Interview with actor Massimo Dobrovic
Today on What On What’s Good with Host Jovin Tardif, I am here with Massimo Dobrovic. He is an actor who also has his own wine company called Massimo Wines. Massimo Dobrovic is in the show “Age of the Living Dead” and Nation’s Fire movie. In our interview, we discuss his training, his roles in “Age of the Living Dead” and Nation’s Fire movie, his wine company Massimo Wines, and more.
1. Tell us about your training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts?
Other than the two years at the United World College of the Adriatic, the years at the Academy were by far the best years of my life, for an infinite number of reasons. From those reasons I would extract the most significant ones: having instructors and professors of the highest caliber, learning from the best of the best and from real working professionals like Donna Pescow (took all Academy students to the dress rehearsal of Will & Grace, one day before taping day, the cast and crew treated us like King and Queens and made breakfast and lunch for 200 students, had the opportunity to chat with legend director Jim Burrows), Patty Jenkins ( who was one of our guest-teachers for the subject-acting for the camera, in 2004/2005 same year when she directed the oscar-winning performance of Charlize Theron in Monster), Karen Hensel from the Young and the Restless and Psycho III, Betty Karlen from the original cast of FAME or Tim Landfield from The Last Ship and the Politician.
Besides being the oldest acting conservatory in the English speaking world, the original NY campus opened its door back in 1884. The Academy list of notable alumni is as big as an entire Encyclopedia collection. The code of conduct for actors and faculty is the best and the most respected among all acting academies of the world. I graduated when I wasn’t even 21 years old. I knew that the Academy gave me everything, and beyond that, I need to pursue acting professionally.
At the beginning of my auditioning years in Hollywood and throughout the rest of the world, it felt like nobody would recognize or care about my academic training. All of the 21-year-olds around me were not academically trained. Still, I kept going and dealt with constant rejection as if it was fuel to never give up and become a better actor every day, knowing that eventually, such training would pay off. I will be able to practice all the techniques and methods learned when they are most needed. After 15 years from my AADA-Hollywood graduation, I still struggle sometimes at screen auditions or tests when I am not given the opportunity to showcase what I am capable of as an actor or when they tend to typecast me in the same role.
2. You speak many different languages. Can you tell us the different languages, when you learned them?
I grew up bilingual speaking, with my Mom in Italian and my Dad in Croatian. It would be the same when I hung with my grandparents from my Mom’s side. They would speak to me in Italian, actually in Venetian dialect, which is itself considered its own language, and it also has a dictionary and an official vocabulary. As a matter of fact, all the biggest Italian cities, especially Port cities, were once its own Republic, like the Republic of Venice, or Republic of Genoa or Republic of Siracusa. All of them had their own official language, which to us nowadays sounds more like a heavy dialect, even though it is imperative to say that if I start speaking Venetian dialect with a friend from Siracusa and he starts talking in his own dialect, we wouldn’t understand each other at all, not even a single word, so in those cases, the implementation of the dictionaries and vocabularies are of significant importance. Croatia, Slovenia Serbia, Monte Negro, Bosnia, and Hercegovina, Macedonia were all the same country, so it is natural for all of us that have ethnic origins in one of these countries to speak at least to an understandable level of all the languages used in those countries, because they have infinite similarities that you never stop discovering, even after years of practicing and talking. I’ve learned Spanish for the first time at the United World College, and I wanted to make sure that I speak it while in Spain that way, I would be able to catch the best dates. Nowadays, in my free time, I’ve started to expand my knowledge of Russian and German, praying that one day I will be fluent enough in those languages as well to act in their on-screen productions.
3. Describe your background in theatre and how you shifted to Television and Film.
Becoming a member of the National Theater at age 12 has gifted me with the possibility to perform in over fifty plays around the world until I turned 16 and was chosen to represent my country at one of the 17 prestigious united world colleges of the world. The UWC organization is also my main charity. I’ve created an IB approved in film, and media BA, which combined with an MFA, would complete my education toward pursuing a career as a university professor. Please check my website for more important info: https://www.massimodobrovic.com/charity/.
Traveling around the world on many different theater tours, as well as working on tv and movie sets going from Australia to Asia, all the way to every European country, passing through the Americas, has brought me the fortune to develop an extensive acting career in Europe and the United States.
