Spike TV’s, “1000 Ways to Die”

Q: How would you describe your latest work as an actor?

Tom: I played a lead role with Spike TV’s program, “1000 Ways to Die”, recently. My character was a 1970’s era, Russian Chess Master that plays against a computer. Something much akin to the Kasparov vs. IBM’s Deep Blue match played back in 1997.

Q: How did you play the character?

Tom: “Nikolai” was a determined and driven individual who would never settle for second place. Because of his stern focus and attention to his game, he comes across as being very snobbish. The director, Thom Beers, asked me to play him as a spoiled brat as well after winning his first match, so you can imagine how unlikable he might appear. Nikolai’s ego begins to get the best of him when he begins to lose the second match and he goes into a temper tantrum that ultimately leads to his demise.

Q: What difficulty did you have with this performance?

Tom: Keeping a real Russian accent going while playing the role as natural as could be. All of my dialogue was in Russian, so keeping a natural accent in place while responding immediately to other character queries and being in the heat of the emotional moment, was a wonderful challenge that presented itself at times. I wanted to do my best for the native Russian comrades out there watching the show by keeping my natural American accent out of it while keeping the Soviet performance (and accent) natural, real and flowing.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

Tom: Aside from working with accents, I learned how to properly “die”. That is, how to safely fall upon hard concrete without banging myself up. The DP commended me on how realistic my falls looked, but I remember during the third take I hit the outside of my knee on the floor and it wound up aching for a week. Something else I learned was I really enjoy the challenge of working with body gadget props and intensive make-up work. For my death, they outfitted me with a series of 2-inch diameter plastic tubes that ran inside of my clothing that they eventually blew smoke through. I just thought “dying” with this contraption fitted on me and having serious death-scene make-up to keep fresh was a total hoot and I loved every minute of it.



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