Stargate super fan and interviewer here on the site Jeff "The Get" Haas got a chance to sit down and chat with the incredible Tony Amendola about his career in Hollywood and playing Bra'tac on Stargate SG-1.
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Tony Amendola - Interview
[00:00:00] Jaff Haas: hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show, we had the amazing Bray tack Tony and Mendola. Hello, mr. Endo how's life.
Tony Amendola: You know, life is as good as it can be at this time of this chaos of, our current, medical issues and, et cetera. But no, everything is fine. Yeah.
Jaff Haas: I mean, this is definitely weirder time than I ever thought I would ever see as a living person.
Tony Amendola: Yeah, this is sorta, this is Saifai time. This is like the opening of sci-fi a series or a movie.
Jaff Haas: I mean, I don't know if I would ever believe the story. Someone wrote it this way. we'd have a crazy virus that spreads because people don't wear masks.
I don't know if I buy that concept, but yeah, it's definitely something that we'll be telling stories for years to come.
Tony Amendola: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Jaff Haas: Are you finding this time? difficult as, because obviously you're an actor, a very, a successful actor. Is it [00:01:00] harder? Because once again, there's, is there more, is there less roles coming to you because of less filming going on?
Is it a, a time of you're finding maybe you're doing more video game, voice acting
Tony Amendola: well, you know, it's a, you know, pretty much most things are on, around hold right now. So, you know, the notion of a reset. Of taking a break, I think is something, you know, the pace of our society was something we all probably wouldn't have minded doing a little bit of, but what's problematic is the open-ended nature of, What we're asked, and that's, you know, the future.
So it's thinking, you know, the president is fine. It's thinking of the future of what it will mean to, you know, sort of film and television. As we know it, you know, I went in and did do a little bit of a voice work on something and it was, you know, work is very interesting because generally it's, it's patched in terms of, Executives and creators.
And then you have a, an engineer, a director and an actor. Really. There are only three [00:02:00] people in generally they're in two separate rooms. So it wasn't difficult to follow protocol, in terms of social distancing, in terms of cleaning the equipment, it was, you know, I felt very safe actually. But, but beyond that, I think it's when you have an army of people that it becomes more problematic.
There is some minimal filming going on, but it's, so I mean, I think that's the worry, what is it? What does it mean? What does it film say it going to be like, what is a television set going to be like? You know, but that said, I think everyone's anxious to get back to work, you know, all over the world, not just in the States in Canada, in Europe, et cetera, I guess, you know, Iceland made a big push to have filming there because you know, their case numbers are very low.
And as you probably know, some people are, it's sort of like the NBA bubble. You know, they're proposing stuff like that. So, you know, it will come out of it. But, you know, and in the big, in the big picture, our, our problems are, you know, not as dire as some of the, you know, essential [00:03:00] workers, et cetera.
So, so, you know, I'm a, you know, I'm hanging in there. I'm trying to stay creative, you know, doing a lot of, zoom projects, which. Which are the same and they, you know, I managed to, so my days it's not, but I do, you know, Wonder what the future is. And, you know, when things will actually open because here in Los Angeles, we did open, you know, and then we got pulled back.
So that's, I think on some level that's harder, you know, to, to have to see that light. And then, but anyway, Yeah.
Jaff Haas: I mean, I would definitely say one of the, there's a lot of hurdles right now that need to be overcome for us to go back to living the life we want to live. And I do think one of the hurdles that we do have specialists, or I would imagine you probably have as an actor, is that their travel bands, you can't, you know, you want to film, most TV movies are filmed outside the country.
Most countries don't want Americans coming back into their country, which limits that as well.
Tony Amendola: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, you're [00:04:00] absolutely right. you know, they are making exceptions. They are, You can see it in some of the real big films. Like, I think Tom cruise is doing something in London where they, you know, they brought him in and he had a, you know, I think a six day or some sort of, he had to be tested before it left on arrival and then every two days or something, but, for mission impossible, I think they were mid film, but, you know, we'll get through this it's you know, I've, I've done a fair amount of theater in, you know, in the, when you read theater history, you know, you realize this, the theaters were closed, you know, for a year, you know, it's just not something that we've dealt with in a century, you know?
I'm certain, if you. If you asked friends, we all, I mean, I have relatives that died in 1918, you know, that, you know, which is the only thing we have to compare this to. but, you know, I think we'll be, you know, we'll be okay once, once we, and hopefully we'll be better prepared.
Jaff Haas: I would definitely hope so.
I mean, theater is one of those things that. [00:05:00] I don't see ever going away. I mean, even no matter how either advanced people come and with streaming, I don't know care about issues. how issues are with coronavirus. It survived. The bubonic plague it's abide, Spanish flu it's survives, countless Wars across the world theater, something that things ingrained in the human experience that we just would never let go of.
Tony Amendola: Yeah. You know, it's funny, I'm glad you say that. And I tend to agree. I think what will, there's two things. I think one of the dangers is not the food it's economics for theater, you know, it's just so easy to stay home and get quality, and interesting material on, any of the number of streaming services.
And yet it's not the same as being in a theater. With 400 people. I can say that from experience both, you know, as an actor and as a spectator, when I was very young, when I was a student, but, you know, that said the economics of the theater, there was a time when theater was a sort of democratic art and meaning was, it was within the reach of people.
But now theater is so can be [00:06:00] so expensive and it's getting pushed into a, you know, Events theater. You know, the fact that you have, you know, great shows on Broadway that, you know, w where it's $200 a ticket or close to it, 175, I'm not talking about Hamilton, I'm talking, you know, a little low, you know, and Hamilton of course has got its, you know, it's hard in.
The notion of the people and democracy and all of this things. And yet the economics, you know, without governmental support, difficult. And, so that's what I worried about, but that said theater will be the last open among the entertainment. when you think about it, you know, I belong to a group in LA and they're already trying, you know, it's about.
A quarter of the number of people they can fit in that, into this space. You know, the notion of six feet, is quite difficult. And it also, no one knows what it will do to the experience, you know, of a comedy or what it'll do to the focus. You know, when you do a play with, particularly if [00:07:00] you're doing a dramatic play in the third act, there's a kind of stillness.
that's the total concentration of the audience. On this event and no one knows what that will feel like when there's, when people aren't shoulder to shoulder what's, that will feel like for an audience and the actors. but, you know, we have a while. I mean, you know, many theaters are not even thinking of opening until the new year.
Yeah, well, film. Yeah. Film is planning a television film. Hopefully it will be starting in September
Jaff Haas: as an actor who has experienced live alive audience. Like, do you feel the lack of the audience now of because being also being home now and in the lockdown or in quarantine with the rest of us, for at least for quite some time, it's way far more solitary than probably anything you've had to deal with as an actor.
do you miss the need that energy of the crowd of people reacting to you have even a crew reacting to you when you're filming?
Tony Amendola: you know, I miss it's not the [00:08:00] reaction that I miss that I, you know, I miss the community because generally in, particularly in film and television, you know, unlike theater, the crews are trained to stifle any reaction you can't take unless, you know, unless, you know, it's during a, a filming of a sit-com or something, you know, but generally you don't.
You know, you know, after take is over, if it's a stupendous steak or something really unique or funny happened, you might get applause, you know, but that's so far the exception, you know, in terms of film and television, you know, you know, it's very much a, Oh, you know, between the directors and the writers and the actors.
but you know, in the theater. Yeah. I mean, you know, I miss that community, and you know, you get a different energy. I mean, that's. That's part of the deal. I mean, you know, you don't get that in film and television, you know, that's part of the, sort of addictive nature of theater is that oddly, you know, I've always said it's like chemical.
It's like, you know, when actors, are away from the [00:09:00] theater and they say they're missing, what they're missing is the release of adrenaline. And the chemicals that happened, you know, it's curtains at eight, but they generally hold it for five minutes. And now you're going out at eight Oh five and having to do the whole thing.
And you may have been great the night before, but that doesn't mean you're going to be great tonight. So it's a different, it's a different ball game. I mean, you know, People often say, well, you know, what do you prefer? What do you, and you know, I honestly prefer the variety. I honestly feel, there's nothing like I finished, for instance, you an idea.
I finished Zorro, and I was there for months. And then I was back in town about a month when I got stargates. and I went out, you know, so there I was okay. I said, I went from big film to sort of a series and then I went home and did a play. So that kind of variety is, you know, keeps, it's sort of very refreshing for an actor.
So you're having to change. It's like changing an aperture [00:10:00] or a sort of lens, because it's all related to film, television and theater, but yeah, there are different lenses. It's not the same, but it's the same. It has the same genes. So. Yeah.
Jaff Haas: I mean, one thing I love about going to the theater, I don't go as much now as I used to, but I did love about the theater is that exchange of energy, you could feel the energy from the actors.
You can feel the energy around you from the audience and just, and as an audience member, there's nothing quite like that exchange. And one thing I was wondering when you mentioned. I did the adrenaline. Is the adrenaline coming from a fear of potentially failing your next in your next performance? Or is it just the exhilaration of being on that stage?
Tony Amendola: you know, it's a little bit of both early on, you know, you are dealing with nerves. It's depends on how long, you know, it depends how long you've been doing the role. It's very interesting. You know, you know, I did a show once in Los Angeles for a number of years, and initially it was, you know, the whole preparation was about getting focused and controlling.
[00:11:00] The energy and the chemicals. And then, you know, you cut the six months of doing the play and now the whole energy is about creating the desire to do it. Creating the same sharpness. So it's, they're very, different, things you have to negotiate. And it just like a hitter in, or a shooter in basketball or a, you can be streaky as an actor.
All of a sudden you, the show is just flowing. It's just, there's something about it. Just, it does itself. It's enjoyable. And then you'll hit a patch where you think what's wrong. You know, is it the audience? Is it the actor? There was a, there was an actor who, he was at a theater for a long time.
And so he said he was fascinated by this of why, what it was. And he. Created the log. He was at a repertory theater. So the same audiences, you know, they would sign up for the, the Friday evening performance, you know, of six shows over the course of a season. And he could, he was uncanny tell you what the audience was going to be like that night, whether they were [00:12:00] going to be a greater audience, whether they were going to be, you know, rather doll and sort of, tired, you know, you can't blame them.
They've been working. So there it is true that. there is a kind of symbiotic sort of thing that yes, the actors deliver the, show in the kind of way, but the audience also creates the excitement in the room, their response, their availability, well, you know, in Rhode Island, you're, you have a great theater right there.
I mean, a law, one of the great theaters, Trinity. Right in Providence, yeah. Put out some amazing, actors, I mean, look at Richard Jenkins, right. He was an active there for many years and, you know, next thing you know, he's in the shape of water, you know, and after many other movies, so, you know, yeah, so the theater is, There's something I need to go back to.
It's not, it's a much harder work in many ways, not longer hours, but that notion of an eight show week is a tough, it's a tough weekend. Now, when I say tough, [00:13:00] I always make the distinction. Actors work very hard, but what I describe as work is doing something you don't want to do. You earn your living, doing something you do not, you have no interest in and you're doing it.
It's a noble thing. You're doing it to feed your family or to provide for yourself or whatever. Generally, you know, actors have a kind of, it's a vocation as well as a profession. Yeah. And the problem sometimes that exists is when you go is when your passion. Has to all of a sudden become your profession.
So it means, you know, all of a sudden you're having occasionally to do things you may not want to do. you know, so it's an interesting thing, but, that relationship between, theater and media, I mean, I never thought I'd be doing, you know, video games that, you know, I matter of fact, I never really frankly thought, I'm not one of those persons who dreamed of being up on the screen, you know, I just followed the work.
I [00:14:00] just, you know, it just made sense. At a certain time for me to go to Los Angeles because I realized, Hey, you know, I'm a, at that time, I'm a 20th century actor. It's sort of arrogant and foolish to think that, Oh, no, I only do theater. I mean, why that's absurd, you know, to me. So I thought, Oh, okay. So I, you know, and I think it's even more absurd in the 21st century to think, you know, an actor is only, you know, in the theater or only in film and television.
Jaff Haas: Well, I definitely would say video games have opened a new door. then, like I said, push for voice acting and also with, I guess stop motion animation, which allows even more performance from basically animation.
Tony Amendola: Oh, yeah. And your mocap is terrific. I've done it several times and it's, it's great fun.
It's great. Fun. You know, again, you feel the first time I did mo-cap, you know, maybe five, five years ago, so, and you felt like a kid again. You felt, you [00:15:00] know, because it was new, it was, you know, the language to it. There's a certain protocol that you have to do. I mean, they calibrate movements. There are certain things that you have to do before a take and to, after a take and it's, it's great.
It's all, it all feeds, each other. And the same thing with just regular, you know, for instance, doing, world of Warcraft, you know, stepping into that world, was so interesting because, you know, there's, it's been going on for a while and the fans are so, passionate about it. So, you know, I just love the variety and I just hope that continues.
Jaff Haas: Yeah, well, one thing I was doing some research on you both prior to the interview, as I should, as this is my job. And I found that the thing I found very interesting about you is that your, you actually started your life pursuing a degree in law at Southern Connecticut state university. So what drew you first to law and why did you, when did the bug hit you and decided that you needed a master?
You wanted a master's of fine arts instead.
[00:16:00] Tony Amendola: Well, yeah. You know, that's how things oddly get. so what happened is I was the first, the first person to go to a college in my family. You know, I was the, and so consequently, what do you do? When that opportunity comes, what do you tell your child, or you think you need to go into a respectable profession.
Jaff Haas: It doesn't count
Tony Amendola: law or medicine. Right? So, so you know, that was in the back of my mind and I took a constitutional law class and it was very evident fairly early on that wasn't right. Where I want it to be that I was, you know, I was led by a sort of, exclusively by what expectations of others or what one should do.
And over the course of that, I, I literally. Unlike many people who know when the rate years old that they've been entertaining, their relatives and they say, Oh, we always knew he or she is going to be an actor and actress. I had a [00:17:00] perfectly normal, childhood in many ways, you know, for my class and where I was growing up a blue, you know, sort of blue collar thing.
