Dave Vescio: "I Actually Fell Into Acting By Accident"
Interview by Carl Marsh
Do you ever get bored of working, as it seems you have more films coming out than anyone I can think of?
Oh hell no, I “LOVE” working! If I couldn’t be a professional indie film actor, I’d rather be dead, and that’s for real. This is what I was put on Earth to do, and I will do it until I can’t do it anymore (meaning, when I finally leave my body for good). As for having more films coming out than anyone… Ha, ha, I wish that was true, but, it’s not. I’m very, “VERY” picky about which acting projects I do. If I don’t love the character, and if it’s not controversial or provocative in any way, then I just won’t do it. I have a very specific end goal for myself and for my art, and I won’t let anyone or anything get in my way of achieving it. But, thanks for the hard work compliment though, I totally do appreciate it, because I would like to think that I work harder than everyone else. But, I know that’s probably not true.
Of the current and future films, which are you most excited about, is it Going to America, and why?
Yeah, Going To America was definitely a fun one to perform in, and it actually comes out to AMC Theatres on August 28th. I think we’re going to premiere in seventeen cities the first week and then go from there. And we have a great cast in this one: it stars Eddie Griffin, Josh Meyers, Najarra Townsend, Mindy Robinson, and Penny Marshall. It’s a hilarious story about two mental patients who escape from an asylum and go on a search of saving a princess. So, Eddie Griffin’s character thinks he’s a freaking prince, and he chooses my prostitute to be his princess. What an idiot! So, let’s just say that I’m not so happy about that at all. Ha, ha. I’m also getting ready to go back on set later on this month to play one of the main villains in a movie called Wolf Mother starring Golden Globe nominee Tom Sizemore & Najarra Townsend. It’s a story about a famous child actress that gets kidnapped and eventually sold into a sex trafficking ring. Ugh, I hate these kinds of real life criminals. Disgusting! If you haven’t noticed yet, I tend to pick indie film roles that deal with real life issues that Hollywood tends to shy away from.
You have been in a lot of TV shows and movies, so have any of the characters you have portrayed being anywhere near to the real you?
Ha, ha, yes and no. Just in case your fans don’t know, I’m a real life ex-con who got sentenced to ten years at Fort Leavenworth Maximum Prison for being a middle man in a LSD drug cartel. And before that, I was a combat infantry soldier. So, I do bring a lot of my own truths into my characters, but, for the roles that I don’t know about (meaning, the crimes I never committed in my personal life), I’ve done a lot of research on these types of crimes. And honestly, I lived with all of these types of criminals at Fort Leavenworth. You name it we had it in our prison: serial killers, rapists, child molesters, arsonists, robbers, computer hackers, to etc. So, a lot of my characters are a blend of the inmates that I have met in real life mixed in with what I did myself and mixed in with the real life villains I did research on after I became an actor.
I sense that you have a love for reading books, do any stand out for you?
That’s funny that you sense that, because I never talk about reading books on any of my social media pages, but, it’s definitely true. I “love” reading books. I’m constantly reading or re-reading business or self-help books every single day. I’m a firm believer that you can learn anything, and I mean “ANYTHING”, from reading a book. I just tend to choose the books written by the masters themselves. I learned a long, long time ago that if you want to be genius like, all you got to do is read books written by geniuses. Only geniuses know how to be a genius. So, why not read books written by the masters themselves.
As for my favourite books: Mastery by Robert Greene, The 50TH Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene, The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, Art & Fear by David Bayles, True And False by David Mamet, and so, so many more. And the great thing about the first four books that I listed is that they apply to everyone alive. Those four books will teach you how to master yourself, and if you can master yourself, well, then you can master your outer world as well. And who wouldn’t like to have more control in their life!
Why is it important that everyone should read more then?
That’s a hard thing to answer, because I know that the average American only reads one book a year, and it tends to be a fiction book; so, so, sad, meaning, only reading one book a year. I just wished that humans would inherently know that “KNOWLEDGE” is the “ONLY” thing keeping them from making their dreams come true. That’s it, nothing else but that. So, if they actually read books on whatever it is that they wanted to achieve in life, and then apply that new found knowledge into their daily habits, then they would start to make their dreams come true. Like I said before, “ANYTHING” can be learnt from reading a book. And I mean “ANYTHING!”
