Interview with actor and filmmaker Tom Malloy

Wu-hoo! I’m so excited today. My guest has just come in sprinkling Hollywood fairy dust all over the place and is bringing insights and heaps of inspiration for all you struggling entrepreneurs out there – indie authors and filmmakers included. Stick around to hear all about the awesome man I have before me today. But first, let me tell you how I was introduced to Tom Malloy:

Back in 2013 I watched a movie on TV called ‘Love N Dancing’. I still don’t know exactly why it spoke to my heart so much – perhaps because I love to dance, perhaps because I was down at that time in my life and needed a boost of positivity. And this deliciously sweet, uplifting movie certainly did the job. Next thing I knew I was on Facebook chatting with Tom Malloy – lead actor, writer and producer of the movie. A couple of weeks later, good to his promise after my request, Tom mailed me a signed autograph and even a signed poster of the movie. I was ecstatic. Between then and now, having joined his newsletter and by exchanging the odd email with him, I grew to be a massive fan. Why? Other than being a wonderful actor and an ingenious entrepreneur, Tom is also dedicated to helping others fulfill their dreams. Intrigued? My chat with him below will tell you all about it!

 

Hi Tom and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni. It’s great to be here!

Tom, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here today! It’s not often that entrepreneurs of your caliber grace my humble blog. Other than being an actor, writer and West Coast Swing dancing instructor, you also run a film production company and, a year ago, founded a film distribution company too. How do you find the time for all that? And how do you manage to balance it all with your private life?

I’ve always had what I call “life energy,” which drives me forward and makes me want to do as much as I can while I’m blessed to be here on this earth!  I’m the kind of guy who can go out to a film party and socialize and be sleeping by 3am, then I’m up by 6:30am, already checking emails and working. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an actor? And did you do any other jobs before the film industry won you over?

From the time I could remember!  Always.  For me, there was no other job.  I did take jobs as a computer expert, because I always had a knack for computers (and still do!), so I would fall into those jobs to pay the bills before the film business stared clicking!

I feel compelled to squeeze in here a question about one of my favorite movies – your 2009 production, Love N’ Dancing – a movie that oozes joie de vivre… Your character, Jake, is a deaf dance instructor who feels he’s got too old to ever win another championship plus his ex-fiancé has broken his heart. And yet, to other people he always seems upbeat. Same goes for the female lead, Jessica, played by the adorable Amy Smart, who tries to endure a selfish and aloof fiancé (played delightfully by Billy Zane) until love and dancing comes into her life to make her genuinely happy. What inspired you to write this original, sweet story of two people who kept their spirits up and refused to settle for less? And how easy did you find the wonderful dance routines you had to learn for the part?

The first time I saw West Coast Swing was in 2001.  I had started taking ballroom dance lessons for about 2 years and I was starting to get good.  Then I saw West Coast swing at a competition, and I was blown away.  I knew that was the only dance I wanted to do, and I took lessons for 6-8 years after.  That first night, I saw a deaf dancer win first place when no one thought he should.  That became the basis for the story!  As for the love part, yes, I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, not making people into stereotypes (could have easily made Billy’s character into a complete jerk), because I wanted to show how life really is!

You had a delightful scene with Betty White in this movie. What was it like having a living legend on the set?

The highlight of my career so far!  She was like everyone’s grandmother.  A beautiful, incredible, and hysterical woman.

I bet she was, bless her! What are your latest or current movie projects?

 I have 4 projects coming up! One is called Hero of the Underworld, which was released in November 2016.  I won several Best Actor awards at film festivals for that film! The next is Fair Haven, which I produced, and played a supporting role in.  That comes to theatres in April, and on Showtime in June.  Then there are two films which don’t have release dates yet.  A drama called Shattered starring myself, Ray Wise, and Arianne Zucker, and #SCREAMERS, this incredible found-footage horror, which has twice been called the BEST found-footage movie of all time!

Ooh, awesome trailers! Among all your roles so far, which has been your favorite one and why?

Favorite has been #SCREAMERS… that’s the one where I really hit my stride and you can see it on the screen.  It’s so realistic.  Here’s a direct quote from a critic talking about my performance with one of my co-stars, Chris Bannow:

“The performances from Tom Malloy and Chris Bannow are unbelievable. We’re talking, genuinely unbelievable. Think I’m exaggerating? Think I’m a shill? For the first 20 minutes of the film I thought what I was watching an actual documentary, and I expected the film to take some strange but simple stalker kind of twist. Tom and I don’t drink beer and play poker every Saturday night. This is no exaggeration and I’m no shill: Malloy and Bannow look like certified A-class talent. They may not be household names at this point, but this is highly refined and wildly convincing work.” – Matt Molgaard, Addicted to Horror Movies.com

Sounds unmissable! Have you had any hilarious, weird or thrilling experiences during filming that you’d like to share – be it as an actor or producer?