And so, when I went to college, it was sort of a whole new world and I literally stumbled in to an audition for a play. And that's initially, and I thought, Oh, well, this is interesting. what is this world? And it was all social. It was about fitting in and feeling, you know, theater is a very accepting environment for, you know, there are a lot of that.
divergent people, in, in theater. And it's very accepting, you know, you can be a jock, you can be a goth, you can be a, you know, you can be whatever you want and you're absorbed. They need your energy and your effort and your work. so, I ended up doing that and that was social. It was about, Oh, And gradually only gradually that I realized, Oh, I'm interested in acting.
and so that's what happened there. And then, you know, I went on to get a master's in [00:18:00] it, but it was initially social and it was, it provided me solace. It was interesting. I always think education is about for a kid is about figuring out any passion they have. And if they have a passion, you can direct it.
It always will have. shoots it. We'll always send out branches in different areas. And I became a better student when I decided I wanted to be an actor because all of a sudden English literature meant something psychology meant something. There was a re there was a place I could put that it wasn't just the abstract knowledge and, So, yeah, so I, you know, I did law for about two minutes
Jaff Haas: now. What was that first role? you said you that first role that you, audition for, what was it for?
Tony Amendola: Well, I, yeah, and it was hardly audition. They needed men. It was a teacher's college, so it was hard, but it was, it was the Tempest. And I still remember the line. I always joke [00:19:00] about it because it's a great line for an actor throughout their career.
The. Lying my first line on any stage as an actor was always lost to prayers all is lost in the middle of a storm. Right. And I always think, you know, anytime you go, you're going through a rough patches and actor, and I think all his laws to prayer. yeah. Sorry, go ahead.
Jaff Haas: No, the what would, do you think if you didn't, Oh, you said you would have had the role regardless, or it, if you did not get the role.
What do you think you would have followed that path? Or would the disappointment have stopped?
Tony Amendola: I literally stumbled in and they needed. And then, the w you know, the thing I need to make clear that line, my first line all is lost the, and press. That was the only line.
Mariner it's in the beginning, it said during an absolute funder is Tempest. Hence the name of the temp is no one heard anything. I said, I screamed at the top of my lungs and you know, it probably, if I [00:20:00] wasn't putting that play, I probably wouldn't have, I may not have pursued it. And, you know, as I said, I needed.
As I think most kids going from high school to college need a place to put their passion. They simply do better if they have a structured place to put it. And with theater, you know, interestingly enough, I know actors are, you know, the rap on actors is that we're somehow flaky theater actors and not flaky, not if they're successful, meaning you have to be at a certain place.
At a certain time, otherwise you don't have a job. so it provides a certain discipline, you know, providing, but I was always fairly, self-sufficient in discipline, so that wasn't difficult for me. I played basketball in high school and, you know, anyway,
Jaff Haas: well, it's amazing how sometimes faith plays a role in our lives like that, you know?
I mean, you literally were in the right place at the right time. And you found just the right thing to spark that passion within [00:21:00] you.
Tony Amendola: Right. And it was, you know, it was also coincidental that the director of this was the former lead had acting teacher at the Yale drama school. Oh, wow. That's who she was.
And she had just retired because theater was changing, you know? yeah, this was the late sixties. So yeah, Yale was, you know, there was a new, artistic director and they w they were much more into contemporary, style of theater and her experience was in a more traditional.
so she was older and, she ended up teaching at this, state school and that's, and she would coach me, I had this little role, but she recognized that I was sort of passionate and I was interested. So she gave me a bunch of, understudy things to do, and she would work with me. During your lunch hour, I can still see her.
Her name was Constance Welch, by the way, she taught Paul Newman. She taught tons of actors. They came through there, and she would just sit. And I remember her eating her lunch and she would munch [00:22:00] on the lunch and I would recite. Yeah, for the first time, any, you know, Shakespeare Kaliban Stephano in, and that was, you know, and so that was sort of unique.
So it was almost like I had a tutor in a kind of way and she would talk me through it and, You know, so w you know, it was, you know, and then afterwards, he, it, wasn't difficult for me to get cast in plays because there were many more women than the war men. and so I was able to get a lot of experience, but not enough to think that I was ready to go into the professional theater.
and so I, you know, I went and got a graduate degree and you know, which it was a conservatory. At, temple in Philadelphia, temple university. And, and then, I also had a, it was an MFA, which means I could teach in a college level, which was sort of a fallback sort of, Plan if necessary and you know, and I have taught actually, but it was a, it's always been, [00:23:00] I've never, I mean, for instance, initially I could have gone right into a teaching position, but I just didn't feel it was right to teach actors without having professional experience myself, to teach actors acting.
You know, it's one thing, if you teaching some of the, you know, literature, your teaching style or something. So, you know, I said, no, which was didn't have any money. Right. And, you know, luckily I was hired and I worked, got to work fairly quickly out of school, oddly in the theater, in, At Ashland, which was, you know, I was at Ashlynn for two years, you know, doing a repertory situation, you know, doing three or four plays in rep, meaning that, you know, they change every night and then was able to continue that in Seattle, for a year and then go down to San Francisco and Berkeley for 10 years.
So I didn't go to LA until I was in my late thirties. So,
Jaff Haas: yeah,
Tony Amendola: because I was a character man, that wasn't, it wasn't able to. Yeah. You know, I, wasn't [00:24:00] not, it was never about selling my youth. I was going to grow in to, where I would be valuable. And it's because we all have that as actors, there's some actors.
Who needs to be in LA or in New York when they're young. That's this is, you know, they have that youth is written all over them. I wasn't, you know, I was, I played a 15 year old boy, the second play I was ever in. And after that never played anything under 35.
Jaff Haas: no, you're fine. You're fantastic. And I'm enjoying, listening to you talk. so you were, like you said, you're the first person in your family to go to college. So what happened when you told your family. That you were not going to be a lawyer after all, and now you're going to be an actor. Did they embrace you?
Were they like, well, no, you're going to be something more practical. I mean, what was their
Tony Amendola: response? Well, you know, they were now, I think they really, it w it was the situation. It was a very working class family. So [00:25:00] you were responsible for yourself? We all worked me and my brothers, we worked from the time we were like eight paper routes and it was all, you know, so consequently, you were responsible for your choices.
I did get the chat from my older brother who was, you know, are you sure? what does this mean? But you see, they didn't. They didn't understand. but my mom was always fine with it. As long as, you know, as long as I wasn't getting into trouble or doing, you know, you know, any of the accessories that come with any kind of profession like that, she was fine.
She wanted me to be happy and, but she. You know, I also had to be responsible for myself. So I always, you know, if I was out of money, I worked, if, you know, I got another job, luckily I was able to get fellowships and scholarships. so it wasn't, but I always had a job even when I was in grad school, I would, Either be a teaching assistant or even the first year I was a, the box office manager.
Yeah. So you were just used to it. They [00:26:00] didn't give me a tough time, but it was because they didn't quite understand. And on some level it's good because it is a crazy profession and the odds. The odds of making a living. I mean, you know, any, I mean, we belong to a union where, you know, on any given week at 90, 90 to 95% of the.
Union members are unemployed. You know, I forget, you know, something like, you know, close to 90% of the, sag after actors earn, you know, under something like 15 or $18,000 a year, you know? so it's not a practice. It's not a practical place. You have to have sort of a passion for it and maybe you'll get lucky, but that said.
I think it's wonderful training, for life. If he can get good teachers because as actors, what we're finding out about his life, we're not, it's not about self aggrandizement making ourselves it's [00:27:00] about sort of having a job that asks you the question. What is it like? To be somebody else.
