Published on May 1st, 2016 | by gareth0
We Talk “Restoration” With Actor Adrian Gaeta
Recently I spoke with actor Adrian Gaeta about his work on the horror film “Restoration” and his career.
What can you tell us about your character and how you prepared for the role?
Todd Jordan is a general contractor, whose life in this film revolves around rebuilding his new home and taking care of his wife Rebecca (played by Emily Roya O’Brien). Simply put, he’s the ultimate caretaker.
As for the preparation, this was a unique experience to say the least. The film was already greenlighted, and scheduled to start shooting the week after I came on board. In fact, Zack Ward and I first met at an industry screening for another film of mine, and after watching that picture, he offered me the part on the spot.
So, I literally only had days to get into this character. There was something really exciting about taking on a film on such short notice… sort of a new challenge, but I was confident the quality wouldn’t suffer. In fact, in watching the final cut, I think in retrospect, the stressed nature of my prep brought a subtle intensity to the screen.
I really just focused on finding the emotional core of the character and connecting to the parts of myself that are in him. Emily and I spent a lot of time developing our characters’ relationship, knowing that it was the cornerstone of the film. And Emily is honestly so talented and wonderful to work with, that it was effortless.
To get a bit more tactile, I also worked construction with Zack’s father Todd, who was Zack’s initial source of inspiration for the role. I really did as much as I possibly could in the time I had to make Todd real. I would memorize the scenes the night before, and then on set I had to just let go. I believe acting doesn’t come from you, but through you and with such little prep time, I had no other choice.
Were you a fan of the genre and what attracted you to the part?
What I find incredible about the horror genre, is it’s ability to invoke a visceral response. It’s a unique genre that can instill fears which last long after you’ve watched the film. I’ve been particularly fascinated by horror films that pray on psychology, rather than relying on blood and gore. I love the films that sort of plant suggestions in your mind to which your mind responds by creating perceived outcomes scarier than what may happen on screen. Hitchcock was brilliant at creating that, but The Shining was the film that kept me up at night as a child.
What attracted me to this role was that Zack and James wrote the perfect leading man. Todd is an everyday guy, very relatable. He is masculine and strong, yet sensitive and caring. He did not fit into any stereotype but had a well-rounded personality and emotional depth. I was also fascinated by how I would facilitate a truthful reaction to a metaphysical experience. If you are honest enough to make the audience believe that this could actually happen to them, then it elevates the genre.
How was working with Zack and the great moments from filming you can share?
Zack started directing me from the moment we met at the screening of Dirty. Instead of just complementing my work, he immediately gave me notes on how to be better, and from that moment I trusted him entirely. There was one moment in the film that, on page, could have just been a conversation, but ended up becoming very emotional for both characters. Zack saw the change of tone, whispered a suggestion in my ear to strengthen the intent, and it became one of the most pivotal moments in the film. He trusted me to make the right choices and would give these beautiful yet simple re-directions throughout the shoot that brought so much life to the scenes. For me, that is what a great director does. Zack is something special and is an absolute pleasure to work with.
How did you get into acting, and what was your big break?
My senior year in high school, the drama teacher – Sheryl Moore Goodspeed, convinced me to do a play. I ended up playing Lieutenant Brannigan from Guys and Dolls and I had never felt more alive. After high school I went to the University of Washington and ended up receiving a full acting scholarship. At that point, I knew this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I toured around the country doing contemporary and classical productions and performed on an island in the center of Rome, but then moved to Los Angeles knowing that this was where I had to be.
My big break came recently when I got an offer to play a leading role in the upcoming thriller Dirty co-starring Roger Guenveur Smith [from The Birth of a Nation and American Gangster], Tony Denison (Major Crimes) and Paul Elia (S.H.I.E.L.D) who is also a producer on the film.
Sort of an interesting story how I even got on that picture. The director, Dan Ringey, and I met on a short film we worked on together, but it was a mutual friend, Paul Elia, who pitched me for the part.
Paul let me read the script a year before casting and I fell in love with the part… and I made sure Paul knew it. Unfortunately, when the time came around, they were only going out to bigger names. One year later, apparently Dan wasn’t sold on any of the name actors they went out to, so out of the blue I get a call from Paul and Dan offering me the role. Paul pitched me, Dan remembered me from that short film, and the rest is history.
This was the biggest break for me because despite not having the credits and Dan getting pitches from substantial name talent, he believed that I was right for the part. And the role itself was an incredible artistic experience. I lost 30lbs in a month to play a young father turned drug addict and was challenged like I had never been before. I am very grateful to Dan and Paul for trusting me with their film; without them taking that risk on me, I wouldn’t have done either of these films.
When you consider a script or a potential TV or film project, what elements do you look for in the story and character and what types of projects would you like to do in the future?
I look for a story that make us discover and learn more about our humanity. If the script makes me feel an emotional and spiritual experience, then I know it is something I want to do.
As far as characters, I love to be challenged and pushed beyond my limits. I look for complexity, depth and a complicated internal and external conflicts the character is trying to overcome throughout the story. Acting is putting your soul on camera, and a role that requires that vulnerability is an ideal part.
When you’re not filming, what do you like to do?
I grew up in Hawaii, so I love the ocean. I surf whenever I can and run on the beach. When I go back home, I lobster dive and go deep-sea fishing. Being connected to the ocean centers me.
I love to travel as much as possible. I go to New York to see theater constantly. This last summer I went to Switzerland and visited my birthplace, Sion. I went to London, Paris, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich for Oktoberfest. I discover so much when I travel and the more dynamic the life you create for yourself the more you can bring to your acting. My new favorite thing is babysitting my niece. My brother just had a baby, so it’s fun playing the role of uncle.
Sort of back on the craft, but I also write and have been developing a TV pilot, with Marc Porterfield (Black Jesus, Swedish Dicks) and Echo Lake Entertainment.
What else do you have upcoming?
Gravitas Ventures is releasing my film Dirty on July 12th on all major digital and cable TV platforms. I also starred alongside Victoria’s Secret supermodel Toni Garrn, in a passion project of hers being released this summer. And I’m getting back to my roots on stage in Sam Sheppard’s play, The God of Hell at the Lounge Theatre with Chaz Bono and Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13). It is a very poignant and politically relevant play that will make for a great return to the stage. I have had a few interesting scripts sent over to me this past month, and I am looking to be attached to something exciting here soon.