Your new movie Epidemic
- in a few words, what is it about?
My character, Rufus, is looking to connect with his estranged daughter Dana on
her 30th birthday. However the visit escalates into a horrific series of
events after a deadly pathogen is released at Dana’s house, and Rufus has to
fight to save her life.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how
much Andrew Hunsicker can we find in Rufus? And if it's not too personal a
question, are you a father yourself, and what would you do in a situation
like that one portrayed in Epidemic?
Rufus is an active alcoholic with a lifetime of regrets of how he
treated his daughter. I am an alcoholic father of four (including two
daughters) who has made more than his share of painful mistakes. Although
I have not drank alcohol in 9 years, and would like to think I am a better
father than Rufus, I can certainly understand the shame of past actions
and the overwhelming need to make amends for these actions, particularly
to those you love.
The short answer is, I drew a lot from my personal life to play Rufus.
did you get involved with the project in the first place?
was very lucky, Stephen Giglio (the director) [Stephen
Michael Giglio interview - click here] reached out to me based on a
recommendation of Rich Wolff, the CEO of Breaking Glass Pictures, Epidemic’s distributor. I met Rich several years back discussing another
project and was very flattered for him to mention me to Stephen. Stephen
and I met a few times to discuss the script and I was dying to do it,
Rufus was a character that I understood and wanted to play. I also
wanted to work with Stephen and his team, they are good people and
Epidemic being a
zombie movie of sorts, is that at all a genre you can identify with?
yes, one of my favorite movies is
Night of the Living
granddaddy of all zombie films. And the best thing about the genre, is
that they always depict the worst of human nature. And this is where the
horror comes from, regardless of how creepy, invasive and frightening
these undead creatures without reason are, the threat from them becomes
secondary to the horrific things what we as humans, creatures with reason,
have the capacity to do.
can you tell us about your director Stephen Michael Giglio [Stephen
Michael Giglio interview - click here], and what was your
Stephen is a very, very good director who places a significant priority
on preparation and communication with his actors. Stephen also wrote the
script (with Adam Romanchik, the DP) and we spent a lot of time discussing
Rufus and his role in the story. To help, Stephen wrote a detailed back
story on Rufus and shared this with me. He also had a table read with all
the principals. This preparation provided such a strong foundation for my
understanding of Rufus that when we got to set, it helped us to begin work
at a high level immediately, which is so essential particularly in an
economically budgeted movie.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and
the on-set atmosphere!
It was a really relaxed and creative set particularly considering the
intensive shooting schedule (about 14 days or so). I attribute this to all
the preparation Stephen and Adam did as well as their relationship. They
were two peas in a pod, always seeming to be moving in the same direction.
They are a very good team.
It was also a very small set, I don’t believe we had more than 10
people there on any given day, including two excellent makeup artists.
And, all the actors like Amanda Morales, Shelley Rieber Brietling, Gina
Destra, Joe Walz, Marqus Valdez, Mike Sutton, Bill Roberts and Chloe
Carroll were just a joy to be around. It was wonderful to trade lines and
energy with them. I am amazed at the high quality of work produced by this
small, committed and talented team.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have a few acting gigs coming up in the fall and I
am looking forward to them. But I am most excited about shooting a horror
feature I wrote called The Arrangement with my production company Noble F
Productions. The story is about what happens to people who sold their soul
to the devil have to give it up. My son, Jake, is directing and my
three other children (Jessi, Melissa and Nick) are involved along with
some talented film family members in the Philadelphia area. We plan to
shoot in Jan/Feb 2019 and release later in 2019.
From what I've read, you actually got into acting
rather late in your life - why is that, and what can you tell us about
your training on the subject?
I definitely came to acting late in life, I got my first paid gig when
I was 50, but I always wanted to do it. In 1983, I was accepted into the
summer program of the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts, but I did not
go. And I regretted that decision, all my life. But I met my wife Jackie
in 1984, got married a few years later and have four wonderful children.
My wife and kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. If I
went in 1983, who knows if my life would have turned out this way?
I know now, I made the right choice, but for years I was angry for
“chickening out”, in 1983, I essentially talked myself out of it, told
myself I was not good enough, convinced myself I could not take the risk
etc. It really bothered me and that resentment helped fuel my alcoholism.
