As an actor, writer, author and producer, Tom Malloy has built up an incredibly strong and varied resume over the years. A strong supporter of LGBT rights, the film Fair Haven, which he produced and also features in, about a young LGBT man’s return to his family after a stint in conversion therapy, has received plaudits on the film circuit while his latest project, #Screamers looks set to wow audiences after impressing the critics during preview screenings. While he continues to keep himself extremely busy, Tom kindly took time out of his hectic schedule to chat to Thisisthelatest about family life, his love of comedy and what he’d like his legacy to be.
TITL: How did you get involved in Fair Haven and how important do you think such a project is given the ongoing media interest in LGBT issues?
Tom Malloy: The screenplay, by Jack Bryant, was brought to me by Kerstin Karlhuber, the director. I loved it right away because there are no bad guys in the story. Everyone in the film is just doing what they know to be right, so it didn’t demonize anyone. And I’m a supporter of LGBT issues, and have been for years. I’ve always said, in the words of the great producer Robert Evans, “All Love is cool, man.” And so anything that supports love – which is what this film does – is cool by me.
TITL: You won awards for your portrayal of Dylan in Hero of the Underworld. Do accolades like that mean much to you or are you just happy to be a part of films and projects you believe in, regardless how well-received (or not) they might be?
TM: I’m so happy and grateful to be involved in any project, and to be able to live and work in the movie business for so long. I love the accolades, yes, because it shows that people are recognizing my work and abilities, and hopefully will help to generate future roles.
TITL: You’re also a talented writer having created, produced and starred in comedy series Midtown alongside comedian Scott Baker. Is there one aspect of the industry you prefer more than the other (acting, writing, producing) or is it just nice to be able to combine all your passions?
TM: Acting is still my #1 passion. The writing and producing started as a means to an end, to get more roles, but, in the meantime, I guess through osmosis or experience, I became really skilled at writing and producing as well. So now it all acts together and makes me a much more valuable and complete person to be involved with any project. And it’s all the result of hard work, which I love.
TITL: What made you decide to write your own book, Bankroll, and create the Film Finance Guide? What has the feedback/responses been like so far?
TM: Back in 2004, I told my current agent that I decided to be an “actor/writer/producer” and she was like, “You can’t be all three, you have to focus on 1.” I guarantee that today, that same agent is saying to clients, “You have to be all three, you can’t focus on 1!” The business has changed so much, and thankfully I was in front of that. So actors started looping back and asking, “How did you do this?” And enough people asked that I figured it would be great to put a resource together. The response was amazing. Bankroll became the gold standard book on film financing. I remember being at Sundance in 2012, and 13 people came up to me and said that they loved Bankroll. Those were just the people who came up to me! I wonder how many more knew about the book and had it help them!
TITL: What was it like working with Jane Lynch on the web series Dropping The Soap?
TM: Jane is great. She’s so funny and sweet. But to be clear, I wasn’t involved in the producing of DTS. I now also own a distribution company – Glass House Distribution – and we acquired DTS after it was finished. Still, Jane and I interacted at the premiere and got to know each other.
TITL: Of all the projects you’ve been a part of, do you have any favourites?
TM: I absolutely LOVE my new film #Screamers. The role I played was so fun, my best performance so far, and I can’t wait until that comes out – there’s a major deal I cannot discuss is in the works. The film has had some sneak peek reviews and critics have gone NUTS. It’s a found footage horror, and twice it’s been called the best found footage movie EVER.
TITL: Of the 26 screenplays you’ve written throughout your career, which ones are you most proud of? Are there any that have recently been optioned you can tell me about?
TM: I’ve actually written 30! I’ve optioned/sold/made into movies I think 23/24 of them. One of the screenplays I’m most proud of is a female vigilante action film called Bad Ass Girls, which is SO awesome and fun. Right now it’s being made into a graphic novel which will be done by the end of the year and will hopefully be in development as a film next year.
TITL: Who in the industry would you most like to work with and why?
TM: I’d like to work with some of the top A-list comedians, because I know I can match or exceed their game! The best way to showcase yourself is to put yourself with the best, and I love comedy so much, so working with someone like Will Ferrell or Vince Vaughn would be awesome.
