I recently got the chance to talk to Rich Goteri about his role in ‘Real Steel’. Here, Rich talks about what it was like working with Hugh Jackman and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Rich. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Real Steel’ is currently in cinemas right now…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
First off thank you Matt for interviewing me. Okay, ‘Real Steel’ is a story set in the future where robot boxing is a popular sport and a promoter with money problems (Hugh Jackman) thinks he’s found a champion in a useless old robot. He also discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father and a there is also a love story element to it. Very ‘Robots’ meets ‘Rocky’. A great, well-written script by John Gatins and Shawn Levy did an amazing job directing.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the head of security for the Zuess robot camp. Zuess is the best of the best, no robot can even come close to beating him. My character is a very polite Russian gentleman but you know he would kill you if he had to.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent Curt Howe from CTA got me the audition and the first thing they asked is if I could do a Russian accent, which I immediately learned. I went in, did the audition, got a call back and then went into that session and met the director Shawn Levy. It was a weird experience because I left thinking that I didn’t get it. Shawn never looked at me just his monitor. He was very nice and gave me great direction. We shot it three times, he thanked me and I left. Then I found out that I booked it. Sometimes with movies you have to audition three or four times but I didn’t. Helps elevate stress in one’s life. We were very happy because we knew it would be a big hit, which it is.
How would you say this film is different and unique? Would you say it’s ‘Transformers’ meets ‘The Fighter’?
Yes, I think it is something like that but the difference to me is the way Shawn shot it. Visually it really kicks butt. And secondly is the script. When I read the script it had a series of very touching moments. It kind of reminded of the film ‘E.T’.
The film stars Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie and Kevin Durand – with Shawn Levy onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
A GREAT experience! Hugh Jackman was a very cool guy. Making sure everyone was happy and was getting what they needed. What was fun for me was actually working with a robot. No CGI, he was there sitting on a training table looking right at me. Never worked with a robot before. The crew for such a big budgeted film was amazing. They never missed a beat. It was a fun, warm set. Hugh’s kids would be there some times or his Mom and Dad.
Let’s talk a bit about you Rich. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?…
Well when I was sixteen I started up as a stand-up comic. I had a partner named Mike Falco, who was a veteran and he took me under his belt. I did that for two years but wanted to do more acting so on a whim I auditioned for The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and got in. I studied there on and off for eight years with Irma Sandrey, Arthur Sherman and Elaine Aikeen. During that time I started writing and improvising as well. Then after moving to LA, I got involved with National Lampoon and Second City. I actually became The Artistic Director of the Training Center and Conservatory at the Second City in Detroit, one of the best experiences of my life.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to pursue a career in the industry?
Do it because you have to not because you want to. What I mean by that is that you must have a real passion and love for it. One gives up so much to be in this business. You miss family functions; good paying jobs and life can easily become difficult to live on a daily basis. I tell everyone I am just as happy being in a play for almost no money as I am working in a hundred million dollar movie. To me it is all about the job, the work. I love to act and that’s what it has to be about.
You’ve been in a number of TV and film projects – who has been your favourite actor/actress to work with so far and which project has been your favourite to be a part of?
Honestly, I have no favourite. I love them all because I am working. I recently really enjoyed working on ‘Setup’ with Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe and 50 Cent. I also got to work with director Mike Gunther who is brilliant. He understands what actors needs are and how they need to be treated. He is very collaborative and wants your feedback. It is very refreshing. Mike will be directing a movie I co-wrote with Mike Mili and Frank Roche called ‘The Italy Boys’ in 2012.
In a completely unrelated piece of film news, ‘Tower Heist’ has been in the news recently because of a proposed idea that new films should be made available to people in their own homes at a rental price – do you think this is a good or a bad idea?
I love it! For me, being so busy - if I could watch a film at 2 am when I have time, instead of having to wait to go the cinema, I’m all for it. There is nothing like going to see a movie in the cinema but these days with technology it is becoming easier to get that cinema experience at home. Of course, people are so busy right now between work, and family. It is also very expensive to take a family of four or five to the cinema too nowadays. Besides films, I wish that there were a way to watch live theatre from your home. If you are not in London or New York, theatre lovers miss out on some fantastic shows. I would pay to see live theatre by using pay per view too.
If you were stuck on a desert island – what three things could you not live out?
I would need my wife and three kids. Also, we have something here in the States called The NFL Ticket. That is an app that you get to watch every American Football game on Sundays. So, yes I would need that. And probably some good ale because I am watching football and I have my three kids with me. (laughing)
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
Well, ‘The Italy Boys’. The film is in pre-production and we have Harvey Keitel, Adrian Brody, Christopher Walken and Danny Aiello attached and we start principal photography Jan 4th 2012. I play Carmine Lombardi, a mobster who takes cares of business for the family. Also, ‘Setup’ that I shot with Bruce Willis and Ryan Phillippe is on DVD here in the States and will be out in the UK shortly. ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ with Gerard Butler is also due out soon. I am very blessed to have shot nine films last year so please look out for me.
Thanks for the interview!