Michael Nardelli, the Actor, Writer and Producer who is credited with working with Zac Efron, Kate Bosworth and Demi Moore to name drop a little… is a star rising quickly. Michael also founded Taggart Productions. What I find most appealing about Michael though is he is sooo good looking AND ten layers deep. He is a thinker which, along with his fierce work ethic and talent, are some of the many reasons why his star is rising so quickly.
Read on to be inspired by Michael Nardelli’s thinking and potentially learn some strategies that you can use in your own life to excel.
Gabrielle Reilly: I’m excited to watch Circle! Does starring in a thriller impact your day to day life psychologically at all, or can you easily separate the two?
Michael Nardelli: Filming CIRCLE was pretty all consuming. It was long days and nobody really ever got a break due to the nature of the circular set and the way the film was shot. So on this movie, I did not really separate the two because I also had duties as a producer on the film after we wrapped for the day. Normally that might get intolerable, but we shot the movie in ten days so I was fine keeping the marathon pace…And then crashing the second we picture wrapped!
Gabrielle Reilly: What process do you use to get into character?
Michael Nardelli: I find the things I can emotionally relate to first. And then I try to go backwards from what is on the page. In any given script we meet a character in a particular (and usually exciting) moment in their life. But they have lived a whole life before that. So I try to get deep into their minds and their memories and their lives before we meet them so I can justify in my mind whatever the script asks me to do. My character “Eric” is very cerebral and rational – so I did do a lot of research on chess players, gamers, mathematicians. I can tell you anything you need to know about Eric’s life pre-CIRCLE.
Gabrielle Reilly: What do you think the “x” factor is in you that has made you so successful (you don’t have to be humble with this answer, the goal is to help people excel?)
Michael Nardelli: It would embarrass me to call myself successful – and I am not nearly where I want to be yet professionally, or thought I would be at my age – but I will say whatever I lack in any department, I make up for with my work ethic. I take my job and the things I want to do creatively very seriously, and I am meticulous about them. I have plenty of insecurities, but my work ethic is not one of them.
Gabrielle Reilly: Did you study writing? If so what courses did you take?
Michael Nardelli: I did. I went to USC for Theater and Film so I was trained in all elements of film and performance. I also studied sketch comedy at the Groundlings here in LA which was immensely useful in learning character – how to set them up and how to get to the point of a scene in under four minutes.
Gabrielle Reilly: What are you working on at the moment?
Michael Nardelli: We are promoting CIRCLE as it just came out. It is exciting to see everyone talking about it and coming up with their own theories on twitter and Facebook, all social media avenues. I am also promoting a short film I directed called DENNIS DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. It is a dark comedy I star in and wrote/produced/directed. It recently won Best Short at Atlanta Underground Film Festival and I am next taking it to Savannah Film Festival and Chicago Comedy Film Festival.
Other than that, I have a film ALL IS VANITY that I just finished acting in and will be on an episode of the upcoming AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE VERSUS OJ SIMPSON. I have also written a feature I am now putting together and want to direct. And am producing/directing a web series for Latino-Review.com
Gabrielle Reilly: Often creative people fall into a low when a project comes to an end. Have you ever experienced this, and if so how have you snapped out of it?
Michael Nardelli: Yes, almost always. Especially if it is a project where you have been on location for and formed a sort of surrogate family unit. That happened to me when I filmed in Michigan or Georgia, anywhere away from home. I felt that way too when we finished CIRCLE even though we did film it in LA. It was such a unique experience to work with 50 other actors in the same room and same scenes together. We had so much fun.
There is no cure for a low like that, but I guess my strategy is (for better or worse) to have other things going on. Other projects you are working on that need your attention. If I am finishing something I love, but know I have another project that is going to need my attention right after it it does lighten the blow a little. But, yeah, moving on is hard! Having a life outside of work is a good idea too (family, friends, romance, etc.).
Gabrielle Reilly: What philosophies or lessons have helped you the most?
