John was born and raised in downtown Toronto to Italian parents who made the long journey to Canada to start a new life. He first caught the acting/filmmaking bug in Grade 8. It was then that Aiko Suzuki (sister of David Suzuki) came to his class and taught a course in super 8 filmmaking. John played his first leading role as a blind boy in a film shot in the then-new Spadina subway station. Nevertheless, it would take some time and a diversion into athletics before John would return to his passion for the arts. John can be seen in movies such as Van Helsing, Volition, Blackstone and so much more.
1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
I’m a father, an actor, and producer. I’m also an acting coach and teacher. I am the Artistic Director of Railtown Actors Studio in Vancouver, a place where actors come to train and develop new work. I’m the child of Italian Immigrant parents who came to Canada for a better life and made one. I love being a father to my two boys more than anything else in the world. I feel really blessed that after 30 years in this business I am as passionate about storytelling as I have ever been, more so really and that just happened to me. I say that cause it has never felt forced to continue with acting, in fact, it has just manifested itself into other disciplines, such as producing, writing, teaching. Acting has given me a life.
2. When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
I think I was always fascinated by it but didn’t really know I wanted to be one till I moved to New York to study and left University to do so.
3. You are in two films coming out this August: True Fiction and Volition! Can you tell us more about them?
Well, Volition is a real mind-bending Sci-Fi thriller where I play Ray, a career criminal looking for one last big score. True Fiction is a Psychological Thriller Horror film where I play Caleb Conrad, a horror novelist looking to be inspired with the aid of an assistant that is sent over to help him, and all hell breaks loose.
4. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
5. What do you love most about your job?
I love to get into the mind and humanity of the characters I play. No matter how different they may be from me in fundamental ways, that insatiable curiosity and compassion you need to justify their actions is a life lesson really. If we were all a little more curious about one another and less judgmental we’d all be better off I think. The time between action and cut, or when you’re on the stage in the theatre can be a real state of grace. When it’s working there is no feeling in the world like it. There’s a purity.
6. What did you learn about the industry that you can share with aspiring actors?
If you love the work, the process you have chosen the best life, if you don’t, it will most likely be hell. If you love acting, don’t wait around for others to hire you only, create your own work. Work with people who inspire you.
7. Who are some actors you would love to work with?
Pacino, Deniro, Daniel Day-Lewis. Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Marisa Tomei, Gary Oldman, Denzel Washington – The list goes on and on … so many incredible actors out there. The whole freakin cast of Peaky Blinders! The list is endless really, those are just the first that come to mind.
8. What’s the most recent show you’ve binge-watched?
Season 2 of Mindhunter.
9. What is your best memory from any set?
So many – The whole shoot of ALIVE was special. Helicoptered to a mountain top every day to work. Or working with Sylvester Stallone and getting to know him enough that I could call him Sly and he would call me Cassini. That was pretty cool. Rocky was a very influential film in my life. I saw it at an age that I needed to see that anyone could do anything. That underdogs were cool. Were heroic. I’ve always felt like an underdog, still do in many ways.
10. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
11. Do you have anything to say to your supporters?
Oh wow, thank you so much for watching, supporting, and I promise to never phone it in. No matter the project I give 110 % always.
12. Who did you love working with on a past project and why?
David Fincher was amazing to watch and work with. John Milius was a trip. He gave me so many cigars to smoke while I rode Harleys in the Palm desert all day. Surreal. I did a series with Ian Tracey called Intelligence – which is on Netflix now. It was just the right amount of ease and tension and support. One of my favorite roles and experiences to date working with him and the creator Chris Haddock. I have this new movie coming out in the fall premiering at the Vancouver International Film Festival called Daughter. I really enjoyed working with the director Anthony Shim. We both come from the theatre and so the process was very actor friendly. We would do these really long takes and I loved that. Very unusual in film, and sometimes very challenging, but in the end, allows you to really drop into character. I learned a lot watching Ethan Hawke work on ALIVE.
13. Do you have a secret talent?
I make a really amazing Lasagna. Like really good. Learned it from my mom.
14. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring awareness to?
I mentor a lot of younger actors – mostly that come through my studio. Whether it be a cup of coffee or a phone call. The one thing that comes up continually is creating an environment to talk about feelings that may have a stigma attached to it. It’s amazing what a couple of hours of an honest conversation in a safe environment can do for a person who needs it. That is dear to my heart, providing kindness and listening and paying it forward one person at a time, or maybe I should say, one coffee at a time.
Thank you so much to John for this wonderful interview. You can find more about him and his work on: