When I look at the screen, I don’t want to see life through my eyes, I want to see it through the eyes of another. That is what makes good stories and great cinema. Stories that come from a teller of a different cultural background than the viewer can open the viewer’s eyes to a whole new world of ideas and feelings. We all can be a bit short-sighted about what is what in this age of social media pandering. If I feel one way about a cultural, or political viewpoint, my experience can then be streamlined to only show me ideas that I agree with. It is so hard to avoid. It is on your phone 24/7, the news we decide to watch, everywhere. I feel like cinema is the last bastion of hope as far as bridging the widening gap of human understanding when it comes to each other. So, yeah, diversity is important.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Adam Berardi.
Adam was born in Exeter, a small town in rural New Hampshire. In his high school years, Adam moved to Orlando, Florida and began performing in school plays. These opportunities would help to jump-start his early career and, at 16 years, he began modeling for several local publications. Most known for playing the “heavy”, he has honed his skills at portraying some tremendously despicable antagonists in his films.
He currently stars in the new film The Last Five Days, which Wild Eye Releasing recently released on DVD and Digital.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I had a pretty colorful upbringing. My mother passed when I was very young and I never met my father. My siblings helped raise me the best they could until a really nice family took me in at 8 years old. I was raised in New Hampshire until fifth grade and we moved to Florida from there. The people there were so diverse and different from anything I had seen before. I mean, there were people all around me from different ethnic backgrounds, different religions, different cultures. Being in that environment really opened my eyes to what makes everyone so similar and yet so different. I really loved (and still do) learning about different cultures and the people within them.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started relatively late in life. My first real acting gig was on a show for local cable when I was 14. When I went to high school, I instantly gravitated toward drama classes and chorus. Through the help of my teachers, I started getting offers to perform on stage for events and at the Orlando theme parks with some really well-known performers. It has really been a blessing for me. I am so thankful for all of those people who saw something in me and helped me get to where I am today.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Okay, but for obvious reasons, I will have to leave out a lot of names.
A couple of years ago, I was required to go to AFM to promote a film that I had worked on. Those things can wear a person down a little. There are a lot of meetings, and you get shuttled around to various places for meetings and meet and greets. I have never been an actor of great importance on these things, but I always go when I am asked to. It is part of the job.
After 2 long days, one of my fellow actors asked me if I would like to accompany him and some others to The Hemp Museum. I thought it was a bit late to go to a museum, but I agreed for the sake of comradery. Long story short, it was not a museum, and I got really, really high for the first time in my life! A few hours later, I got a call from my PR person and the Producer of said project to meet them over at a very famous actor’s studio about 30 minutes away.
I was so ripped that I couldn’t even speak. I was terrified. At the end of what seemed like a long time there, we all said our goodbyes. The famous actor (and his wife) met me at the door to say farewell. While doing so, he complimented me on my hoodie. I proceeded to take it off (no shirt underneath) and give it to him. He kindly said thank you (but no thank you), and went to shake my hand. Instead, I went in for a double hug with both of them and hugged them both in a loving embrace for an awkwardly long amount of time.
When I got back outside (the last person out of the studio in the group) , Everyone was laughing at me! The Producer, PR, and half the cast. Even talking about it now is a little embarrassing.
Man, I never thought I would ever live that down. I guess the moral of the story is, don’t do drugs kids!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A long time ago, I shared some screen time with a well-known hip-hop artist at the time. Before he got on set, there was an instruction that no person should make eye contact or attempt to speak with him. When It was time for me to act with him, I kept looking around. I looked toward the sky, my shoes, walls. Just pretty much anything not to make eye contact with him on camera.
Finally, someone asked me what the hell I was doing and I said “ I’m really trying not to make eye contact with him”. The hip-hop artist started laughing and everyone got a really good laugh at me. I was so confused. Finally, I hear the director from the video village yell, “Not you! Everyone else right now, but not you!”
I quickly learned that understanding is more than just listening. But, I am glad that everyone got a laugh out of it.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished a feature film with Overnight Pictures named Sour. It is my first time stepping behind the camera and working as a producer. It feels like a whole new ball game for me and I am so thankful that I got the chance to do it. It is so gritty and just plain terrifying, the whole story I mean. The concepts will also really hit home to so many people. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is a tricky word, really. Some people believe it is just about adding people with different skin tones to a production. It is not. The world is made up of more than 7 billion humans. Each of these people has their own outlook, their own story. There are so many different cultures and subcultures that should be represented in film and television. I think people like Mindy Kaling and Jordan Peele have gone a long way without (seemingly) sacrificing their vision.
