I was given the opportunity to interview the talented Salvatore Antonio and find out about his life and times as an accomplished actor.
Before we dive into this interview, I just want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk about your career. I’m sure fans of Paradise Falls, Remedy, Saving Hope and 24 Hour Rental (just to name a few) will appreciate a peek into your life as an actor.
One of your recent roles was that of a dying man, Brendan Challis, on Mary Kills People. Being involved with such a dynamic cast, your character elevated the show to another level. It helped to shape the Season Two story line, adding a very raw and real element to it. Your performance is one that has touched me, and I am sure other fans feel the same way.
You seem to be able to meld perfectly into any role that comes your way. When did it first hit you that this was what you wanted to do?
I think I’ve always known I was an actor. From a very young age, I was transported by my imagination and loved to play out different characters for family and friends. In elementary school, my report cards clearly spelled out that drama was where my I interests lay–– as I was pretty useless in other subjects ;). I auditioned for and was accepted into an Arts high school, and that’s where I began to learn the skills necessary to potentially turn it into a career.
There has been much controversy surrounding the premise of which Mary Kills People is built on. What made you want to be part of a groundbreaking show such as this?
I supported the medically-assisted dying law that became legal here in Canada in June 2016, so I was already personally interested in the premise of the show. I watched season 1 and was instantly hooked, so when the role of ’Brendan’ came along I was very excited by the prospect of playing him.
I know the tone of the show is a serious one, but was there something you and other cast members would do to lighten the atmosphere on set?
Everyone involved was very supportive and understanding when it came to keeping focused during emotional scenes, but whenever we had long breaks between set-ups we were routinely cracking jokes and making each other laugh. Richard (Short) and Charlotte (Sullivan) are both notoriously funny, so there were as many tears of laughter shed offscreen as there were sad tears onscreen.
The character you portrayed was coming to terms with his inevitable demise. Being such a tough subject, did you do anything to prepare yourself for this role?
I did my online research of course, but then I spoke to my own doctor about her firsthand knowledge dealing with patients who had glioblastoma. I wanted to make sure that I was very specific with how the symptoms manifested from the early stage through to the rapid demise. I kept making sure that I was playing a real fully dimensional and dynamic person, and not just the illness.
As I stated earlier your performance was magnificent, and it has surely made a lasting impression on fans. What did you take away from your time on Mary Kills People?
Thanks so much for those kind words. I’m just so happy that my performance resonated with viewers the way it did, and that people were able to associate and feel so deeply for someone who on the outside might seem a bit outlandish. My experience playing ’Brendan’ reaffirmed my belief that if you focus on playing the heart of the individual, you will find universality in the human condition. I loved my time on the show. It was very challenging and equally rewarding. Working so closely with Caroline (Dhavernas) and Vlad (Alexis) was a dream, as they are both such generous, supportive and gifted performers.
You’ve had so many diverse and interesting roles, but if you could choose anything at all, what would your dream role be?
I’ve been fortunate so far to have had the access to the range of roles I’ve played. I think a real interesting challenge would be to play someone without a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience— a real sociopath. That could be fun— and terrifying.
Your latest project is a film called “State Like Sleep”. Can you give us a glimpse into what the movie is about and the character you’ll be playing?
‘State Like Sleep’ is a feature written and directed by Meredith Danluck. It’s the story of a woman (played by Katherine Waterston) grappling with the consequences of her celebrity husband’s (played by Michiel Huisman) double life after her commits suicide. I play a celebrity television host named ‘Colin Waldorf’ —he’s a smarmy Brit in the vein of Piers Morgan, and my interviews with Michiel’s character stitch together the narrative of the film.
While we are on the topic of your new movie, do you have any interesting stories about your time on set?
The majority of my scenes were with Michiel on the set of my fictional late-night talk show, where I’m supposed to be referring to a full studio audience of adoring audience members. The reality of filming those scenes was that rather than hundreds of people in the audience there were only about 10 or 15 background performers in the first row who had to remain completely silent— and mime clapping while we filmed. It was very weird to play to a silent crowd as if the auditorium was filled with hundreds of screaming fans— of course that will all be added in post production. The film also stars Michael Shannon and Luke Evans, although we never host together.
You have been involved with the creative community for some time now. From theatre, to television and film. What inspires you to keep going, each and every day?
I’ve been acting professionally for 24 years now, and it’s still a struggle. As a non-famous actor I have to audition for all my roles, and the majority of them I don’t book. It’s always a struggle to not take that rejection personally and to keep going out trying to land the next one. My inspiration comes from the wonderful feeling I get when I am performing— it’s a thrilling experience to emotionally affect people you don’t know with your storytelling. It’s an addictive connection. It’s a real privilege to be able to do this for a living.
You have boldly pursued your dreams and been successful in your many endeavors. Through your many experiences, do you have any advice for people who are following their passions in life?
My advice is to be bold with your personal vision for yourself. Know what you want in terms of your ideal career, and be as clear as possible with your personal mandate for the kind of work you need to be doing. Be respectful to everyone you work with along the way. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re nervous or afraid. Treat every problem or obstacle as an opportunity to discover a better, more creative way. Doubt is normal, just keep working through it.
Thank You for giving us this glimpse into your life and taking the time to share a piece of yourself with us. With your ever-growing acting repertoire, I am sure we will be seeing you in many more projects to come.
Thank you so much for this conversation, and for your support of the show. It was such a wonderful and satisfying experience playing this role, and seeing how the fans of the show embraced him so fully.
Be on the look out for “State Like Sleep”, and if you haven’t already checked out his powerful role on “Mary Kills People”, do yourself a favour and watch it now!