?
That was a while ago (pauses). I'm just going back in my head. I'm just kind of reliving that stuff. I should have watched the episodes first. Refresh my memory. I think that's fair to say. It was kind of a weird time on the show if I remember. In the storyline there was a lot of uneasiness and unsureness. I'm not sure if I had started doubting him at that point or not, as far as thinking him as a Cylon and stuff like that which is kind of funny; because he was a Cylon. I was right all along. But I think that was it too. Plus it was a little less than that. I think Jammer looked up to the Chief the whole time. I always looked at Jammer as being a really sheepish kind of character and not really knowing who to trust. I think he was a jealous kind of character. I think he wanted more and probably more attention. And I think he probably wanted more from Cally. It was always kind of strange that there was this beautiful girl that he was always with, all the deckhands were with, that he never kind of got with. Plus I really like Nicki [Clyne] as a person so I always wanted to do more scenes with Nicki. She was cool. But that whole ship building thing that was just a realization that this is your friend building something. This is your friend doing something. This is a superior and a person you respect. It's almost like you dis things because you don't think it's going to end up working out. But when you see it working out, then you realize... You feel bad. From my point of view, from what he did, it's like damn Jammer should be way cooler about this to Chief. For me as an actor, that's what prompted me to do it. I should be helping my friend. Plus, I like Aaron, too. He's a wicked guy.
Dominic Zamprogna as James 'Jammer' Lyman on the Battlestar Galactica 2003
Lyman settles on New Caprica, becomes part of the resistance first, but then objects to hiding arms in the temple. And after he's captured, he turns and joins the New Caprica Police. He barely survives the suicide bombing. Did you ever think your luck was going to run out soon?
Yeah, it was funny, because I think that was one of the discussions that maybe it was supposed to be Jammer who was doing the suicide bombing. Yeah for sure, that's the thing that took a lot... I remember the scene outside the tent with Tyrol when we're talking about the resistance. And he's joined the police force and they don't know. They wrote some really cool things for Jammer to do, because he was totally deceiving people but totally thinking he was doing the right thing. That's why I said I don't think he's a bad person. And I don't think he was a weasel. And I don't think he was trying to fuck people over. I think he was genuinely trying to do the right thing. And really confused at a time when no one knew what the hell was going on and who was going to spring up next. And he was scared, too. He was kind of bullied into helping the Cylons and the police force.
Did they actually discuss the further development of your part and give you insight where they were going with this?
Oh, no, that's what made it kind of exciting and difficult. You're doing things on the fly. You get scripts maybe... You're doing one episode and you'll get the next episode as you're doing that one. But you don't know. Well, I did know I was going to die, because Michael told me. I think he said, "You're going to die in five episodes, episode five." So I knew I was going to die in episode one. When I was doing episode one of the third season, I knew I was going to die, I just didn't know how. So that's really the only thing I knew. I knew there was talk of me biting the bullet, but I just didn't know how or when it was going to happen. But that's pretty much it. The police force thing was the other thing. You kind of figured it was going down that way, because I was totally betraying my friends. But again not trying to betray them, he was just trying to figure out what the right thing to do was and not get killed doing it.
Was he still trying to help the resistance or was this just a case of saving his own skin?
Little bit of both. He definitely wanted to save his own skin. I think it was one of those war things. It was a war. You don't want people around you to die, but you don't want to die more. The one thing that really spoke volumes to me about his character was when he set Cally free. That meant a lot to me as the actor playing that character, because it gave me... Well, there's always something to find and to be who you are on set. But it was more fun. It was a stronger choice to make a guy who people think is just trying to save his own skin. And he is a coward and does a really un-cowardly act like that and totally put his neck on the line for one of his best friends.
How was it for you to work on the webisodes? We talked to Nicki Clyne and she said it was almost like going back in film school, since it was done with a much smaller team and shot a lot faster than the regular series?