You must have plenty a funny tale to tell, care to share one?
Oh my god, you’re putting me in a stump. Funny? Let me think about that one. I honestly don’t know. I’m not a funny guy at all. The only thing that I can think of, that may be funny to your fans, is that I tend to get star struck around beautiful actresses who are super famous. When I first met Blake Lively on the set of Hick, I just didn’t know what to say to her. She was so, so beautiful and so angelic like, and I was like a little kid around her, I just didn’t know what to say to her. And when I got the nerve to say something to her, she had already left the set. And the same thing happened again when I acted opposite of Kate Beckinsale. Now, during our film scene I was totally the ruthless vicious character that I had to be towards her, but, afterwards, I was just in awe of her and of her beauty, and I just didn’t know what to say to her. So, if anything is funny about me, I from time to time get star struck by Hollywood’s famous actresses. I’m such a moron.
Like myself, I know you were in the Army. Do you miss it?
No not at all. I haven’t fired a real weapon since the early 90’s, and I don’t ever plan on doing it again. I achieved what I wanted to achieve from that world, and in the end, I realized that I just didn’t love it as I thought I would love it. Ever since I was four years old, all I ever wanted to be was G.I. Joe. So, from that age on, I learnt everything I could on how to shoot, how to hunt, how to survive in the wilderness, how to climb mountains, how to perform CPR / first aid, etc... And at the age of 18, I finally joined the infantry. But, in the end, I just realized I just didn’t love it anymore, and I really wanted to love my job, so, I went on some crazy fucked up paths in my life to find what I truly love in the end, which you all know is indie film acting. But, what I do miss though, from being in a combat infantry unit, is being around people who don’t let their fears get in their way. Most civilians tend to let their fears stop them in their tracks, and two decades later, I’m still not used to seeing this on a daily basis, and I probably never will be. That’s why I post positive daily quotes on my social media pages every single day, to hopefully inspire people that self-mastery is just right around the corner for them, and that their dreams can actually come true if they just face their fears and finally overcome them. Everything is possible in life, and I mean everything!
How did you get into acting Dave, what is your story, how did you start, and was it always your intention to become an actor after leaving the Army or another job you had?
I actually fell into acting by accident. I took a Public Speaking class in community college (after I got out of prison), and I did horribly at public speaking until I combined a truthful story with a fictional ending, and let’s just say I got classmates coming up to me thanking me for sharing that story with them. So, about two years later, I decided to take an Introduction to Acting class at Virginia Tech, and I just fell in love with acting the very first day in class. But, at Virginia Tech I was learning how to be a TV photojournalist, so, I finally left Virginia Tech to work for CBS News as a TV photojournalist specializing in spot news (natural disasters and man-made disasters), and after doing that for awhile, I realized that I just wanted to be the characters in my news stories. I wanted to feel what these people were feeling in these fucked up news stories that I was reporting: pain, anguish, fear, hope, etc., because as a photojournalist it’s not my job to be the story, but, to just report the story. So, I read over three dozen acting books and finally got accepted into David Mamet’s acting conservatory in NYC. And in 2002 (at the age of 32) I finally began my acting career in NYC. And in 2004, I became an indie film actor, and the rest is history!
If anyone is struggling as an actor/actress out there, what advice can you offer?
That’s a tough question. There is “SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE” that they truly need to learn before they can become a working actor. Acting is only a small part of it. It’s called show business for a reason, and we’re called lead actors for a reason. Meaning, it’s our job to show our art to the world with business tactics (such as marketing, advertising, publicity, social media, etc.). But, they also have to understand branding, research and development, statistics, managing their own career, being their own agent, negotiating contracts, and running their acting business like a CEO would run a successful corporation. Plus, it’s the actors job to lead the world’s audience to their film, TV show, or theatrical play, and then through the story as the character. And the more they know how to do everyone else’s job on the set or on the stage, the easier it will be for them to give their best performance on that set or that stage as well. Like I said before, the “ONLY” thing stopping anyone from achieving their dreams in life is the knowledge that their competition has, that they just don’t have. That’s it. And every single bit of knowledge can be learned from reading books; because the best of the best have always written on how they became the best in the world. All we got to do is read, study, practice, and master what they’re teaching us in their books, and then we’ll finally have what they had. That’s the best piece of advice that I can honestly give any struggling actor.
