Actor Cesare Scarpone has demonstrated wide-spanning range in his standout career that’s seen his talents shine both on stage and on the screen.
Hailing from Canada, Scarpone won the Sears Drama Festival’s award of excellence for the York, Ontario region for his work in the role of Jerry in Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story.” He was selected to study the craft of acting at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and went on to act on the stage in titles such as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest.”
Scarpone’s gone on to play a crazed serial killer who takes hostages and pits them in a survival of the fittest contest in “Chance,” the Archangel Gabriel in “All I Need,” an ‘Every Man’ in “Modern Romance is Dead,” a grieving, revenge-seeking father in “Aftermath” and a local townie who guides unassuming victims through a terror unleashed in the horror feature, “Black Forest.”
Classically trained and influenced by the greats like Brando, Dean, McQueen and De Niro, Scarpone in an analytical artist when it comes to acting, one who dives into characters to understand and deliver their intrinsic subtleties. His performances have resulted in recognition and praise, and have demonstrated the work of one of today’s foremost, exemplary actors.
Recently, we had the chance to put the spotlight on Scarpone for a question and answer session, and we’re excited to share his story below.
Where are you from originally?
CS: Brampton, Ontario until I was about 10, then moved to Maple Ontario and grew up there.
What films and TV shows did you grow up watching?
CS: All the kids’ classics, “Friends,” anything from Disney and Warner Bros. I enjoyed a lot of the films that had fantasy elements to them – “The Pagemaster,” “NeverEnding Story” and so on. Then as I got older, I got into the classics…anything Marlon Brando, James Dean, Steve McQueen, “Raging Bull” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” “American Psycho,” “Leon the Professional,” “There will be Blood,” anything with a great story and excellent characters.
What drove you to want to pursue a career in acting?
CS: The feeling of constantly being in the moment when on stage and in front of the camera – having the ability to connect with an audience and move them.
Who are some of your inspirations or influences?
CS: Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Gary Oldman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day Lewis and Joseph Gordon Levitt, to name a few.
Tell us a little about your theatre background. What were some of your favorite roles you’ve played for the stage?
CS: Jerry from “The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee is still one of my favorite characters, the neurotic outcast, unable to cope with society had to be one of the most interesting characters yet. I’ve played Ferdinand from “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare and Staff Captain Vassily Vasilyevich Solyony from Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.”
How did starting in theatre help your transition into film and TV?
CS: It gave me a strong foundation in work ethic and exploration along with having fun and learning how to listen to the other actors on stage.
What are the traits and qualities that the best actors possess?
CS: The ability to be fully in the moment, to listen and react truthfully to what is being given to them and a strong work ethic and passion for what they do.
How do you incorporate those characteristics into your own acting?
CS: I try my best to approach each bit of text I get as openly as possible, mining as much information I can about the character I am playing and construct an image for the choices I believe the character would make in the moments. Then, I try my best to forget all the work and play, hoping that the ghosts of my work will come through in my performances.
What does it take to effectively become another person and deliver a character?
CS: This might get philosophical, but to say I can become someone else, portray someone else who has been through an infinite amount of moments and memories would seem like a disservice to anyone out there. I think I can only make choices that are different from my own habitual instincts, ones that, through the work and research are informed and in line with what I feel to be the characters’ line of thought.
What’s one character you’ve played who was most unlike you?
CS: I would have to say Chance. He is a serial killer. I feel bad hurting a mouse and now more recently, spiders.
You played Paul in David Briggs’ horror feature, “Black Forest.” What’s the movie about and how does your character tie into the story?
CS: I don’t want to give too much away as it hasn’t made its DVD release, but it is about two best friends – Bree and Jess – who take a camping trip out to the forests of Northern Ontario. They meet a seemingly ‘Mad Man’ Isaac, and find themselves trapped in the woods needing to find a way out for their lives. Paul is a local from a nearby town, who acts as a guide to help them find their way through the terror.
Before your foray into horror, you played The Archangel Gabriel in Rebecca Carrigan’s fantasy drama, “All I Need.” What was the film about and how would you describe your character?
CS: The film was about Sophie, who finds herself thrown into the world of angels and demons. She is made aware of her guardian angel, Nathan, who is sworn to protect her from the madness she finds herself in. Their relationship gets closer than is allowed by the angels and my character, Gabriel, must step in to save both Nathan and Sophie, while still acting according to law.
Tell us a little bit about the story of vengeance and that of playing Cameron Shaw in the 2014 short, “Aftermath.”
CS: It was a truly sad story of a father experiencing the loss of that which he cared more for than anything in the world: his daughter. I considered how this affects the mental stability of a father and what they would do to rectify, in their minds, the nightmare they experienced. To himself, he was completely justified in his actions, taking the law into his own hands when he believed the world failed to see what he saw.
Your leading role as E.M. in “Modern Romance is Dead” pits you in a layered thriller/drama. What was that character’s journey all about and how did you go about executing the role?
CS: E.M, which stands for ‘Every Man’ was the personification of the general male perspective of what a relationship should be and represent in this modern society. I drew on my own experiences and extrapolated. Because he might have been the closest to myself, I tried to be as true to my own feelings in how I’d feel in each moment, while work and exploration of my own imagination was used to fill in any of the gaps.
In 2012, you played the leading antagonist in director Rob Comeau’s thriller film, “Chance.” What were Chance’s motivations and methods? Just how crazy was the character and what types of challenges did the role present you as an actor?
CS: Chance wanted to make the world a better place and like anyone, believed his actions were completely justified, because he was serving the greater good. He was making the world a better place by starting a chain reaction of understanding. Rob was as normal as directors get, though passionate, he served as a good grounding stone for the film, especially as it was so wild. He was open to any ideas I wanted to throw at him and gave me the freedom to play. The biggest challenge was to learn not to judge any character. To be truthful to any character or story, you can’t just play concepts, that you are still portraying a person with feelings and thoughts and life.
What’s one thing people might not expect that’s true about being a film and TV actor today?
CS: It is a lot of work and dedication, never as glamorous as one is led to believe.
What’s surprised you the most about working in the industry?
CS: The true passion I come across every day from piece to piece. How joyful everyone can be when they are doing what they love.
What’s been the most rewarding part about your acting career to date?
CS: How it changes me and helps me grow past my comfort zones, as well as performing for the young. Their uninhibited responses and complete immersion in the stories you give them.
What films or TV series are in your Netflix queue or DVR? What are you watching nowadays?
CS: “House of Cards,” and for films, I have a crazy long list that I haven’t even cracked. There are just too many out there, so I just tend to watch something that someone has recently recommended.
What hobbies or activities fill up your spare time when you’re not acting?
CS: I love to read, exercise and do anything outdoors I possibly can. Being with people I care about.
Who is on your shortlist for fellow actors you’d like to work with?
CS: Joseph Gordon Levitt and Gary Oldman.
What can we look forward to seeing you in next?
CS: I will be working on a short, “The Porter and the Stone,” as well as the feature, “Imaginary Friends,” which is a working title. I am currently working on “Blood Wedding” By Federico Garcia Lorca, which will open on the 25th of May at LAMDA.