I wouldn't say film school. I would say like guerrilla filmmaking. It was fun as hell. A lot of the time we were using a little digital Canon camera. It was relatively new at the time and there were issues with it and with focusing and in dark light. The show had a really cool look. It was really intricate lighting. The way they lit it was really different. And I think the camera couldn't really read it properly. When we were doing the stuff that was on New Caprica, we'd be shooting on one part of the city; and they'd be shooting first scene at another part of the city. Of course, they'd take precedence to us. So we would be over there doing that, and they'd be yelling "Cut" and "Action" in the middle of our shots. Background performers would be released and walking through the back of the shot and something like that. It was kind of funny. It wasn't like film school to me. Well, I didn't go to film school so that might be it. It felt like guerrilla style. You'd be filming one shot on the webisodes. Then you'd finish the webisodes, and run over to the other set with the first unit, and start doing stuff on main unit, and do a shot there, and run back to the webisode stuff. But I loved the webisodes. For me, it was great. That was stuff where the producers approached me and said, "We're doing little vignettes, and they are where your character would be. These are things we would want to have in the scripts, but time doesn't allow it to have them in there. So we've written these things on the side, and we want you to be a part of it." I was totally honored. That show was amazing to me. I loved everyone on that show.
What differences did you actually see in the budget, time spent shooting, and directors?
You're not really aware what the budget is or anything like that. You just know you're with a skeleton crew. As far as you can tell, you're obviously not putting as much into the webisodes as you would put into the show. That's a foregone conclusion, because they're just little two minute vignettes. You have a smaller camera. You have a way smaller crew. You have not as many actors. The sets were still good. They were using the real sets and all that stuff. That was the one thing that was a constant. But everything else, you obviously knew you were doing something that was lesser budgeted. But that was a fun thing for me. There was no pressure when you do that stuff. You have a lot of pressure when you get on set and you're on a big show like that. When I was doing my death scene, there was a lot of pressure. It was easy to cry all day. I was scared. It was a big scene and it was a big thing for me and I wanted to nail it. So compared to the webisodes, the webisodes were a breeze. You go in, do your stuff; you have a good time. The director's - I think it was just the first AD (Assistant Director) who directed the webisodes.
Dominic Zamprogna as James 'Jammer' Lyman on the Battlestar Galactica 2003
He frees Cally, but it doesn't really save him from being convicted for treason and acts against humanity and being airlocked by the Circle. How did you find out your character was going to be killed? Did you get a call before reading it in the script?
No like I said, there was just some talk going around - who was getting killed off. There was a discussion that Duck was going to get killed. As I found out Duck was dying in that first episode, there was then talk of Jammer getting killed too. But I didn't know when it was going to happen. It wasn't until I got maybe the third or fourth script in that season that we found out he was going to die. They just said it was kind of a joke. It was kind of funny. They said, "Yeah, Jammer is going." Because everyone gets killed off on that show. It's just a matter of time. If that show went for longer, they probably would just keep killing people. But it's good; it's good drama. It's what people want to watch for. People of value are able to die. But, obviously you can't off Lee. So that's how I found out on set just while we were shooting the first few episodes. There was just talk and talk became a script in my hand. And I read the script and said, "Okay, so this is where it happens."
Are you happy how they ended it?
I'm happy with the work I did on the show. There are two things: You're happy because you got the chance to really show your chops in a scene and you got to work with some really great people and I had the support of everyone on that day. That was one of the best days of shooting I ever had in my career; because I was working with a lot of really awesome actors, and they were so great to me. And I love every single one of them. At the same time, you're dying. You're getting killed off the show. That sucks. Nothing is fun about that. And you know, chances are, you're probably not coming back which blows, especially when you're on a show like that where you had a lot fun and you met a lot of great people. Acting, like any job, can become work. You're still going to work every day, and it can become tiring and rigorous. And sometimes it's more fun than others and that was one of those shows that was just fun. It was always good vibes on set, when I was on set anyway. So you don't want to get killed off, but you move on; and you hope to be brought back as a Cylon. It was also kind of a softer blow too because I got killed off, and then I went and did the webisodes. I was still shooting those when I got the axe.
