On The Rise With…Ace Marrero
This week’s interview is with talented actor-producer Ace Marrero. Want a true-life fairytale story? (You’ll get that reference soon enough). Look no further than one of the hardest working men in showbiz today. For those of you who wonder if you should veer from the path you’ve settled on and try to give your dreams a chance, there’s no truer inspirational story than the one Ace has been involved in. He hasn’t even been doing this for a decade yet, and he’s already produced a few feature films, as well as earned guest spots on several popular TV series. And he’s just getting started!
Want to learn how he went from potential Air Force candidate to Hollywood player? Read on to find out…
Michael Marcelin: When did the acting bug bite you?
Ace Marrero: Well, I think I was just always “that kid”…being silly and trying to get attention from my relatives, my peers, my friends…the class clown type. And as a kid, I always knew I wanted to be a movie star… that’s all I equated acting to, I guess. I was always fascinated by that. None of the schools I went to really had a theater program, so I never got into that until college. But I was in band, I played music…I did all these things that, looking back, had me on a stage of some sort. I was an athlete my whole life, so being on a stage and performing was always a part of my make-up. When I was in high school, I was looking at joining the Air Force. I went to a Trade School…I was an electrician…so I had that background. But my parents didn’t want me to join the Air Force. It was actually my parents who sat me down…they knew I wanted to act…so they suggested, “Why don’t you look into acting? What about that?” And I was like, “I didn’t think you guys would support that.” Like I said, I had never done anything like that before…I had never even taken a college standardized test, because I went to the trade school. So I found a community college with a theater program, enrolled, and the rest is history. I played soccer the first year, but then I was also doing all of the theater classes and helping out and getting involved in that scene. I knew I wasn’t going to be playing sports professionally, so I just segued from playing in college, and started doing more theater…getting involved with stage management…which is why I think I still have that thirst for that.
MM: What were some of the first things you remember acting in?
AM: Well, every kid, whether you’re an actor or not, has been in some kind of elementary school play like “Stone Soup” or some silly show like that (laughs). But in college, my first play involved two one acts. One of them was “Sorry, Wrong Number”, and then I did “Take Five”, which was a farce about a terrible theater production…almost like a “Noises Off” kind of thing. Then I did a bunch of student one-act shows until I finally booked my first main stage show through the actual college…and then kept doing those until I graduated.
MM: When did you decide to make the move to L.A.?
AM: I moved here in 2007. I graduated college in 2005, and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife), Erin (Stegeman), lived in New York. So I would go into New York, from New Jersey, and spend about half of the week there working and auditioning, and just learning. Then I’d come home and work at a restaurant in Jersey and save money, not having to pay rent. She wanted to move to L.A., and it was kind of one of those, “Well what are we going to do?” I was loving the idea of being in New York because I was from New Jersey, and, it’s funny looking back, I thought, “Oh, I’m starting to get established here and whatnot”, so I didn’t want to move. And then, after thinking about it, I knew I was going to end up in L.A., because that’s where I wanted to be eventually for film and television. So it was just time to do it.
MM: Did you find it hard to find a manager or agent once you got here?
AM: You know, every actor goes, “I gotta get an agent, I gotta get an agent”…myself included…but I also knew it was going to be a process. When I first moved, I didn’t even have a car, so I wasn’t even auditioning. I gave myself that time to not stress out about not having all the ducks lined up right away. I figured, “This is a big city…the first time I’m living on my own…I need to make the most out of this experience before I start stressing out over that other stuff.” So I didn’t have an agent until maybe my first year here. I booked a lot of stuff on my own, which was great, because it taught me a lot about being forceful. I think a lot of actors get an agent, and they stop doing the work, thinking that the agent is going to miraculously do everything for them. And that’s not how it is. There’s a reason they only get paid 10%, you know what I mean? You still have to do 90% of the work. So I got an agent. But it’s not so much about finding an agent, but finding the right team for you. That, I think, is the real challenge.
MM: What was the first gig you booked out here?