Yeah. and how, and what connection is there between people? how can I substitute my desire for a certain thing and create a believable character and discover what their desire is? Their main focus in the world. Is there a restaurant Detra that, you know, so, you may or may not know.
I mean, in Elizabethan times, the, literally the Elizabethan Playhouse is loosely based on what are called ins the court, which were lawyers. It was where lawyers trained the notion of rhetoric and all of those things and use of language was, was also training to be a lawyer in a strange kind of way.
so, but I can't tell you how. You know, in hindsight, I realize how lucky, I was, you know, I was always, yeah,
Jaff Haas: obviously, I mean, I would imagine then a [00:28:00] primary trait that all actors must have then I would assume then is some level of empathy.
Tony Amendola: yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. On some level, I think great actors have that.
Yeah. I think, yeah, you need, you know, there's so many things that go into, Sort of, and also we have to also separate the difference between film Intel, some in television and theater, for instance, the importance of the voice in film and television is a minimum. but in theater it's very important.
I think, there was a great, great, Italian who was asked the key to great tragic acting. It was a 19th century, act. And he said , which was forced.
No. Well, you know, and you do it long enough, you realize this there's some truth to that. And also because in theater, it's about. Commanding the space, generally, it's taking over the room and [00:29:00] because theater is a very different thing. If you think about it, theater is much more democratic because the audience creates the closeup.
They decide who they want, who they wish to look at. They can be on stage with the biggest star in the world. And of course the eyes will go to the star initially, but if he or she doesn't deliver, then the audience is free. To create their own closeup and to go and, Oh, what is that guy doing? What is that woman doing?
Whereas in film and television, of course it's all edited. So, you don't see the world that's happening around, you know, in the, you don't see the full picture of the room. You only see close ups or, and occasionally wide shot. so, but film, I think is it's truly about vulnerability. It's about letting.
There's a fierceness of kids, the camera's right there and the camera can smell artifice. So you, you truly need to be in the moment and if the camera can smell artificial in a way that you can get away with, in the theater. [00:30:00] but so it's all about letting it in. It's all about, it's all about the eyes.
It's all about having the experience and taking the time. Whereas, you know, theater seems to be, you know, a little bit more snappy and a little bit more, presentational for lack of a better word. Yeah.
Jaff Haas: You said owning that, owning the stage or owning the space. Is that something that's instinctual or that's something that you can practice or is that just someone just has it or doesn't?
Tony Amendola: I think it, I think you can develop it. I think some people just simply have it. There are people that walk in a room and for whatever reason, You know, it could be beauty, it can be charisma. It can be any of a number of things. It can be size. you have to remember one of the things about an active is very important.
You have to look yourself in the mirror and decide really who you are, you know, and it's not who you are. I almost said who you are because it's not who you are. It's about what you've been given physically. Because that is your entry card [00:31:00] into this profession. Anyone who thinks that's what you, that's, what you bringing.
So you need to know what that is. So you can do that. And if that's what we required of you to enter the profession to, for instance, in my case to play villains or play heavies or to play, you know, simply because of the way I look, you know, then you take that. And you do that. And you, and luckily, you know, villains are complicated.
Characters are a wonderful people, actually have to play the they're great challenges and some of the best roles, but you do that to get in and then your face will change. Your body will change, or your stature within the industry will change. And someone will finally say, you know, you've been doing villains all this time, or you've been doing heavies.
You've been doing drug dealers. You've been doing crazy people. Who do you want to play? And you can say, Oh, I've always dreamed of playing blank. And now you have the power and the stature to do that. So, but it's very important to know, sort of how you're [00:32:00] going to be perceived. you know, when I first came to it, it's slightly different than theater because it, at least my experience because it was a repertory company and you got to play a variety of things in ages, but when you come.
Pretty much talking about film and television, where, you know, physical, you walk in a room. I mean, I remember the same teacher, constantly Welsh. I hadn't been, I took her acting classes. She lined us all up. This may sound crazy. She lined us all up and she said, heavy, light, heavy in terms of what are aura or what are the, what.
Our energy was onstage. It had nothing to do, you know, very light people were, who could do great at comedy were actually in life quite so happy and upset. you know, people who you perceived as being, you know, Vil innocent, sort of frightening, scary were sweethearts, but you have to understand.
what you present, you know, that's crucial for an actor, but particularly, I mean, [00:33:00] particularly in film and television, where there is no time to rehearse, there are no readings. They call them readings. They're actings. Anyone who walks into an audition, coldly reading the material in front of them is living in a dream world.
It's probably not working the whole joke about yeah. What did they say? You know, by God, I'm an actor with an MSA. And would you like French fries with that hamburger? You know,
Jaff Haas: your career has been absolutely amazing. I mean, I was looking through IDM B pro. And you've been in some very popular movies and series.
you had a small role, but I still remember the, your small role in Seinfeld, which was amazing even in Dexter. once upon a time, do you have a favorite role or moment from your career?
Tony Amendola: Well, I mean, I do, but they're all quite different for different reasons. Seinfeld, I don't get a chance to do a lot of, because of, as I said, people don't perceive me as a comic actor, except [00:34:00] there's one person who perceives me as a comic actor and that's my wife.
But, so I think the way people perceive me, they, I didn't get a chance to do a lot of sitcoms, but the ones I did were choice. And so working on Seinfeld, Was a dream because it was one of those, shows that literally made me laugh out loud, the sensibility growing up in new Haven, you know, and you know that man hadn't sensibility, the Northeast was quite funny to me.
so that one was special. I'm trying to think, West wing.
Jaff Haas: You're the ambassador of Qatar, right? What's a good tire,
Tony Amendola: fantastic series. One of the great series. And, you know, anytime you can, you know, speak those words, obviously Stargate because, you know, the opportunities and, and it was a gift that kept giving and who knew.
Who knew, you know, you go up, I went up to do an episode and I hit it off with Chris judge and it was a good episode. He, and, and next thing, you know, you know, you end up [00:35:00] doing 26. so they're all the zeros because you know, one of the great, you know, it's a franchise and it was sort of my chance to do, because I did both films.
it was a chance to do too. Big studio movies. And that's a whole, it's like moving a city and, you know, Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins, who was one of my, you know, one of my favorite actors. and all of a sudden, you know, you go from, it was like being called up a little bit from the minors.
I mean, it's like all of a sudden struggling in the minors you're working or anything, a living it's all that Andy, you know, you know, you can play with the big boys, but you have to be invited and all of a sudden, you know, being invited and then you know that once upon a time, again, fascinating series, continuum.
I'm trying to think, there's a lot of different ones, you know, there's a. It's interesting. There are different episodes. There's an episode, of, I realized I'm one of the few people who [00:36:00] actually did start star gate star Trek. Babylon five and because of the game star Wars.
Jaff Haas: Oh wow. Nice resume.
Tony Amendola: It was just coincidence then I thought, Oh my God, those are different worlds.
But, there's an episode called needs of earth, Babylon five crusade. that's you know, when I look back is a very fun. Sort of memory, directed by Mike Vihara, who did a lot of the, Voyagers and stuff. So, you know, I've been, I've just been very, very lucky to do, different blow for instance, blow was, so I haven't, it's funny people, People try to put you in like a genre and listen.