So the webisodes were shot after the first couple of episodes of the third season? The scene was also highly emotional. Was that difficult for you to act?
I was really worried about it, because you want to be able to get there. So there was a lot of pressure with it. You don't want to be... You constantly want to do better things and that was another test for me personally, was being able to get to that. And it's not just getting to that point; it's getting to that point for seven or eight hours, because you're doing a four and a half page long scene. And there's Tigh and Tyrol and four or five other actors in the scene with you. That means you're doing coverage for every single actor and you and they're doing a master and you're doing all these different kinds of shots. You want to give your best performance for every other actor's close-up and all that kind of stuff. It's really exhausting to tell you the truth. But it was really cool, because I felt I got to the place where I wanted to get to. And I got there continuously, and it just felt good. It was really nerve wracking throughout the day I was really focused on it. I just had my iPod and kept to myself for most of the day. And then, I think we finished shooting around lunchtime or after lunch. We shot for probably about six hours. It's nerve wracking, because you're crying on set. For some people, emotion comes easy. For me, it doesn't. It never has. I've never really been able to pour on the tears that good as an actor. To do that for me, it meant a lot.
Dominic Zamprogna as James 'Jammer' Lyman on the Battlestar Galactica 2003
Were there a lot of special effects involved when you got blown out of the tube? How much was CGI and how much was a stunt double getting hooked up with wires?
They had a stunt double. I got to watch the scene again. I can't remember what they actually kept of what was shot. I know when they all leave me, and I go up to the window, and I'm looking at Ryan Robbins' character - Charlie Connor. Looking at Connor and he pushes the button. The winds start, the door opens up. In actuality, if the door was open an inch; my body would have been sucked out that hole in a flash and kind of disintegrate basically. There was a bit of issue as to what they were going to do. Were they going to shoot me getting banged around and flying out the door or were they just going to cut as I flew away? So we actually put me on a... They had me standing there. They had me on some wires I think. And they had me on a platform where they would make me float out. But I don't know if they actually used that in the end, because they realized you wouldn't actually float out into space. You'd get sucked out into space. There was a stunt double there. I don't remember if they used a lot of his stuff or not. I'd have to watch again to tell you the truth. Honestly, I don't remember what they actually used in the end.
You played this character and probably know him better than anyone. In your own opinion: Did he deserve to die or should they have forgiven him, since he did what needed to do in time of war and by saving Cally he showed he knew that what he was doing was wrong and tried to save the situation in the best way he could?
Yeah, I don't think he should have died. In my opinion, I don't think he should have died. I don't think he would have died if it didn't happen in a time like that. The whole thing about Cally getting saved was, to me, enough of a risk. I think he would have died anyway. If you ask me, I think he wouldn't have lived much longer anyway. If he was killed off then, the Cylons would have killed him off, as they did anyway. But, I mean the other Cylons, the ones who everyone knew about would have killed him anyway and afterwards. So I don't think he should have died there - not at the hands of his peers and not in a trial like that. That was a death trial. That wasn't a hearing to decide your fate. That was like an old-fashioned, Victorian trial where you just ask a bunch of people if you're guilty. If they say you're guilty, you're guilty and you're gone. To answer your question, I think he should have lived but I don't think he would have lived much longer.
Because I found it ironical that three of the six Circle members who pass judgement on Lyman later turn out to be Cylons themselves.
Yeah, well, that's what I mean. There's that whole thing too. I don't think they should have killed me, but the other Cylons would have.
What are you currently working on and what are your future plans?