AM: When I first moved out here, the Writer’s Strike hit. It was right around that time when everything shut down…and the whole city was freaking out. And I ended up booking a lead on an educational series…it was about 45 episodes…and that kept me busy for a year…and that was through a lot of the Writer’s Strike. So while I was just happy to book something, a lot of those people working on it…really, it was a godsend to them, because so many of them had houses and families and kids…and I’m just, “Awesome, I booked this show. I’m a lead in something!” Actually, I think the very first thing was a Levi’s spec commercial that I did with these students.
It was great, and I made good friends with them and ended up doing a lot of other work with them as they were finishing up in school. I was very fortunate to find them, because they were one of the few groups of students that did really good work. I did a lot of student films that I would never consider putting on my reel, but these guys…they continue now to do good stuff. So I was really fortunate to find a good group of up-and-comers like them.
MM: And that TV series you were talking about, was that “Ingles Ya!” ?
AM: That’s it. It was an educational series teaching English to Spanish speakers, so basically it was kind of like a soap opera, and, throughout every episode, they would have key words or stuff that they were learning in lessons to correspond to make it more engaging for a student, instead of just reading from a textbook. They’d be able to follow along with the story. And it’s actually done pretty well, from what I hear. They’ve been in a lot of different schools and stuff, and the kids really respond well to it. As funny as the project may sound…and everyone involved, we kind of kid about it…it’s nice to know I’m a part of something that not only got out there, but is also making a difference.
MM: You followed that up with the horror comedy “Office of the Dead”. Tell us how you got involved with that project and who you played.
AM: I would have to say…that everything you see on my IMDb page up to maybe “Law and Order”, I booked on my own. So just being on sites like Actor’s Access or LA Casting or Craigslist…pounding the pavement, man. I’m a huckster. I knew I could get work for myself, and that just continued to become part of my understanding of being in this business. A lot of it is relationship based. Even some of the TV shows I ended up booking that, maybe my agency sent me on, it was still based on a relationship through something I did on my own, back when I did the ABC Diversity Showcase. That got me through a lot of doors, so now it’s easier for my agents to get me into those things. But coming back to the question, “Office of the Dead” was something I applied for on LA Casting. I actually auditioned for one of the leads, but I didn’t get that. But the director liked me, and he had me in mind for this other part, which actually ended up being great, because it was just the perfect part. I was playing this hot-shot cop, and it was something that was on my reel for a really long time, so I’m glad that it worked out that way…that I got to play that part.
MM: Now, you mentioned the ABC Diversity Program. Tell me about that.
AM: I kind of caught wind of this thing about a year or two before I’d actually done it. There are actor showcases all over town that you do stuff for, and there ends up being big invited guests that are either casting directors or agents, and you put on a scene for them…they get to see you work…and hopefully you pair up with them and get an agent out of it. The ABC Diversity Showcase is kind of the same, but the only thing was that it was hosted by ABC, so the people who are coming out are all the bigwigs from all the companies. It’s not like a normal showcase where they say “This person from CAA is coming”, but it’s really the assistant’s assistant’s assistant (laughs). These are the bigwigs. And as great as that may sound, it’s still about as beneficial as the assistant’s assistant’s assistant because some of these people were just way too above where I was at that point…where they could really help me, if that makes sense. But it was a huge honor, because they get anywhere between 8,000 and 12,000 submissions from actors in L.A., and they end up picking 6 males and 6 females, so you’re one of a very small, select crew. It ended up getting me into all these new doors and getting auditions, and pilot season was really busy for me that year. It was a great thing, and it continues to be a great thing…it continued to be something that really changed the game for me, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. A lot of great talent has come from it: Jesse Williams from “Grey’s Anatomy”…Gina Rodriguez from “Jane the Virgin”…and Lupita N’yongo, who won the Oscar for “12 Years A Slave” did the showcase too! There’s a lot of great people who’ve come from it, so I was really excited and happy to be a part of that.
MM: And how did you get the recurring gig on the daytime soap “General Hospital”?