When I finally left alcohol behind in 2009 (after my second rehab
stint), I took an acting class with Mike Lemon, the casting director on
Sixth Sense, Philadelphia and some other big films. I loved it but did not
take it any farther. I went back to Mike in 2013 and started again, and he
helped me to get out of my own way, learn how to commit to a character and
shared with me what is now my philosophy for acting, “Know your lines, show up on
time, hit your marks and tell the truth”.
Mike only teaches a few times a year, so I started to train weekly with
Kenneth McGregor who is a great veteran actor and teacher. Ken taught me
so much about character, scene analysis and emotional recall. Using the
techniques Mike and Ken taught me I started to go to auditions and I was
fortunate to be a character type and age that was in demand. So I was able
to get involved in some great projects, build a body of work and get
valuable experience in front of the camera.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Epidemic?
When I started in 2013, I told myself to take any gig I could get my
hands on. And I was lucky to be a character type (“husky” middle aged
gray haired guy) that seemed to be in demand. So I have been involved in
over 100 projects over the past 5 years. Of course, the vast majority of
these have not been seen beyond the film festival circuit. But, they were
all essential in helping me to refine my work, there is no better teacher
Recently, I have been blessed by being cast in shows with a wider
audience, like House of Cards, the CNN series Pope: The Most Powerful
Man in History and a lead role in a TV series called Law of
Perdition. And all this has led to the exciting opportunity of being in Epidemic.
In addition to the amazing contributions of Stephen and
Adam, it had a fantastic makeup team and a stellar cast of young,
talented and good looking actors. Epidemic
is also special because of the
backing it has from Breaking Glass Pictures to help get it out there.
would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to
bring your characters to life?
I would probably be classified as a method actor, one who does his best
to immerse himself in the character’s emotional state to perform. And
the key to getting to that emotional state is what I learned a few years
back, “Know your lines, show up on time, hit your marks and tell the
truth”. The key here is the first part of “know your lines” or
Practically, this involves scene and character analysis, knowing the
script inside and out, knowing your lines, knowing the other actors lines,
knowing what the arc of the story is, what the arc of every scene is, and
knowing seemingly nonsensical things like what the season is, who was
President during the time, what did your character have for lunch the day
before etc. These all help me to understand the story and how your
character is immersed in it.
And when you shoot, if you prepare right, you will be able to bring the
appropriate emotions to tell the truth, in the moment, in the
character’s voice. And this preparation will hold true wherever
the director or other actors take you, like changed lines, improvisation
or ad-libbing dialogue.
Actors (and indeed
actresses) who inspire you?
I am inspired by lots of
actors, but my favorites are probably Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Nolte
and Kathy Bates. I will watch anything they do. I am also very partial to
character actors like JT Walsh, JK Simmons, M. Emmett Walsh, Harry Dean
Stanton, and Laurie Metcalf. Good movies must have good character actors.
But bad movies have good character actors and these guys have made me
watch some movies I would not have, just to see their work.
Your favourite movies?
I do love horror films where the biggest scare is between your ears,
like Rosemary’s Baby, Exorcist,
Night of the Living
Dead and, to be so bold, Epidemic. The best ones show our capacity as
humans to be more horrific than any monster, ghoul or zombie can be.
Overall, I am fan of anything Sidney Lumet has done, most specifically Network,
12 Angry Men, Q&A and Before the Devil
Knows You're Dead. I will also always watch Saving Private Ryan,
Shawshank Redemption or The Godfather I and II anytime they
come on TV, no matter what I am doing.
and of course, films you really deplore?
I try not to slam movies, it is so difficult to make them and requires
the integration of so many artists’ work, writing, cinematography, makeup, acting etc. And with most movies, the whole is much less than the sum
of its parts. So I try to find moments in movies that I can enjoy, like
good character actors, a nice piece of writing or a wonderfully conceived
shot. But I saw a movie in 1985 called Transylvania 6-5000. I would
prefer to do hard prison time then ever watch that movie again.
Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Andrew Hunsicker - @ActorAndrewHunsicker on Facebook and
@andrew.hunsicker on Instagram.
My IMDb page is
Noble F Productions – @Noble_F_Productions on Facebook and
@noblefproductions on Instagram.
Anything else you're dying to
tell me and I have merely forgotten to ask?
passed in June of this year, after we wrapped Epidemic. She was looking
forward to seeing the movie. So, I will watch it for her.
Thank you so much for your time and interest