NICK DAMICI INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Richelle Charkot
Star of Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Nick Damici, sat down to talk to us about this unique inclusion to werewolf films. Damici stars as Ambrose, a blind Vietnam War veteran who has recently moved to a seemingly quiet retirement community called Crescent Bay. Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Dark Sky Films.
Richelle Charkot: Tell me about who Ambrose is to you – how you perceive his motives, values, etc.?
Nick Damici: To me, Ambrose is a throwback to the greatest generation; an icon of "when men were men." It's like the John Wayne syndrome, I love him, but I know he's full of shit. But when shit hits the fan, I'd want a man like him next to me. Like Clint Eastwood. Men like him don't exist anymore. He's a dying dinosaur. This film is detailing his chance to fight his last battle. I love the idea that his motive is simple, you killed my dog, don't kill my dog!
RC: I've read that you based a lot of Ambrose's characteristics around your friend, the late Victor Argo.
ND: Yeah, I really loved Vic. I read the script and thought about how much he was like him, and I thought, "Here's one for Vic!" A good opportunity to do something for him. Vic was tough, he looked like a silver back gorilla.
RC: Did you find it significant that Ambrose uses the shovel as a walking stick for much of the movie? Because I've heard several people perceive that as a symbol for 'digging his own grave' and so forth.
ND: Well, obviously, it's basically right in the script. He knows what's going to happen to him, he knows that he's going out and that he's almost done in this world. Like with the ending of him sitting in the chair, it's like a Viking thing, they put them in the throne after they die in battle, and have a party.
RC: What is it about horror films that is appealing from a storytelling perspective?
ND: For me, it's the throwback to Romero; social commentary in a horror movie. Modern horror movies, those, what do you call them? Torture porn? They're not story driven, they're shock driven, with all that gore. I like Late Phases because it's a slice of life movie, it's people from a different era – it appeals to me. Horror can be used, but you otherwise need a story.
RC: Some of the most captivating scenes in Late Phases are the serious moments of dialogue between yourself and Tom Noonan's character. Can you tell me about working with Tom?
ND: Tom, I've known him for ten years, he lives in my neighbourhood – we're very close friends. You get on set though and he's intimidating; big head, doesn't talk all that much. We started to really hit it off because he really loves bad jokes. You wouldn't think of it to look at him, but we'd get into who could tell the worst joke. I told him my dad was a bartender, I got a million bad jokes!
RC: Give me the worst one you guys told.
ND: Hamburger walks into a bar, the bartender says, sorry pal, we don't serve food!
RC: [laughs] That's ridiculous.
ND: Pretty bad!
RC: Tell me about some of the challenges that came with acting as a blind, older man.
ND: It was really just technical stuff. Figuring out how to do the eye thing, focusing your eyes on nothing. You have to look peripherally, and it gives your gaze this kind of 'eyes aren't involved' look. At first I did what actors do, I put a blindfold on and tried to do the dishes and stuff, but after I spilled my coffee all over myself enough times and lit my nose on fire instead of my cigarette, I thought, "All right, I gotta try something else." I watched blind people on YouTube and found that there were two different types of blind people; people who were born blind, where there eyes muscles still look active, and then people who went blind, and that's where that blank stare comes from. That was the hardest part.
RC: Did the contacts you were wearing prevent yourself from blinking, or...?
ND: No, just people watching me if I blinked. It's hard! Not blinking in the lighting, or any time you turn your head. But yeah, it was just being aware and the director keeping on top of me.
RC: Can you name some films that first attracted you to writing and acting in the horror genre?
ND: Definitely Night of the Living Dead. I was raised on those stock horror movies – Dracula, Frankenstein. I loved Karloff, all those guys. But when I was about eight or nine, I saw Night of the Living Dead at a drive in. It frightened me to death. I was in the country staying with my grandparents, and the house they lived in looked exactly like the one in the movie. I stayed up all night with hammers ready for zombies. No other movie has affected me that way.
RC: What kind of life advice do you think Ambrose could offer to today's youth?
ND: I don't know that Ambrose would offer advice. He doesn't expect other people to live by his rules. He'd probably give advice to his son – just to enjoy your life while you have it, people around you are the most important. Yeah. I think that's what he'd say.
HorrorTalk would like to thank Nick Damici for taking the time to talk with us!
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