AM: After I moved out here, I ended up joining AFTRA, because at that time, AFTRA…you could literally just walk in, pay the money, and join, unlike SAG, where you had to get all of these vouchers. And for me, some people were like, “Well, I’m not going to join AFTRA”. And I was like, “Okay, well you can just sit there and not do something that could further your career.” I was of the mind that I was going to go in there…that this was going to help me now get in front of maybe more agents or get in front of more shows that are AFTRA. And part of the thing that they did was, they had a casting access program that was for diverse actors…so, basically any ethnicity or if you were older or female…believe it or not, females are considered minorities as actresses…so they could submit to it as well. I submitted, obviously, and they set up a general meeting with Mark Teschner, the casting director for “General Hospital”. I went in, met the guy…he had a New York Giants helmet sitting on his shelf and I was like, “Giants! I’m from Jersey…that’s my team!” and we kind of hit it off. I did my audition, he loved it, and he asked if I wanted to work that week. I said sure, and the rest is history. Then they’d call me up every so often to come in and do a role on an episode or two, so I ended up getting a few of episodes from that.
MM: You then did two indie films the same year, one of which was “Hostile Encounter”…where you were a co-producer. What was your role in the film, and what made you decide to try on the producer’s hat?
AM: “Hostile Encounter” was the first feature that I did with Eric England. I did his student film, “Clown Town” before that, and he was trying to get “Madison County” made with a bunch of different people that kept falling through. So finally he was like, “Screw it. I’m going to start my own film.” He was living in Arkansas at the time, and funny enough, I was posting all of these…I guess what you’d say is now known as video blogs…the iPhone had just come out with a video app called Qik…and you could record video using the crappy camera on the phone (laughs). I would just go out and be like, “Hey, here I am on Runyon…it’s a good hike!” and all these little video blogs, and he said he got the idea for the film from that…just seeing this guy doing this stuff. So he wrote the script as a POV film…this was before “Paranormal Activity” came out…and he told me he wrote it with me in mind, and asked if I’d come out to Arkansas to do it. We worked it all out and we filmed it. The producing was all during post production. I was helping to get it into some festivals, get it listed on IMDb, doing all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t really a creative producer on the front side. But that film ended up being the catalyst for getting “Madison County” made, because the DP was Eric’s classmate in film school, Daniel F. Dunn. Daniel saw what Eric did with that film, and he really liked my work as an actor, and presented Eric with the idea of producing “Madison County” if Eric agreed that I’d be in the film. And then I ended up becoming more involved with that film, and it was all through this first film, “Hostile Encounter”.
MM: And is “Hostile Encounter” out there for people to see, or is it one that never got distribution?
AM: It’s edited together, but it’s never finished all of its post. What happened was, we cut the thing together, and they were still working on it when “Madison County” got greenlit. So “Hostile Encounter” kind of got pushed to the side so we could work on “Madison County”. And then the snowball had begun to roll, and had to move quickly into “Roadside” after “Madison”. It’s one of those things you look back on and say, “Well, this was an experimental kind of film…it wasn’t a standard narrative”…but I still think the story is engaging enough. Every time I show it to people, they’re like, “This is actually pretty interesting.” They dig it enough…it just never got finished because we moved on to the next thing. And once we got to a certain point, it was like, “Well…maybe this can be released on one of our films as a special feature. Or maybe we’ll throw it up on Vimeo and have people pay a buck to rent it or buy it.” But it only exists on our hard drives and a private Vimeo link.
MM: So how excited were you that “Madison County” got major distribution on DVD and Netflix?
AM: That was a big accomplishment. We’d been working really hard, and I was excited, because one of the things I brought to the table to “Madison”, specifically, was getting the awareness out there about the film. Before we started to film, Eric wanted to shoot the opening to “Scream” to get back behind the camera…kind of like an actor would rehearse. He just wanted to freshen up a bit before he shot a narrative feature. At the time, he had given me a lot of movies to watch in our budget range and horror films like that. One of the things he pointed out was how Adam Green, who directed “Hatchet”, had shot a promo video to raise funding for the film. We already had our money, but I liked that idea. So I was thinking, “Well, why would we shoot ‘Scream’? Let’s shoot something for the movie.” So I wrote a short script that took place before “Madison County”. My idea was of a kid playing in a pig pen, and you only see him from behind…and a fight breaks out. The door bursts open and it’s his mother and a guy fighting…she had been hit. You basically get this idea of abuse by this male figure. And there’s this kid sitting in a pig pen, observing it all. It would give us this visual presentation of what’s to come for our film. Eric said, “Okay, let’s do this, but let’s incorporate some of our movie.” So we basically did a variation of the opening of “Madison County”, with Katie running from a guy…and we had her crawling through the pigs and stuff. And oddly enough, the clip is the thing that ended up getting us so much attention early on, because we had, at that point, something to advertise the film. All the sites picked it up and were like, “Wow, look at this promo trailer!” Some people even thought it was the official trailer. And then we were able to advertise that we had Nick Principe on board…Bob Hall on special effects…so it kind of quickly gained us a lot of attention in the genre. But, going back to distribution, I was very happy at that point, because all the attention we had, everyone was asking when they’d get to see the movie. We got our premiere at Screamfest…we sold out that night, and was the only film to sell out the festival…and they had us come back in less than 24 hours’ notice to do an encore screening. From there, we got distribution. That was a very happy time for us.
MM: Did you find it particularly difficult, wearing both hats for that production…being one of the ensemble and having to work hard producing when you weren’t in front of the camera?
AM: Well, I had previously read the script, when Eric first wrote it, because he wanted some feedback. Daniel asked me what part I wanted to play in the film, and at the time I hadn’t read the newest draft…I’d only read the script I’d given Eric notes on…but I knew the character I wanted to play, Kyle, made it to the current draft. So I told him that I wanted to play that part, and he was like, “Really? That’s the smallest part in the movie!” And I told him, “Yeah, but it’s the most interesting to me.” I’m not someone who picks a role based on the size of it, and I think my college experience kind of taught me that, because I was a Puerto Rican kid in the Midwest, so they didn’t know color blind casting. I was always the side characters…the small characters. And then I would talk to friends afterwards and they’d say, “Man, you’re the only thing I remember from that play!” I never judged it by the size of the role…I just figured I’d make the most of it. If I’m only in one scene, I’m stealing it! (laughs) And the same thing applied to this. This character was the most interesting to me because I don’t always get to play the tough guy, and that’s something I know I can do…and want to do…and I want to show that. The good thing was, it was the smallest part on paper, so I was on set all the time and I didn’t have to worry about multi-tasking as much. It was definitely challenging, but I think the work we’d done in pre-production helped. I had read the script more times than Eric probably did, giving notes and talking about it a lot. I knew my character inside and out, so I’d done a lot of work without realizing I had, so the producing thing was able to not conflict as much. “Roadside” was a completely different story for that, but “Madison County” came a lot easier. We had done a better job in pre-production, getting it off the ground.
MM: After that, you got to do another TV show, “Law and Order: Los Angeles”. You said at this point you had representation. Tell me about this experience.
AM: So, what happened was, I had gotten cast in the ABC Diversity showcase right before I went off to film “Madison County”. When I got back in town, I did the showcase…and after that, I started getting a bunch of auditions. Basically, if it was an ABC affiliated show at that point, all my agent or manager had to do was say, “Hey, this is Ace…he just did the showcase.” And if that didn’t get me in the door, then we would contact ABC and I’d have an appointment right away. That’s how it changed so much for me…it’s been great. So the day after the showcase, my manager was sitting next to April Webster, who’s a huge casting director…she did the “Star Trek” movies and ”Lost”…and my manager told me, that April loved me in the showcase, and he was going to try to get me an audition for a pilot she was working on. The next day, I got the audition, and it was for “Alcatraz”. I went in, auditioned and she told me she was bringing me in for a callback with the producers. So I came back, felt great about it, but I knew I was too young for it. They had the part listed as early 30s, and I wasn’t even that yet. And it’s different for a man because…I mean, we’ve all had it difficult at one time or another…but I’m at a weird age. I’m 32, but I don’t look 32 on camera sometimes…and I can’t play high school (laughs), so it’s kind of weird. But what came from that was…her office loved me. All of her casting associates. So they would bring me in for a bunch of different stuff…and a lot of it would be for producer callbacks, but I’d never get anything. So one day, out of the blue, I was doing a photo shoot, and I get a call from my agent saying, “Hey, you got a producer’s callback for ‘Law and Order’.” And I’m like, “What? I never auditioned for this show!” And it was one of the casting associates who was now working on that. They knew my work, so they knew they could just bring me in straight to the producers. I went in…it was to play a plumber…and I was dressed up, because I was doing a photo shoot…I was clean cut…my hair was parted…I did not look like a plumber at all. But I went in, did my thing, and ended up booking it. That was right before we filmed “Roadside”, and it actually aired while we were filming “Roadside”. But yeah, that was the first thing, and it kind of came from being in the ABC showcase.
