Michael can next be seen starring in the psychological-thriller film, CIRCLE, co-starring Julie Benz and Carter Jenkins. The film first premiered last month at Seattle International Film Festival and was highlighted as part of their Catalyst program for exciting new filmmaker’s. CIRCLE will also be holding a screening at Comic Con on July 9th. Check the trailer here.
Michael made his professional acting debut as Stradivarius Helberg on the television show Quintuplets. He then co-starred in the independent film DERBY STALLION opposite Zac Efron and the comedy GRASSROOTS, with Jason Biggs. Soon after, Michael portrayed a lovesick teenager in the 3D horror thriller THE COLLECTION and has recurred on various television shows including My Name is Earl, CSI: New York, The Client List, The Mob Doctor, Revenge, Nashville, and Hart of Dixie.
Michael established himself as an indie film producer in 2010. Films include ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, wherein he also acted opposite Ezra Miller, Kate Bosworth and Demi Moore. It won the Waldo Salt Award for Best Screenplay at the 27th Sundance Film Festival. Michael produced the romantic comedy, THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN starring Jenna Fischer.
Forthcoming, Nardelli is producing THE GIRL WHO CONNED THE IVY LEAGUE with director/producer McG with Amanda Seyfried attached to star. And recently completed a role in the indie ALL IS VANITY (from first-time feature director Roxy Shih), wherein he plays a psychologically tormented young man left to survive on his own in a post-apocalyptic desert. He will also be seen this Winter on TV’s American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson and the indie thriller CASSIDY WAY.
Most recently, Michael completed his directorial debut with the short film DENNIS DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, where he was able to exercise his multihyphenate abilities. Short is a satirical dark-comedy featuring a character he created while studying with famed LA improv troupe THE GROUNDLINGS. It premiered this year at LA Comedy Fest and Palm Shortfest & Film Market. Michael has also written, produced and starred in several webisodes for FunnyorDie and is an active contributor to the website.
Michael is a self proclaimed Sci Fi, Comic Book and gamer nerd. When he is not working, he loves to be involved with the PATH Organization, Autism Speaks, the Boys and Girls Club of Boyle Heights and NCJW LA. Michael received his Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Theater from USC.
Hi Michael please tell us about you?
I am an actor and a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. I was born in Cleveland, OH and moved around while I was growing up (7 times!). I have two dogs and am a big animal lover. I am a proud uncle to my nieces and nephew. I am involved with the PATH Organization, a charity that sets up families in need with a new furnished living space. I love writing. I love my friends. I am a big film and TV buff. I like working out. I went to USC for film and theater. And it is a struggle for me to turn down French fries and/or ice cream. That about sums it up, no?
When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?
Probably in the womb. I was hooked on movies at age two, when my Mom showed me THE WIZARD OF OZ. I would always recreate scenes from that with my friends on the playground. Then it was STAR WARS. Then BATMAN. My friends and I also began making videos for difference classes in lieu of papers. We would write them and act in them, shoot them and edit them all by ourselves. I started getting into theater in grade school, made it more of a hobby in High School, then a career as soon as I graduated and went to USC to actually study acting.
What was the first role you ever did?
My first real role was in the movie THE DERBY STALLION. I was the villain to Zac Efron’s protagonist. We had a lot of fun “learning” how to ride horses (learning is in quotes because I mostly fell off mine).
What is film “Circle” about?
CIRCLE is a psychological real-time thriller. It stars Carter Jenkins and Julie Benz. It does have a sci-fi element, so we like to think of it as 12 ANGRY MEN with a TWILIGHT ZONE twist. 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious and dangerous chamber. Every two minutes one of them is killed by a device in the center of the room. At some point, the strangers realize they are actually voting for the next victim. A lot of new rules to the “game” are revealed throughout the story, but once the strangers know they have some say in their fate, it gets pretty intense. A lot of topical issues come up pertaining to race, class, gender as people basically fight for their lives and justify why they think they should survive. It is a fairly political movie. Julie and Carter are awesome on it – I think fans will be surprised by both their performances.
Tell us about your character in “Circle”.
Can not give away too much because most of the characters in CIRCLE come with their fair share of surprises, but like everyone else trapped in the chamber, my character “Eric” just wants to survive and does his best to get his bearings quickly. He is much more rational and soft-spoken then a lot of the other strangers. I liked that he tries to use his brain to try and solve some of the puzzles within the circle, as opposed to many of the other strangers who get violent and aggressive very quickly.
You worked in hit TV series such as My Name is Earl, CSI: New York, Revenge, Nashville, and Hart of Dixie to name a few. What was more challenging and which role you enjoyed the most?
I really enjoyed REVENGE. I played Trey, who was a bit of a bad boy and got Declan involved in some questionable activities (breaking into houses, selling stolen jewelry). The cast was awesome to work with and it was just a fun show to be on with a lot of beautiful sets and locations to work on. It was challenging in that when I first started the writer’s were still figuring out Trey’s whole agenda. To that end, I kind of had to go with the flow and stay flexible as things changed, but then make sure things matched up with the way I would have played the character in previous episodes. I loved it.