When we were shooting Alphabet Killer (starring Eliza Dushku, myself, Tim Hutton, and Cary Elwes), one of our grip trucks hit a power wire on a telephone pole that sent a fireball flying, which blew up a car and knocked out power to the entire town!  The papers were reporting it that we “blew up the town of Spencerport!” 

Ouch! 😛 Tell us a little about life in California. Have you always lived there? What do you do for fun when going out? What places (or things to do) would you recommend to a first-time visitor that are off the tourist trail?

Fryman Canyon

Right now I live back and forth between NY and California.  I moved to LA about 8 years ago, and I found it to be the greatest city in the world… especially if you’re in the movie business.  Besides that, the weather is perfect 24/7.  I just love every aspect of the city. 

If you’re new and visiting, you should do a hike… that’s something that someone would not tell you to do but really there’s no better way to see the beauties of living in Los Angeles than hiking Fryman Canyon or Runyon Canyon.  Then, I’d recommend checking out the Getty Center or Griffith Observatory.

Tell us about your non-fiction book “Bankroll: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films.” It is considered the “gold standard” of indie film financing instruction. You must be very proud to know you have helped so many people finance their own movies. Do you plan to write any more books on this subject or another?

Yes, that’s a great feeling!  One time at Sundance, twelve separate people came up to me and told me that they loved my book, and one girl told me her film was there in the fest thanks to the book!  It’s really great to know I’ve helped filmmakers… still get about an email a week (it used to be five or six) from someone saying how much I helped them!

Right now I’m completing a graphic novel (I did the writing, and it’s being illustrated), that will be out at the end of the year.  It’s a female-vigilante story, and it’s AWESOME.

Wonderful! Can’t wait to read it! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

Pictured from left are actors Tom Malloy, Ken Davitian (Borat), and Vince Lozano (Pirates of the Caribbean)

I absolutely LOVE to play poker!  My favorite pastime.  Second to that is Jiu-Jitsu, which I try to do 3 times a week, but my body is getting older and doesn’t recover as quickly!

 

Tom with jiu-jitsu champion Chad Robichaux

Who are your favorite actors/actresses, and what do you love about them?

The one actor I’ve always looked up to is Marlon Brando, because he was such a trailblazer in the acting world.  Every performance he does is so raw and REAL.  I’m not sure how he did it, and I’m not sure he knew how he did it!  So my acting life has been a search to try to recreate some of that magic.

You have been quoted for saying: “Everyone gets butterflies in their stomach… the pros can make them fly in formation. Mine can put on an airshow.” It must be wonderful to have such confidence! Authors are often expected to be confident public speakers but in reality so many of us are terrified by the very idea. What advice do you have for authors facing this problem? Any little tricks that might help?

With anything, you have to understand that experience is what it takes.  Just DO it.  Truly.  The more you do it, the more you get better at it.  People love to believe in overnight successes, but the truth is the truly successful are filled with grit and perseverance, and never give up!  Just because you may have fear, you can never let that stop you… do it anyway!  Sooner or later, the experience overtakes the fear, and you’ll be running on autopilot.

What types of movies do you enjoy watching mostly? Name three favorites and tell us what you love about them.

I love the classics.  I’m a sucker for old Hollywood.  I love Casablanca because it’s just a perfect movie, every aspect of it.  Also, On the Waterfront, because it changed acting.  And All About Eve, another perfect old-Hollywood movie.  I highly recommend people try to find screenings of these movies in theatres… the way they were meant to be seen.  Makes such a difference!

This is predominantly a book blog so I have to ask: Are you a reader of fiction and if so, do you have any favorite genres or authors?

I’m a HUGE reader.  I devour books.  I just finished The Dry by Jane Harper.  GREAT read.  I’m a giant Elmore Leonard fan… I think he was the master of the crime thriller… possibly the best US writer.  Also, I love Larry McMurtry.

What types of roles do you love taking on the most? Which ones present the greatest challenge?

It’s really not the role as much as the overall script.  I get so excited when the script is great (which is extremely rare), then I try to bring my A-game and give the best performance I can, 100% of the time.

Do you have any pets?

