My first face-to-face encounter with Michael Gentile found me both stunned and surprised. Indeed, he truly is the six-foot tall sensation that many revere as remarkable. It was also unmistakably clear that he was empty of an ego. One might expect a man of his caliber to be completely aloof or arrogant, as he has been entertaining audiences for over twenty-five years. Sure, his dialect and demeanor reveal a man who is majorly introverted and minorly shy and sarcastic. However, just as with a whole majority of other actors, he shows one face to society and another in front of those he fancies or befriends. Frankly, this interviewer found herself a bit exhilarated, yet extremely hesitant, about interviewing this man. He arrived looking stylish for the season, full of sweetness in his tone, and truly being charming and clearly attentive. It felt as if a younger version of Clark Gable had arrived to be interviewed by meager little ME. Truly an honor, yet a touch terrifying.
So, we started off with his family origins and fondness for the arts as an adolescent. Born in Long Island, Michael quickly made mention that he considered himself a “coma kid”. He was not necessarily a star student with the best behavior, but he did hold a high level of personal logic and listening skills. He expressed avid appreciation for the several years he played school sports, as this taught him a deeper sense of discipline and dedication. He even managed to make it to the level of MVP in football! I learned that Michael played various horns as a hobby, however, the trumpet ended up holding his heart. It was also adolescence where he started to enhance and even embellish his facial expressions. This physical technique would eventually become one of his signature acting styles.
Following in the educational footprints of his father, Michael did also attend Fordham University – though not directly for the study of theater. Shortly after graduation, the small theater stage began to beckon this actor’s attention. He would eventually end up performing in a total of sixteen theater productions. Since he personally possesses a true appreciation for classical authors, it is not surprising that he acted in three Shakespeare plays: Hamlet, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. His work and wonderful reviews fueled his artistic fires, clearing a path towards motion pictures.
It would actually be 1993 before Mr. Gentile got to act in his first film role. The Force Within was the name of the film, and he gave me the impression this was a creative challenge, yet overall a positive life lesson. This lady wishes his story found him with steady weekly acting jobs, but alas, almost all actors have side shuffles. Michael has had many, and of those mentioned, being a private investigator stood out in his stories. At one point, he even opted to take off a number of years to re-assess and reorganize himself and his life. After seven years, he came back bigger, bolder, and better.
His on-screen performances are slowly progressing to a total of almost forty, and there is no sign of him stopping. Michael went from being a novice in non-verbal cues to mastering so called “movie mime”. Every role allowed him to pick new personalities to play. A mathematician, Medicare fraudster and maniacal gangster. Army Sergeant, annoying father, and absentee lover. When I inquired as to which role shows audiences the majority of the real Michael, he stated his role as Gil in the short film “Charles Haux”. For reader reference, Gil is a character chuck full of sarcasm and sassiness, yet perplexing and philosophical. Seems as if playing a plethora of identities is easy times for this thespian, as he played nine characters in “The Triacca Code”.
Well, fellow actors may be reading this article and asking, how does he pull off all of this with such proficiency? I did direct our chat to cover what he calls his basics for being a prepared professional actor. He invests an insane amount of time into understanding and absorbing the written material. He believes we all have an identity, so it needs to be searched out within the written words. Once you can mentally see your character, spend time with them. In his situation, he holds a liking to playing easy natured souls, but honestly does not mind stepping into a terrible man’s shoes. Additionally, if you can help it, work with what he calls a “high caliber staff”. This will lend itself to a movie made with highly professional performances and praise. Finally, although Michael did not directly mention it, he did infer that the ability to effectively do foreign accents is a positive for finding employment. He himself can pull off dozens of dialects, including my personal favorite – Italian. One would assume his parents bestowed him this present, as his dad spoke said language and Mom speaks Spanish.
As to remaining reflections on the rigors of acting, Gentile asserts that he truly does not mind doing auditions. The process and preparation are like old friends, so it is familiar and far from scary to him. He also prefers to be positioned as last in line, whether that means with a casting agent or on the cinematic screen. Michael steers clear of seeking the center spotlight to hold for himself. He longs to be his real and raw self so as to hopefully secure repeat business. Lastly, he consistently remains realistic about his goals within this grand industry. He views his own work with an honest and open microscope so as to avoid deep disappointments. Spoken like a true star.
I sincerely became saddened that our short time together was coming to a close. However, I had to ask: where can we find you in the near future? Gentile has two feature films available via Video on Demand – “Pickings” and “Cigarette Soup”. He played a supporting role in a fun web series entitled “Flyering”. He grabbed the lead role in the dark drama “The Damaged”, which earned him a Best Actor Award. He won the same said award in 2018 for his work in the short film, “Charles Haux”. As for pre-production, watch for “Monster Mash”, “A Hundred Looks of Love” and “The House Arrest Rooneys”. If plays are your potion, he can be seen monthly in NYC doing Plays and Pizza at Lucky Jack’s Bar and Lounge. Lastly, 2018 found him launching his own clothing Line (MG Frocks), and in 2019, co-founding a new NYC indie film festival entitled Bedford Falls Film Festival.
In conclusion, Michael Gentile has the makings of an indie icon. Honesty and humility; class and character. He brings to each performance an invaluable mix of improv and imagination. Michael makes us hate him one second, then wish we could stop weeping. He is hero and antagonist; saint and sinner. He is the NEW HOLLYWOOD – and I for one cannot wait to see him on the red carpet when he is handed his star!
For further information on his films or frocks, please visit: www.michaelgentile.net or www.mgfrocks.com.