When I look at the screen, I don’t want to see life through my eyes, I want to see it through the eyes of another. That is what makes good stories and great cinema. Stories that come from a teller of a different cultural background than the viewer can open the viewer’s eyes to a whole new world of ideas and feelings. We all can be a bit short-sighted about what is what in this age of social media pandering. If I feel one way about a cultural, or political viewpoint, my experience can then be streamlined to only show me ideas that I agree with. It is so hard to avoid. It is on your phone 24/7, the news we decide to watch, everywhere. I feel like cinema is the last bastion of hope as far as bridging the widening gap of human understanding when it comes to each other.
So, yeah, diversity is important.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be on time.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a little early to work, or an appointment. I have been upgraded quite a bit in my career from being the guy that just showed before anyone else.
2. Always try harder than the next guy (or girl).
When I get a script, I read it about five times before I workshop my character. It really helps to understand the entire vision before you begin. Most people won’t go through the trouble of reading through it more than once. But, trust me, if you know what every actor lines are as well as your own, it will make for a compelling character and people will notice your work ethic.
3. Leave yes in your heart.
Try to look at the benefits of a positive outlook. Try to forget the reasons why you can’t and focus on why you can. Opening your heart to external forces generally brings me to the right place at the right time. It sounds cheesy, but it is true.
4. Try to always surround yourself with people who you feel are better than you.
Try it and see. There is so much in this world to learn and let’s face it, no one knows everything.
5. Remember people’s names. Everyone. Everytime.
It goes a long way. Next time you are on set with a really big actor, watch how many people he or she calls by name. It’s a lot. From the grips and assistants all the way up to the director. The really good ones will even remember a little something about that person. Maybe what that person likes to drink, their favorite color, or their kid’s name. It doesn’t hurt to make people feel special, because they are. And often, those people are trying to make you look as good as possible in some facet of the production.
Who knows, maybe that person will be the reason you get booked for your next starring role too. You just never know. Besides, everyone deserves respect.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t take rejection personally. It isn’t about you. There are a whole bunch of people trying to make a work of art. Just keep swimming. It is about your art, not you. Never give up on yourself, or your art. The fact that you are trying, makes you a badass in my book, anyway.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I don’t really know. If I were to create some type of movement, I would ask everyone to Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Because nothing brings people together like food and conversion. Food is different in every culture. It is a good way to learn about the people who you live closest to. Take pictures and share those on your social feed instead of divisive words and ideologies. Hell, just share them with me on my feed. I would love to see that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wife, Heidi has been the greatest source of support and inspiration in my life. I have wanted to give up many times. We all feel that way from time to time. Heidi has never let me forget what I can do and how much she supports me in my creative endeavors. In the past 20 years, she has never allowed me to quit doing what I love. She has stood with me when we have been successful and when we didn’t have work for a very long time. She loves me and supports me, no matter what I want to do. I hope that everyone can have a person like that in their life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A man’s word is his honor.” I believe it is an Okinawan Proverb. I take it to heart. For me it is simple. If you ask me to do something, and I say I will do it, then it will be done. Moreover, I try not to lie, unless I am avoiding the truth to spare someone’s feelings or general well-being.
Also, I read on a magnet somewhere , “Don’t be a dick”. That resonates pretty hard with me too.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Tom Hardy. I find him tremendously interesting. I admire the depth in which he goes to embody a character. I also admire any actor that can react as well as he can on screen. The last person that I watched do that so naturally was Steve McQueen. I really admire a performer that can really say something on screen without speaking a word.
Also, Greg Berlanti. One of my best friends, Bourke Floyd, worked with him on Dawson’s Creek. Bourke always has amazing things to say about him. He is also responsible for bringing so many of my comic book heroes to life on the CW.
How can our readers follow you online?
I am a really personable guy. Anyone can look me up on Facebook, or on Instagram. Sorry, I don’t know how to do the Tic Tocs yet.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you so much for all of your time. It has been a pleasure and an honor.