Icons Of Fright Interview With LATE PHASES Star Nick Damici!

LatePhases_PosterKnow to be be quite intense in his roles, Actor Nick Damici has played everyone from a Leiutenant in WORLD TRADE CENTER, to a tough guy in the short lived (yet completely entertaining) TV series, The Black Donnelly’s. Damici came to the attention of genre fans all around, with his performance in Jim Mickle’s MULBERRY ST, which aside from a short film called THE UNDERDOGS, kicked off a collaborative partnership between Damici and Mickle that has already given fans exceptional films such as STAKELAND, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE and the recent film adaption of Joe Lansdale’s novel, COLD IN JULY. Never being one to slow down, Damici jumped at the chance to play Ambrose, an blind veteran man coming to terms with how close he is coming to death in Adrián García Bogliano (HERE COMES THE DEVIL)’s LATE PHASES (review tomorrow). It’s bad enough for Ambrose to be moved to a retirement community by his son, but to make things ever worse for the veteran, is the fact that a werewolf is hunting the retirement community’s residents.

We recently spoke to Damici about LATE PHASES, his past and possible future collaborations with Mickle and what drew him into taking on werewolves.



A lot of the films that you’re known for, are the Jim Mickle ones you wrote and either starred or co-starred in. How does it feel to act in things that you didn’t write? is it freeing in any way?

Well, acting is acting. I’ve worked with a lot of guys, a lot of directors. I’ve actually worked outside of Jim Mickle more than WITH Mickle. You can only do so many movies in a certain time, so I’ve acted outside of those ones too. So, it wasn’t really that big of a thing. I love working with Jim Mickle, but like I said, he can only physically direct so many movies (laughs).

Did you go through any preparation with LATE PHASES, playing an older, blind man? I’d imagine getting into that must have been challenging at times. 

It was an interesting process, you know? Every actor wants to do the Helen Keller thing at least once in their career. I tried blindfolding myself, and all of those stupid things and ended up burning myself with my cigarette and spilling my coffee in my lamp. I learned that “This is not learning how to be blind, this is just being blindfolded”. The method thing was just not going to work, so I just went on the internet and watched a lot of videos having to do with blind people. What I learned is that there were two different types of blind people, those who were born blind and those who once had sight. Both of them look different, blind people who were born that way, they’re eyes kind of float in this very off-setting kind of way if you look at it. The ones who had sight but went blind, they still have that muscular focus to them,  so they just kind of go blank. That’s what I chose to do, and that was right for the part because he went blind later on in life. It was just a matter of finding out how to do that, physically, so it wasn’t an acting thing but more of a physical thing. You have to look straight and put up a wall and stay on that wall. It was difficult when there were lights around, because your eyes naturally want to focus on those, so I had to trust Adrian to tell me when it didn’t work and then we’d do it again.

One things that has always stood out to me with the stuff you’ve written and even now with LATE PHASES, which you didn’t write, is how much of an elevation is there. It’s like an elevated genre film. They’re genre films but they seem grander with their themes and such. Is that something that attracted you to the project?, and how did you come into LATE PHASES?

Greg Newman, the producer, had produced STAKELAND and he called me up with the script and said he liked me and thought it would be good. There was the concern that I was younger, so we talked about it and worked around it and decided that we’d do what we needed to do. So I read the script and thought it was a terrific script and definitely signed on. I love that kind of horror, where the horror isn’t the entire part of the movie, that it’s just a story that deals with characters. I saw it as a script and story about a warrior, coming to the end of his life, and he gets a shot at one last battle and to go down like a viking, to go down fighting. As corny as that sounds, the character was from the generation and I get where the writer was going with it. That “greatest generation”, like our parents or grand parents and the World War II era, those people did have that John Wayne kind of thing. As much as I feel that that’s a little bit of bullshit, I still thought that there was something to it. I think that’s what he was trying to do with that character, and it worked, I thought it would be fun to do that kind of thing.

As an actor, do you approach films like LATE PHASES differently than you would with films based more in reality, like COLD IN JULY or films like that?

No, it’s like you’re playing a character and you just do that. Even in horror films, unless you’re playing the monster, which I guess would be very different, you just have the play the person. If you can find that character, I think the audience will go along with you.

You’ve obviously acted a decent amount within the genre, but as viewer, are you into the genre at all?

Yeah. I mean, I’ve always loved horror movies. I grew up on horror. I love all movies in general, but I do have a special place for horror. I don’t like where a lot of it has been going, with the “torture porn” stuff, that just turns me right off, SAW and shit like that. SHARKNADO and that crap that they’re putting out, I’m not into that stuff. I’m not interested in a bunch of co-eds getting sliced and diced, I like the classic stuff. I think you have to either have some kind of social commentary, or a character commentary on family, which I guess is what MULBERRY ST was. This one (LATE PHASES) is really about an older person dying and I thought THAT is what made it interesting.

When watching the film, it felt to me, that while it was a werewolf movie, it felt like it was just as, if not MORE about Ambrose and his coming to terms with dying and making up with his son. 

Adrian got that completely, and that’s what we were aiming for. It’s THAT story, disguised as a werewolf story. It does a good job with the werewolf stuff though, plenty of action and it pays off.

A couple of things I’ve been curious about is both DARK WAS THE NIGHT and the recently announce Hap and Leonard TV series. I know they’re both in early stages, but is there anything you could tell us about either of them?

I just acted in DARK WAS THE NIGHT, it was an acting job.

With Hap and Leonard, what was it about the work of Joe Lansdale that made you want to first take on COLD IN JULY and now this series?

I’ve been a huge, huge Lansdale fan for years. I’m an avid reader and got hooked on Lansdale about fifteen years ago. I thought BUBBA HO-TEP was just terrific. I had read the Hap and Leonard series and after COLD IN JULY, it just seemed like a no brainer to bring that series to Television. Plus, I think it’s time for Joe Lansdale to finally have a TV series based on his books, the guy’s been writing for over 30 years. He’s a terrific writer, and has a big following, so hopefully it’ll come out and do well.

Well Nick, thank you so much for talking to us today. 

Thank you, take care.

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