It's always exciting when an interview I did with one person leads to an interview with another. It was because of my interview with Fair Haven filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber, that I found my way to actor/writer/producer Tom Malloy, who produced and co-starred in the film.
It was great getting to learn more about Fair Haven from Tom (a film about a young man who returns to his family farm, after a long stay in ex-gay conversion therapy, and is torn between the expectations of his emotionally distant father, and the memories of a past, loving relationship he has tried to bury) as well as all the intricacies of his career including the other films/TV shows he has produced/starred in, including the Amazon comedy series Midtown (co-created with his friend stand-up comedian Scott Baker) about the banter that happens between cops.
1. After my interview with Kerstin Karlhuber, I am so excited to have the chance to speak with you! So, let's start with Fair Haven, which you produced and co-star in. What attracted you to this story? Why did you want to produce the film & co-star in the film, as opposed to just one or the other? What were some of the challenges of being both producer and actor? From the moment I read it, I thought the quality of the screenplay was top-notch. I was attracted to the project because it was such a sweet story, a story of a father and his son, and, at the end of the day, was all about love.
Kerstin asked me to produce, and she wanted to shoot it in Vermont. I initially turned it down because I didn’t have the bandwidth to get away and didn’t want to be away from my kids for too long. But then I called her back and asked if she’d be able to shoot in Rochester, NY, where I have a lot of family, and the rest is history.
As for producing, almost all of the projects I’m involved in have me as an actor somewhere. I believe, in 14 films, I’ve only not played a role twice. Acting is still my greatest passion. On set, with a film like this, since I was the sole producer, I only took a small role, a day-player type role. I believe I shot for 2-3 days. That’s the only way to do both. In the films (like Love N’ Dancing or The Alphabet Killer), where I was the lead role, I was lucky enough to have other producers involved who were able to cover for me!
2. In addition to Fair Haven, you also star in and co-write/produce the comedy series Midtown on Amazon, which is the brainchild of you and former NYPD Cop/current stand-up comedian Scott Baker...about the banter that happens between cops. First of all, how did you and Scott come to know each other and how soon after did you go, we should create this show? What do you love about working with Scott? Do you have any real life cop stories you can share with us? Scott and I met on the set of the movie Anger Management, with Adam Sandler. We were both playing NY Yankees in that movie, no lines. He and I hit it off right away, and the banter you see on Midtown is the exact banter between us in real life! We just play off each other so well, which is why I love working with him.
My favorite times are when I throw something out comedy-wise, and he picks up on it and throws it back to me. That’s when I know we’re in total comedy synergy on stage or in the show…which is completely improvised.
As for real-life cop stories, Scott wrote the book The Funniest Cop Stories Ever, which were true stories of the NYPD, so he’d be a better one to ask!
3. Who or what inspired you to become an actor, writer, producer? I remember when I first came up with that concept, around 2004. I told my agent at the time that I was going to be an actor/writer/producer, and she told me I was foolish to not focus on one of them. I claim that the same agent today is telling her actors: "You need to be all three." So much has changed with the business, and I have so many actor friends out of work or taking jobs in other industries because they can only do one thing. Being a "triple-hyphenate" has allowed me to not work anywhere outside the business and thrive! Plus, intrinsically, I’m an action-oriented person, so sitting around was never an option. I always just wanted to create my own projects.
4. Another film you starred in is Hero of the Underworld, where you play the overnight manager of an upscale hotel who takes it upon himself to become the savior of a guest who's been nearly beaten to death by her boyfriend. There is a line I love in the trailer that says "Every man gets a chance to be a hero or a coward." When in your life have you been the hero and when have you been a coward? Yes, I love that movie and it was based on true events. But good question about hero/coward. I’ve played the hero many times, I believe…broken up fights, helped people on the street, etc. As for coward, I can’t think of the last time where I really felt that way. I try to live my life with the "no should’ves" rule. I never want to walk away and think "I should have done that," or "I should have said that." Not to say that I don’t get scared! I have tons of fear, but I just NEVER let it stop me. That’s a key to success right there…never let fear get in the way. Accept the fear and just do it anyway!
5. You are also starring in the upcoming series Dropping The Soap with Jane Lynch, which is a behind-the-scenes look at a failing soap opera. With all the shows and films you've been in, what is the juiciest behind-the-scenes story you can tell us from a project you just knew was not going to do well? Such a great show, so ridiculously funny! I’m so proud of the show. I knew from the moment I watched it that it was going to be a hit. As for juicy stories, those would have to be after the premiere because my distribution company (Glass House Distribution) acquired the series after it was finished.