You have worked with famous actors as Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Zac Efron and Jason Biggs, how were those experiences?
All fantastic. Zac I worked with just before he did HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, but we are still good friends and he has not changed – which is amazing. I worked with Kate and Demi on ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, a film I produced as well. They were so awesome to learn from and just so nice and social to everyone onset. Jason I met on GRASSROOTS and he was just a clown. Hilarious to work with and always making everyone laugh, but you could tell he took his job very seriously too and wanted the movie to be awesome.
How was the feeling of winning the Waldo Salt Award for Best Screenplay at the 27th Sundance Film Festival for Another Happy Day?
AMAZING!!! It was my first time at Sundance and the first film I had produced. I was really proud to be involved in ANOTHER HAPPY DAY and proud for everyone else that made it happen.
You also participate as writing, producing and acting in several webisodes of Funny or Die, tell us about it?
I studied at THE GROUNDLINGS so I always try and get together with my former classmates and cook up something we can all have fun with. Sometimes we just pull out old sketches that we wrote or performed and turn them into filmed shorts. It keeps your creative mojo going and when you do fun stuff with friends it kind of reminds you why you got into all this to begin with. I am trying to hone my directing skills too – of course I have a lot of things to still learn in that department!
Do you prefer acting, writing or producing? Why?
Acting is my passion. I need it in my life to feel sane. It is the most rewarding challenge for me – always. Writing helps me feel creatively free. I can go anywhere, do anything with it. There is no restrictions and you do not need “permission” to sit down and do it – which is a nice antidote to the acting, because there is usually more hoops you have to jump through to get the chance to perform. Producing taps into the scrappy, “worker bee” part of my brain. It is a sense of empowerment to get together with friends and talented artist’s and literally make something (an indie, a short, a TV show) happen. But, if I had to give them all up for acting, I would (luckily I do not J).
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
When you hit a roadblock and over come it. I think most actors have those moments. You are on set and you are feeling “This isn’t working. I suck.” It is a pretty terrible feeling. And then, maybe the director gives you a note, or you take a lunch break and figure out what’s missing. When you come back and nail it – it is just the most amazing feeling. You can see it in the Director’s eyes when that happens, like “There it is!” Each gig has different challenges that present themselves because you are always working with new people and have to find that rhythm. You always think you will not surmount them, but usually you do and it feels so rewarding.
Best advice ever given?
My acting Coach Warner Loughlin always says “It’s a 60 year career, not a 6 year career.” There is a lot of pressure on actors to “make it” or “break through” right away or you are considered a failure! I do not look at it that way. Each job I have had (big or small) has been a blessing that I have learned from. Hopefully I get to do this forever and my character’s only get better and better.
How is a normal day in your life?
It is always different. Usually there is auditions or callbacks. I always try to write for at least an hour a day – I am working on a feature right now that I want to direct. Usually there is some kind of follow up on something I have produced in the past – right now we are dealing with festivals and delivery materials for CIRCLE. My brother and I have a production company, so there is a few things there that we try to spin forward just a little bit more each day until the next project reveals itself and takes off and consumes all our attention. I try and workout once a day. I try and walk my dogs once a day. I still go to acting and improv classes – honing my craft when I am not actually working onset. As you can see there is a lot of things I try to do “once a day” – but let’s be honest, we all hit that wall where you are like “Okay, I’m done – time for NETFLIX!”
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Starts with breakfast in bed and watching a new movie. Then something fun and adventurous. A hike, or a trip to a new exhibit at a museum, or going to a live show with your friends. My Sunday’s usually end with having friends and loved ones over for dinner and watching our favorite shows. And obviously my two dogs fit into most of these activities J.
Something people don’t know about you?
I am super anxious. It is a blessing and a curse. And I am an introvert!
Do you support any charities?
Yes, the PATH Organization. They help families in need and supply them with a brand new home, or apartment and fully furnish it. A group of my friends and I are pretty active with it. Every couple months we go around and gather the stuff people just have around in their homes and do not need anymore. Turns out most people have a lot of it and when you group it together with everything that your friend’s have it can usually furnish an entire living unit for a family that needs that stuff very badly. It is a great organization to get involved in.
I also do some work with the NCJW of Los Angeles and the Ronald McDonald house here in LA.
Where we can follow you?
Favorite Quote: “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Favorite Singer/Artist: Radiohead
Favorite Movie: The Wizard Of Oz.
Favorite Travel Destination: Thailand.
Favorite Food: Italian…followed closely by Sushi.
Favorite Drink: Dr. Pepper.
Favorite Sports Team: My Alma Mater’s team, The Trojans.
Favorite TV Show: Of all time? BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
Favorite Book: Atlas Shrugged
Photo Credit: Patrick Maus