TITL: Away from work, you participate in Celebrity Poker Tournaments and Swing Dance Competitions. That’s quite a combination…
TM: HA! Well, actually it’s a different combo. I haven’t competed in Swing Dance in YEARS. I do try to swing dance – West Coast Swing – socially, but those times are few and far between. Yes, I do play in as many Celebrity Poker tournaments and house games with actor friends as I can. But the other activity is Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve been training on and off for 25 years! I just recently I got back into it on a regular basis, and it’s a great escape from everything else in the world. When I’m rolling against an opponent, I’m not thinking about the movie business, emails, messages, meetings – I’m just focused on how not to get my head ripped off!!
TITL: How do you juggle all your work commitments with family life?
TM: Thank I have this God-given natural gift of life energy. I’ve been told I’m like the energizer bunny. I have this motor running inside of me and I can’t sit still and I go and go and go. So as long as I can schedule things around – thank you iPhone – there’s rarely a time where I’m tired and pretty much NEVER a time where I cancelled a commitment or time with my family because I’ve got to rest! Time is our most valuable commodity, and I value it more than anything. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
TITL: If your kids said they wanted to follow your career path, what would you say?
TM: I would encourage them, and they do both want to be actors! The best thing is, I have navigated a twisty, dangerous path, and hopefully my experiences can be taught to them so their path is a little straighter! But the thing I wish for them most is to have the freedom that I have. I don’t answer to anyone’s schedule – which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy working 12-14 hour days…actually love it – and I have complete freedom to just pick up and go to places like Cannes. I’ll be there from May 16th to the 27th. I also go back and forth from LA to NY, and then also this year I’m going to South Korea for a film festival. I can’t imagine working 9-5 or 8-7 in a job I hate, working for the weekend, waiting until I’m 65 to retire and finally live. Not for me. And hopefully not for them.
TITL: What advice would you give to upcoming individuals in the entertainment industry? Is there anything you wish you’d been told before you started out or do you think it’s best that everyone just makes their own path?
TM: I think yes everyone needs to follow their own path, but the advice I’d give is this: if you’re in it, be in it for life. It’s the only way. On the top end, who makes more money, doctors or actors? Actors, hands down. An A-list actor can make in a day what a top doctor makes in a year. But if you asked someone how to become a doctor, they’d say college, then med school, then internship, then maybe 10-15 years later they’d be a doctor. Yet, I’ve heard people actually say, “Yeah, I gave the acting thing a try for 6 months, it didn’t work out.” 6 months??? And you want to make more than a doctor?? I’m in this game for life, always searching for that role or project that will knock it out of the park for me. I’ve always said, I’ll be 85 years old in a wheelchair, slowly rolling into an audition thinking, “This is my year!” And I’m gonna enjoy the journey on the way, that’s key too. I don’t just want to live looking for the next thing. I’m grateful for all that I have.
TITL: What does the rest of this year have in store for you?
TM: I have a film called Fair Haven, which I produced, and also play a small role in that was in theaters this March. Film Independent called it one of the top 10 “Must See Indies” of the year), and it will be on Showtime in June. It’s a beautiful LGBT film. And I have this film #Screamers, which is like a week away from signing a MAJOR deal. Fingers crossed, I can’t give the details – yet! But the film is a found footage horror, and has twice by critics been called the Best Found Footage Movie Ever!
TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourself ten years from now and what would you like your legacy to be?
TM: I’d love to be working with A-list stars right alongside of them in a series, or major studio films. That’s the goal. And the Oscars, that’s always been a goal for me. It’s such a geek thing, but you tell me a year and I can name which film won best Picture… I know the whole list and have been quizzed by friends many times. As for a legacy, I think the goal of any actor is to “live forever.” Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart are alive today because we can watch their movies and still have an emotional reaction to them. If I can pass emotional reactions – whether it be laughter, tears, excitement – on to as many people as possible, I’ll be truly fulfilled.
Header photo credit – Birdie Thompson. Grooming – Michelle Quaranta.