Do you like all the attention that being an actor has brought you, or do you shy away from all the limelight?
First off, I play villains, so, the audience tends to keep their distance from me, if they do recognize me in person. And I’m totally fine with that! But, I “LOVE” connecting with them on social media though, and I tend to answer all of their questions. But, as for the limelight, I only do red carpet premieres for my own movies, because I’m just not a fan of doing red carpet events just to do red carpet events. I just don’t like to have my photo taken, and I’m not a fan of the paparazzi world at all. So, that part of the industry, I do tend to shy away from. It’s not why I became an indie film actor; I became an indie film actor to lead the world to my controversial & provocative films and then through my films as the villain or the antagonist.
Do you still have any goals of perhaps taking your acting in a different direction?
No, not at all. As I said before, I want to create controversial and provocative art. Meaning, I want to share the hard truths of this world, with the world’s audience, and maybe, maybe get them to stop these crimes from ever happening again, such as child molestation/rape, domestic abuse/rape, sex trafficking, abuse of the disabled, to etc, etc...
Is there one thing in life that makes you mad?
Children being sexually or physically abused, because in the end, that causes so many issues on so many levels, and people who tend to get abused tend to abuse others in return. It’s just a vicious cycle that rarely ends. And almost every single child molester, rapist, serial killer, and domestic abuser I have met in person or have studied about was either sexually molested and/or physically abused when they were kids/teenagers. So, they just grew up with this love / hate relationship about sex and violence, and then they started to repeat it to their victims because they thought (in their minds) that these sex and violent actions were the right ways to show their love for the other, because that’s how their loved ones treated them when they were younger. It’s just a very fucked up way of life if you think about it. So, I get very, very upset when film critics ban or boo movies like Lolita, Hound Dog, and my movie Hick that deal with these real life issues. What most people don’t know is that my movie Hick starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Blake Lively, is a real life story about a young girl who runs away from home and eventually becomes a victim by the hands of men. And my character in the story, actually happened to the screenwriter / the novelist of Hick in her real life childhood. So, it’s a story that must be told, if we ever want these kinds of crimes to ever stop from happening again. So, I just get upset when film critics try to ban or boo these child molestation/rape stories. They’re not helping society at all; they’re just making it worse.
And name three things that make you happy?
Ha, ha, that would have to be what I love to do most in life: being a professional indie film actor, body boarding big steep shore break waves, and climbing mountains without gear. I do these three things consistently, year after year. It’s what I love to do most in life, and I’ll do it to the end of my life, or until one of these three things kill me. Whichever comes first!
Life is too short. And goes so quickly. Have you any regrets so far, and would you have done anything differently if you could?
I hate the word regret. I think it’s a bullshit word for people who refuse to accept full responsibility for their own actions. I have “NEVER”, ever done anything in my life that I personally thought was the wrong thing to do at the time that I did it. With the information that I had at hand, I made the best possible choice. Now, did I fail miserably from time to time? Hell yeah! And I still do. But, I always, always make the best possible choice with the information that I have at hand. And I’m constantly learning from my mistakes, so, I don’t repeat them ever again. But, no, I don’t regret a damn thing in my life. Shoot, I wouldn’t be who I am today, without my past successes and failures. I am who I am; people can either take it or leave it. But, I’m very proud of who I am. I’ve lived a life that most people only read about in their fictional books. And I was taught a long, long time ago, that when you finally die, if they can’t write a bestselling book about your life, then you just wasted a precious life. And I’m not wasting this life that God, the Creator, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, gave to me. I’m living life to the fullest! Either winning or learning along the way. So, no regrets at all; not one bit.
Last question, if you were an animal, what would it be and why?
An animal!? That’s a tough question. Hmm, I honestly don’t know. Maybe a snake; I’m always being told that I lack empathy, and that I can be cold-blooded towards people, so, maybe a snake. And I do tend to play slimy roles, so, maybe a snake indeed. Ha! Good question Carl. Good question indeed!