People often don’t see the errors of their own ways until they try to help others that are close to them. That’s certainly the case with main character Michael Danube, played by Peter Cilella, in the new horror thriller Resolution. While trying to help his best friend, Michael ultimately realizes that he needs to save his own life as well.
Resolution follows Michael as he becomes committed to helping his best friend Chris, portrayed by Vinny Curran, sober up and get his life back on track. But his attempt to save his friend’s life quickly takes an unexpected turn as they both begin to confront their personal demons, the consequences of past actions and forces beyond their control.
Recently, Cilella generously took the time to speak with us over the phone about filming Resolution, which was co-directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, who also wrote the script. The actor discussed what attracted him to the role of Michael, the pressure he felt about appearing in his first major feature film role and his excitement when he found out the horror thriller would be making its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
We Got This Covered: You portray the main character, Michael, in Resolution. What was it about the script and the character that convinced you to take on the role?
Peter Cilella: Well, I’ve been friends with the director for a long time. He actually wrote the script with myself and Vinny in mind for the two lead roles. I loved the script, and that thematically, the movie is about being out of control.
The fact is that we try to control so many things in our lives, and there are certain things that we just can’t. I think that’s something that everyone can relate to, and struggles with. So I thought it was an interesting premise, and thought it was really interesting and relatable.
WGTC: Speaking of the directors, Justin also wrote the script. Do you prefer to work with directors who also wrote the script for the films you star in?
PC: You know, I don’t necessarily have a preference. I think case by case, it’s different. Sometimes with writer-directors, maybe they’re more tied to the script. But with Justin, it was very collaborative. We improvised, and we were allowed to get feedback. So it was a very collaborative process.
WGTC: Speaking of Vinny as well, he plays Michael’s best friend Chris in the film. What was your working relationship with Vinny like while you were shooting the movie?
PC: It was great. We have different styles of working, and I think those kind of worked for our characters. Vinny tends to improvise more than I did on set, and keeps things looser. My character kind of kept things tighter, and I think that really worked for our dynamic.
Vinny and I have worked together before on a couple of other things. So we had a good working relationship going in.
WGTC: Did Justin and Aaron encourage improv on the set, or did they want you to stay closer to the script?
PC: It was kind of a mix. We had a unique process, because we actually rehearsed for months before we shot. By the time we got on set, everything was pretty locked into the script. But Justin wasn’t opposed to ideas or adding things.
By the time we got to shooting, we all felt comfortable with the way things were going. So there wasn’t a huge need to deviate from that.
WGTC: Speaking of the rehearsal as well, how did you prepare for your role of Michael? Did you do any particular research before you began shooting?
PC: Yeah, it was a pretty long process. I’ve known people, I guess, in my life that had problems, but not as severe as Chris’s. I looked into substance abuse, histories and cases. Michael and Chris, the characters, were written to our strengths, so I feel I didn’t have to do as much, as far as research for my character.
My character was born from me to begin with, as far as behavior. It wasn’t a huge shift that I had to become someone completely different.
WGTC: Resolution is your first major leading role in a feature film. Did you feel any pressure to portray Michael in a particular way while you were shooting?
PC: I had the freedom to play it the way I wanted to play it. But I felt a ton of pressure from myself, because I had never had such a large part in a feature. If audiences don’t enjoy watching me for 90 minutes, it will be tough to watch the movie.
I was probably tightly wound on set, which really worked for my character. I wanted it to be great, because I believed in the script. I was going to be surrounded by great actors, and I wanted to make sure I did my part.
WGTC: Resolution is set to premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival next month. What was your reaction when you first heard the movie was selected to play at the festival? Was this your first film to be featured at the festival?
PC: Yeah, I was absolutely ecstatic. That’s such a huge honor. It’s such a prestigious festival. Robert De Niro is a huge idol of mine. To get into his festival is fantastic. I can’t really describe how excited I am.
WGTC: Before Resolution, you appeared in several short films, including An Alright Start and Nice Guys. What is it about shorts that you enjoy so much, and do you take a different approach when preparing for them, as opposed to feature length films?
PC: No, I think it’s a similar process, just shorter, I guess.
WGTC: You started your career appearing in commercials for such companies as Chevy, Budweiser and McDonalds. What was the transition process like from the commercials to short and feature films?
PC: Well, I think with commercials, there’s a lot of pressure to get it done in a day. There’s a lot of money involved, so it can be high-pressure and be moving very quickly. So it can be a little bit stressful. But I think the process is really the same, but you’re constrained with that 30 seconds, which I think makes a big difference.
With films, you can breathe into things. With a commercial, you’re really constrained by the time. In a way, commercial acting can be more challenging. You have to convey something with these very specific constraints, and do it in a very short amount of time. I think it’s a good challenge for actors.
WGTC: You began comedic training at The Second City, the world’s premier comedy club/theatre and school of improvisation. What was your experience like at The Second City, and how did it prepare you for your career in films?
PC: Being around such powerful actors was great. My first class that I ever took there was back in 1997. On the main stage was Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch and amazing comedic actors. So I think it just inspired me to keep working and keep getting better.
I was able to watch the show every night because I took classes there. I would also host and work in the kitchen and did all kinds of jobs around. Then I would get to sit in and watch the show every night. Just to watch it evolve and observing those great performers was inspiring.
WGTC: You mentioned earlier that you look up to Robert De Niro. Who are some of the comedic actors that you admire?
PC: There are so many-Will Ferrell and Danny McBride are super-talented. Robert Downey, Jr., just as an actor in general, who I feel has a great gift for comedy and the dramatic. I always like those actors who can do both, and do both well.
WGTC: You have also appeared in plays, including William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Powerhouse Theatre in Los Angeles. What is it about theater that you enjoy so much, and do you prefer one medium over the other?
PC: Theater’s such a rush, and that’s what I think I love about it. I have a love-hate relationship with performing live, because of the nerves. You can’t do another take, you get one shot at it. But then when you pull it off, the exhilaration, you can’t really compare. The live gratification, you don’t get when you’re on set. So I think that rush just energizes you. It’s like nothing else.
That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Peter Cilella for taking the time to speak with us. Resolution has its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20, 2012.