And if you can earn a career within one John Ruh and do that much work, God bless you. But generally, you know, most actors have to, venture in we've entered in and out, and I've always been, you know, sort of proud that I could do Seinfeld and Stargate, do glow [00:37:00] or, you know, Zorro. And star Trek, Voyager.
You know what I mean? Ex I even did an episode of X-Files one time that was episodes. So it's that variety. Yeah.
Jaff Haas: Too far away from Seinfeld. cause I do remember somebody episodes very well. you were, am I pronouncing it wrong? Salman, Rushdie, correct. Some in Russia. and did you ever meet the real Simon Rustin?
Did a rush. Did he say anything about your role?
Tony Amendola: you know, I, that's a great question. I'd have to ask him if that ever met him, but he's, you know, he's a great writer and, yeah, I played the guy that's that Kramer and his conspiracy theory mind. and, it's for the people that are really into it.
My love interest in Seinfeld, which Teri Hatcher,
Jaff Haas: I was just about to mention that was very
Tony Amendola: nice. Yeah. Yeah. So, and, yeah, it's sort of, it's always interesting to, you know, cause you grow up in these people, aren't she wasn't quite Teri Hatcher yet. and I remember I did an episode of, [00:38:00] something called the Raven and, Marcia cross was a sort of love interest in that, who was, you know, desperate Housewives for a long time.
And, and I mean, there's so many, You know, wonderful people that you meet, but you don't, it's hard to really, truly remain in contact with, but, yeah, there's plenty of fond memories. So,
Jaff Haas: so Terry Hatcher, did you, could you, can you tell when someone is going to be a breakout eventually, can you people talk about the it factor?
Could you, can you tell what kind of factor.
Tony Amendola: Yeah, I thought I assumed they thought, yeah, she definitely had, you know, something, something special, you know, you can tell, you know, it's funny because it's all different. Like I could, I knew or felt strongly that, Amanda tapping was gonna go on to be a director and a producer and do other things as well as that.
It was just very clear. Her people skills were such, and, when we were doing star gate that I re Oh [00:39:00] boy. and so that was, it didn't surprise me and it was sort of interesting. so I'm probably, I don't know, maybe about seven or eight years later, I went up to do an episode of continuum and Amanda was directing so
Jaff Haas: nice.
So those are, I can't hear you.
Tony Amendola: no, I'm not. I'm I'm not talking.
Jaff Haas: Oh, okay. Sorry. I thought were talking. well, I thought you did bring up, I do want to, this is one of my favorite TV shows of all time starting with so, so brilliant. I mean, it was, it has that, a little bit of elements of the original star Trek.
Well, you're going to go different planets, that feeling exploration, but it was also so much fun and you are definitely one of the best characters to ever appear on a Stargate. SG one.
Tony Amendola: Thank you. Thank you. I loved it. I loved it. It was, yeah, it was fantastic. Yeah, but that was an accident that I did.
The thing that excited me was do was going up to Vancouver because I love that city so much. My wife and I had passed through on one of our first trips. And so it was all about getting back to Vancouver and [00:40:00] little did I know it was going to be, it turns out to be such an important part of my, My life, and you know, getting to work with Chris judge who, you know, he's another one, you know, just like Amanda, you knew, I mean, Chris writes, he wrote a number of the episodes that I was in,
Jaff Haas: you know, it's amazing because Christopher judge, I mean to look at CRISPR judge, you know, he's a big strong guy and how he plays it.
So quiet. you wouldn't think that he, you know, was, you know, he is a writer, but he's also a terrific writer.
Tony Amendola: Yeah. I don't know. He's a terrific writer and, you know, for anyone who said, have you ever seen Chris at an event of any kind.
Jaff Haas: I unfortunately have not seen any of the Stargate people at a convention.
Unfortunate. Oh boy.
Tony Amendola: Oh boy. Because Chris, I mean that character, that Stargate, he is, he's so much fun in person, you know, he's just completely unsegregated, you know, we're into the Jaffa, sort of, you know, stoic sort of thing, but no, he's a crazy person and [00:41:00] you know, he's got everything he's just got, he's got this.
This childish wonder that's an appetite and a lust for life, you know, this it and his great intelligence and just great humanity and, you know, he's amazing. He's amazing. But, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, Vancouver too, you know, there's so much that was done up there, you know, that, The other thing about acting is the travel, you know, it's, yeah, I'm a terrible tourist, but I love traveling when I say I'm a terrible tourist.
Meaning I, the notion of going and saying, Oh, it's Tuesday, I have to do blank. Blank. Blank is not appealing to me. What's appealing to me is to be working in a city or wherever in a country with a mixture of obviously actors from around the world. Otherwise I wouldn't be there and local people so that you can say, Hey, where's a good restaurant.
Or, you know, where's a good, museum, or where's a good garden. What's interesting. You know, and then on your day [00:42:00] off, or your weekend off you go. You investigate or they often will take you, I just love that, you know, And, because a lot of, I did a lot of work in Vancouver. I feel like I'm almost, an honorary Canadian, you know, I, you know, none of this is great there in the summer, you know, long, sunny days, but you'd be, you spend a couple of winters up there and you get an honorary maple leaf.
Jaff Haas: So when you got your role as Bray tack, which is once again, When a B grade, I think Simon, science fiction roles in history of television. what did they tell you about Bray tech and how did you go about creating the character of break tech?
Tony Amendola: Well, they didn't tell me much, you know, it was all there.
He w you know, he, the specifics, he was 133 years old and, you know, it Jeffery, he was mentor and teacher, father figure to silk. but none of that had any life because it hadn't been. [00:43:00] Hadn't been fleshed out. It hadn't been on screen. It wasn't like you were taking a character. like what's, by the time I played Japan, there were forms of Japan.
Then that became a rebellion of how I can find my own Japan. With a break tack. There was no break tech yet he didn't exist in the movie. he was created for the series. so consequently, you go in and you think, Oh God, well, you're looking, you know, as an actor, then you're looking for a way in you're looking.
It's like you're, or a way out into the light. You're not caught in this dark space of what is this role? How can I get to the light, to the clarity of the role? And the first person you meet is the customer. You know, and, the designer and I said, Oh, I see. So he is a medieval samurai, Roman warriors, stoic sort of thing.
Oh, okay. that's fine. But Oh, so I need to be all right. It's 133, but he's not. Another way, she's in great shape. They're not [00:44:00] playing the age. I thought I worried that I was going to be in a makeup chair for hours. And of course, no, that wasn't the issue. and, so all of a sudden my next thing is to find out, get away from myself.
I really okay. Who does he care the most about? What is the most important thing to him and that, of course it's still, so who two is still? Who's Chris judge. Oh, okay. And then you meet Chris and you realize, Oh, well this is going to be easy. You know, we've never, I don't want to misrepresent. We never had any great long discussions.
we just sort of looked each other in the eye and thought, well, I could care about him. Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know what I mean? Because sometimes, I mean, I say that sometimes you think, Oh, I'm supposed to love this person. I'm supposed to love this woman I'm supposed to. And you realize that man, there's nothing there.
So that's when the actor quote unquote has to use substitution, you know, but it was very easy with, so in my first episode, My [00:45:00] protective nature of Tilke I thought, okay. So that's, he's covered. It's paternal, it's caring. it's about, you know, that he's the new grape warrior. He could lead I'm past my prime.
He can be the one to lead us out of this, slavery. So anyone else that's around him? Anyone else's around him because I don't know the tardy at this point. I don't know. As you one I'm at adversarial to them. You know what I mean? So you ended up creating, so I, if you recall, the first time I see them, it's like, who has these guys and why you trust and why are you trusting them?
Look at them. You know, I remember I grabbed a, there was a wonderful moment. If you ever watched that first episode. Yeah. I, there's a moment where I'm looking at Amanda and I'm thinking, you know, I don't get that women can be great warriors at that time. I learned very quickly after that, but I go up to Michael.
I remember, but I think [00:46:00] I felt Michael's forum. You know, it was all the tactical, you know, he's not, you know, and, but then I grabbed his arm and I bit him.
Jaff Haas: I actually
Tony Amendola: grabbed his arm and he was like, nah,
that, you know, so it was very free. And of course the leader is the one I'm most suspicious of. See, you ended up answering your question, you create your character out of a blend of asking yourself questions and then trying to answer them concretely. Okay, who is this? Still? Can I care for this actor?
Can I, yes. Well, that's great casting. There's no worry there and warmth. And from the moment we met, we felt sort of a bond and. You know, luckily that came through because they kept writing. I hadn't, as I said, I've found that generally when people tell me I have a recurring role, they're trying to get me for less money.
They're trying to negotiate. It. never said [00:47:00] this was a recurring role. It became a recurring role, through action.
Jaff Haas: So, so basically your tether to Bray TAC is TOK.
Tony Amendola: Yes. well, no. Yes. I mean, you know, you try to understand where he's coming from, what his beliefs are, and you try to create a circle of where your affections are of how you view the world, the other, Oh, the other great thing.
I was fortunate enough to have my first episode. Was directed by the guy who directed the movie. And it's not the, excuse me, the first episode, that was the film, of the TV series. His name was Mario as a party. And, multi's a big barrel chested guy and he. It's also influential in, you know, and how I played break tack.
And he'd come over and say, Oh, Tony 2019, he has more energy as being you here. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. [00:48:00] no. And Martin, you know, and you know, he's giving me license and Liberty and I kept watching Mario because Mario, so there's part of great attack I got from Mario. great Jack initially.
He's a rougher, rough and ready sort of guy, you know, and over the course of the series, he eventually falls into more of a statesman, you know, as the, they're trying to create a sort of peaceful world, but initially, so even he changed over the course of the night, I stopped wearing my, jefa helmet and, you know, we, it was more, more in robes, so there was a nice sort of arc, to it.
But the initial creation was, it's the only thing you can do, you know? So it's so hard for film and television because theater, you have four weeks to figure that out. You walk in, you've got four weeks to create a structure that someone television, you know, you arrive one day, you're shooting the next and it could be the most important scene.
[00:49:00] Generally for a guest star. Initially it is because the rest of the regulars just finished an episode and they need to learn a new way. So it tends to be heavy. You tend to have heavier days if you're a guest star initially, you heavier dialogue days. so. The combination of, so you have to create with what's in front of you, in, in film and television, ideally.
And, so Mario, Chris, even, you know, Richie, Dean, Anne Anderson, sort of, his dry humor sort of played into it because that's his character, you know, he's got this and of course I didn't get it and didn't laugh at it. And was always suspicious. And what's great about that is then okay. Over the course of those episodes, I finally began understanding of it and Neil and the one, the only one character that I sorta got from the get-go that I sort of intuitively understood, was, Don Davis is Hammond.
[00:50:00] Cause what he did for SG one, I understood as Bray tech, you know, he always had a warm relationship, you know, one of the, you know, and it was sort of wonderfully written because they kept talking about Hammond. So I almost had an image of him before I actually finally met him. and that was, that was great.
And of course, Don was done.
Jaff Haas: Well, one thing about brake tech, obviously, cause you gotta be your brain attack. You're the great master Jaffa. obviously you gotta be this great fighter. Did they train you at all in how to fight? during it, or, you know, did something, you kind of just figure out how Jaffa was supposed
Tony Amendola: to fight.
no, there were, you know, there were, there were rehearsals, for that, but, you know, as an actor, you E particularly, you know, theater axes is you do a fair amount of stage combat if you, you know, if you've done the classics, you know, so I had done a fair amount of Shakespeare and there's always, you know, in the tragedies, at least there are, you know, battles, And so I was okay.
I don't want to misrepresent, but you know, I mean, I was okay. And you come into that, the [00:51:00] only thing that happened. Is, you know, generally, you want to do more than the let you do, you know, because they don't want you to get hurt, you know, so you're dying to do some of the stunts, but, but the fights, you know, you did.
And, and it was fun. It's fun, but you're creating them because the environment is so important to the side of how they can use, you know, are there Hills it's flat? and, the style of fighting because we had staff weapons. It's different. they tried to create a different thing on different planets.
to be honest, Chris got the bulk of that because, you know, Chris was, was young, although Chris and I had a wonderful fight. If you remember in, Oh, threshold. Yeah, it was the fight in the snow. Yeah. You know where he it's a flashback. I, this morning, my favorite episodes, Brad ripe, wrote it.
And it was, it was our backstory. It was Chris and I, you know, we, you see him as a young student when I finally revealed to him what's going on and that he could be our future, or [00:52:00] frankly he could turn around and turn the into a, office and I'd be history. And we have this, I'm trying to egg him on, we have this thing where, we're going to train and it was out in the snow.
So it was great. And, Chris says to me, I says, Oh, you know, we should do this bare chested. Oh, that's great. That's great. That's a good idea. Good idea. The troopers are out there and then I actually, I'm older than Chris and I'm thinking, okay, this is a, is this could be a 10 hour day here, outside, let alone, you know, so I go back to Chris and I said, you know, Chris has been better because you're the acolyte.
And I'm sort of the teacher and so you should be, so, yeah. Yeah. Great. So, you know, you cut the five hours later, right? The goofiness, this is a goofiness that I love and it was, Peter Della was directing this episode and I said, Peter, you know, finally took rebels and that's what I want. I want him to rebel.
And so we're going to stand off, you know, and I say, you know, this is [00:53:00] actually great. Jackie's sort of goading him on. There should be some fun. And this, she said, well, what do you want to do? I said, so the first move, and we didn't know if we'd keep it. If you watch our first, I called them out, said, you want to fight?
Okay. Bring it up. And I go to him and he comes to me. But then before we start fighting, I bow to him. Very formally. He thought I was back and I give him a three Stooges hit in the head with the staff. Yeah. So it adds, you know, it's not a life you're aware of that. What else is going on? And I love to this day that, that, the producers and Peter decided to keep that moment, because it was also the playfulness of bread, Jack.
It was literally, you know, Very formal. We're both angry. I'll teach you a lesson though. I'm going to teach you a lesson. I'm sick of being a student. Okay. What you got to bow to each other, you, Oh, you're going to bow bang. Right? You're going to let your guard down. Here you go. You know, and it was, anyway, you know, there are a million, of those, things and, you know, what a great, Also main cast and supporting cast, you know, you know, cliff, [00:54:00] Simon, you know, and, I mean, it just goes on Tiro, lecture who came in later, you know, working with Alexa,
Jaff Haas: we actually had clipped Simon on a couple of weeks ago.
He's a very cool guy. He's fun to talk to.
Tony Amendola: He's doing that series now, you know, yeah. It's yeah, there were great, you know, great people on and it's, you know, people keep saying, Oh, well, you know, if they, you know, if they started up again, will you go do it? I said, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, as long as the people are there, you know, yeah, I mean, I can only wish the best for that franchise and for the people involved.
So I count me in.
Jaff Haas: The only thing that bothers me. and I looked hard and I couldn't find it. There's no Bray tech action figure. At least not that I could find.
Tony Amendola: it's funny, you know, it's funny because someone gave it to me, I have one, but maybe it was never, yeah, that'd be strange.
I, you know, I don't know. There are a lot of strange things. I've never been to the show in Rhode Island. I find that strange considering, you know, I grew up in the next state. but, [00:55:00] yeah, but. Yes. I'd love to who do you know?
Jaff Haas: Well, I'll shout it out on their Facebook page. I think the next show is in July, if there's actual conventions at that point, I'll shout you out as many times as possible.
Tony Amendola: Got it. So next July, I think hopefully we'll have, we'll be able to have some, yeah. You know, it's funny because so much of my work, I'd never was one that thought, Oh, you know, I can't wait till I'm older. I'm going to go to Los Angeles. So that was, as I said, I followed the school from new Haven to Philadelphia to New York, then got work in Ashlyn, got work in Seattle, got work in, San Francisco, occasionally went to Milwaukee and, you know, then came to LA, Utah, you know, as well as, you know, some of the, you know, Bulgarian things in Mexico, I've always it's, but I've hardly done any work.
Becky, at center stage in Baltimore Williamstown theater festival, which is not far from you. I had opportunities for long Wharf and, yeah, [00:56:00] wrap it. I was always, I always had a conflict in that. I always sort of read that, you know, this cause, but actually it would be hard to go back to your hometown.
Jaff Haas: it would only the comic con is a fun convention. I've done it a few times. a few. I actually, I do very small indie comic books and I have, I've been able to get a table a few times at Rowan comic con and it's a fun show and we definitely, I've been the one or twice, once or twice that someone from Stargate has appeared at Ronan Comicon.
I was not able to make that show and I was been disappointed for a long time. But, yeah, I think Richard Dean Anderson ended up going to rudon Comic-Con that was the same year I had already paid to go to terrific con and Connecticut. And I also can't afford to go to both shows. So I was stuck with a trip to Canada.
Tony Amendola: yeah. But
Jaff Haas: anyways,
Tony Amendola: yeah.
Jaff Haas: Oh, I was gonna say so bright tax, very last appearance on Stargate is in the 10th season, an episode called Italian. Where, break tack reveals a teal that he was basically views TOK as his son. And I thought that was a nice [00:57:00] end to those two characters, but I kind of wanted break, tack to have a last episode where he's, you know, doing something more, you know, action fighting battling or something like that.
Did you feel that was a good end for him? Or did you want some, or were you happy with how they resolved it?
Tony Amendola: No, I w I was pretty happy. You know, it's funny for the longest time, if you recall, they were threatening to kill Bray, tack.
Yeah. Well, when, I mean, they were threatening his, that he was in jeopardy. They put him in. Okay. And he himself wanted to die. If you recall. He said he was time. You know, he wasn't the, yeah. He has some wonderful scenes where he's talking about that. It's almost like he's slightly depressed about the, the situation.
He has one, a great one with Terry Chan and it's a Zen monk, out of, I forget the name of that episode. it's a very Japanese, feeling episode. and then he, but throughout that, there's been a sense that my time he needed tilt, that was one of the other reasons he needed to, because his time.
he felt the pressure of [00:58:00] time. So, you know, he was going to die and so they hinted that at a couple of times. And then, so back then you wouldn't get a script via email. You'd get it delivered to your house. And often I was working when the script came, so I'd say to my wife, how am I doing? How am I doing?
She goes through, Oh shit, no. She was like, Oh no, you. Yeah.
And so after doing that oddly, two or three times, it became when they needed, when it came time for them to kill a character, which in the series they do, he became sort of anticlimactic to kill, break tack. I felt so. I ended up living for a long laundry, you know? so I wasn't upset with yes. I mean, I agree.
I, you know, I. I would have enjoyed, you know, going out in a blaze, but somehow to the story, the importance and warmth of the story to the base note of the relationship between till can break Jack, it [00:59:00] was important. More important to have that scene. When you finally,
Jaff Haas: I can tell me, you know, tell you were saying, I would love to have seen Bray tag appear in some of the, in the movies, but once again, though, you're talking about a character.
That is going to go down. Pilot scifi history is one of the best characters on team. Cause like I said, he was basically the Obi wan Kenobi of the Stargate universe.
Tony Amendola: Yeah. Well thank you for saying that. And from your, I hope that's true from your lips to God's ear that I go down. It's one of those, I've certainly found a bit in, yeah,
Jaff Haas: I totally thought that, Bray tack deserved a prequel series.
So at some point, like at least some mini series or something that gave him a prequel storyline.
Tony Amendola: Yeah. Yeah, that would, I'm with you.
I could not agree more.
Jaff Haas: Yeah. so either way, so speaking of, what you're doing now, you're actually in a movie called the SHQ, which is in post-production. is that something you can talk to your listeners, our listeners about.
Tony Amendola: Sure. That's a very, it's a very different world. S [01:00:00] H U or shoes, downs, stands for it's solitary housing unit.
It's a prison film about a guy who's, it's unclear if he's falsely accused than not, but it appears he is falsely accused and he's, it's about the psychological effects of solitary confinement. and it's an intense film, but a good film. and I play a prison warden who, initially you don't know where he is against, so that face helps.
You don't know if he's a bad guy, a good guy. You don't know what, and then, eventually things sort of work out, but it's about literally a subjective look at his. Psychological experience within solitary confinement. So there's a lot of hallucination. there's a lot of, different stuff in it. it's a good film.
I saw a screening. It was really intense and hopefully it'll get a, it'll get a release soon. and I'm trying to think what else? that's yeah, that's going on. I did a little bit of work on a, A series [01:01:00] or a video game called twin mirror. hopefully it will be released. and what else?
God, you know, I was in the midst of doing a play actually when the, they closed this down, I was doing a hallow pincer play. Talk about, you know, you know, left field, right field, home plate. I mean all over the field, Howard, Hamilton to play called the homecoming, which is a, dark look at family.
And, you know, it's sort of a classic of the theater. w I. Then recently I did a will and grace before we closed down, which was great fun. The priest will and grace. and I'm trying to think, the, the star Wars, Jedi, video game, participate in and had a couple of, Sort of indie films that were out as well.
you know, so and place, you know, or, Oh, I know I did. Oh my God. I couldn't believe I forgot this because it was sort of a dream come true. Finally had to get you a chance to do on the desk and play some Gary. I don't know what movie. Yeah. Yeah. And that's [01:02:00] a, you know, because, at least particularly I was younger.
