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Q&A: Massimo Dobrovic talks Horror, “AGE OF THE LIVING DEAD”

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It’s 9 p.m. New York City. A stylish and confident man gets out of his Uber and walks into a bar. He sits down and orders a margarita; rocks, no salt. He takes a sip of his drink, thanks the bartender, and smoothly introduces himself with a thick Italian accent: “Hi, I’m Massimo.”

Possibly predestined to work in the horror field having been born on October 31st, Massimo Dobrovic is a name you may not know yet. However, if all goes to plan, not only will you know him, he’ll be a name in Hollywood you won’t forget.  

New-ish to Hollywood, Dobrovic has been acting for most of his life. Starting out in Rome as an actor, he soon chased his dreams across the big blue and landed himself in the heart of it all, California. But that was only the beginning. Dobrovic has taken the indie-horror scene by storm, landing roles in such films as NAVY SEALS VS. ZOMBIES, NOCTURNA, and QUARANTINE: L.A. While in New York on business, Dobrovic took the time to tell FANGORIA his plans of winning it all in Hollywood, playing the bad guy and snagging an Oscar.

FANGORIA: Since coming onto the Hollywood scene in 2013, you’ve kept yourself very busy.  Was it hard for you as an Italian actor trying to make it in Hollywood?

MASSIMO DOBROVIC: For any international actor that wants to make it in Hollywood, it is extremely challenging and difficult. The first thing that is absolutely clear from this is that it takes a really long time to start getting work, and if you’re a foreigner, it takes even longer ‘cause you have to work really hard every day to get rid of your handicaps like: your foreign accent, your working permits, finding jobs suitable for you that will pay your living expenses while you build an enormous body of work as an actor, for which most of the time you don’t get paid. You need to be able to deal with enormous amount of rejection, you need to stay proactive, positive and persistent, and you need to be able to stay away from home and from your home country for years. Also, you need to have a magnificent team of supporters that are always there for you, that truly believe in you and that work for you like a 24 hour machine. Without those people, you’ll not be able to do anything.

FANG: Has the language barrier been an issue?

DOBROVIC: I couldn’t get work immediately in Hollywood so I returned to Rome and acted in a few soap-operas, TV shows, and some movies as well. Once I got back to Hollywood, I had to start working really hard on my standard American accent in order to be able to land more important roles. In Europe, I was acting mostly in Italian, Croatian, and Spanish; I actually speak five languages. I grew up bilingual, speaking Italian with my mom and Croatian with my dad. I didn’t grow up in an English-speaking family; as a matter of fact, nobody speaks any English at all in my family. I think it’s harder to land substantial work for foreign actors in Hollywood.

FANG: Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?

DOBROVIC: Yes, I’ve dreamt about it my entire life and it’s the main reason I moved to L.A. I started doing theatre at the age of 12, and in Europe you have to become a member of the National Theater where they train you classically. So as a teenager, I did a lot of classical theatre in Italy, Australia and Asia.

I was about 18 when I first came to Hollywood to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where I spent 3 years. I’m professionally trained in Modern Dance, I’ve directed numerous theatre productions, I’m learning all the skills needed to be a producer; ideally, I’d like to do it all. Ultimately, my goal is to win an Oscar.

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FANG: NOCTURNA and NAVY SEALS VS. ZOMBIES were your first American horror movies.  They were released relatively close to each other however you’re characters were extremely different. Can you talk a bit about your roles in both and your experiences?

DOBROVIC: All in all, I had tremendous fun playing both characters for different reasons. In NOCTURNA, I played a vampire and I’ve always wanted to play a vampire. It has always been my passion as an actor to play the bag guy and even though he’s a creature, you still have to make him believable to the audience. On the other hand the role of Dave, a TV-reporter in NAVY SEALS VS. ZOMBIES was a role based much more on my personalityl it was closer to home. Dave had to be extremely believable and real at the same time, the audience has to believe the terror. I was able to put more of me inside the role, of how I am or of how I would behave in certain situations. I’m absolutely honored and grateful to play both types of characters.

FANG: So you like to play the villain?

DOBROVIC: I want to play as many villains as possible cause they are so much fun to create. There are basically no limits, you can let your creativity and imaginations go wild. Building a villain is like building a masterpiece in contemporary art.

FANG: Any thoughts on playing the hero?

DOBROVIC: Playing a hero, you open up yourself to a whole different variety of aspects; you get to create a character that is for sure closer to home or at least you can put into play your personality more. You have the opportunity to let your real emotions and feeling come out through your work. With the hero, you have the power to move and touch the audience on many different levels and let them identify with you and in specific daily situations.

FANG: Has your love of horror influenced you as an actor?

DOBROVIC: Being a teenager at the end of the ’90s and ’00s in Europe, I was all about horror movies and thrillers. At school, my friends and I talked about which horror movie we were gonna see that weekend so that the following week we could joke about the scenes from the movies. Every Friday and Saturday night, we would go to a video-store and rent 2 or 3 horror movies at a time. My group of friends and I became so obsessed with the horror genre that we started buying all the swag from those movies as well, like t-shirts or whatever. For us, it was cool. I became instantly fascinated with all the villains from the horror movies and I slowly came to understand the amount of training and creativity that are involved for an artist to create a believable villain.

FANG: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

DOBROVIC: I love them all; slashers, home invasion thrillers, paranormal/possession and of course, haunted house films. But my favorite scary movie is I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. I was 13 years at the time and that movie really moved me on many different levels, especially for the realness it had to it. That movie was able to contain all the traditional elements of a horror movie but at the same time capture the realness and truthfulness of the characters.  I can definitely say that this is one of the top five movies I saw that assured me that there’s nothing else I want to do in this life other than being an actor.

FANG: Your latest project is a horror miniseries, premiering this February. Are you able to talk a bit about that?

DOBROVIC: AGE OF THE LIVING DEAD, written by the amazing Simon Phillips and Paul Tanter, is really a great series. It was thrilling to work with such a sensational group of actors, a phenomenal director and a fantastic crew. The atmosphere, the locations and the story are so unique compared to anything that has been done and I know it will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. There are incredible surprises during the entire 1st season with unimaginable events and constant action. They’ll be glued to it and will be craving for more.

FANG: Can you talk about your role in the series?

DOBROVIC: I play, guess what…a vampire. Marcus is the King Emperor, almost like the father of all the vampires. He goes back to the beginning of the vampire ancestry and is one of the few that came from the direct, vampire bloodline. Nonetheless, he is a young and charming; however, he declares war on the human species. But, I can’t tell you any more than that, so you’ll just have to watch and find out.  

About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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