Michael Nardelli: My acting coach Warner Loughlin always reminds us “It’s a 50 year career, not a 5 year career. “ It is a good check-in for actors who feel pressured by the various forces to be some kind of overnight sensation. You can have a great career as an actor and never be a “movie star.” It is about the creative journey. And my Dad always said “A quick yes, a quick no, never a slow maybe.” That helps me during those indecisive moments.
Gabrielle Reilly: How do you organize your time?
Michael Nardelli: I am a big David Allen fan. I am a terminator when it comes to “to-do lists.” I try and keep my mornings creative, afternoons and evenings for emails and follow up. Once I start answering emails and phone calls my brain switches onto other people’s schedules and expectations, not my own. I am a big fan of ASANA (an online to do list that you can use with your colleagues). I function better when I have an outline of what my day should be, what things I need to get done, rather than just jumping from task to task and getting overwhelmed. I am also a big fan of the Pomodoro technique: focused 25 bursts of work with 5-10 minute breaks to reward yourself. I find this really helpful when I am writing. I sometimes still struggle to fit in the personal life stuff at times, but am getting better at it because I know it is important.
Gabrielle Reilly: What motivates you to excel?
Michael Nardelli: A love of what I do. It is a gift to be involved in story telling (acting, writing, directing, producing) and I am just genuinely happy when I am creating stuff with cool people. I want to keep doing that. And to keep getting those opportunities takes a lot of work because it is a competitive field and the rules are always changing. And there is some small hope that the work I do as an actor or writer or whatever might be helping some folks out there the way film helped me understand the world and myself when I was growing up.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you ever question your own ability and if so, how do you gather your confidence to do what you need to do?
Michael Nardelli: All the time, every day. Many times a day! I wish there were a confidence pill! But this great audition guru I work with named Craig Wallace always tells his students “Be nice to yourself. Check in. Know what you’re working with on any given day and ask why it’s there.” I have tried to practice that more lately. If I have anxiety about something or am nervous about a big audition or meeting – hey, maybe that is okay? Maybe it is normal to be nervous. And just not judging and trying to fight against doubt or insecurity as much. And never falling into the trap of “comparing.” I think everyone has doubts, even if they do a great job of convincing you they do not. Meditation helps too.
Gabrielle Reilly: Everybody is rejected sometimes in life. How do you process rejection?
Michael Nardelli: Sometimes it cuts real deep; sometimes I can shrug it off. It is odd. Again, I think the only antidote is having lots of things going on for you. I do not just mean work. Family, friends, philanthropy. You really cannot put all your eggs in one basket because there will at some point be some kind of disappointment and then what?
And then, on the bright side, if you harness it right, rejection can light a fire in you that is unstoppable! I do not know if it is a healthy thing, but sometimes “I’ll show them!” just gets things done.
Gabrielle Reilly: What does your diet and exercise look like?
Michael Nardelli: I have joined the crossfit cult of late! I got bored working out alone at the gym and like the group mentality of crossfit right now. That will probably switch at some point. I love kick boxing too. And I am a big runner (as long as I have music in my ear). I workout 5-6 days a week. I am sure some of it is a vanity thing, but I also have horrible anxiety and exercise keeps it in check. Diet-wise I try to stay generally in the paleo-gluten free realm because I feel better when I do. But after saying all that, I will admit to having two malts and pizza at Mel’s Drive In this weekend to celebrate the release of CIRCLE. What the heck are we really living for if we do not have malts in our life every once in a while???
Gabrielle Reilly: What do you like to do for fun and relaxation?
Michael Nardelli: I do not have too many hobbies. Most of my fun comes from the work I do as an actor and filmmaker. So I love going to see movies and plays and concerts. I am a huge dog lover – so my two pups take up a lot of my time. I am slowly inching my way into gardening. I grew and kept my tomato plants alive for a season so that is a start. I am a family guy, so seeing my family is important and just hanging out and catching up. That is the best.
(Thank you for the interview Gabrielle! I admire your site and plan to read it more in the future now that I know about it! Very empowering. –M)