I just did six episodes of The L Word which just aired. Do you know that show? I just did six episodes of that. I finished doing those in the fall, and they just aired in the spring. They just started shooting again two weeks ago, so I was back on that about a week and a half ago. I'm kind of waiting to see if they are going to bring me back on that for a little more. And writing, working on scripts, I'm trying to get some producing stuff done. A buddy of mine, a fellow actor, Richard Kahan, who was in Edgemont with me, he was actually on The 4400. We've kept in touch. We've been writing scripts and we got one that's completed and another one that's about half way. We've been sending them out to people and trying to get our own projects off the ground. I want to get into producing and eventually directing, but I also want to keep acting as well.
For the scripts, are you actually intending to act in those yourself or just writing?
You always write it with you in mind. If it works out that you can do then great. If not, I just want to see it get done, however that happens.
You also said you want to do directing. Have you ever had any experience in directing?
Music videos - I've done a couple of music videos for some buddies of mine who are musicians back home in Toronto. That was quite a while ago, and obviously I've matured since that. So I'd like to give it another shot.
So what kind of genre is that - the scripts you wrote?
The one we have finished that we are trying to - there's two finished really. There's one that's a pilot for a TV series that we're trying to do. It's a pretty dark thing, revolved around death. That's all I tell you right now (laughs). There's another one we wrote. It's a comedy, sort of a lower budget comedy in the Superbad, Knocked Up kind of vibe. And we got a couple more in that kind of area as well. So the ones we are making headway on are the ones that seem to be more the comedy route which is funny because I don't do too much comedy acting.
actor Dominic Zamprogna
That would be nice - to try something new.
Yeah, it would. It's nice to branch out. It nice to see what you're capable of. When you're doing things, it's great to do what you're strong at. But you don't realize your strengths unless you actually get a chance to convince yourself that you're capable of doing things.
Always looking for new challenges.
Yeah, for sure. That's the attraction of this industry. Half the stuff you do, sometimes you literally... When you get a chance to do something like in an acting class, acting classes are great because you get to completely flex your muscles. And the whole point of an acting class is to give you things you that need to work out or things you don't usually get to do that often. So when you do stuff in an acting class, it's like, "Damn, I wish I could get this kind of role in my career." So when you get things like that or when you can write things like that for yourself, that's amazing. Half the time you're scared because you don't do them, because you aren't brought in for it. I don't get brought in for comedy. So you don't know if you can do it. All of a sudden you do some comedic stuff, you realize you can do it. You don't get brought in for character stuff, you all of sudden do. You reveal, you discover you can go into the depths of wherever you need. Like that day when I did my death scene, I had to go to a really disgusting, disturbing, deep place to try and find that feeling like you're actually going to die for six hours straight. So you're fresh on it every time and that's a really terrible place to go to. But it's really amazing when you know you can go there. So half of the stuff you do is self exploratory that reveals more to yourself, and you feel like a more complete person.
We also learned that they are shooting three new Battlestar Galactica movies. We don't know if they are flashbacks, yet. I was wondering if you were asked for that?
I know nothing about those right now. No, I don't know anything. That's news to me. I'll get my people on it.
They're starting shooting in August. So I thought if you were in one of those scenes or in a flashback, you would have known by now.
No. You're not talking about Caprica?
No. Why are you in Caprica?
No, I went up for Caprica. I didn't book it.
But you did get the script and you had a chance to read for that?
For Caprica, yeah.
So, any time for doing other things besides acting?
Yeah, well my life sort of consists of acting and renovating my house. My girlfriend and I bought a house in September. Some people say it was a tear down, but we're choosing to renovate it. We've gutted the basement - redid that so we can get it rented out. Sledge hammering concrete with a sixty pound sledge hammer. I've been landscaping the front and back yards and had about five tons of cement in various places, all over this house. It just didn't make sense, so we just wanted to get rid of it all. So been I've been doing all of that. I got a fence to build. I got a roof to redo. I've got a deck I've got to redo. I've got another deck I want to build. So I'm learning a lot about house renovations which is kind of cool. I thought I was pretty useless at that too, but apparently I'm not. I'm learning how to do a lot of that. So that keeps me busy in my spare time. It's funny, if you see this place, it looks like a Mad Max movie in the back there. There's bins and bins of dirt piled up that I've had to dig up. But it's cool. We got a vegetable garden growing and it's fun. I sit on my front deck every morning in the sun and have a coffee and hang out with my dogs and start my day. It's a nice distraction. It's nice to have something other than acting. It's difficult - it's not difficult - but this business is feast or famine. When you work, you work. When you don't, you don't. So it's nice have something other than acting to go to.
