Michael Nardelli made his professional acting debut as Stradivarius Helberg on the television show ‘Quintuplets’. He then co-starred in the independent film “Derby Stallion” opposite Zac Efron and the comedy “Grassroots”, with Jason Biggs. Soon after, Michael portrayed a lovesick teenager in the 3D horror thriller “The Collection” and has recurred on various television shows including “American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson”, “Revenge”, “CSI: New York”, and “Nashville”. His additional credits include starring in the Netflix psychological-thriller “Circle”, “The Tribe” and Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas In Homestead”.
Beyond acting, Michael has established himself as a producer and director. His film, “Another Happy Day”, wherein he also acted opposite Ezra Miller, Kate Bosworth, and Demi Moore. Additional films include “The Giant Mechanical Man” with Jenna Fisher and “Dennis Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”.
Michael is a self-proclaimed Sci-Fi, Comic Book, and gamer nerd. When he is not working, he loves to be involved with the PATH Organization, Autism Speaks, the Boys and Girls Club of Boyle Heights and NCJW LA. Michael received his Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Theater from USC.
Welcome to TV Series Hub, having been in a lot of shows, which one would you say makes you stand out to the audience?
It’s odd, I seem to have a lot of different camps. There’s the whole Hallmark Christmas movie fandom that knows me from CHRISTMAS IN HOMESTEAD. A lot of people saw me on REVENGE. And even though it was a small role, people recognize me as the guy who called in OJ Simpson on the freeway in AMERICAN CRIME STORY. I have a pretty eclectic career, also being known for sci-fi/horror thanks to the film CIRCLE and now, DARK/WEB, our series on Amazon Prime.
Acting, producing and directing with experience in writing also. How did you become an all-rounder in the industry?
It was always that way growing up. I’d make short films with my friends, or as class projects. I’d write them, get the gang together, find the locations and the materials – I didn’t realize that was technically “producing” until I had the word properly defined for me. Now I basically do the same thing, there’s just more people around and larger stakes. I also have dual degrees in Theatre and Film from USC, so it was always in the cards to be an “all-rounder,” as you say.
How did you balance having all of these roles for Dark/Web?
It was without a doubt the hardest project I’ve ever taken on. Luckily, I had some great partners in crime, otherwise I’d have never survived it. I think when you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities – you either throw in the towel and give up, or you decide to not overthink things the way that artists can sometimes. If you have a line of dialogue, say it! If you’re choosing between different wardrobe options, you go with your gut and keep moving. In some ways it is freeing to be overwhelmed because there simply is no time for second guessing yourself. At the same time, it’s an uncomfortable feeling. I always want everything to be so perfect. I’m sure there are ways DARK/WEB could have benefitted by having more time and staff, and then I think there are ways it benefitted from being this bespoke, grassroots thing moving at a breakneck pace.
Speaking of Dark/Web, with mixed reviews, what were your thoughts after the fan reaction?
It’s all okay with me. We have a lot of supporters who really got and enjoyed the show. We have four stars on Amazon from people who actually watched the thing. We have some who didn’t like this aspect, or that character, etc. Some of the criticisms I can learn from for the future, others really don’t bother me – like those who don’t like the choice the characters make in the finale. It was meant to be a tough, controversial choice. If we have future seasons, we’ll explore what the ramifications of that choice are. I appreciate that it gave viewers a powerful emotional reaction; so much tv and film nowadays is a dry experience because so many stories are just being retold and regurgitated. Mostly I’m just grateful that so many people took the time to watch our show, watch the entire series, and had a strong enough reaction – positive or negative – that they felt compelled to write a review.
For those who still haven’t seen it, how would you pitch it?
DARK/WEB is an 8-episode sci-fi/horror series that combines anthology stories with one central mystery that connects everything. It deals with topical issues involving technology, social media, and the way we communicate in this modern era. Of course, it has many twists and turns I won’t spoil should you choose to watch.
Some say it has the ‘Black Mirror’ kind of vibe going on. What are your thoughts on it?
It’s a natural comparison (and flattering) because the show deals with technology and has the anthology segments built in. But BLACK/MIRROR wasn’t actually a big influence for this. I’d go back to THE X-FILES and TWILIGHT ZONE as more specific models for DARK/WEB and then oddly enough, an old slice-of-life character piece like THE BIG CHILL. Those were much bigger influences on the tone and structure of DARK/WEB. It’s funny now that anything in that kind of “social sci-fi” space gets compared to BLACK MIRROR. True sci fi fans know that kind of content has been around for decades.
Interestingly, the show isn’t about the Dark Web. How did the name come to be?
Some of our stories are actually pulled from real life dark/deep web occurrences or myths. Other aspects of our series are metaphors for the web itself being a dark place. So, I think that title felt right—all of our main characters are connected by the web, which includes social media, and I think we’ve all seen instances of how it can be a dark place indeed.
What are your thoughts for a potential season 2 for the show?
It seems there is a demand for it. There’s a story we’d definitely like to tell, if people continue to ask for it. And as tech and things like social media continue to evolve and proliferate, it’s good to check in and ask questions about them in a fictional, thoughtful, hopefully entertaining container.
Circling back to your life, being a comic book and gamer, what are your must-read and play?
Y THE LAST MAN is absolutely my favorite comic series. I also just recently finished FROM HELL by Alan Moore and was blown away. In terms of video games, I’m a surgeon at SMASH BROS (any iteration), and just started playing DEATH STRANDING which is most impressive. Growing up I was a big fan of DEAD SPACE 2, TRIBES, and STARCRAFT.
Off the screen, you are involved in several organizations such as PATH Organization and Autism Speaks, how would you advise others to follow suit too?
I think just seeing what areas in your everyday life need the kind of help you’re able to provide. It could be donating time, clothes, or a traditional monetary donation. Homelessness is rampant in Los Angeles where I live – it was a no brainer to try and help out. My friend’s brother is on the spectrum and she raises money each year for Autism Speaks, that was another very easy way to get involved with that organization. I’ve been given a lot in life and also work in a field that is a bit self-involved, so I feel a responsibility to give back.
Already establishing your brand, where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I have all kinds of goals, but mostly I hope I’m still just telling stories. As an actor, writer, director, what have you. I did a play this summer, I’d love to continue diving back into theater. I’d love to do a role with more physicality and stunt work. I’d love to do a period piece like MAD MEN develop a character over many seasons. In the meantime, I’m writing away and working on my own stuff.
Any projects that you are working on?
I’m writing a new feature that is a character study contained within a sci-fi drama. More than that, I shan’t say!
Thank you for joining us, which Sci-Fi show do you love the most?
Thank you so much for having me and I hope everyone will check out DARK/WEB. It was an indie labor of love made by a ton of really talented and diverse artists with unique voices. As for my fav sci fi series – there’s so many! Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek TOS and Next Generation, Firefly. I just started the Expanse, so far so good!
Dark/Web season 1 is available on Amazon Prime (get a free trial here).