Super coolness runs deep. Just ask Tom Schanley.
The actor, known for his bad guy roles is excited to discuss his latest film project, “Get The Gringo”; the action thriller starring Mel Gibson which was recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Gibson plays a convict, “Driver” sent to a Mexican prison for stealing money from a crime boss. While adjusting to life inside of the town-like confines and plotting his escape, he befriends a young boy with a rare blood type and fondness for cigarettes. It’s up to the “Gringo” to save the boy’s life and break out of prison.
Tom plays the role of “American Hitman”, one of many nefarious villains out to acquire the money stolen by the Gringo.
Schanley himself is no stranger to the entertainment medium. His accomplishments include credits on stage (“Getting Out”, “The Wager”, “Julius Caesar”), on television (“Dexter”, “Criminal Minds”) and in film (“A Better Life”, “Courage Under Fire”, “Conspiracy Theory”). In addition to his acting, Tom’s written several screenplays and also donates his time to various causes to help those less fortunate.
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Tom continues to exercise his theater chops; and will appear in an upcoming version of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, California September 13-23, 2012
I had the opportunity to speak with Tom and get hit thoughts on “Get The Gringo” as well as some of his other acting roles, writing and charitable works.
gJg: How would you describe the story of “Get The Gringo”?
TS: Mel Gibson plays a bad guy who steals money from another bad guy and winds up getting his money taken by corrupt police and thrown into a Mexican prison. The story then follows his quest to try and get the money back. In the interim, he falls in love in the most unlikely of places as he tries to get back what he had lost.
I like to say that it’s Mel Gibson going back to his old “Lethal Weapon” self.
gJg: How did this role come about for you?
TS: I liked the script and wanted to be a part of it. I’ve also known Mel for quite some time; we both shared the same agent for about 20 years.
Initially, I was called in for the lawyer role; Peter Stormare’s character but the producers said that they really liked me for the role of the hit man.
I’ve always loved playing the bad guy so I said: “Hell, yeah!”
gJg: What’s it like working with Mel Gibson?
TS: Mel’s always been a great guy to me. I worked with him before in the movie, “Conspiracy Theory”. He has a great sense of humor and is just a great guy to be around. It was a nice shoot down in Mexico.
Even though Mel wasn’t directing, it was a light set and we were all just having fun knowing that we were making a great movie.
gJg: When did the acting bug first hit you?
TS: It was around the time when I was sixteen. I was just a kid in high school performing in the local community theater. I grew up outside of Boston in a little conservative town called Manchester. It was New England and “the norm” there was pretty much finishing high-school, going off to college and then finding a job.
I remember I was driving home from the theater one night with a friend of mine and we were talking about what we were going to do once school was finished. I told her that I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do and then she asked the question: “Well, how about acting?”
Honestly, I had never really given much thought about it before. To me, acting was so much fun; how could it possibly be my “job”. But, it gave me something to think about and it wasn’t long before I said “Yeah, let’s try this on for size and see what happens!”
gJg: You’re also an accomplished writer!
TS: Yes, my writing partner Jon Lindstrom and I wrote a script a few years ago called “The Hard Easy” that was made into a feature film. It took quite a long time to write but we knew we had a good story. It was exciting.
At the time, my agent’s former assistant, Dan had left the agency to work for Joel Silver. So, I gave the script to him to read and critique. He wound up calling my agent and telling him that they wanted to buy it. Jon and I decided to hold on to it for a while and eventually sold the rights a few years later.
Now, I can add writer to my list of achievements.
gJg: What do you find are the differences between filming a movie as opposed to doing series television?
TS: The time factor is really the big thing. A TV shoot is typically run on an eight-day shooting schedule. With feature film, you have the luxury of having more time to develop characters because they’re shot at a much slower pace.
gJg: Tell me a little about your charity work.
I work with the Los Angeles Mission. The homelessness problem is a very big concern for me. It’s hard to believe that in this country there are so many homeless people. I like supporting the mission because I know the money goes to the right places. I’m also involved with various other causes as well.
gJg: What are you currently working on now?
TS: Right now, I’m working on a play that’s a labor of love. I play Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. It’s one of those rare Tennessee Williams pieces that you don’t get to do a lot. It’s great fun!
Keep up with Tom Schanley by checking out his Facebook page
and following him @TwitasaurusRex on Twitter!