I bore resemblance Def Murray Abraham to the point where people would get confused and talk to me about debt. Nice. To finally get a chance to do it, on stage and that, So I've been, you know, reasonably busy, all things considered and, you know, just trying to keep, keep sane and, and take care of myself and take care of others, other people that cross into my life.
that's really the only thing. Yeah. To be done. I mean, you know, we got a busy year in front of us, so
Jaff Haas: yeah. Well what, actually I always had a thought about Sally area as a character, and I was wondering what your thoughts, because you've played them. A lot of people consider Sally Ari as someone who was a failure.
That's where the jealousy came from. And my thought on tele area was always that he is someone who was. A good composer. People always just good enough to know why he wasn't great. Why he wasn't Mozart. And that's where the anger and jealousy came from. Well, what was your read on the character? Was he a bad composer who was just angry about it or was he [01:03:00] just going to have to
Tony Amendola: know who he was?
He was one of the greatest composers of that time. I mean, you know, he considered, he was one of the, he was the most famous composer at that time, within that. He was at really one of the top within that world. it's just, it's a play about the injustice of genius because you know, this is a guy who did everything, right.
His craft, it gave his whole life to it. And then this, you know, random, you know, stroke of genius comes in and this, and so it was, no, it would be food. It would be stupid to the play. I think if you were to play him as a, as an untalented thing, as a matter of fact, there's an album of his music, that, someone gave me a, a CD and it, how quaint is that?
God, what's her name? Cecilia Bartoli I think is her name. And she sings, Arias from his, operas. No, he was extraordinarily, famous and talented. [01:04:00] It just was not, it wasn't touched by God. He just, wasn't touched by, you know, you call it, God, call it that stone in 2001 that, you know,
Jaff Haas: the amount
Tony Amendola: of left you call it, whatever that was, whatever that sound was, that genius.
He was not touched by that. And he felt the injustice of that is just sort of w that was a very human, you know, we, again, you know, I've spoken to you about acting. That is an easy thing for an actor play. you know, most actors, unless, you know, you were really, you know, you were born with everything he's got, it's a very, and just profession in some ways, in terms of, if you're trying to equate hard work and commitment with success.
It's just, it's not work that way. Someone could look a certain way at a certain time and that's the fascia and they are catapulted into great, celebrity and fame and wealth and an opportunity, which is probably the most upsetting thing. You know, [01:05:00] they can have all the others stuff, but you know, the fact that they get to play the big parts simply because the one definition of stardom is when you finally get the parts, you get a chance to play parts.
You're not even right for it. That started, you know, getting back to you. So yeah, it's all about the injustice and it's a war against God and it kind of wasted. It was very potent and not difficult, on a human level because we do not live. In, adjust society, you know, terms, it just, that's not the way the world works.
There's no, I'm not in any way suggesting there's a conspiracy to keep anyone down. I'm just saying at least, you know, in the world of acting. It's just, you never know why you cast. Okay.
Jaff Haas: Like I said, I thought what, the one thing I always thought about too, was that there's a certain curse to talent where you may be good, but you can always, but you can recognize what greatness is and you can [01:06:00] notice why you're not.
And I always thought that was something very troubling.
Tony Amendola: Oh yes, exactly. It's all of a sudden, you know, there's that great moment where all of a sudden, he. It was a great scene, where he's out for vengeance and he's going to do the wife. And he's just, and he's a very moral man prior to this, but it drives him sort of mad, literally Mozart drives.
So URI Matt, as much as you know, Mozart is driven to death. And all of a sudden he reads Mozart's music. Doesn't it? And it's fair. Copy. It's in other words, it's the first copy, but there are no corrections and he reads it and he reads it at it literally makes the beauty of it makes him faint. I mean, he's, he just can't yeah, this I'm talking about the stage.
I forget the film, although I've seen the film the number of times, it's just overwhelming the power of it. and that's when he finally realized. [01:07:00] That the world is not just, he thinks she's for lack of a better world word. He said he believes that being a good boy, being a moral man will make him a great artist.
And if there's anything we know is that, artistry and morality don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Jaff Haas: Yep.
Tony Amendola: yeah, so, but you're absolutely right. it's a fantastic, experience. And we sort of interesting because generally he's played by a young man, a younger man, you know, and then they put an old wig on him.
And this director, eh, we did it in a very simple way with only 10 actors. and it was in a fairly intimate space, like 250 300. So the story came through, we couldn't do the pageantry as much and more, most importantly, all of his connections with the audience or him as an old man or an older man.
So I wouldn't have to, You know, my [01:08:00] hair is white. I'm balding. You know, I didn't have to do any of that when I spoke to the audience and it was, and because I'm sort of useful in movement in decent shape when I slipped the black wig on. It was easy to appear, you know, to be in my forties or, you know, late forties, 50, you know, that was easy.
And so it was the reverse of what you generally see on stage. And I found that fascinating particularly, you know, because all of his more personal revelations. And it's his anger at God and, et cetera, and injustice is all, it's all a story he's relating within the, the place. So it was, it w that was sort of surprised me.
I thought, Oh, what a shame that got away. And then when he came up and the offer came, I thought, Oh, am I too old to do it? And no, it was just the opposite. It's actually, it actually works as long as you can still move and get the impression. Yeah,
Jaff Haas: it's the only, I've only ever [01:09:00] seen the movie, but it's a phenomenal movie.
And it's one of my favorites because of Sally Ari and he's such a fantastic complex character. And I think he's everyone. I think the viewers can always identify more with Saudi Ari than we're ever gonna identify with both.
Tony Amendola: Yeah. You know, on some level you feel pippy goody for Mozart, but you know, it's interesting.
In movies and plays who an audience identifies with very often when an audience, identifies, they always identify with the hero, but very often in life, they are not the hero. There is a play called the misanthrope, which is ammonia. Play about a guy who speaks his mind. It's misanthropic and he's a very difficult human being, but he speaks for lack of a better word, a phrase, truth to power at his own jeopardy.
And he does it all the time. And it's positively pathological. What, when you see that play, everyone identifies with Alceste the truth teller. Yeah. Mo yeah. Who wrote that? Play it's a [01:10:00] satirical examination of everyone else who doesn't tell the truth that we have to lie to get on in society. We have to, oddly truth can be very destructive.
if you know, there's, Henry, God, Henrik Ibsen play called, the wild duck about a truth teller who comes down and ends up destroying a family and causes the death of a young child, a young girl. Oh wow. Because in his insistence on truth as liberating we need and, you know, and that's, that ABI is a, a tread throughout, Thread throughout, theatery David history, even, if you know, Eugene O'Neill, he had the concept of the life lie, you know, so it's always interesting of how we see the truth, within the Sage and stuff.
Anyway, I'm, I'm getting off the subject.
Jaff Haas: No, it's it's it's I find talking to you. Absolutely. I'm fascinated. You feel like talking to you feels like talking to professor of acting and, history of performance.
Tony Amendola: well, this is, thank you. Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure.
[01:11:00] Jaff Haas: Oh, it's actually been a pleasure, man.
It's actually, it's an, it has been an honor to talk to you because I've been watching star Gates for so many years, and it's great to know that. the actor behind Bray tack does not disappoint on what he is like as an individual, either.
Tony Amendola: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Jaff Haas: You're very welcome. we have been talking for a little for over an hour, so I will let you go back to your life.
Tony Amendola: all the best. You too. Bye bye. [01:13:00] [01:12:00]