By Anthony Murray and Dave Gil de Rubio
If cinema is something between art and life, as famed director Jean-Luc Godard once said, then we at the Anton Media Group have been fortunate enough to speak with some true artists such as the likes of Rita Moreno, Andrea Martin, Chazz Palminteri and more within this big screen world of make believe.
A (KEGOT) Kennedy Center Honors, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winner, Rita Moreno is a legendary talent who continues to work, despite having turned 88 in December. Not only is she working on the Steven Spielberg cinematic reboot of West Side Story, but expect a documentary on her life this year drawn from her 2014 autobiography, Rita Moreno: A Memoir. She’ll be sharing some of the emotionally trying times she faced as a woman of color in Tinsel Town.
“People only know what they see at the moment and that’s understandable. Why should they know I had terrible times in my youth? Why should they known that when I went to Hollywood that it was a really bad time for Hispanics, blacks, Asians and everybody? But they don’t know that, so it was important for me to talk about that.”
Nowadays best known for stage work that’s won her Tony and Drama Desk Awards, Andrea Martin made her mark on television as a key member of the Canadian comedy series SCTV. Interestingly enough, Martin shared that non-musical comedy was something she came to a bit late in life.
“I’ve done musical comedies, such as South Pacific and Oklahoma!, in summer stock and I’ve done dinner theater in Toronto and they were all little comedic musical presentations, but until I got involved with Second City, which then turned into SCTV, I never did sketch comedy before or stand up or anything in that variety.”
Far more than a character actor, Luis Guzmán has considered himself a social activist dating back to his childhood growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Having established himself over the years in myriad roles, most recently on the Showtime series Shameless, next year will see him looking to work on a passion project of his—a film adaptation of the Ernesto Quiñones novel, Bodega Dreams.
“Bodega Dreams has been out about 18 years and gone through many hands. I’ve had it for the past three years and I think that I found a writer/director, who I can’t name,” he said. “It’s an incredible book. I’m hoping to be shooting it this fall. I’m just trying to elevate the whole Latino universe in this entertainment world.”
Last year saw Chazz Palminteri touring with a one-man show of his opus A Bronx Tale, which found him playing all 18 roles. Not unlike fellow paisan Sylvester Stallone, Palminteri got his break telling a story he wrote that he refused to sell off unless he was directly involved in being the creative midwife. A handshake deal with Robert DeNiro led to a 1993 film adaptation. DeNiro directed and starred, while Palminteri penned the screenplay and performed the role of gangster Sonny LoSpecchio in the movie. The Big Apple native recalls how his initial break went down.
“They offered me millions of dollars. I had $200 in the bank and said no. Finally, [Robert DeNiro] came to see it and said that I should play Sonny and I should write it because it’s about my life. He said he’d play my father and direct it and that we’d go partners and that’s how it happened.”
When he’s not selling out Madison Square Garden, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco has also appeared on the big screen in films such as Green Book and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
“Green Book is a story that I really fell in love with, and The Irishman was another,” said Maniscalco. “I read that they were making this movie [The Irishman] three or four years ago with Scorsese, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. It sounded like it wasn’t even possible to make a movie with all those people, let alone be in it.”
After getting the chance to audition for the film, Maniscalco recalled that it wasn’t easy to get cast since he didn’t do too well on his first audition. After retrying, he was finally cast as ‘Crazy Joe’ Gallo.
“I didn’t even get the part that I went out for,” said Maniscalco. “Scorsese thought I was good for another part. I learned a hell of a lot about movie-making [on that set].”