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SAN DIEGO -- David Moretti is excited about his breakout role in "Finding Mr. Wright," which will be shown at 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 20, at FilmOut San Diego's 13th annual LGBT Film Festival.
He plays Pearce Wright in the romantic comedy.
Moretti is best-known for playing Thom, a reporter who uncovers a vampire cult in "The Lair" on here! He also starred off-Broadway in "My Big Gay Italian Wedding," playing the lead role of Andrew. He discusses his new film and career plans with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
Q: What attracted you to the role of Pearce Wright, the good-natured and awkward life coach who falls in love with Clark Townsend?
A: Well I thought I was actually being asked to be in that Queen latifah movie - "Just Wright" - so I thought it would be fun to play her boyfriend on screen. When I tried to write in my contract that Queen Latifah wasn't to be allowed to wear heels in my scenes, I was told the film was something totally different. I stayed on board anyway. I liked that in "Finding Mr Wright," Pearce was a complex, well-rounded role - in a quality script - two attributes that are unfortunately WAY harder to come by than they should be in gay cinema. I had been looking for a film lead for a while now and this one FINALLY just felt right ... from the moment I read it. Pearce is kind of a hopeless bumbling romantic so I thought I could bring a lot of - um - personal experience to the role. And I was also excited to embark on a role that didn't require any vampire bites or sex scenes.
Q: Were you hand-picked for the role, or have to go through casting calls?
A: I was actually offered the role of Gage, the porn star friend of Cooper, but after reading the script, I told them I had to play Pearce. I just knew it in my heart. I know how dorky that sounds - but it's true. They initially said I wasn't right for it because of my physical appearance, but I made them let me audition (with evvvvvvvveryone else) to prove my worth and I won them over. I wore baggy, bland clothes, dorky glasses, messy hair, and amplified my "inner dork" tenfold. They saw the passion I had for the role and agreed that I could pull it off. I actually knew I convinced them the second I said my last word of dialogue. It was one of those cool "actor moments" when you just know you really effin nailed it. I'd actually never felt that way after an audition before - not even after I went in for "The Lair" - which is my biggest commercial success thus far.
The only thing we had to change in "Mr. Wright" was one scene where Pearce was originally supposed to be talking about his insecurities for having small muscles. And I was literally at my biggest ever when I auditioned for the role, because I had a lot of time off and was constantly at the gym, so that didn't really work for a role, thus the reason I wore the baggy clothes at the audition.
Q: How much leeway did you have to create the quirky nature of your character, or was it scripted that way?
A: It was scripted very quirky, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, I definitely have my quirks. Other than that, Nancy and the writer Jake really let me do what ever I wanted with the role. I had a ton of creative liberty.
Q: How was the on-set experience working with Matthew Montgomery, Rebekah Kochan and Nancy Criss?
A: Everyone was super fun to work with - a necessity for actors who are literally sleeping on the set, which was a cabin in Big Bear. Matthew was wearing many hats in this production so he didn't get to let loose as much as others, but Rebekah and I had one (or 5) ummm "chemistry building" evenings spending quality time with our friend Jack ... Daniels. It actually worked quite well as we got to know each other REAL quick. Love her. Matt and Nancy were diligently mapping out schedules, locations, lighting, continuity ... all that stuff that makes smoke come out of actors' ears. Thus the reason we drank bourbon while giving each other facial masks LOL.
Q: Gay audiences loved you on the vampire series “The Lair.” How important was that to your acting career?
A: Aww thanks! I mean, that show put me on the map, and it the reason most anyone knows who I am. It taught me how to function on a set and how to nail a scene in one take. It was like actor bootcamp. Very much like soaps are for some actors starting out, "The Lair" was that for me. You have to memorize TONS of dialogue since budgets are small and they can't afford many special effects (so time is filled with talking ... and talking ... and MORE TALKING) and you have to nail your lines on one take since time is at a premium. As I'm sure you can see, the end result is not always "Casablanca," but at the end of the day we put together a fun campy series that received international success. It was amazing for me. I'm very blessed to have the career I have, and that was the start.
Q: What are the challenges of being an openly gay actor, and do you feel like being out has helped or hindered your career in Hollywood?
A: I would be lying if I said it didn't hinder my forward progress at all, but I don't regret it. Hollywood is still homophobic as it attempts to manufacture product for a wider middle America TV audience or create huge film box office dollars. But in the end persistence pays off. I now have a great manager who supports my decisions thus far, is not trying to erase my resume and make me start over (I'm not kidding, this happened more than once) and I am now getting seen for mainstream projects of quite a high caliber. I'm breaking down doors slowly and more and more people behind the scenes are slowly opening their doors for me. I'm still working on finding that one crossover project that really puts me on the map outside of a niche market, but in the meantime I'm having fun auditioning. And I'm excited to see what the future holds for me, even though so many people told me I shot myself in the foot by coming out and should have just stayed in the closet. I'm excited to know that when I get there and hit that one big project, I won't have sold my soul to the devil have gotten it.
Q: Why is it important to support independent movies?
A: It's where so many actors get their start. Indies tell non-mainstream stories that often get overlooked for big budget sex/explosion/gore fests. I'm not saying I would turn down a $200 million Michael Bay film, with animated large chested robots blowing each other up - but in the meantime, it's pretty rewarding shooting quality stories on a small scale with supremely passionate people.
Q: What’s next for David Moretti?
A: Does one ever know? Right now I'm reading a few indy scripts and auditioning for some mainstream TV/film projects. I love the process. It's kinda exciting never knowing whether you're gonna wind up on set in LA, or be flown to a different country for some location shooting, or just spend a chill week in LA with your dog and the television.
I'm also getting involved with the fitness industry a tad, as fitness has really changed my life. A Texas-based company called Camp Gladiator asked me if I would be interested in bringing their outdoor workout program to Los Angeles, so Im talking with them right now about it. I think it would be amazing to help people change their lives through fitness. I've seen so many friends and family members - and myself - gain so much confidence and self-esteem through fitness, so I'm looking forward to getting involved with a something where I can directly affect people on a more personal level. You can check it out at campgladiator.com.
When I was starring in "My Big Gay Italian Wedding" off-Broadway over the winter, I got to shake every person's hand in the audience every single night. Getting to really interact with the fans and see how I affected them - literally seconds after I performed - was so gratifying. I never really get to see how people really feel or react when they watch my projects - aside from fan mail - but that experience can feel rather "detached" at the end of the day. Fitness can mimmick that "high" I got from being on stage and really affecting someone. And since that high for me will result in a life changing experience for those involved - it's an amazing win win for all. I can't wait.
"Finding Mr. Wright" on screen in San Diego's film festival will be the first time I've ever watched a project of my own with an audience. I'm super excited!
Q: You are involved in numerous charities and support many LGBT causes. What are they and why are they important to you?
A: LGBT people still have a WAYS to go for equality and we're not gonna get there without support from our own community. I'm luckily enough to have a voice in my community, so I'm honored to be able to use it for good causes.