4. Let’s discuss a few roles you played in Europe. (Any fun behind-the-scenes stories)
I had the immense honor to play opposite the French acting legend Michel Piccoli, his Swiss Guard in the 2011 Nanni Morretti movie, called We Have a Pope. He played the Pope that had to undergo therapy because he didn’t want to be a pope. We had unbelievable fun on the movie set around Rome and Vatican City. One of the most precious moments that will be imprinted in my soul forever is during the two weeks that we were locked inside the courtyard of Palazzo Farnese to shoot one brief scene of the movie. We shot there for almost two weeks until the day that all of the cardinals and bishops were able to learn and convincingly portray religious volleyball players during a Vatican tournament, playing volleyball on cobblestones wearing their mass outfit with leather loafers (so that they could jump higher over the net. Two months after the movie was finally done shooting, on a hot summer Roman day, as I was getting ready to head out to the beach, I received a call from the producers saying that the director wants to reshoot the Vatican Volleyball Tournament scene because he wasn’t pleased with how it came out (he couldn’t care less that the entire scene was only two minutes long in the whole movie). I remained speechless with my cell phone momentarily frozen in my hands, while thinking that going over budget was their last concern. Images of two hundred background actors, one hundred crew members plus all the workers from the French Embassy in Rome passing by every two minutes, disrupting continuity were all scenes that started engulfing my brain, reminding me of the almost infernal hardcore 16 hours shooting days we went through two months ago. As soon as we thought the worst was well-behind us, the virus started resurfacing again, almost clogging it when I would think of the 15 cameras set up around the entire space to reshoot a two-minute scene. Sure enough, I was back on track. Part of me didn’t want to go, but now if I look back to 15 years ago, satisfied that I went through such a draining shoot that it prepared me for the real world. After that experience, I was able to survive and perform excellently in any type of similar events.
5. Who would you say are some of your mentors and why?
Depending on which kind of mentors, I have to thank the “divine” for still graciously escorted me to my house and all my personal collaborators. They never urged me to make a decision right away, which was impossible for me, considering the current situation. Other important mentors that I feel deserve an honorable mention are: My reps (including lawyers, CPA, etc.) Brenda Beck and Bof Corff (dialect coaches) Donna Pescow (acting instructor and audition coach), John Griffiths (Galeca President, Emmy Magazine Founder, Tv, and film critic) Cary Berman (former head of commercial at William Morris), Robin Lippin (former Aaron Spelling, casting director), and Teresa Razzauti (casting director for LuxVide).
6. You have several hobbies and sports that you enjoy. Can you tell us about them?
Before the pandemic hit us hard, I used to practice four different sports/activities a week, twice a week I would play tennis, being ranked 4.5 USTA, two or three times a week I would work out at the gym, once a week I would practice Yoga outdoor and once a week I would play beach-volley. To make a long story short, I went from four sports a week, to none and other than working and studying remotely, I have been preoccupying my brain with possible thoughts to hit the tennis courts as soon as they reopen again.
7. Tell us about your roles in “Age of the Living Dead” and Nation’s Fire movie.
Age of the Living Dead is an extraordinary tv-series about incredible supernatural creatures fighting the other species. I play Marcus, and he is the emperor of all vampires. He is the descendant from the original bloodline of all vampires. The story involves humans providing vampires on the opposite coast with a compulsory, weekly blood donation. Eventually, the humans manage to re-arm and plan a nuclear strike on the vampires as a final strategy to end the war. The series shot in LA was my second project with Estella Warren after our movie Nocturna where we both played vampires. We love working together; there is an amazing chemistry, friendship, and feeling on and off the screen. It was a pleasure to work with the entire cast and crew. I’m extremely thankful to our amazing creator Simon Phillips and director Paul Tanter. Our first season is airing now on Amazon Prime, and it is doing really well, with a huge following and great ratings. Those are the reasons why Amazon ordered Season 2, which we just finished shooting one month before the pandemic hit us all. Please don’t forget to tune in this Fall for Season 2.