Not anymore… was always too tough because I live in a freakin’ plane most of the time!  Doing 100k+ Miles a year. 

Oh wow! That must be hard… If you could have one superpower what would it be? To be able to fly without needing planes, I am guessing? That would save you some time, wouldn’t it?

(*laughs*) Yeah, definitely! But actually… I’d love to have Green Lantern’s ring.  Hell, I’d love to play Hal Jordan when they remake the Green Lantern movie the right way!  But his ring runs on willpower, and I have that in spades.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

A lesson from my father: Always leave yourself room to maneuver.  He initially told me this when I was driving, but he meant it for life.  Never back yourself into a corner mentally, emotionally, or physically.  There have been times where this has happened… the saying goes, “I put all my eggs in one basket,” and that has caused me trouble.  I rarely do that anymore… I always leave options.

Great advice! If you could choose another profession, what would that be?

I think I’d make a great politician… I’m honest, I work hard, and I’m great at speaking to crowds!

An honest politician? Isn’t that an oxymoron? (*giggles*) No, seriously, you’d be great at it! What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Life is not a dress rehearsal.  This is the show, there is no warmup for the show.  You have one life to live, so you better live it.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

Without question, my kids Ella (11), and Tyler (10)… they light up my life everyday.

Oh, and I can see why! They’re two little angels!

Thank you, Effrosyni.

How would you like to be remembered?

There was a 1980’s movie called FAME where the main song would say “I want to live forever.”  What they meant by that was if someone is famous, even after they die, people will remember them.  Bogart and Brando are just as alive today.  That’s my goal… I want to live forever!

And so you will, Tom. You’re certainly in the right profession for that. And I LOVE Fame – the movie! Back in the 80s I watched The Kids from Fame on TV every week as if my life depended on it! My favorite character was Leroy Johnson. Yours?

I think I loved them all!

Me too! Well, Tom, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been an honor; I wish you all the best for the future!

Thank you, Effrosyni. Best of luck to you too!

A critically acclaimed actor, Tom initially wowed Hollywood with his stunning turn in the indie-cult favorite GRAVESEND in 1998, which was produced by Oliver Stone.

Tom is currently starring with Comedian Scott Baker in the improv cop comedy MIDTOWN, which can be seen on Amazon, and Tuff TV.  Tom is also a graduate of the famous Improv Olympic (I.O.) Training Center in Los Angeles (former graduates include Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carrell).  As a Stand Up Comic, Tom has appeared at Caroline’s Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club in NYC, and at the LA Improv.

In addition to his work as an actor and filmmaker, Tom is an accomplished author whose book BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films is widely considered the “gold standard” of indie film financing instruction. A second edition came out in 2012.

Tom has also competed and taught classes in the smooth, hip-hop dance style known as West Coast Swing. He was trained by seven time U.S. Open Champion Robert Royston.  He is also a professional poker player, and for two years was one of the highest-ranked celebrity players on MegaFrame Casino.                                                                 

Finally, Tom worked for 10 years as a nationally known motivational speaker for adults and kids. He traveled across the country spreading his positive message to students of all ages. Over the years, he has spoken to more than 100,000 students.

 

www.tommalloy.com

www.tommalloycomedy.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tommymalloy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tommalloyfans

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0540176

Tom’s indispensable resources for film makers:

The Film Finance Guide: www.filmfinanceguide.com

Movie Plan Pro: http://www.filmfinanceguide.com/movie-plan-pro/

 

MOVIE TRAILER FOR SHATTERED

 

MOVIE TRAILER FOR SCREAMERS **** NOT FOR THE FAINT- HEARTED! 😛

 

 

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  • Smashing interview! I devoured it, and it’s one that allows for takeaways, snippets that resonate with me like the advice given by Tom’s father. Thank you, Fros and Tom!

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your visit, Maria. Yes, I certainly lapped up too all the pearls of wisdom Tom shared today!

  • The energy and excitement from both of you comes whizzing off the page! Thanks for this injection, Fros and Tom!

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your enthusiastic comments and shares on FB and Twitter, Pamela. Girl, you’re on fire! I didn’t know you’re a fellow lover of musicals. How wonderful 🙂

  • Wow! What an amazing character – and a great interview! Thank you both for that 🙂

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your visit, Nicholas! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • Louise

    Great interview, Fros, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Tom’s films are now on my ‘to watch’ list, especially ‘Love n Dancing’ .. my kind of film. 🙂 x

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your visit, Louise. Oh yes, you’re guaranteed to enjoy Love N’ Dancing! xx