6. Let's just play with the show's title for a moment...If you were to "Drop the soap," what would you hope to find after you picked it up? Hopefully not a naked guy behind me in a prison shower. I think that’s where that expression came from!
7. You got to work with one of my idols...Betty White! What was that experience like? What did you learn from her? That was the highlight of my career so far!. She was so incredible…everyone on set immediately wanted her to be their grandma!
As for learning something, it was just great to watch her have fun! A lot of times actors take life too seriously, and she was having fun with her lines and that was so great to watch. So I guess the lesson there is to have fun with your performance, and the audience has fun with you.
8. When you are not acting, you enjoy playing Celebrity Poker Tournaments and participating in the West Coast Swing Dancing competitions. In poker, the highest win is a Royal Flush. What, in your career thus far, would you consider to be a Royal Flush? And when was a time you were like, "I fold"? Yes, I LOVE poker. A Royal Flush in my career would be the first day we started shooting Love N’ Dancing. That movie was a nightmare to get going, and it was such an accomplishment to actually make it happen. I’m still hurting that it didn’t become a major hit, and I’m developing a new dance film/romantic comedy that I hope to produce and star in this year.
As for, "I fold," that would have to be the time I had all this money from Beijing to shoot three movies and the people funding it just disappeared. I was in the middle of shooting a film, and, though I was able to finish it, the money was gone. I had to shut down production offices and let people go…a nightmare!
9. What do you feel the rhythm of dancing has taught you about the rhythm of life? Again, I think the intrinsic lesson is to have fun. Your body stores so much of your emotion, and expressing emotions through movement is a fantastic feeling.
10. As an actor who has be interviewed time and time again, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had (and please provide the answer to that question)? Q: What’s an important lesson you teach your kids?
A: Never grow up. Always have the innocence and wonder and joy and laughter of life to keep you going. People who "grow up" are just beat down from society and negative reinforcement, and imposed "rules." I’m still a kid and will never change that.
11. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? My goal is to start drilling down my focus as specific as possible. Sometimes I get spread too thin, and I have to keep telling myself not to say yes to everything coming at me because then I won’t be able to truly be 100%. So I’m going to focus more and more everyday!
An award winning and critically acclaimed actor, Tom wowed Hollywood with his stunning turn in the indie-cult favorite GRAVESEND in 1998, which was produced by Oliver Stone.
Most recent films include: SCREAMERS (Coming Fall 2017), HERO OF THE UNDERWORLD (on VOD everywhere) directed by John Vincent, starring Tom, Nicole Fox, and Quinton Aaron (for this film, Tom won BEST ACTOR at the Chain NYC Film Festival, and BEST ACTOR at AC Cinefest, FAIR HAVEN (Coming to SHOWTIME Summer 2017) directed by Kerstin Karlhuber, starring Tom Wopat and Michael Grant, ASHLEY, directed by Dean Ronalds, which was in theaters in 2013, and is now on VOD, LOVE N’ DANCING, which was directed by Rob Iscove (She’s All That), and stars Amy Smart, Tom Malloy, Billy Zane, Rachel Dratch, and Betty White; the psychological thriller THE ALPHABET KILLER, directed by Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn, Crime & Punishment in Suburbia) and stars Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Tom Malloy, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside, and Oscar Winner Melissa Leo; and a thriller directed by Mary Lambert called THE ATTIC, starring John Savage, Malloy, and Elisabeth Moss.
Tom is currently starring with Comedian Scott Baker in the improv cop comedy MIDTOWN, which can be seen on Amazon, now in it's second season.
Tom is a graduate of the famous Improv Olympic (IO) Training Center in Los Angeles (former graduates include Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carrell). Tom has also appeared in principle roles on LAW & ORDER, THIRD WATCH, KIDNAPPED, THE SIEGE (with Denzel Washington) and ANGER MANAGEMENT. 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, Tom is an accomplished author whose book BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films is 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.
Tom has trained for years in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, first training with Royce Gracie back in 1992, prior the UFC even existing! He currently trains in Beverly Hills with the legendary Rigan Machado. He is also a professional poker player, and for over a year was one of the highest ranked celebrity players on the now defunct 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.