Working on Nation’s Fire was a life-changing experience for me for many reasons. Before starting shooting Nation’s Fire, I was living in the SoCal desert, and I took a break from the busy Hollywood life and tried to settle into a more peaceful life. I guess I needed that time to enjoy the desert where I prepared for the role of a serial killer and acted along with great actor Gil Bellows, playing his right hand in the movie. The SoCal desert nature inspired me to create that character while I was off-roading and memorizing lines, thinking how grateful, thankful, and most of all, how fortunate I was to be in a movie with such acting legends as Bruce Dern; to be directed by one of our most talented indie Hollywood directors.
Mr. Churchhill is someone I would love to work with on many different genres of film, to explore being directed by him in a comedy or a sci-fi movie. Our drama movie just premiered this year, and it’s everywhere online, including on iTunes, Amazon, and all other digital platforms.
Nations Fire’s a movie that will catch your attention right away because it’s a unique story. During the entire shoot, I felt like one of my main dreams came true to act alongside acting legends Bruce Dern and Mr. Bellows (who is also a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts). I have to admit that the way we work on set and we approach a character, we were very much in synch.
I have to thank the producers and especially my manager that has always been by my side through all ups and downs, always there for me to support me, having my back, always in my corner for the last ten years, routing for me to be better, to do better, never to stop believing, never stop shooting for the stars. I couldn’t include him in the mentor’s list because my manager has been for me everything and beyond than a mentor would do. I think he is capable of being ten professional figures at once, a rare quality to find in Hollywood but in the entire world. I would say that when you find somebody who believes in you all the way, you found gold, and you want to hold on to it for the rest of your life.
8. What can you tell us about Massimo Wines?
Massimo Wines is the first 100% owned, and 100% operated LGBTQ company of its kind in the US. A firm that concentrates primarily on the import and distribution of wine, beer, and spirits.
The company’s mission is to merge all the arts of the world, which to me, the official arts of the world are the following: Architecture, Ceramics, Conceptual art, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Literary Arts, Visual arts, Performing arts, Dance, Music, Theatre, Multidisciplinary Artistic Works, Applied Arts, video games, and other arts.
Combining a wine exhibition, tasting, event, or dinner, the original idea is that all members of the MASSIMO WINES CLUB would have free access to such an event and be first given priority to such artistic / wine events with the rest of the tickets available to be bought online. The original idea is to have one or two events per month in a disused space in SOCAL, either a gas station, factory, warehouse, or a structure/building that once was harmful to our environment. But with our event, we are transforming that same venue into something beneficial for the environment, the community, the arts, the food, and the beverage industry. Each event is combined with gourmet food prepared by a different chef each time from a different part of the world. So, if we have 15 events during the year, we would have 15 different chefs from 15 different countries, with 15 different cuisines. Until we need to keep social distancing, or until all the guests get vaccinated, the events would be offered virtually. The food, wine, and decor would be delivered to the home of our guests by the chef, sommelier, wine producers, and collaborators. The artistic entertainment or exhibition would be airing live on our YouTube channel (MASSIMO WINES CLUB).
I have also registered my wine company with the NGLCC and the LAGLCC of LA County. I am a member of the LGBTQ community, with volunteer work at Desert Aids Project and the LGBTQ Center of LA.
MASSIMO WINES LLC was one of the first companies to apply right away for the PPO and Disaster Relief Loan. I was going without sleeping for weeks because the only goal during the pandemic was to save the company since before the American pandemic crisis; it has already been slammed harshly by the tragic events that were happening in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, three beautiful countries in which the region of ISTRIA belong. That is also the principal place where our outstanding high-quality products have come from since 1954, operating by the principals of biodynamic agriculture, proudly operating without almost any CO2 emissions waste. All our wine varietal regions have been hit hard. I’ve been working on creating an infinite amount of documents to get the small business loans that the company applied for, and we’ll continue to apply for more funds, loans, and grants. We are patiently waiting to find an angel investor or get approved for a small business loan. In 2019 alone, I invested my personal savings in getting all the licenses needed for alcohol, warehouse agreements, website creation, labels, package creation, etc.
Massimo Wines, LLC is the official sponsor of Los Angeles Downtown Medical Center, California Hospital, Dignity Health (also part of the executive committee), GALECA, Dorian Awards in Los Angeles, Asian World Film Festival of Los Angeles, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Desert Food, and Wine Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, and The Croatian Community of SOCAL – Adventures Croatia.