He was born and raised in Massachusetts but his roots are Greek. He has performed a variety of roles and also participated in important films like “Fight Club”. Paul Carafotes distinguishes not only because he won the Best Actor award at the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2007, but also because of his personal acting style and his character. We had the chance to speak with him in an interview he gave us for the Greek Hollywood Reporter. We learned also the reason why he remains an inspiration for Brad Pitt.
Tell us about how you decided to become an actor.
I’ve pretty much have performed since a very early age. The Beatles were my first huge influence. After seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show I started to emulate them in my dad’s garage charging admission and the neighborhood girls would come and scream the heads off as we performed like the Beatles. When it really got serious was my senior year in high school and I got cast as the lead role in “Some Like It Hot”, the Tony Curtis role. That was a lot of fun and someone saw me in that and hired me to act in his collage thesis and I started to believe I could maybe make this my profession. I was told that I had talent and was good looking so why not go to New York to try acting. That’s what I did. I went to N.Y. for a weekend and I signed up at HB Studios to get myself a job. I knew a Greek family that lived in Queens, N.Y., the Chakalis family and I knocked on there door and asked if I could pay them rent and sleep on their floor while I went into Manhattan to study and work. They said the magic word “yes” I owe them a debt of gratitude.
What some of the difficulties you had to face pursuing an acting career?
Trying to get a good agent when I was beginning. There was always a catch 22. If you get a job you’ll get an agent. So how do I get a job without an agent? Those of you who have a little savvy will figure that one out. But I did all the things every one before did. I went around N.Y. with pictures and resumes and (resume was slightly embellished) knocked on a million doors and chatted to ever single receptionist. worked on the charm aspect until I got in the door at Jacobson/ Wilder they were my first commercial agents and I happened to live on 107st and Broadway and Lois Zetter of Lemond/ Zetter Management lived on my block and I got invited to dinner once and from there I was told to keep in touch and soon after they signed me to a 3 year management contract. They were the biggest in the world at that time. They handled Travolta and I was similar in type and young and very energetic.
How was your experience playing in the film “Fight Club” and working with David Fincher and Brad Pitt?
I worked for David Fincher many times before when he was starting out as a young filmmaker. I did a few videos (Outfields’ “No Surrender”) and several commercials for him. Brad is a wonderful guy who is very, very generous. I’ll tell you a little story that he told me while we were shooting a Heineken commercial together few years ago. He said that when he came to L.A. and was just starting out he went on a commercial audition and I was there and I went around the room talking to people and teasing this guy for wearing make-up and teasing that one for this and that. And he watched me and said to himself “I want to be like him” I said to Brad, ” Well, I’m glad that I worked out for you” He didn’t have to tell me a story like that but he is very confident of who he is and strong enough in the ego department to give you your due.
You also played with Tom Cruise in the beginning of his career in the movie “All the Right Moves”. Tell us about this collaboration.
That was the first movie that I was in that I really thought I was in a movie, a real Hollywood movie. My memories are all good on that one, especially my father and my brother came to visit me while i was shooting in Johnstown, PA. and my dad especially had a ball. He got involved in many card games with the actors and became endeared to Chris Penn and Dennis Quaid. He really enjoyed himself. Tom was a very dedicated and hard working young guy at the time. You could tell he was going to be something.
Apart from acting you have also directed and produced. Tell us which
position you prefer and why.
With acting all you’ve pretty much got to be able to do is remember your lines. Don’t bump into the furniture and tell the truth. In my earlier days I took myself very seriously. When I played a violinist in the film I made with Demi Moore called “Choices” I really learned how to play it. I am left handed and learned how to play it right handed, because I thought my character should be right handed. I made a movie called “Headn For Broadway”, I played a dancer. I spent all day everyday when I wasn’t shooting in dance classes. I lived and died by my roles that I played. After a while you go back to the basics. Things that James Cagney said: “All you’ve pretty much got to be able to do is remember your lines. don’t bump into the furniture and tell the truth. Directing is great because your the boss and you get to put all the elements together see your vision through until the end is a fantastic process. One I ‘m looking forward to doing more of. After working on my film “Club Soda” I was totally taken in. Writing is a solitary lonely task. which can also be very fulfilling, most anything you finish and put the words THE END on usually is. I write quite a bit and it takes a lot out of me. but it also helps me to stay creative and get a lot of pain out.
You have played in many successful TV Series. How different is it playing
for television than playing in a movie?
Simple TV moves very, very fast. Movies are much slower. I just finished filming 6 episodes of “Damages” and I never knew until I showed up on the set what we were shooting that day.
Movies you always get time to work out. That would be the biggest difference.
What are the differences you have noticed so far in the film business after
the economic crisis started and how has the profession of the actor has been affected?
Money is a big difference. They are not paying what they used to pay so in order for you to make a living you have to work twice as hard at it. John Lennon said once: “That it’s easy to be successful all you have to do is work at it twenty-four hours a day” and he was right. I don’t really have enough time to get into it but it’s a creative business run by accountants and there is a bottom line. so you get the picture I’m sure. It’s is the best when both sides can work together, it is a collaborative form after all. No other business is quite like it.
Tell us about your relationship with Greece. Do you speak any Greek?
Not much Greek. It comes and goes I have my 3-year- old son counting to ten in Greek and saying a few words. Soon he will go to Greek school.
I feel very proud to be Greek-American. I wished now that I spent my time better at Greek school. I didn’t learn very much because I was dreaming of other things and fooling around. I have been to Greece. I spent a month there. I took my mom to Greece after my father past away. I have loads of cousins from Crete to Athens and I want to go back and work there so I can learn the language. When I was there I started picking things up. Muscles memory from when I was a kid. So if there any Greek producers that want to hire a Greek-American please do. I found Greece to be filled with generous smart people. Like my mom very knowledgeable and caring, I am ready to go back to Greece. I would love to work there for a long extended time. really get into it. Yes, I would love that. A dream. To work in Greece. Now that would be something.
Tell us about your hobbies and things you like doing in your free time.
I wrote a children’s book called “Charlie’s Bubbles”, about a boy who blows bubbles and goes on adventures. Working at the present time on a screenplay with comedian David Brenner. I spend lots of time with my son. We jam together. He can already play the drums and is tinkering on the piano and guitar. Loved to get him on the bouzoukia. I write music as a hobby and have been able to write songs for my own projects. I wrote five songs for my film “Club Soda”.
What are your future plans?
Work, eat, drink, and most important love.