MM: Tell me about “Roadside”. You said it was a little harder to juggle than “Madison County”, as far as being the producer and the lead character this time out?
AM: It ended up being much, much more difficult, because in “Madison”, I had the smallest part of all the leads. And the way it was set up for the shoot, my key scenes were towards the end, so it was kind of a nice breather in between to get all the producing stuff done. But with “Roadside”, when the idea came that I would play the lead in, I said, “I would do it, and produce it as well, but you guys have to bring someone else on board, or pick up the slack more.” Because on “Madison”, I came to Eric and said “I want to do as much as I can to let you focus more on directing than producing.” He and I tagged teamed the hell out of “Madison County”, but running the set and stuff like that, I took a lot of that on myself and tried to keep that moving and delegating things to be done that I couldn’t. On “Roadside”, I told them, “I can’t do that on this film, because if I’m the lead in this thing, and I’m in every scene…a) I’m not willing to compromise my performance and b) Producers are first to show up and last to go home. I needed to know I could put the time in to focus on my role, because that’s what we’re all there for. What’s the point otherwise? So Daniel and Eric agreed they would take on more with it, but our turnaround on that…between finishing “Madison County” and post-production, and then going to film “Roadside” and pre-production, it was a really small window. The money became available this particular time and then we needed to film THIS particular time. So we didn’t have the time to pre-produce as much and plan out everything. But it was still smooth…it just wasn’t as smooth as “Madison County”. The idea was for me to not take on as much, but it wound up being me taking on a lot more than I did on “Madison County”, because it was all hands on deck. Eric was really sick while filming, too, and we all felt bad for him, but it was like, “Well, there’s no rest here! We gotta get this going!” (laughs) We shot that movie all at night, so we were on vampire hours and sleeping during the day, barely, because things needed to get done. When I’m wrapped as an actor, I’m plunging the toilet in the RV that’s clogged with the crap of 40 people on crew in between lunch. This was the kind of stuff we were dealing with. So “Madison County”, when we think back, is a very fond memory for all of us. “Roadside”, for all of us, is instant anxiety because of the experience we had while filming that thing. It was tough.
MM: And that one, you’re still looking for distribution, correct?
AM: Um…there may be an announcement on that soon…
MM: After that, you did a two episode stint on “Body of Proof”. What was your role?
AM: “Body of Proof” was an ABC show. I went in to audition, and it was literally one line. You know… watching a character come in all wrapped up in tape, like a spaz, and actually, I think that was my line (laughs). I look up, holding a clipboard, and just say, “Ah, you spaz” or something like that. And I ended up getting pinged on that, which means in our world that you’re on hold, essentially. You have to go through network approval, and it’s between you and one other guy, or something like that. And that was an audition where we couldn’t get in, so I reached out to ABC and said, “Hey, my manager’s trying to get me in. It’s a doctor role my age…it’s an ABC show…can you do something to get me the audition?” So they got me in and they were like, “Fingers crossed!” And that’s where I think the relationship comes through in many ways. When it comes time for me to test for a show, it’s:“When it comes to Ace, we know Ace well. We want Ace.” So I think it helped that, when I got pinged for “Body of Proof”, after doing my part, the decision making process with the people that make that call are the execs who knew me from the showcase. And then I booked that, and then it ended up being a two-part episode. I got to work with Luke Perry and all those cats from the show. I got to film for like a month. It was great.
MM: After that, you began producing and starring in your wife Erin’s ambitious web series: “Once Upon A…Anonymous”. Tell me how this project got rolling.
AM: I’d done a bunch of roles in live Disney shows like “Aladdin”, so I had ties and a love for Disney. And what started happening when the marketing for “Once Upon A Time” got started, people were calling up and asking Erin if she was in a new TV series, because they thought they saw her on a poster. So we looked it up and I was like, “Wow, you and Jennifer Morrison look alike!” So we started watching the show, and of course, we both like Disney characters and all of that fun stuff, and Erin became a huge fan of the show. So she came up with the idea that she wanted to do a spoof on it…mainly because she looked like the main girl.
So she wrote the pilot, and she asked what I thought of it, and I was like, “Wow…this is way more involved than I was thinking!” And she was like, “Yeah, I want to do this spoof where it’s kind of a spin-off as well, where we use some of their characters, and introduce new ones, and do it in a setting of an AA meeting…but a support group for fairytale characters who are not on the show. And they’re bitching about it and the world of the TV show. So we just ran with it, and it ended up doing well and generating a lot of attention. The fans of “Once Upon A Time” love anything “Once Upon A Time” themed, so the fact that there’s a show like this that plays off the actual episodes and include inside jokes…it’s like a fan creating something for other fans, essentially. It’s just done really well and kind of ballooned into its own thing. And now we’re putting together a Rock Opera for it.
MM: You also starred in the dramatic feature “Piloto”. Tell me about that project.
AM: That was one of those films that I found on my own, on LA Casting. I saw a breakdown for the character, and what caught my eye was the fact that it was filming in Columbia. So I submitted, and I almost didn’t go. Sometimes you get a feeling about a project before you go in, like with student films, where things happen and you figure it might be a waste of time because the person running things don’t seem to know how things are supposed to run. I actually had that experience with Eric, when I got the script for his student thesis, because there were all these typos and errors. I was like, “Oh man, if this guy can’t do spellcheck, what the hell is he going to be like on set?” I almost didn’t show up. And then, look where we’re at now…what’s become of me doing his one thesis film back in the day, you know? And with “Piloto”, they wanted me to come in and audition…and for that, you usually get sides to learn before going in…but they said they weren’t releasing sides…they would be at the audition. And I was like, “Oh God.” Because unless it’s “The Avengers”, that’s sort of Amateur Hour. Either they don’t have a script, and they want you to improv and kind of take ideas from your improv…or they’re so precious with it, they don’t get it. If you want someone to do their best, give them time to prepare for it. It doesn’t benefit either one of us. So I almost didn’t go, but something I had going that day got cancelled, and I decided to go. It was on a Sunday, and that was another thing…who the hell auditions on a Sunday? So I go in, I get the sides, and I’m like “Oh…this is actually pretty good…”, and I’m getting excited. But it was also a cattle call…there were 100 guys there, and I was the youngest guy…and I thought, “You know what, Ace? Throw it all out…don’t worry about it…just use this as a lesson, or an exercise. Stay focused, because you might be here for two hours waiting to go in for this. Learn your sides and be ready to roll.” So I went in, did it, and they called me back. I read the script and I was like “Holy sh*t. I have to do this film.” That’s when I really wanted it. I really liked the story…they had done a good job…the writing was solid. They ended up hiring me and talked to me about what was expected for the shoot. It ended up being one of my favorite experiences ever.
And it came at a perfect time: we were in post-production on “Roadside” and I was kind of burnt out because I was burning the candle at both ends, producing and acting. It was some of the best years of my career because I was producing these films and having great things happen with them…and as an actor, it was the busiest I’d ever been. And again, it was all of these great, amazing things happening because of the ABC showcase. So I was burnt out and thinking, “To be just an actor on a film, out of the country, with a good script and a good group of filmmakers, being paid and treated like a king essentially…it was just what I needed.” So it was an amazing experience just working with the crew and everybody out there, because of what it taught me. It kind of recharged me…I had a fantastic time, taking pilot lessons and doing research that I never got to do on other stuff because I was busy producing as well. But the one thing I learned was…I missed producing. You know, you wrap your day on set, then you go home and watch dailies and prep for the next day, and I didn’t have that on “Piloto”. There, I would wrap, and someone would drive me home for the night and I’d be done. I wanted to continue working and being creative on this project, but that’s not what I was there to do. So I missed that other side of it as well. I realized that I didn’t want to just act, but I did need to be smarter about how I do both at the same time…to be more efficient, for me. I don’t want to compromise one or the other with quality. So that was my big takeaway from this film.
MM: Most recently, you guest-starred on an episode of the new hit CBS show, “Scorpion”. How was your experience?
