The Class Clown – Leaving the ice and puck behind for lights and camera, Gianni Paolo is skating his way into Hollywood with his rare charm
Being an ice hockey fan all his life, Gianni Paolo played professionally in the minor league during his youth. It only needs his larger than life persona to touch many people and one theater class to make him drop his skates to pursue acting. So far his wonderful personality has charmed casting directors, resulting in him involved in awesome projects such as the crime series “Power” and the latest thrill-fest from the wild minds of Blumhouse, “Ma.”
We talked to the young actor, and it was a blast indeed.
DAMAN: First things first -what was it like to work on a Blumhouse film?
Gianni Paolo: I honestly loved it so much. I really enjoy working on projects like this because it’s more of a collaborative creative experience. When you don’t have a lot of time and the luxury of a massive budget, it really does take more from the actors to make a great production, which I think we really did.
DAMAN: Tell us more about the shooting experience in Mississippi!
Gianni Paolo: We shot the film for about five weeks in Mississippi and I really fell in love with it, to be honest. We met some amazing people, the cast and crew ate dinner together every single night, we rode ATV’s, had bonfires, and explored the town.
DAMAN: What was your favorite moment or memory while filming this movie.
Gianni Paolo: My favorite moment was actually the morning I had to do my ‘naked’ scene. I remember vividly before I went to set that morning, it was about 4:30 in the morning and I looked outside and it was pouring rain out. I put on my sweatshirt and went outside for my morning run. I just remember running in the rain, in the pitch black, using my phone as a flashlight, smiling just being so happy I was part of this amazing experience. I don’t know why,
but it’s truly one of my favorite memories.
DAMAN: Tell us a bit about your character, Chaz.
Gianni Paolo: My character, Chaz, is one of the teens who originally starts to party at Ma’s house. He’s in the OG crew. Chaz, in short, is the life of the party -even though he’ll always say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
DAMAN: You are also on the hit Starz series, “Power,” which returns for its sixth and final season this summer. What can you tell us about the upcoming season?
Gianni Paolo: All I can say is that it is wild! I originally hadn’t seen an episode when I booked it and still hadn’t until I was done filming. When we were doing table reads, I was like, “oh my God, this show is crazy!”
DAMAN: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?
Gianni Paolo: I grew up in Scituate, Rhode Island, playing hockey pretty much every day of my life since I was 3 years old. My earliest memory of anything entertainment related was when I was about 9 years old. I just remember making all of my coaches and the other parents laugh and the kids didn’t get my jokes. They would say to me, “you shouldn’t be playing hockey, you should be on TV.” At the time I always thought they just wanted me to quit because I was competing with their kids, but who knew they were right!
DAMAN: How old were you when you started acting?
Gianni Paolo: I started acting when I was about 18 years old. I never had time when I was younger to do anything because of my intense hockey schedule. But by the time I took my first theatre class in high school, I was hooked. I just remember making jokes and being funny and the teacher was like, “Yes! More of that!” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick with it, nor with any audition because I kept transferring for different hockey teams. Yet, I always knew it was what I wanted to do.
DAMAN: Which actors did you watch growing up that you idolized or inspired you to want to pursue acting?
Gianni Paolo: I really love Miles Teller because of the roles he chooses. He has an awesome mix between comedy and drama and I really love watching his work. When I was in Rhode Island, I remember I had a day off from hockey and I was an extra in “Bleed For This”. He was so nice to everyone and was making jokes in between takes, a lot like how I carry myself on set. Charlie Hunnam is also one of my favorites. “Sons Of Anarchy” is one of my favorite shows of all time and I think he’s incredible in it.
DAMAN: Is there a specific process you have to get into character?
Gianni Paolo: No, I think just really being prepared and grounded going to set is my process. I also have to work out before I go to set. A lot of the characters I’ve played are funny and lively like myself so I just do my normal daily routine. I like listening to comedy podcasts when I’m in the trailer to get myself in that mindset.
DAMAN: What is your dream role/project?
Gianni Paolo: I would love to play a character a lot like Tommy from Power (played by Joseph Sikora) -a New York drug dealer who grew up on the streets. I would love to be able to tackle something like that. I obviously also need to do a hockey movie for obvious reasons!
DAMAN: What’s next for you?
Gianni Paolo: Power Season 6 will be coming out this fall. I am so proud of this season and everyone involved. I just can’t wait for everybody to see it! There are a couple other projects in the works that you guys will hear of soon! I also plan to write and direct my own show, so look out for that!
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Drew Manares
Grooming Julie Hiles
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