Sean Nateghi is a busy guy. Not content with having his own production company and delighting critics at film festivals with his latest work ‘Me You and Five Bucks’ which he also stars in, he also volunteers, exercises regularly – he knows 11 styles of martial arts so be careful not to come across him in a dark alley – and dreams of winning an Oscar. As his new film prepares to be released on multiple platforms including iTunes next month, he kindly agreed to this EXCLUSIVE chat with our staff writer Rebecca.
PW: Tell me a little about yourself please, Sean.
S: I like long walks on the beach, my favorite dessert is crème brûlée, I'd rather play hockey than watch it and I'm a sucker for Siberian Huskies. You could describe me as Johnny Bravo with a college degree, except I don't actually have a college degree. I was the kid who was kept after school for detention but became best friends with the teacher while we had some alone time.
PW: What was it that made you want a career in the film industry? I’m aware it’s not something you planned on to begin with?
S: You know, it's weird because I think sometimes something is right under your nose and you never realize it. While studying pre-med in college, I took a trip to New York and saw the musical 'Urinetown' which blew me away. I always thought to see that show was the real reason I became an actor, because that was the moment I consciously decided to pursue acting.
But when I look back, I realize there were early signs I wanted to be an actor. In elementary school, I would always jump and be first to raise my hand to be part of any play, and always wanted the biggest part and would get it. I loved every opportunity to speak out or perform, even if it was just reading from a book out loud in front of the class.
The weirdest sign of all was recently finding a tiny notepad that I wrote in when I was probably 14 years old. It had the address and phone number to the SAG office in both New York and LA, and I wrote a list of long-term and short-term goals on how to become an actor and succeed, but don't really remember ever writing it and guess I just tucked it away and never thought about it after.
PW: Can you recall the first film you watched that made you think ‘Yeah, I want to be a part of that’?
S: That has to be 'Braveheart'. Everything about that movie was awesome and I'm not afraid to say I cried like a little girl at the end.
PW: Who were your film influences growing up and have they changed over the years?
S: Besides the obvious ones like Brando and De Niro, I definitely was a huge fan of Mel Gibson growing up because of his masculinity and vulnerability as a leading man. Then there are actors that I always love watching like Stanley Tucci and John Turturro. I'm also a big fan of Johnny Depp because he gave me excellent acting advice when I first started out, except that it all occurred in a weird dream where I ran into him in an old rustic dimly lit bar where he was sitting alone in a booth. I walked up to him saying I’m a big fan and asked if he could share some acting advice, and he kindly told me to take a seat. Now I don't know how he is in real life, but the Johnny Depp I met in my dream is a stand-up guy! I'm also a fan of Shia LaBeouf and Daniel Day-Lewis for sure.
PW: Whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
S: That's hard to say because I think working in any capacity is such a gift and blessing in this industry. I don't necessarily want to emulate the types of roles or style of anyone else, only because I respect what's already been done before me, and want to find my own path. With that said, I'd love to have a career like Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise because they've worked for so long on so many wonderful and memorable projects.
PW: You have your own production company, ZOOR Films – is there a story behind the name?
S: Yes, but if I told you I'd have to kill you.
PW: Tell me about your film ‘Me You and Five Bucks’. What’s the story behind it?
S: Charlie, a New York waiter fresh from a brutal breakup, writes a self-help book "The 7 Steps of Healing the Male Broken Heart" to get his life back on track. It doesn't work. Instead, he finds himself hanging out with his womanizing friends, low on cash and looking for a room-mate. Needing a break, he places an ad and surprisingly, the first person to answer is his ex - the love of his life, Pam; the reason behind his book!
PW: The film has received huge recognition from an array of festivals including the L.A. Arthouse film festival, among others, but how important is that recognition to you?
S: It means a lot and I'm very grateful. A lot of people, including Jaime Zevallos put their love, time and passion into this project, and it's really humbling and exciting to be getting so much positive feedback and winning awards.
PW: It’s also set to play at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood from September 25th to October 1st. Are you nervous for people to see it or, looking back at how well it’s been received on the festival circuit, are you excited to be getting it out there to more people?
S: Nervous but excited! We had no idea we'd get into so many festivals and win awards, so I think we're still riding the roller coaster and just excited to get it out there to more people and see what happens next.
PW: It’s then due to be released via iTunes, Amazon, OnDemand, Playstation and Xbox on October 13 – you’ve got a busy few months coming up – so what are you hoping people take away from your film when they see it?
S: I just hope people enjoy the project. Most of the characters in this film are in the process of finding themselves, and though there is comedy, I think the film is very relatable to things we've all probably dealt with before or dealing with right now.
PW: How do you unwind and relax when you’re not working on a project?
S: I eat! I really love to eat everything. So I'm either cooking something or around LA trying something new. I'm also kind of a nerd, so I like to read a lot.
PW: You know 11 different kinds of martial arts including Kung-Fu and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu – is keeping in shape important to you or is it something you just enjoy and do for your own well-being?
S: Both, I was bullied a lot as a kid so I got into martial arts out of necessity, and it was very important for me to get into shape. My workouts were, and still are, built for explosive functional movement I can use in real life. I also found that martial arts and exercise was a huge stress relief, so being in shape equals mental and physical well-being for me.
PW: You also volunteer at your local church – how important is it that you’re able to give your time to others in that way?
S: I volunteer when I can because I think it's important to live life for greater things than just myself. If I'm not volunteering at church, I'll offer to buy a meal for someone hungry when I'm out and about. I don't think it has to be big things, just paying a little attention to the people we tend to ignore, can mean a lot.
PW: Do you have any other projects lined up you can tell me about?
S: I have a screenplay I'm working on, but can't say too much at the moment.
PW: Finally then, what’s your ultimate ambition – to win an Oscar maybe?
S: An Oscar would be a huge honor. But ultimately I try not to think too much about that stuff and just want to be my best, and continue doing what I love.