AM: I got an audition the same day they were holding them, and I had to learn the sides for three different characters. So I viewed that as a challenge…and it also takes a bit of pressure off of you, because they know you’ve only had a couple of hours to look over the material. So I went in, did it…it was a Friday audition, and I’ve had a lot of luck with Friday auditions and then Monday getting the call that I was either put on hold or that I booked it. So it looked like it was going to happen again when I got the call to put me on avail…they just needed to clear the dates. So I’m waiting…a day passes…two days pass…and when that happens, you get worried. Then I happened to do a Twitter search, being curious, and typed in “Scorpion, booked” for key words, and I saw this guy, who I ended up becoming friends with on set, tweet that he got one of the roles, and I was like, “Damn, what’s going on here?” Then I’m online that night, after talking to my manager who got an email from the show saying there should be more concrete details by that evening around 7 or 8, because the characters are changing. So I go online, trying to not think about it, and the girl who played my wife in the episode…I’m friends with on Facebook…posted that she had booked “Scorpion”, and it was 8pm. I’m thinking I’m done… they’re not booking me! The next morning I got a call from my agent and she said she was trying to close the deal, and that the good thing that changed was that it was now a week and a half of filming, instead of one day. So the turmoil was worth it (laughs). I ended up sprinkled throughout the whole episode and got to do more than I initially thought I would.
MM: What do you have currently in the works that we can look forward to?
AM: We’re working on the rock opera for “Once Upon A…Anonymous”. We have some great music that we’ve composed. Erin did all the music for it, and there are some awesome lyrics for these songs. I’m in a play right now that’s running for a couple more weekends, and that’s been fun, because I haven’t done theater in awhile. Other than that, I’ve just been auditioning a lot.
MM: Having worked both in front of and behind the camera, do you have any interest in directing at all?
AM: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I directed some theater in college, and I think my producing interests and my strengths fall into directing in some ways. I like the creative process and the development of story found in directing. And I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by every element of production. I can’t tell you how many times I’m on set and the sound guy or DP would say, “You’re really curious about this kind of stuff!” Every time I would be wrapped on set, I still hung around watching the director and seeing how the crew communicated with each other. I think it’s all about communication on set and learning different languages between the crew to help get the right interpretation across from one person to another. So yeah, I’m absolutely interested in that and will definitely direct one day.
MM: Are there any kinds of projects you’d like to star in or produce that you have yet to be a part of?
AM: It’s funny, being on the projects I’ve done recently, my family and my grandmother are like, “When are you going to do something nice, where you’re not in danger or you don’t die?” (laughs) I would love to do a comedy…I love comedy. Comedy is one of my favorite things…but the toughest thing. So I love the challenge of that. I’ve been really drawn to a lot of funny stuff lately, between “Once Upon A…Anonymous” and the skits I do with the Nice Piece Productions guys. I’d love to do a romantic comedy…I’m getting to the point where I can play those kinds of romantic leads. Action is probably the number one thing I grew up wanting to do. I grew up watching Arnold, and Sly, and Wesley Snipes. If I can be in a “Fast and Furious” film or something like “The Expendables”, that would be a dream for me. And I think that’s what I loved about “Roadside”, because it had a little element of dramatic action in it. “Piloto” does for sure. I guess it’s just the physicality of it, because I’m a former athlete. The way I work as an actor is very much from a physical point of view. Some people are mental, but I have to feel a certain way to inform my mental. If I had to go with someone’s filmography, it would have to be Tom Cruise’s career…I mean, he spans every genre. Comedic, action, dramatic…I love the choices that he makes with his films. If someone were to say “Hey, you have a career like Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves”, I’d be good. I love the types of movies those guys do. But yeah, there’s still a lot out there for me to do. And dark stuff…I really want to play a bad guy in a thriller. I think villains are some of the most fun characters, and the performances that I’ve really enjoyed, because they’re so much more interesting than the heroes. Good guys can sometimes be boring to me. I like characters who are flawed.
If you want to follow Ace and his career, follow him on Twitter at @NotoriACE.
Movie – Rocky
TV Show – The Walking Dead
Food – Cheese
Game – Super Mario Bros.
Book – True crime books
Director – Steven Spielberg
Musician – Michael Jackson