I also read you're a drummer. Are you still doing that?
Yeah, I haven't done that in a long time. I'm actually wanting to start up another band with a couple of buddies, a couple of my best friends that I went to high school with are living out here in Vancouver now. So we're going to start up a band. I got a garage. I just cleaned out my garage. I'm going to buy a drum kit, and we're going to have band practice in the garage.
Looking back at your own career, would you ever encourage your own children, if you have them, to start this young or should they wait until they're old enough and make their own decision and still tell them this is a very tough job and to practice and to finish their school first?
No I can't say I would. If my kid wanted to act, I'd totally let them act. The one thing I wouldn't do is make it seem like it was this was a huge commitment that they have to make. A director told me that when I was doing an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? When I was fourteen years old, he said, "You're great and you're going to be good. But remember you're a kid. And if you don't want to go to an audition one day and you want to go and play outside with your buddies, then go do that instead; because there's other things to life than this. I think that goes for any profession, especially these ones that people take too seriously like acting or being an athlete or these things where people get so fanatical about stuff that you forget to realize that there are other things in life that aren't your job, and especially as a kid. I think commitment is really important to instill in children. But I think it's way more important to be a kid, and grow up, and build character, and that kind of stuff. You don't always build the best character on a film set. You get jaded, and sometimes you get treated better than you should and that might not be what every kid needs. If I brought up my kids, I'd bring them up in a good environment; and I'd want and encourage them to be outgoing and fun loving. And if they wanted to do it, I'd totally let them do it; and I'd take them to my agent in a heartbeat. But I'd also make sure they know that never would they be forced to go to auditions or made to feel it was more important than it actually is.
You come from an entertainment family, you said. You have a twin sister who is also an actor. You have another older sister who is an actor. Do you discuss work at family gatherings and is their some form of healthy competition and do keep track of each other's careers?
Well we don't really act anymore, so we kind of stop doing that. My sister, my twin sister, became a massage therapist which is funny because she is the most outgoing of the three of us. She's amazing and funny and beautiful. She could probably be a working actor, if she chose to. I don't think she liked it that much. We talk about it but it's never any kind of health competition. She still teaches. My father runs a theater school in Hamilton and they both teach at that. But they've both moved on to other things. She's got a baby now so she's a massage therapist. My other sister was on a show called Road to Avonlea. It was a Disney show. When she finished that she went to the Queens University in Kingston for a drama B.A. When she came out of school, she just worked a few times here and there and did a few movies. I don't know if she just didn't really have the passion for it, so she became a certified Pilates instructor and opened up her own Pilates studio. Then she started doing voice over work and all that kind of stuff. She's got two kids. It's definitely talked about but there's no health competition, because they're sort of removed from it now. They do both, like I say, teach dance and teach acting. I think my other sister wants to direct as well, and I think she would be a really good one.
Do you watch the parts together on TV and do they comment on your work?
Stuff that I do? Once in a while. I'll tell them if something is on that I'm doing, just because I do respect their feedback; and they are pretty damn honest with me. So we do talk about stuff that I've done but not at any great length. They know this business, so they know what it's like. You can dwell on things and you can try and look through a microscope at every audition, at every tape of every movie and TV show you ever do. But you know deep down it's not really much going to come of that. It's sort of tortuous. They'll watch it. I'll say, "Check this out." And we'll watch it and she'll say, "Yeah, it was good," or "It's bad," or "The movie sucked but you were good," or "You sucked but the movie was good," and then we'll move on.
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
No problem, man.
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