Interview with Paul J. Alessi
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Paul J. Alessi who has, among many, acted in movies like Knuckle Draggers and A Guy named Murphy. Paul tells me about his award winning performance in Knuckle Draggers and his work as a producer.
MRR- Hey Paul, you are a pretty multi-talented on and off camera these days. You have acted in movies like A Guy Named Murphy, Morphine, and Knuckle Draggers which you also produced. Recently, you played a mechanic in the film Born to Race can you tell us a little about the film and your role?
Paul- Born To Race is a teen street racing film and I play an evil pit crew mechanic that tries to help the bad guy win a drag race competition. If you're into cars, you should check this movie out. It was made by “car guys” for “car guys”, the filmmakers worked really hard to make it as authentic as possible.
MRR- In 2009 you played Kyle in Knuckle Draggers and won “Best Actor" at the ReelHeART International Film Festival. What was it about this role that garnered so much attention from the audience? Do you feel it was your best work?
Paul- Knuckle Draggers grabbed the audience’s attention because it is a movie based on truth. There’s no gimmick, no over the top comedy, just truth about relationships. My character Kyle comes off as the “chauvinistic, pig headed, macho type” but in actuality he is only putting on this “show” to cover up the pain from his divorce. Do I feel it was my best work? That’s a tough question, taking on a leading part and producing the film was a huge challenge. As actors we are always most critical of our own performances because we always want to do our best, I am proud to say that I feel I did a solid job with both acting and producing in KD.
MRR- You decided to start producing and in 2006 you did the films Alison and Ten ‘til Noon. What made you want to start producing and how has it affected your acting career?
Paul- After working on a few projects as an actor and helping out on set I found that I was doing what a producer would do and I enjoyed it. A few friends kept encouraging me to start producing so I figured why not, this way I could work with my friends and know that I was making good quality projects.
MRR- You list Mark Wahlberg, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Edward Norton and Vince Vaughn as your biggest inspirations. What is it about these guys and their performances that you find so influential?
Paul- I feel that these actors have been able to develop solid careers in a competitive and forever changing business and I admire that each in their own way have been able to grow and succeed on both sides of the camera.
MRR- I read that you have been working on a web series with Judd Nelson, Traci Lords and Alexis Arquette. What is that all about and where can people check that out at?
Paul- Here and Now is a comedy about a guy in a mid life crisis who yearns to be young again, you can check it out on itunes.
MRR- It looks like you have a big upcoming role in the film Chapo with Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and are working on Lost on Purpose with Jane Kaczmarek (Malcom in the Middle). Is it hard to switch from being in front of the camera to behind the camera on a daily basis and has it given you more appreciation for all the different jobs people have on the set?
Paul- Being on both sides of the camera has definitely made me appreciate all of the jobs that go into making a script come to life. Switching my acting hat to producing hat can be a handful. When we have a decent budget that allows me to bring more crew on to help lighten my load, it makes a huge difference but in the indie world that’s not always the case. The bottom line is doing both jobs is not an easy task, so big budget, low budget, sleep or no sleep, I just do whatever it takes to make it happen.
MRR- I see that you are a big hockey fan and being from Detroit I know how thrilling going to a game can be. Did you ever have any dreams of becoming a professional hockey player and if so, for what team?
Paul- YES I sure did have dreams about being a professional hockey player and without a doubt I wanted to play for the New York Rangers, I bleed Blue. I spent every summer at the Providence College Hockey School in Rhode Island till I was 16 years old. I was what you would call a “Rink Rat” I was on the ice as much as possible. At the prime of my training I broke my lower back, which took me out of the competitive game. I still play in an adult hockey league.
MRR- Paul, what can people look forward to seeing from you in the future and where can they go to keep up with what you are up to?
Paul- I am attached to produce the upcoming MMA drama MICKEY KELLEY with director/actor Sean Patrick Flanery.
My website is: